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Monday, January 19, 2015

Road life and breakdowns



There's quite a few folks living on the road in everything from small vans to big RVs. It can be a pretty cheap way to live. There are more free camping places in the western part of the country, but even in the populous east there are free options. Even campgrounds can be pretty economical. They also have the advantage of having useful services: hot showers, laundry, pump out stations, electric power, and wifi.

One thing that can put a real damper on the lifestyle is vehicle repairs. I know of one family who's converted bus just suffered a blown engine, a $7000 repair. That certainly throws a monkey wrench into frugal living. Major problems with one's vehicle not only leaves you without transportation, you lose your house at the same time. Things can get very expensive very quickly.

Most long term road warriors know a fair amount of vehicle repair and maintenance. However, sometimes you need the service of a full time garage. I've a had a small taste of it myself. Some years back my lovely wife and I were traveling through Louisiana, and our vehicle suffered a major breakdown. We found a garage that could do the job near a cheap motel. It took days to get the right parts and the repairs done. While there were some restaurants and stores close by, nothing was set up for walking. Every time we went somewhere we risked being run over by high speed traffic.

It pays to have stayed in contact with friends and family. Right now I'm at my dad's in Florida. I'm going to check the wheel bearings on trailer and install better lights. If the van needed something my dad could drive me around to get parts. If I needed local services, my dad knows who does good work for a reasonable price. Another time we stayed with friends in Kentucky while my truck got broken springs replaced.

If you travel on the road long enough odds are a major repair will have to be dealt with. If you are lucky you'll have local contacts who'll help you. However, you'll still have to spend some money to fix your problems. Nothing beats having an emergency fund. Call it the price of freedom.

I'm not a big fan of credit card debt, but a credit card can save you. It's better than nothing. Last year I had to resort to that myself. It was at the end of our winter travel and funds were low. It allowed us to fix the problem and get home. A few months later the bills were all paid up and we were ready for the road again.

People who live in regular houses have unexpected expenses too: furnaces die, roofs leak, AC units fail, pipes leak, and so on. People's cars break down too, making life difficult. Every lifestyle has its challenges.

-Sixbears

8 comments:

  1. We had a double whammy last year - septic and oil burner.
    It was not a good year, saving wise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are two big issues at the same time. Pretty tough.

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  2. I have had a few break-downs on the road in the RV. They are never welcome. Not only do they cost money but they also take up your valuable traveling time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly takes the fun out of life.

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  3. can always go back to wagons with two mules

    Wildflower

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now you sound like the Flying Tortoise. No critters for me thank you.

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  4. Like you said...it's the price of freedom. Doesn't make it hurt any less, though.

    ReplyDelete