On February 21, 2020, we celebrated six years of full-time travel and started our seventh year as nomads.
Way back when in 2019, I “gave” 2020 to Eric. Knowing our time in the U.S. was coming to an end and that I’d “guided” much of our past route planning, I wanted Eric to fulfill as many of his stateside travel wishes as possible. He created a fabulous itinerary, cut short when we were barely getting started.
After overlanding the length of Baja, we rushed to Seattle to take care of Eric’s mom and shelter in place. We spent six months off the road, a completely foreign concept since we started traveling full-time in February 2014.
In August, Seattle opened up enough for my mother-in-law to move into assisted living. After we put her house up for rent, we got back on the road with our RV.
The country had changed. In addition to the expected precautions and closures, there were noticeably more overlanding rigs and RVs on the road. State forest campgrounds in the middle of nowhere, which would normally be empty in the middle of the week, were full. We had to adapt to the reality that more Americans had started to travel like us due to COVID-19, and the infrastructure we relied on as full-time travelers was now subject to higher competition.
But we made the most of traveling again. It felt good as we covered ground at lightning speed, making up for lost time.
As of this writing, we’re back in Texas for the holidays. We’ve moved out of our Winnebago View (thanks for hosting us, mom and dad) and are no longer full-time RVers. We are transitioning to life as full-time overlanders, getting ready to drive around the world. Our RV will be up for sale soon.
As such, this is my last annual review of this kind! I’ve been doing these since 2014, and it’s always fun to look back at a year’s worth of travel and compare our travel style to what it used to be (you can find the links to every annual review at the end of this article).
Of course, 2020’s stats are difficult to compare to any other year, since we spent six months sheltering in place. Where possible, I estimate what the numbers may have been, if we’d been on the road all year.
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Number of Countries
We traveled through two countries in 2020: Mexico and the U.S.A. We went up and down the length of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula for five weeks with our Jeep Wrangler, while our RV was parked in San Diego.
The following statistics represent only our time traveling with our RV, in order to compare year-over-year to previous annual reviews.
Number of States
We visited 23 U.S. states in 2020, including four new states. One of our biggest milestones this year was marking state #48. We’ve officially RV camped in each of the Lower 48 states.
Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia were the missing states we needed to complete our map.
Number of Overnight Spots
This number surprises me, considering how long we were out of our RV in 2020. We were in Baja for five weeks, at my mother-in-law’s in Seattle for six months, and in our Florida timeshare for three weeks.
If we had been in our RV all year, I think our number of overnight spots would’ve matched or exceeded 2019, when we marked a total of 150 overnight spots.
Our pace of travel has really accelerated over our seven years on the road. That change happened when we got our Winnebago View, which is only 25 feet long. It’s so easy to pack up and go.
Where We Stayed
- 1 Bass Pro Shop
- 1 boat ramp
- 1 city street
- 1 event dry camping (Xscapers Annual Bash)
- 1 fish hatchery
- 1 hotel parking lot
- 1 national park
- 1 nature center
- 1 private campground
- 1 rest area
- 2 military campgrounds
- 2 state fairgrounds
- 2 Walmarts
- 3 Cracker Barrels
- 3 county parks
- 5 city parks/campgrounds
- 6 national forests
- 8 BLM land
- 8 moochdocking spots
- 9 Harvest Hosts
- 10 state parks/campgrounds
These lists always make me feel like a gypsy. It makes me smile. In some ways, we’re less discerning than ever. “Yep, this’ll do!”
But we also learned something important from 2019, our year of fast travel. We learned that driving every day between free camping spots is usually more expensive than staying two+ nights at state campgrounds or national forests. This is especially true because we don’t tow our Jeep, so we pay to fuel two vehicles.
So, just something to consider: if your free camping spots are only for one night each, causing you to drive more often, how much money are you actually saving?
If you’re choosing free spots because they’re remote and wild, then keep doing that. But if you’re choosing free primarily for financial reasons, then make sure there aren’t hidden costs involved.
Looking back on 2019, we opted for more of a balance this year, more conscious of fuel expenses.
We LOVE Harvest Hosts and the amazing experiences we’ve had camping at over 30 wineries and farms. Membership is 20% off through the rest of 2020, which is the biggest discount of the year. You’ll be locked in at this rate for the life of your membership, so don’t let this opportunity go by if you’re interested. Learn more or sign up now.
Free Vs. Paid Overnight Spots
Forty-one free sites vs. 27 free sites in 2020. So 60% of our RV camping was free this year.
It could’ve been higher, if it wasn’t for the lesson I just talked about. We opted for more city, state, and national forest campgrounds, so we could relax for at least two nights and save on fuel.
In 2019, 57% of our camping was free. In 2018, 48% of our camping was free.
Dry Camping Vs. Hookups
Forty-seven dry camping vs. 22 sites with hookups of some kind. So 68% of our RV camping was dry camping (no hookups) this year.
Of those 22 sites with hookups, most were electric only. Only three had full hookups.
In 2019, 63% of our RV camping was dry camping. In 2018, we were still in our 40-foot Tiffin Phaeton and just starting to dry camp.
Our Winnebago View has 420-watts of solar on the roof. Our tanks hold 32 gallons fresh water, 34 gallons black water, and 40 gallons of grey water.
2020 Camping Fees
- $3,328 in 2019 (calculation started in March when we purchased our Winnebago View; before that we were living out of our Jeep Wrangler in interior Mexico)
- $7,283.94 in 2018
- $8,525.46 in 2017
- $11,752.62 in 2016
Theoretically, if we had been on the road for all of 2020, our camping fees for 2020 would’ve been close to 2019. You can see how our camping expenses plummeted in 2019 when we moved into our Winnebago View and started dry/free camping more.
Monthly Average: $321 ($277 in 2019 and $607 in 2018)
I’m dividing our total by five months, which is roughly how long we lived in our RV in 2020.
Nightly Average: $10.23 ($9.12 in 2019 and $19.96 in 2018)
We spent approximately 157 nights in our RV in 2020, so the math works out to $10.23/night average for RV camping.
We try to include as many year-over-year comparisons in these annual reviews, but you’ll get the best comparison by reading each full review. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy seeing our state map get more and more filled in each year.
I can’t put 2020 into words. It’s been full of countless highs and lows. Days we thought would never end, and days that sped by because they were brimming over with dreams.
Eric and I thank you for seeing us through it all: the end of our RV journey, the beginning of our overland journey around the world, and this big transition from RV Wanderlust and Jeepsies to Hourless Life.
Our hearts are full of gratitude to the Lord for our health and the health of our loved ones. We grieve with those who have suffered loss. We don’t take our days for granted.
With you, we await 2021.
P.S. Our beautiful 2016 Winnebago View 24J will be up for sale in a few weeks in Corpus Christi, Texas. If you want to be notified when it’s listed, then make sure you’re signed up for our email list.