A Week In An RV On A $96,400 Salary

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Today: a remote executive assistant/operations manager who makes $96,400 per year and spends some of her money this week on a wet vacuum.
Occupation: Remote Executive Assistant/Operations Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 31
Location: An RV across the U.S.
Salary: $96,400 (I am a full-time employee and also have independent clients.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month for the salary, 1x/month for the contracted payments): $2063.13 + $2,500
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: My husband and I live in an RV and travel the U.S. We boondock (live off the grid) as much as possible, and then stay at RV parks when we need to top off on water/electricity and do laundry. We try and keep our total monthly housing costs under $600.
Loans: $0 (We made sure we were debt-free before starting our journey.)
Netflix: $14
RV & Motorcycle Insurance: $220
Phones: $150
Unlimited Wi-Fi Hotspots (Verizon, Sprint, ATT & ATT iPad): $140
Amazon Prime (annual): $119
Health Insurance: $420 (deducted pre-tax)
403(b): $250
Savings For Contractor Taxes: $1,000
Personal Savings: $1,000

Day One

5:35 a.m. — I am woken by the warm, comforting feeling of being slowly suffocated by a cat. My cat (one of three rescue cats) has decided that simply sleeping on my chest is not enough, and I have two good hands that could be petting her. After what seems like an insanely long cuddle session that will never truly be enough, I head to the front of the RV to where my work laptop is so I can get some client work completed, because I have no work/life boundaries.
8:30 a.m. — I head over to the campground's main office to pick up some eggs. Still have not yet found a way to transport eggs in an RV that makes me think I won't open the fridge to shattered egg goop. We started life on the road a few weeks ago, and oh, my God, it has been so much more difficult than I thought it would be. Turns out years of planning and researching and ignoring the beautifully filtered #RVLife Instagram photos that set unrealistic expectations do not set you up to be prepared for this. My husband, S., and I bought an old class A RV two years ago and had been slowly renovating it over summer weekends at my parents' house, with the intention of traveling the U.S. full-time. After tears, frustration, innumerable bug bites, and scratching out plans A, B, and C, we finally hit the road. But we have yet to successfully transport eggs. $3.89
11:30 a.m. — S. finally wakes up after a night of streaming video games on Twitch, and we put our gear on for riding the motorcycle to Mount Rushmore after eating eggs, bacon, and toast. We are staying at a campground in Rapid City, because after boondocking in the Badlands for a week with no running water, we decided we just had to get that water pump fixed. Since we are here, we want to check out the touristy sites around. South Dakota itself has been surprisingly beautiful, and the landscape is like someone was playing with the Sim City terrain editor — totally flat one minute, mountainous forests the next.
12:45 p.m. — We arrive at Rushmore with a string of other motorcycles. It's the Sturgis Rally this whole last week, so there are bikes everywhere. S. loves it and feels like he's in his community. While we have an America the Beautiful parks pass, Mount Rushmore does not have paid entry, so we are still required to pay for parking. $10
1 p.m. — Is it just me, or was Rushmore supposed to be…larger? I did a road trip with a friend a few years ago, and we stopped at Rushmore and I remember feeling more awe and wonderment like S. is feeling, but instead I feel underwhelmed. All the trails off the sides of the paths are being watched by park rangers, and half the park is under some sort of construction. We take a look, grab a few artsy shots and the obligatory ridiculous selfie, and head out within 15 minutes.
2 p.m. — Instead of heading home, we go to the city of Custer to grab some lunch. Even though Sturgis is an hour away, the biker tourism spreads all the way down here, and whole portions of the road are blocked off for motorcycle parking. It's actually really nice. When we lived in a metropolitan area, we always had a hard time finding parking downtown because none of the ramps allowed for motorcycle parking. The whole state of South Dakota so far has been incredibly welcoming. We grab lunch at a cute Mexican restaurant (S. has a weakness for great ceviche) and head into Custer State Park. $30
5 p.m. — Custer. Was. Gorgeous. We zipped around on Wilderness Trail, hoping to see some far-off animals. S. loved the curves on the road, and I loved the breathtaking scenery. At only $10 to get in, it was the best money we've spent all week. However, we did have an issue with cars stopping in the middle of the street to take photos. I get that you want to have that photo of a bison that nobody has ever taken, but they are literally an arm's length away and we are exposed on a motorcycle — just keep moving. So incredibly dangerous for a car to trap a line of motorcyclists that way. Before we head back home, we stop at the general store in the park for some much-needed, stress-relieving ice cream. $13
6:30 p.m. — Arrive at home just in time for my weekly video-game session with my friend V. The hardest part in leaving everything behind to live in an RV wasn't downsizing and selling all our things, it was not being able to bring our friends and family with us. I'm determined to try and keep my friendships as normal as possible, even though I have no idea when I will see my friends again. We were unable to play last week, because we didn't have a strong enough Wi-Fi signal, but being in the middle of the city has its advantages.
11 p.m. — I thoroughly had my ass handed to me. In a co-op game. Sometimes the AI is more aggressive than you are, and your partner is on the other side of the map. Still, it was a fun time and great to hear how V. is doing. I realize I didn't eat anything for dinner, but I'm not really hungry, so I grab a handful of Pringles and quickly snack on them before heading to bed. Because we are so much more active and mobile now, I find that my hunger levels have been completely out of whack. Not looking for dietary advice — I'm just in flux right now. S. tucks me into bed before heading to the front of the RV to prepare to stream. (He quit his job before we left. It was incredibly toxic for him, and a few years ago he took care of us when I left a toxic job, so giving him the space to pursue something he loves while I hold down the fort is important to me.) I fall asleep in a pile of kitties to the sounds of “Mic check, mic check.”
Daily Total: $56.89

