Last Updated on 04/19/2023 by Glynn Willard
Read an update to high fuel prices in 2022 in our article RVing With High Fuel Prices In 2022.
Thinking about crossing the country with an RV?
This article is destination oriented and going to focus on crossing the country rapidly with a travel trailer or RV.
Let’s put the engine in drive and look at some of the quantifiable data from our most recent cross country RV road trip.
This is our third time crossing the country upon the writing of this article. And this is all based on our personal experiences.
Everyone’s going to have a slightly different experience.
How Long Does It Take To Cross The Country In An RV?
We had a deadline to cross the country with our travel trailer, so we moved faster than comfortable. Many people are likely willing to put more miles in a day than us.
We’ve found that with a family of four and a bearded dragon and a 33 gallon diesel tank, the stops are frequent. Taking into account these variables, we have not been able to average more than 55 miles per hour.
That doesn’t mean we’re driving slow. On the contrary, ORV travel trailers properly balanced and a super duty tow vehicle cruise along at 75mph just fine. But I prefer to cruise between 65-70mph unless passing since it’s a lot of weight to stop.
We followed a southern direction first from Delaware to avoid snow and then picked up Interstate 10 straight to Arizona. Yuma was our final destination.
It took us 9 days. That included a rest day (under 100 miles) to give us a rest. I know it can be done in less time, but we found this to be tolerable and comfortable.
Should You Cross The Country On Interstates Or Back Roads?
This of course depends on the size of your rig and your comfort level with tight turns, potential low overhead passes and finding easy parking.
And of course, your timeframe.
We’ve done both and I find interstates to be a lot easier. But, our fuel economy was compromised from so much high speed. More about that later.
We felt like we could embrace more of the smaller town culture when avoiding the interstate. We also felt less rushed.
And we’re always happier to support the small businesses in less traveled towns.
So, the answer boils down to your comfort level, time frame and preferences.
Small Gas Stations Or Truck Stops To Cross The Country?
It’s astounding how much more expensive the big name truck stops are for fuel! Our trailer is only 28′ hitch to bumper, so we’re able to fit into much smaller spaces.
We certainly take advantage of this agility to support smaller fuel stations (many are independently owned).
But it’s hard to argue with the convenience of big, wide fuel lanes and a lot to pull off to park and take care of food and bathroom needs.
So, to sum this up, it depends on the size of your rig, but you will save money at the smaller fuel stations. Fleet cards may help, but I’m not a fan of the additional layer of complexity.
How Many Miles To The Gallon Did We Get Crossing The Country?
This is where we saw the biggest impact. On backroads, we always averaged 11.5 miles to the gallon in a 2017 F250 diesel while towing. Once we consistently cranked up the speed, it dropped to 9.4 miles to the gallon.
One could state that we made up the difference by covering more ground. That’s an equation worth pursuing over time.
Should You Boondock Or Use Campgrounds When Crossing The Country In An RV.
This is another loaded question because we prefer to boondock most of the time. But there’s a lot to be said for calling ahead and having a definitive spot waiting for you along the way.
And after a long drive, full hook ups are nice. Besides, our rig is not very functional without the slide out. That eliminates a lot of the easy locations like boondocking at Walmart or rest stops.
We do like to use Boondocker’s Welcome that we book in advance when covering a lot of ground. But they’re not everywhere and not always available.
On a side not, we really enjoying meeting the hosts and hearing their stories.
How Many Miles A Day Is Comfortable Crossing The Country?
Again, another loaded question. I really like moving days that are under 200 miles, but that’s not an option when we’re in a hurry. My happy place is 300 miles a day when we’re in a hurry.
I will tolerate 400 miles. It’s the number of stops that slows us down (fuel and bathroom). With our average rate of milage covered, 400 miles equates to around 8 hours on the road.
That’s enough for me. We can break down and set up really fast, but I still like to enjoy a good breakfast, dinner wind down time.
How Much Did It Cost Us To Cross The Country With A Travel Trailer?
This particular trip consisted of exactly 2,883 miles and we used 306 gallons of diesel.
This works out to 9.4 miles per gallon. The cost for fuel ranged from $2.99/gallon to $4.05/gallon.
We spent a total of $941 on fuel, which works out to an average of $3.10 a gallon. Take into account we arrived to our destination with 3/4 full tank, but we started the trip with a full tank.
Pending the prior section of on campgrounds, we totaled $131 in fees for Boondocker’s Welcome and Campgrounds.
We shopped for groceries one time on the road and spent $185. We were stocked when we left and restocked again as soon as we arrived.
On a side note, one of our camera’s died while in route, so we had to swing by a camera store and spend $360 for a GoPro. But we’re not going to count that in the total since it’s an outlying expense.
So, ultimately, we spent $1,257 to cross the country with our travel trailer for fuel, camping and food.
If you crossed the country in an RV, how much did you spend?
Happy and safe travels!
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