Our Toyota Prius Driving Experience by Rick Butler
Life on the road is both leisurely and very rewarding. Never making reservations ahead so as to not commit ourselves, we let “the moment” guide Emili (our Toyota Prius); always taking time to smell the roses and take advantage of any current opportunities. Emili (with us in tow) visited 74 towns / cities, 4 Canadian Provinces and 15 U.S. States during our 21 weeks on the road, covering 21,865 km. Time flew by on swift, soft wings as so often is the case when you are engaged in something you truly enjoy.
Our Emili performed extremely well, never letting us down. She continued to get 4.8 litres per 100 km, on average, throughout our journey. Averaging 150 km per day of travel our daily gas expense was a mere $5.42. Emili imbibed 1,050 litres of her drink of choice at a cost of 75 cents per shot (litre).
Total gas bill – $792.00
We graced the threshold of 68 different lodgings on our peregrinations ranging from small mom and pop motels to large resorts. Prices per night ranged from budget to mid range, with the odd spurge (from $21.00 to $186.00) almost always successful in keeping with one of our travel mottos “We’re not here to suffer.” See Irene’s blog, “A Sizzling Finish”, for our best and worst choices. Using the discount coupons found in the travel brochures in the States saved us a considerable amount of money (approximately 20%) bringing our daily lodging expenses down to $60.00.
Total Lodging bill – $8,750.00
Irene and I enjoy many of the same things, which is probably why we are such good travel partners; a definite pre-requisite for being together 24 / 7. Of the things we both enjoy, food is near the top of the list. We find great pleasure in seeking out the best value in restaurants and savouring what we determine to be the healthiest, and tastiest, fare on the menu. Never skimping on food and eating mostly in restaurants for our 2 daily meals, plus a mid-day snack, we paid $46.00 per day to assuage our persistently voracious appetites.
Total Food bill – $6,703.00
In addition to food, Irene and I almost always agree on what local sites and attractions to visit. Though some places of interest were free, we visited 61 sites that required an admission. An exiting part of our day, after Emili brought us to a town, was to plan our excursions in the area. On average the sites and attractions each cost $29.00 (for us both). This cost includes $545.00 shelled out on shows in Las Vegas. See Irene’s blog for our favourite and least favourite attractions.
Total cost for Attractions – $1,756.00
A column I always have on my travel spread sheet is titled “Extra”. This line of costs is for those items we run out of and need to replace, such as vitamins and toiletries, as well as unexpected purchases like replacing a pair of holey socks. As we travel light, we have a 1 in – 1 out rule. When Irene would buy a new blouse, she was supposed to choose an old one to give away or discard and if I needed to replace a pair of gitch, an old pair had to go. Irene assured me she stuck to this rule faithfully however, as I was the one to carry her backpack into the hotel every night I swear it got heavier as we travelled. She insisted it was my imagination. Perhaps she is right although I have noticed there is only 1 hanger left in the hotel room closet for me now. Our daily cost for extras (and Irene’s shopping sprees) was $13.00.
Total cost for Extras – $1,900.00
Total cost of our 5 month trip – $19,901.00 or $136.00 per day.
The highways are filled with motor homes and RV’s these days, especially in the south. Seeing so many on the road started me thinking about the value in these gas-guzzling, polluting homes on wheels, so I did some research. First I checked into the rental of an RV to compare the cost of this mode of travel to that of our own over the 5 months we travelled. The rental on these things, for a 22 to a 26 foot model, is a whopping $4,500.00 per month, which includes 160 km of travel daily for a total of $22,500.00. Add in gas, they burn fuel at a rate of approximately 10 to 12 miles per gallon, for a cost of $4,186.00. Then you have to park them somewhere, the average cost of pull-through camp sites is approximately $25.00 per night for a total of $3,650.00. You would save money on food as you could not afford to eat out; doing all your cooking and cleaning in your beautiful state-of-the-art kitchen would halve the cost of our food bill for an estimated cost of $3,300.00. One could also save on “extras” as you could take more stuff with you but some things would need to be bought. Estimated “extra” costs $500.00. Attractions would cost the same – $1,756.00.
Total cost of this hypothetical 5 month trip in a rented motor home – $35,892.00 or $245.00 per day (plus insurance).
Yikes, that’s expensive, better cut costs and not go to any sites and attractions requiring admission, just stay in the camp site! Maybe buying one would be more economical. I discovered that motor homes are less expensive in the States these days because of the strength of our dollar against the American green-back. We checked into a 30-footer at a cost $70,000.00 US ($85,000.00 CDN) and found the same unit in Canada on sale for $99,900.00 – a huge difference. Unfortunately, the dealers here bought these units from the States when the U.S. dollar was stronger and now they stand to lose a ton of money on the exchange. Anyway, back to the topic. If you buy one of these titans at a cost of say $110,000.00 after tax, you face depreciation each year although the amount of depreciation is difficult to determine as it will be based on future factors, such as the cost of gas / diesel and the popularity or unpopularity of the unit as baby boomers retire and restyle. Let’s say you buy it outright with cash – that money invested at a return of 6% would yield $6,600.00 per year and depreciation would be, let’s be generous and say $5,000.00 per year, so the yearly cost would be $11,600 plus insurance. If you finance the purchase, the carrying cost would be about $10,000 per year. Your 5 month trip in this owned motor home would tally up to $24,000.00 – $29,000.00 – still more expensive than our mode of travel. The other thing we considered is that motor home ownership may restrict you as you would feel obligated to travel in your home every year since it is costing you a bundle. We also enjoy the adventure of different hotels and the pleasure of no cooking, no cleaning and no polluting.
In the final analyses how one chooses to travel comes down to personal preferences. Irene and I are very fortunate indeed to enjoy the same things in life and have found our soul mate, our travel mate and best friend all rapped up in one person; each other. We have been blessed to be of such good health as to enjoy our travels and look forward to many more years of “peregrinations” together – “Trekking the Globe with gentle footsteps”.