Day Two

7 a.m. — I am once again awakened by my cat singing the song of her people while kneading my boobs. The cats have an auto-feeder (thank God), but they still like to act like they are dying at random times if they haven't had enough attention in, oh, an hour or so. Even though it's Sunday, I go and check out my work email addresses. A lot of my clients were in conferences this past week, so they are playing catch-up with their emails. It's not an expectation that I work on a weekend, and in fact they discourage it, but I really like feeling on top of things. After emails, I finish up watching The Boys on Amazon. When you know you're gonna have spotty internet access coming up, you savor every bit of data you can.
10 a.m. — S. wakes and I make breakfast — scrambled eggs that tried first to be an omelet and some thick bacon. We pop on our gear, I crank up Eluveitie on my helmet's headset, and we head off to the gas station to fill up the tank before starting our journey to Needles Highway. $7.49
2 p.m. — After a few hours of saying “wow” to the views every few minutes, we stop to get lunch at the Sylvan Lake General Store. S. and I both get bison burgers and head back on the road quickly, as the sky has been ominous almost all day. Great for photos, but horrible for riding in. $24.50
5 p.m. — We arrive back in Rapid City just as the rain starts to hit. We get inside, appease the kitty gods, and take off our gear to relax. Riding a motorcycle can be exhausting when you're going around tight turns, even for the passenger. S. takes a nap while I go down a YouTube rabbit hole of animal rescue videos and unlikely animal friendships.
5:30 p.m. — The few sprinkles turn into a severe storm with 50 mph winds. I'm just hoping the possible hail doesn't damage our solar panels. As I wake up S. to make sure there's nothing we can do about the bike, we both take a minute to be super thankful we didn't get caught in the middle of our ride in this and hope everyone else out there is okay.
7 p.m. — We make tacos as the impending apocalypse roars around us. We watch a few episodes of Parks and Rec (Knope 2020!), snuggle up with the cats, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $31.99

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Moving dayyyyy! Nothing like a little extra stress driving a land boat between two small lines going 80 mph. We have to be out of our campground by 11, but we always save things like laundry for the last day, so it lasts when we aren't hooked up to anything. We make the RV as cold as possible, because we can't run the AC while driving. Looks like it's a four-hour trip today to Wyoming (which means six-plus hours in RV time). We fill up our water, charge all our batteries (something is still wrong with the solar chargers), and dump all of our trash. A breakfast of garbage cereal (PopTarts didn't need to become a cereal) and some client emails completed, and we are on our way!
11 a.m. — Five minutes into the drive and I'm sweating. We need to get the AC fixed pronto. We only travel on days I have no or few client calls, because reception is spotty at best. At least you don't need consistent Wi-Fi to answer emails! Thanks, Google!
12:30 p.m. — We stop at a rest stop for a quick lunch of sandwiches, turn on the generator and get the cold air pumping, pet the cats and remind them we love them (they love being able to stare out the windows at all the new places, but hate actually getting there), do the dishes, and head back on the road.
2 p.m. — We stop to fill up the tank for the RV. I die inside at the price, but I'm banking on the fact that we will slow down and not travel every few days for forever and can spend a few weeks in one spot. If gas gets too expensive, we will just stay in one state for a while and travel less distance instead of this marathon we seem to be doing. $150.72
3 p.m. — One of the cats starts howling, and I head back to the bedroom to comfort him. I see water on the floor and think their water dish must have spilled. Then I realize it is a tsunami of water. I open the bathroom door and water sprays out — it's flooded!! S. pulls over immediately. I step out and see water leaking from everywhere onto the road. My heart sinks. The water pump was still on when we left, and the pressure burst a pipe in the bathroom. I use everything I can find to sop it up, but a lot of damage is done. Our carpet in the bedroom is soaked, and we have to throw out the bath mat. I use one of those stupid decorative couch blankets to try and soak up some of the water. New plan — to the nearest Home Depot!
4 p.m. — We get into the sleepy town of Douglas, WY, and stop at a Safeway to stock up on drinkable water and groceries for the week. $76.30
6 p.m. — We arrive at our boondocking site and...there's nobody around? I'm always worried we are going to get somewhere and it will be full. No calling ahead when you are staying on public land, but this place ends up being AMAZING. We check to make sure we have good cell connection (we do) and get settled. There are trees, a small creek nearby, free water, and dumpsters?? I can safely call this boondocking heaven. S. hops on his motorcycle to go to Casper and get the parts he thinks he needs to fix the drain problem in the bathroom while I coax the cats out of hiding. They hate the ride, but they're getting more and more bold when it comes to settling in. I pull up the iPad for some quality Netflix time and wait for S. to return.
8:30 p.m. — S. returns with the plumbing supplies and chocolate. He fixes the plumbing issue (hopefully!), and the water seems to be fine now. We are both exhausted, so we just nuke some noodles and crawl into bed. $14.75
Daily Total: $241.77

