Well it’s official. We’re back home in Florida. After nearly 10 weeks on the road, we pulled into the driveway of our home base a couple days ago. It has been a great trip. We were very blessed to be able to share this experience as a family. Being the travel freak that I am…..I started drawing up a list for our next trip, but I thought I should summarize this one……lest I get too far ahead of myself. Our trip, by the numbers:
Duration: nearly 10 weeks
Miles Traveled: 7,000
Family/Friends Visited: Numerous
Ok, so there are some things that we will do differently next time we take an extended roadtrip like this. For one thing, we’d like to utilize a camper/travel trailer, and spend more time in each place. Mrs. IS would have enjoyed more time….in fewer places as well. I am a firm believer in always playing to your advantages in any situation. (For instance because we manage our family’s money…..we are only accountable to ourselves…….and only over the long term. Not to a Boards/investors…..and certainly not on a quarterly basis.) Before taking this trip we assessed what advantages we had. We had a reliable sedan that gets good gas mileage. We had plenty of time to travel. We had friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time…..some of which we hadn’t seen in years. We had enough money to travel, provided we did so efficiently.
With that list of advantages, we set about designing a trip to capitalize on those advantages. We originally wanted to buy an SUV/truck/van and travel trailer before the trip. In assessing our objectives we determined that 80+% of the time on this trip would be spent visiting family/friends in suburban/urban areas. Therefore, we decided it was impractical to drop the $40k I estimated for the rig we settled on….in order to camp along the way. There were simply too many people to see and too many miles to cover! (A great problem to have in my book)
Once we realized that we weren’t going to buy a new rig, we thought long and hard about traveling in our existing Honda Accord sedan. We’ve taken several two/three week roadtrips in it over the past few years, and know it is large enough to work for us. Plus, it gets solid gas mileage and is a fairly comfortable workhorse. On this trip, we averaged a little over 32 mpg (combined driving). This represented a substantial savings relative to a less fuel efficient vehicle. If for instance we had taken my former pickup (assuming average 16 mpg for 7,200 miles, and fuel at $2 per gallon), we would have spent an extra $450 on fuel during the trip. Spread over 10 weeks, that extra $450 wouldn’t have been a deal breaker…..but we wouldn’t have gained anything anyway…..because we were mostly visiting friends/family. Amusingly enough, we did get about 27 mpg on one tank of fuel. Apparently Colorado was still running a winter blend and sporting 85 octane in their regular fuel. We noticed a marked decline in our performance on that tank. Next time we’ll get a higher grade of fuel while in Colorado.
Living in Florida, friends/family often come down to visit us in the winter time. As a result, we haven’t been as good about visiting those friends/family on their home turf. This trip afforded us the opportunity to do just that…..as well as make new friends along the way. I was grateful for my experience at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting. It was great to meet up with several new investors/bloggers/readers, and check an item off my bucket list. I had never been to Omaha before, either. For that matter, we had never been to Wisconsin…..Indiana……or the Texas hill country….. before this trip.
The trip wasn’t all wine and roses however. The last week and a half has been extremely challenging. After Omaha, we spent another week in Kansas because Mrs. IS’s has two ailing grandparents. While there, our two year old son got super sick. What started as some painful 2 year molars, escalated into a double ear infection, and then a nasty virus. Mrs. IS and I also caught the virus, probably because our son refused to sleep and constantly wanted to be held. (Don’t know that I will ever get comfortable with the little guy coughing in my face when he is sick) As a result, we were basically confined to the house for several days….. trying not to infect any other family members. Eventually, we piled into the car and made the two day drive home. I don’t think I appreciated how much easier it is to care for the Little Man at home, as opposed to on the road. Whether at a friend’s house or a hotel, all 4 of us (Mrs. IS/me/Little Man/Black Lab) were usually all sharing one room. As a result, no one got any sleep whenever someone was sick. At home Mrs. IS and I take turns, so at least one of us gets a good nights sleep on any given night. Sleep is a blessing, especially when caring for a sick toddler.
Now that we are back, the recovery is continuing. Although the Little Man has completely recovered and I am on my way, Mrs. IS is pretty darn sick again. Plus, I am spending my time addressing all the activities that have been left hanging for the past 10 weeks. Monday was all about banking. Tuesday about car maintenance and painting. Today…..who knows…..but my “to do” list is plenty long. Hence the delay in new posts. Those are just small hassles, and certainly wouldn’t deter us from taking such a trip again. In fact, we may be taking two or three week roadtrip to Texas and Kansas later this month. Unfortunately, this one will be for a funeral…..but when you have time and flexibility, it’s great to travel…….
Speaking of time and flexibility……. This trip demonstrates exactly the type of flexibility we have worked so hard to achieve. We received hundreds of dollars in dividends while we were gone. Our portfolio worked hard so we didn’t have to. Our expenses are low, and debt is nearly non existent. When time permitted, I generated revenue by writing and blogging on the road. Anyone who is interested can restructure their lives exactly as we have done! I would like to leave you with an idea that I find fascinating. Would you believe that our 10 week trip only cost us a little bit more than if we had sat at home and done nothing. We literally spent $700 more dollars than if was had sat at home and done nothing. That $700 is an extremely low cost, in my mind, for all the memories and experiences we just enjoyed. Note also, we probably could have done this trip more efficiently….but we were having fun. In addition to camping on trips like this, I would like to rent a place for a month…..a couple times per year. We have done so before, and found it to be a fulfilling experience. We just find a place in an interesting location, and invite our friends/family. So what if it costs $1500-$2000 more per month than if we just sat at home. Think of the experiences
While recognizing it’s not for everyone……What did you think of our trial run?!