Travco Costs


Here’s what it took us to turn a nearly fifty year-old motorhome into our current home.

Ali has managed to tally up the numbers on the Travco expenses. I guessed twenty-thousand and came pretty close. I’m pretty happy with that number. The bus turned out exactly as we had hoped it would, and after a month on the road there isn’t one thing that we’re unhappy with. There are still a few things that we’ll change, replace, or add, but overall the bus has been exactly what we hoped it would be when we envisioned this trip.

We’ll keep the monthly numbers coming (the link to this post will live at the bottom of the home page with all our other trips expenses). Whenever we start out on a new adventure the first few months are pretty high, but things tend to level out once we get settled in.

Apr27 8bTravco 11

This is what it looked like when we first got our hands on it. Cool. Original. But with all the downside that entails. Lay down on some fifty year old carpet anyone?

Dec30 16


1966 Dodge Travco Motorhome 9,000.00      
misc renovation 4,280.28      
reupholester original chairs/couches 3,128.00      
tires 1,960.91      
inverter w/charger 839.84      
solar set up 532.96      
vinyl plank flooring 510.74      
custom mattresses 469.21      
interior curtains/window shades 392.66      
6V Trojan Batteries x2 301.77      
DMV (tax, title, plates) 679.75      
insurance (1 year) 526.00      
Good Sam Roadside Assist (1 year) 79.55      
Good Sam Club (1 year) 25.00      
  mar 2014 apr 2014 may 2014 jun 2014
travco expenses 31.15 102.53 2,619.22 1,916.82
gas 462.91 926.38 796.48 760.43
campgrounds 137.00 765.13 742.63 408.01
food 262.14 832.37 1,272.85 968.10
  893.20 2,626.41 5,431.18 4,053.36
May: Travco brake work 4 shops $2,074; awning replacement part $95
Jun: Travco new window seals $995; new a/c $349; new roof vent $95
  jul 2014 aug 2014 sep 2014 oct 2014
travco expenses 353.97 22.81 3715.59 353.83
gas 244.15 445.63 471.79 354.54
campgrounds 287.75 610.43 617.26 1042.81
food 957.50 1,317.39 1271.58 1527.99
  1,843.37 2,396.26 6,076.22 3,279.17
Jul: used/new-to-us exhaust manifold $125
Sept: Portland shop brakes/manifold $3380
Oct: electrical fire (1 week fix): rental car/gas $263, campground (3 nights) $193, parts $324
  nov 2014 dec 2014 jan 2015 feb 2015
travco expenses 676.27 0.00 292.59 138.03
gas 322.06 479.15 0 0
campgrounds 1,364.86 478.46 940.85 445.82
household/groceries 880.52 1,205.72 1208.37 1463.69
medical     382.5 661.19
other 353.89 772.41 981.84 752.75
  3,243.71 2,163.33 3,806.15 3,461.48
Nov: entered Baja Mexico ($105 for vehicle permit and tourist visas, $248 Mexico auto ins)
Dec: ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan $772
Jan: month in Mazatlan
Feb: month in USA        
  mar 2015 apr 2015 may 2015 jun 2015
travco expenses 87.92 96.75 10.47 26.87
gas 93.77 267.42 285.95 184.8
campgrounds 596.52 670.20 642.15 289.65
household/groceries 1,482.57 1,438.35 1435.65 1423.52
medical 194.92 319.64 34.13 34.08
other 869.17 258.61 799.85 1631.37
  3,324.87 3,050.97 3,208.20 3,590.29
Mar: tollroads $43
May: tollroads $66
Jun: Mexico City condo/Puebla hotel $777; rental car Oaxaca $108
  jul 2015 aug 2015 sept 2015 oct 2015
travco expenses 55.99 254.87 541.68 189.76
gas 275.65 254.49 238.31 239.01
campgrounds 399.49 400.62 984.13 278.45
household/groceries 1,494.97 1,703.77 1485 1844.08
medical 105.52 0.00 0 0
other 730.07 3,596.36 1951.34 1246.26
  3,061.69 6,210.11 5,200.46 3,797.56
  nov 2015 dec 2015    
travco expenses 87.90 0.00    
gas 56.06 0.00    
campgrounds 300.00 930.00    
household/groceries 1,243.28 1,206.27    
medical 0.00 355.12    
other 356.85 659.66    
  2,044.09 3,151.05    
Nov/Dec: monthly stays in Sayulita