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of a cat puking. I can sleep through almost anything except that. I bolt up, clean up the mess and comfort the kitty, and decide I'm too jolted to go back to sleep. Time for client work while the sun begins to warm the RV.
8:30 a.m. — S. and I hop on the bike and ride to Casper to pick up a wet vac from Target to soak up some of the water that still seems to be plaguing our bedroom. In doing our reno, I wanted super plush carpet, and now it's coming back to bite me in the ass. $89.95
10 a.m. — Wet vac did absolutely nothing. We open up all the windows and hope that it'll naturally dry. At least it was just water! Back to client work and calls.
11:30 a.m. — I make a lunch of grilled-cheese sandwiches and hotdogs while S. tries to install a Wi-Fi booster. We haven't run into reception so bad that we have had to move, but we want to make sure that if we do, we are ready to give it our best shot!
5:30 p.m. — Booster installed, and after multiple speed tests…it doesn't seem to do anything. We tried tests multiple places before installing and nothing seemed consistent, so maybe it is what it is. But it is time for my biweekly D&D session with friends from back home, so I log into Discord and get my d20s ready. I understand I am a grown-ass woman playing D&D. But honestly, it's awesome. You should try it.
9 p.m. — A few battles and tavern brawls later, and the session is over. Saving the realms is exhausting, so I check email one last time, have a quick dinner with S., and crawl into bed. The cats throw themselves on my body before I pass out.
Daily Total: $89.95

Day Five

6 a.m. — No rest for the weary, or for cat people, it seems. I get up, watch the season finale of The Handmaid's Tale (clearly the priority for the day), Slack my coworker on the East Coast about my dismay on the ending, and start working. Today is back-to-back-to-back meetings, so I have to get done with any work I have right away in the morning.
12 p.m. — S. makes breakfast of scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes. One meeting finished 15 minutes early, so I book us a campground stay for a few days so we have a place that has 100% strong Wi-Fi and laundry. Colorado, get ready! $106.50
5 p.m. — Meetings have finally ended, and I've emptied my inboxes (inbox zero is my addiction). S. has made peach-glazed pork chops for dinner, and we watch another episode of Parks and Rec before I boot up my gaming laptop for my weekly “Let's pretend I'm still in the cities and play weekly video games like we always do!” session with V. I wanted to sit outside and play, but the mosquitos here are ferocious vampires.
5:30 p.m. — Session canceled — V. had to take their roommate to the ER (they're fine), so S. and I decide to play video games together. You know what they say — the couple that plays post-apocalyptic zombie murder scenarios together, stays together. We boot up the generator because the laptops are such power hogs.
9 p.m. — We don't want to be those assholes running their generator at night when the sounds around us are so awesome, so we turn off our laptops and the generator and snuggle while doing our respective YouTube rabbit holes.
Daily Total: $106.50

