Pet Travel. Made Easy.’s 2012 Pet Friendly Travel Wrap-Up

Yes, it’s nearly March – less than three weeks before we hit the road for the 2013 travel season – and I’m just now summarizing our 2012 travels. I know, I know – it’s ridiculous! If my fellow accountants knew that I’m one of those people who throws all their receipts in a box and then sits down some time in February to record it all, they’d throw me out of the club. Fortunately, I don’t think they’re reading this blog – so let’s just keep that little tidbit between us, shall we?

Now that the results have (finally) been tallied, let’s have a look back at 2012 …

The Miles

GPF 2012 Travel Map

2012 Travel Map

We took off from Austin last March and spent most of the summer in the Northeast. Our goal was to slow down the pace, cover fewer miles than we did in 2011, and spend more time enjoying the ride. Mission accomplished! We put just 13,267 miles on the Winnebago – nearly all of them east of the Mississippi, compared to the 22,350 miles we collected in our spasmodic wanderings of 2011.

GPF 2011 Map

2011 Travel Map

The Milestones

Of course, blowing up the Winnebago and being out of commission for three weeks contributed to that lower milage count, but we were still able to cross a few things off our bucket list:

Visiting the eastern-most point in the United States and completing our objective of seeing all four corners:

Map of Four Corners

Touring pet friendly Acadia National Park:

Buster & Ty on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park - Bar Harbor, ME

Buster & Ty on Cadillac Mountain – Acadia National Park

Spending some time on Dog Mountain:

Dog Mountain - St. Johnsbury, VTThe Math

You knew we’d get here eventually … I’m an accountant, after all. People are curious to know what it costs us to live as we do, and since I have all the numbers in front of me this seems as good a time as any to do the math …

2012 Total Expenses:

Campground and Hotel Fees      $14,550 ($40 per night on average)

Payment on Winnebago Loan         7,400

RV Maintenance and Repairs           3,650

Gas                                                             3,400

Rent on Storage Unit                           1,740

Verizon MiFi Internet Coverage     1,050

Mail Service                                                260

Of course, we still have some of the normal expenses you have … healthcare, pet care, cell phone, food, clothes, and so on. But, we have no bills for a home mortgage, real estate taxes, lawn care, cable, or utilities. Overall, we’re spending less money living in the Winnebago than when we owned a house.

The Mindset

A lot of people say they’d love to sell it all and travel like we do. Two main things seem to stop them … leaving all their stuff and fear of the unknown. More than three years on the road has changed the way we think about things and, while there’s no way to get around purging your belongings, I can honestly say that I don’t miss a single thing that we’ve either sold or left behind. In fact, most of what we put in storage will probably be cleared out the next time we’re back there. Even though we thought we were only keeping the “really vital stuff,” the list of things I consider important enough to hold on to gets shorter and shorter the longer we travel. Stuff is just stuff … you can always collect more.

Conquering the fear is simple and complicated at the same time. It’s simple, because you just have to do it – pull the bandaid off and go! The complicated part is that in the RV there are a thousand and one things you’ll have to face for the first time. From navigating a city you haven’t been in before, to handling an unexpected mechanical issue with the vehicle. It seems it’s always something … and each one causes anxiety to one degree or another. Heading into our fourth travel season, Rod and I are feeling like we’re finally getting the hang of this. (Slow learners?) Surely things will pop up that we haven’t encountered before, but we’ve probably done something similar that turned out alright and that’s giving us more confidence. This year should be a good one!

The Months to Come

In 17 days we’ll be pulling out of Austin and kicking off travel season 2013! Holy cow, where has the time gone?! And, at the same time, I’m excited and ready to get moving again. We’ve made an agreement to have no long term plans this year – we’re going to choose one destination at a time and when we’re ready to move on we’ll pull out the map and decide where we want to go next. The general idea is to spend this season in the northern Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise, Idaho, Montana), but when you’re not on a schedule, anything can happen … and that’s part of the fun!

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
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  • Have a safe trip, Anita – and definitely stay in touch! As much as you wish you could travel like we do, I think it would be fantastic to be able to take my boys to Europe. Pet friendly has a totally different meaning over there and I’m sure you guys will have a great time.

  • well I leave May 1 leaving Good Ol Dothan AL to go back to Netherlands .. but I always share your site with others.. give them Ideas of where to go… be it Mobile, AL or Panama City FL :) or where i use to live in Memphis, tn :D .. Just wished I could pack up and do like you do…

  • It had to be so hard to have the decision to give up your stuff forced upon you by Mother Nature. At least we did it voluntarily – but we’ve both ended up in the same place. Rod and I sometime imagine what we’d do if we did settle down again and we agree that we’d live very minimally – and buy most of our stuff second hand. I’d much rather spend the money collecting experiences and I’ve learned a lot about how little “stuff” it takes to make me comfortable and happy.

  • Lauren Forge says:

    this is so great. i’m really excited to see where you guys wind up and love that you’re going to figure it out as you go. i absolutely used to have that fear of leaving things behind–you should see how much i would pack for a weekend trip upstate to the camper (what if i need x, y, z, 1, 2, 3?)–but hurricane sandy has completely altered my mindset and outlook on life. i have said your exact words more times than i can count since 10/29: stuff is just stuff. stuff is not what makes a life a good one. anything that wasn’t taken away by sandy has been pared down to what will fit in a 10×5 storage unit with room to spare. and i suspect that when we actually do get home and it’s time to unpack what’s left, i will get rid of even more. it all feels like a hindrance at this point, and i imagine that’s almost how you guys feel about belongings. there’s a famous quote… “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris … and i am willing to let go of the beautiful as well. if only my husband worked a job he could do from the road!

  • I’m really disappointed we didn’t make it to Halifax, too! Though, I still believe we’ll get there one day to visit you. I think you hit the nail on the head – every living arrangement has challenges. We happened to choose a somewhat unusual lifestyle that really fits us, and mustering the courage to try it wasn’t so much brave as it was a realization that any other life wouldn’t have been as fulfilling.

  • It’s been an adventure following along on your journey and even though I am still a little disappointed you couldn’t make it to Halifax, meeting you in Atlanta made up for the loss. The things you have accomplished are inspiring. You have proven that giving up the trappings of a traditional modern life is not only possible, but well worth the risk. The thing is, no matter where or how you live, life presents challenges. I don’t think it’s any harder to live in an RV than it is to live in a mortgaged home. It’s just different. And far more exciting!

  • Miriam M. Hughes Life is definitely too short to not have fun! Though, I imagine what you’re doing is fun too, just in a different way.

  • I know what you mean Amy, as much as I love this house and our new life – and we are adding more possessions that we ever will need, I still dream of a Winnabago with a studio. Maybe once my incoe stabalizes that could be our next move. Life is too short to stop having fun!

  • Yeah, I think Rod and I both enjoyed the less hectic travel and we’re planning to try to slow down a little more this year. Rod says we’ve seen a lot, but experienced very little. I think we’re both ready to stick a little longer in one place and explore a little deeper below the surface.I thought getting unmoored and selling houses was more than mildly scary! And you’re right – you’re life is literally at risk in a major storm like that. It’s funny that vehicle accidents happen all the time, and yet RV seems less life-threatening than sailing. Though, there are sheltered coves and I’m sure you’ll learn quickly from experience and the other folks in the “full-time sailing” tribe. The BVI are pretty protected – perhaps you could start there and get your sea legs. =)

  • Yeah!! Good luck to you guys – I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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