48 Comments on “Travco Costs”

  1. I absolutely love the cost breakdown you guys do for your trips. It makes me realize the lifestyle you embrace is financially within my reach and the only thing stopping me is me. “You gotta wanna!” as George Carlin used to say.

  2. Thanks for listing these expenses – my husband was just asking me about this and I didn’t have an answer.

  3. Hey Pat: Are the figures for March only for one week or does the household/groceries number include some setup costs? My husband is asking – which I take as a good sign that maybe he’s interested in the possibility…. 🙂

    1. Hi Gwen, the March numbers are only from the start of the trip (1 week out). Yes stocking up the bus with groceries, getting organized with baskets, an electric drill, a blanket, whatnot. The “household/groceries” category is Target/Walmart stops where we bought food/shampoo/sand bucket/blanket. There is just no way to separate it all out.

  4. Imagine how much it would have cost if you didn’t do the work yourself??? It looks beautiful.

  5. Well done team. But you are missing one important line item…

    Pat’s countless hours of labor, blood, sweat, and tears – Priceless

      1. We find that different states have different formulas for gasoline and the mileage changes accordingly. Get much better mileage from AZ gas than from CA.

  6. Looks great and the cost breakdown is super helpful in planning our own crazy trips in the near future. We also have two kids, so to see your littles enjoying their time on the road is nice to see, as well! We are totally enjoying following your family’s adventures!

  7. I just wanted to echo the appreciation for putting these numbers out there. So very helpful! Looking forward to following your journey!

  8. Great bus guys! I was wondering what it looked like before the work you put in? We are considering buying a Travco 320, but we are a family of 5 and would need to modify it to include more bunk beds!

  9. Would love to see what the setup looks like at bedtime. Does the couch fold down, or does the table collapse?

  10. Do you guys expect to pay close to $500 a week for gas? That seems like a big chunk of money! Is gas cheaper in Mexico?

    1. Obviously we had a long way to drive in order to escape the cold of Minnesota. No, we don’t plan on driving the length of the country ever two weeks.

  11. Gasoline is about the same cost in Mexico as it is in the USA border states. I think they update the prices monthly. Recently though Pemex wanted pesos rather than dollars. I dont think their gas has ethanol in it, which is also nice. (ethanol can be hard on carburetor gaskets/seals that were not meant for it.)
    After 55k miles on our Winnebago, fuel cost was the largest single expense, with food being 2nd.
    After seeing the top of the engine, remember that anything under the engine cover made of rubber/cork is subject to eventual replacement due to age, which includes coolant carrying lines, v-belts, vacuum lines & valve cover gaskets. Generally Dodge didn’t EVER use rubber fuel hoses on the engines themselves in the pressurized part of the fuel system ‘downstream’ from the fuel pump.
    As far as the mention of brakes failing – I checked every inch of the brake lines, running my fingers along. There was a spot on the inner side of the frame rail near to the engine where there was rust; not just surface rust, but rust with pits. I replaced that section of line with new Bundy tubing, though todau days I would use the “copper-nickel” based brake line which is now legal for use & easy to find.
    Each 5 or 6 years I also inspected the wheel cylinders and the self-adjusters. This is time consuming & labor intensive, since you have to remove the brake drums to do it, and removing the heavy rear drums takes several steps, including axle removal. I think the drum assemblies back there are about 60 lbs each. It aint rocket science though. I AlwayS found something to lube or free up when I did this! And I replaced all four of the rubber brake hoses when I got the used Winnebago. At 100k miles my Winnie has its original brake shoes & drums, but is on its 4th set of wheel cylinders! If you find one, a new/rebuilt vacuum booster might help with braking power.
    If the parking brake function is done via a small drum on the end of the transmission – that is subject to oil from the trans leaking into it. If that is where the handbrake cable comes to – take good care of it.