Day Six

8 a.m. — Holy crap, no cats woke me up. I check to make sure they're still alive (they are) and boil some hot water on the stove to make some peaches-and-cream oatmeal. S. likes to eat his cold and with milk like a monster, so I make just enough hot water for me and to wash up the dishes from last night. Our hot-water heater is broken, so we have to boil the water to make sure the dishes get really clean. It's the little things you don't realize you'll miss. Quick email check, and I start my day.
10 a.m. — We move our RV to a different spot in the park that has slightly more trees. Another woman who is staying at the park in her car comes up to chat, and when I ask her why she's living on the road, she says she “doesn't have time to just exist.” I mentally think, “YESSSSSSS!” It's always good to meet other people who live alternatively. She then smiles and tells me she saw a bear next to her car last night, but it's okay because she'll just shoot it if it gets too close. So, you know, there's THAT.
12 p.m. — Quesadillas for lunch, then work.
4 p.m. — My meetings are done, so S. and I are going to explore the town we are in. We try to eat at a local restaurant at least once before moving on to a new town. Already I've learned about food I didn't even know existed (shout-out to South Dakota's chislic!). Sometimes I forget how freaking huge America is, and sometimes it feels like each state is its own little country. South Dakota — super-friendly, welcoming people. Wyoming — a little hesitant, but everyone is driving around on four-wheelers, so that's pretty cool.
5 p.m. — That has to have been the shortest town tour ever. The whole town is like two square blocks, and everything is closed before 5. There are only a handful of restaurants in town, so we pick the top-rated one on Yelp and head over there. Turns out what we thought was a bar/restaurant is actually a historical ballroom made into fine dining?? The online menu was so wrong. It feels a little weird to be sitting down at a fancy place wearing motorcycle gear and baseball caps, but we are the only ones there, so the waitress didn't seem to mind. We order an appetizer and each get a seafood main (because, you know, Wyoming is known for their….seafood?). While the main course is really good, the desserts are really disappointing, ending the night on a bit of a downer. We were the only people there the entire time, so I guess eating out on a Thursday isn't a big thing. $72.10
7 p.m. — It's too late to run the generator by the time we get home, and I have a huge headache from staring at the computer all day, so we snuggle up in bed—
11 p.m. — I wake to the sound of hail on our roof. I pray to whatever deity exists out there that they don't damage our solar panels. The storm lasts for about half an hour before moving on. We were fine, but the sound is definitely amplified in a tiny metal tube, so the cats are certifiably freaked out. Some catnip for them and some juice for me, and it's back to bed.
Daily Total: $72.10

Day Seven

6 a.m. — M-m-m-m-mooooving day! Wyoming wasn't as exciting as I had hoped, so we are on to our next destination — Colorado! Colorado is one of my favorite states (mountains! trees! water! eco-friendly priorities!), and when we finally settle down, this state may just be it. But for now, we are just going for a visit. I check the solar panels (all good) and also check in on our neighbor who is sleeping in a tent (she moved to her car). I work on client emails and down some apples and oatmeal, and get the RV set up for adventure. You wouldn't think it would be such an orchestra to get done, but there's a lot to do to turn her from happy home to roadway beast.
8:40 a.m. — S. is up and getting ready for the day. We debate stopping at the Target in Casper (reeeeally tight turn to get in) or wait until we get to Steamboat Springs (everything there is unknown). We take large parking-lot entrances for granted. :)
10 a.m. — Target Casper it is! We grab groceries and road-trip snacks and get ready to hit the road. I grab some Famous Amos cookies (someone mentioned them at work the other day, and I had been CRAVING them hard) and a fizzy water, which when opened immediately explodes all over me and my seat. Traveling with your home means a full change of clothes and cleaning supplies, so within minutes we leave the parking lot (though I'm throwing shade at the now half-empty fizzy water). $55.25
11 a.m. — Something has been making a ton of noise on the roof of our RV when we get up to speed, so when we stop at a Flying J (bless you, all Flying Js, for making me not have a heart attack thinking about how to fit this beast at a gas pump), we get out and take a look. Turns out some trim along the windshield has come loose. Can't do anything about it except duct-tape it back, so I grab a ladder and get to work. Yet another thing to add to the list! We fill up again and get back on the highway. There is actually a lot more to look at on this side of Wyoming. Had we been anywhere around here, we may have stayed longer! $140.28
12 p.m. — We stop at what we think is a rest stop, but it is actually Independence Rock?!? Really thought there would be more of a fanfare about it. Eight-year-old me who sucked at Oregon Trail gets super psyched.
6 p.m. — We arrive at our KOA campsite. The hosts, as usual, are incredibly friendly. We park and treat ourselves to some ice cream after a long, hot ride. S. goes back to the RV to take a nap (he did the driving while I worked, which is far more exhausting than normal road-trip driving). I take all our laundry from the week and throw in a load. I take a walk around the park (on a river with a view of the mountains — STUNNING) and squeal over the tiny houses parked here. HGTV, you have made me an addict. $11
8 p.m. — Travel days are lazy cooking days, so I make all the taco fixings and we have a late dinner of cheesy, meaty goodness. I look up places for us to go in Steamboat after work tomorrow. We will have to check out our potential boondocking site for this week (not sure how our RV is going to do on these massive hills!) tomorrow evening, but for now, it's time to prepare for sleep.
Daily Total: $206.53
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