Road trip by stats: what to expect living on the road

Over the last year and a half, we've driven 26k miles over 6 months in 3 major trips starting and ending in California: 2 cross-country and 1 up the Pacific Northwest. It's pretty cool to see it all mapped out!

map-road-trip-2016 The last one was 2.5 months long and took us from California to Wyoming to Wisconsin to West Virginia and back through Tennessee, Arkansas, Colorado and Utah.

Stats

Last year I did a recap of our trip stats and costs. Some interesting points as an update and addendum to last year:

We did a shorter trip this year, 2.5 months as compared to 3 months. We had many fewer stopping destinations, as we limited friends and family stops, and stayed put in a few destinations for 2-3 weeks. It was much more relaxing and tenable not moving all the time.

2015 2016
3 months in van, no hotels 2.5 months in van, no hotels
13,900 miles 9,300 miles
19.8 mpg average 19.6 mpg average
$2.14/gal average (diesel) $2.74/gal average (diesel)
310 hrs total driving time 185 hrs total driving time
~$1,500 in gas ~$1,300 in gas
~$3,000 in groceries ~$2,000 in groceries
~$1,500 in restaurants ~$2,000 in restaurants
~30 climbing days out of 90 ~30 climbing days out of 75
9 different climbing destinations 8 different climbing destinations
6 national parks 5 national parks, 3 national monuments

Cost - Camping

I didn't keep track of separate camping costs this year, but they average still about $20/night when in a campground. We stayed mostly at public campgrounds like State and National Parks when we were settled in climbing locations, and relied on WalMarts and truck stops when doing long hauls between destinations. Truck stop showers are awesome and clean for showers for $12! See the post Living on the Road for more tips.

Cost - Gas

Much higher this year, $2.74/gal vs $2.14/gal average for diesel. Boo.

Driving miles

4.5k miles less than last year, mostly because we didn't do the crazy loop over the Wisconsin-Pennsylvania area from last year. Still, you do a lot more miles when in a destination than you think. Going straight across the US and back is about 6k miles and we hit over 9k this year.

Cost - Food

I'm really surprised we spent more this year on restaurants than last year! We ate out fewer times for dinner but did a lot of breakfast cafes and lunches, which really added up. We did get better on rationing cooking for 2 with no leftovers, and after adjusting for the shorter trip this year, we came out a bit under last year's spending. We could definitely live on less, though.

We try to buy local produce wherever we are. Our biggest finds this year were local farmed eggs and corner stores selling local-grown produce. These were much cheaper than anything organic from a large supermarket.

See Cooking on the Road for camp stove recipe ideas.

Climbing

We did quite a bit of climbing this year compared to last since we stayed in places like Ten Sleep and the New River Gorge for 2-3 weeks. We also hit up Willow (MN), Red Wing (MN), Chattanooga (TN), Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (AK), Indian Creek (UT), and Red Rocks (NV), each for a couple days. The weather was alright, but wow was it warm! We got patches of rain which put us out for a few days at a time, and half the time in Ten Sleep and the New River Gorge we were dripping sweat. Not ideal for sending.

Sightseeing

National Parks and National Monuments have become must-stops for us when on these long trips. They break up climbing really well, they're beautiful, you're almost guaranteed to drive by one, and their camping is excellent.

We hit 5 NPs and 3 NMs this trip. Indian Creek was BLM on Thanksgiving when we visited, and as of 12/28/2016, Indian Creek is now part of the Bears Ears National Monument!

One of my peeves is how few climbers sightsee beyond the crag, whether it's going into a city or seeing State Parks or National Parks. It's like there's a wall built around the crag. You've got to take rest days! Get out there!