  12. Thank you for a great 4 years, which I lived with you over the past three evenings. A fascinating and entertaining read.
    Our family went a similar route with sailboats, except in the early 90’s – before the WWW and blogs. We decided to explore the Pacific NW, from BC to WA – on our 1975 Tartan 44. Similar idea, as we purchase an older boat. Replacing the engine, tranny, coupler and shaft were first on our list. Re-wired the 12V (my husband loves electricity!)
    After 10 years and grown kids, we found the boat became too stressful. After that length of time, doing repairs in exotic places loses its novelty. We also found we loved living on the boat but didn’t enjoy using it as a means of transportation. Then, in 1999, sold the boat to a couple that was headed for the So Pacific and we purchased a 31′ 1974 Airstream trailer. IF the weather was nasty or we were tired, it was great to just be able to pull off the road and rest, something we could never really do when underway on the boat. Happy travels!

  13. You cold have easily paid $475,000 for a rig that size. Then been entitled to hangout with hopeless debt slaves sitting around doing nothing but getting fat. I think it’s great they wont allow you to do that.

    1. That’s right! I was talking to a RV salesman one time, or read it somewhere, not sure, but he said people will pay over $300,000 for a rig, and then spend all of their time trying to find a free place to park, like WalMart.

  14. PS – just be sure to reef your awning when it’s blowing ;o)
    Also, angle one side down when raining. Yes, you can bend an RV awning if too much rain collects in it. We had this happen to a next door neighbor at a vintage rally. He kept it flat, side to side, and two hours of heavy rain was enough to bend the awning tube. Zip Dee awning arms are the least skookum of all the awning manufacturers. They are great about getting parts to you . . .

    1. You’re right, Carolyn . . . and it will not always end with a bent main roller tube.

      If you leave your awning a bit too flat when the remnants of a hurricane blow through Raleigh, NC and dump 18″ of rain overnight, you could wake up to find your awning bellying downward magnificently. And when you try to lower the arm on the “low” side just a bit more to try to salvage the situation, as soon as you pull the pin the arm will slide all the way down in a flash, bottom out when it slams to the end of the slide and all the now-moving weight of tons (really!) of water in the pregnant awning will snap the roller tube in half and try to crush and/or drown you for your carelessness.

      Don’t ask me how I know this.

      The good news is that after several hundred dollars and three days at an RV repair facility 80 miles away, the good ol’ boys of NC will have you ready to get back on the road with a brand new awning almost 65% correctly installed. 🙂

  15. Love that you guys are in my state. I grew up in San Antonio and left it as fast as I could, lol. Fiesta is the wrong time to try and enjoy what is typically a slow paced big city. Although they do have a night parade you might have appreciated more. If you make it up to Dallas give us a shout. Enjoy your travels!

  16. Do you have a feel yet for expenses on a boat vs. on land? I know you have much more data from sailing but just curious. You have done so much traveling you probably already have a sense of how the two expenses will eventually stack up. Obviously boat parts are much more $$ than RV parts, in general, but there would be a lot more fuel costs with the RV. Possibly more engine maintenance costs in the RV, but hard to say. The marine environment is tough on engines, even if they don’t run nearly as much.

  17. Given you are all in so far for $26k on the rig (especially since its probably worth 9k on a great day), not sure it was one of the best purchase decisions, if you were very handy mechanically that would be a different story I’m sure in bottom line, but bringing into a bunch of shops not so much, but hey makes you look like you are doing it on the cheap right!

    1. You’re (who are you?) not sure it was one of the best purchase decisions? We are thrilled with this bus, everybody we come into contact with (multiple conversations daily) loves the bus, and our kids tell us all the time that they love “Papa’s blue bus.” But hey, you’re right, the true measure of whether or not this was the best purchase decision is resale value. I’m certain our children would agree with you. I mean, just look at what that 26k could have gotten us. So cool.

  18. Hmm, didn’t mean to upset you, given you were a money guy was just throwing resale/investment out given this was the subject area (costs)and lets be honest, transmission etc are probably not far away.

    I can certainly appreciate restoring old cars and trucks, have done many myself, but the pride comes more from the doing rather then hey look at what I bought (although there are plenty of posers out there at car shows).
    Good luck with your journey.

    1. I’d say the pride comes from actually doing something with it, not from tinkering with it on weekends in your nice big garage connected to your nice big house. To me, the pride comes from traveling thousands upon thousands of miles and actually living in it, not just driving it down the street to a car show once a summer. But hey, that’s just me.

  19. Not that it really matters, but the resale should actually be pretty good. The vintage MoHos in good, running condition, “ready to camp” are pretty pricey. We have a 1975 Argosy 26 MoHo which we love. We get the best reactions to it, driving down the road, even more-so than our shiny 1965 Airstream trailer. We don’t need both vehicles, and sometimes think of selling the MoHo, and then we go in it and realize what fun it is. It’s just so dang fun. And we think, “I don’t want to sell it!” I love your price breakdown on this page: BTW. Very cool MoHo! Happy trails.

  20. Hi Pat & Ali , I have to say LOVE what you guys do !! I would love to have the ability to explore this world, maybe one day , never give up hope , RIGHT ?
    I did have a question for you since you have little ones and seem to be pretty smart , responsible parents , I was wanting to bring my kids on a vacation in a year or so … cheap with lots of non-commercialized experiences but safe near the Caribbean any suggestions?
    Thank you and I’ll be following you guys !

  21. Hope you are still monitoring your blog. Just found Bumfuzzle. I thought I had read every book on sailing around the world but then another great adventure comes around. We just bought a 16 year old motorhome and are getting it ready for the adventure. Love it much more than those overpriced new ones at the rv show. It has character. Got little over 3 years till the great adventure, getting it ready and making it ours. Great stories. Thanks

  22. Glad to see you are still monitoring this portion of your website. I have read a all of it and both of your books enjoying your trials and tribulations along the way. I am the second owner of a 1971 Superior MH which I think has the same frame and engine (318) as yours. I finally mothballed it a few years ago due to overheating which I traced to problems associated with changing fuel formulas and the removal of lead from it. Question? have you had any of the same issues? I would like to refurbish it like you have done with yours, but need answers this problem before I put too much effort in it. Any other bits of advice before I consider this project? Also love your inclusion of your kids and family in all of your adventures. Money can’t buy an education like that:) Keep on going.. like others following you it feeds our wanderlust and knowledge it is available to anyone if the desire is there. .

  23. Hey Bob, we’ve never had a problem because of the new fuel formulas in any of our old vehicles. I really don’t know anything about that. My motto is pretty much to just get in and go, figure out the problems along the way. But that’s not for everyone. Good luck. Don’t give up on the ol’ gal just yet.

  24. when and if you redo the exhaust, change over to full duels front to back. stick with “quite mufflers” though as you are driving in an large echo chamber. this will give a 10-20 hp boost and if you keep the speed under 60mph possibly another 2mpg., dan, ’70 travco “mahal”owner for 20yrs

  25. well thats good to hear. have had my ’70 mahal model for about 20 yrs. it gets used every year. just started it up after being under cover for the winter. been across the country, and from cape bretan canada down to the keys over the years. mostly I use it now for music concerts that I work at, (or play at). just about retired so I may put a few more miles on it this coming season. it’s always the conversation piece along with picture taking wherever I go. dan, upstate ny

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