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The aftermath

December 20th, 2011

After six months and 31,000 miles, I am finally back in Minnesota.  The final game of the trip is still a few hours away, but I have already unpacked Sam and begun to ease back into a somewhat normal life.

I didn’t have much in the way of possessions before the trip, but the boxes I left in storage greeted me menacingly upon my return.  “Open me!  Need me!” they screamed. What could those things be? What could I possibly need now that I did not need for half a year?

I am tempted to get rid of it all, but the window to do so is before I open those containers. After I see what’s in them, it will be too late.

On the other hand, I miss using some of the things, like my nice IPS LCD monitor.  Clothes, too.

I also had a bunch of clothes in storage, by which I mean I have at least three more pairs of pants and a half dozen shirts.  That’s a huge increase from what I had with me on the road.  It felt kind of silly, but I was almost overwhelmed with the number of clothing options I had from my recently reacquired wardrobe.

The surprises didn’t stop with my items in storage.

The first thing I did when I got back to Minneapolis — even before I unpacked — was to change Sam’s oil. I like changing oil, not only because it’s really simple, but also because I’m leery of oil-change places.

Unfortunately, I was left with few options other than Jiffy Lube in Greenville, SC when I last had Sam’s oil changed.  They charged me an arm and a leg, filled the windshield washer fluid reservoir with water (that then froze in Colorado), and didn’t use the replacement crush washer I had provided for the drain plug. As if that weren’t enough, they left me another surprise: they used the wrong oil filter!

Jiffy Lube used the filter on the right (6607), which is NOT correct for Sam. The box for the correct filter (9688) is on the left. (Both Fram and MileGuard are made by Honeywell)

Poor Sam.  Those morons at the Jiffy Lube in Greenville used the filter for a 2.5 l Outback, not a 3.6 l Outback like Sam.  That’s a considerably smaller filter.

Fortunately, the outer gasket sizes were similar enough that oil didn’t leak all over the place, but I’m concerned about the reduced filtering capacity.  The Jiffy Lube receipt itself shows that they used the wrong filter, so you’d better believe that I’ll pursue that if Sam ever develops any oil-related engine maladies.

I amassed a huge collection of other receipts, too.

Just some of my receipts from the trip. And a coffee.

There was a time when I had grand plans of itemizing every trip expense. Ha.  Here’s a coarse breakdown:

  • Nights in hotels/B&Bs: 115
  • Nights camping in tents: 15
  • Nights camping in cars: 1
  • Nights in hostels: 8
  • Nights surfing couches: 40
  • Nights on red-eyes: 2
  • Highest hotel cost per night (inc. tax): $120 (Whitehorse, YT)
  • Lowest hotel cost per night (inc. tax): $40 (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Gallons of gas burned: 1,215
  • Highest price paid for gas: CDN$1.459/litre = US$5.70/gal in July 2011 (on the Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory)
  • Lowest price paid for gas: US$2.979/gal in December 2011 (in Houston, TX)

And in aggregate:

  • Cost of lodging: $7,900
  • Cost of gas: $3,800
  • Cost of car maintenance: $1,000
  • Cost of food: $1,800
  • Other direct trip expenses (e.g., plane tickets, gear): $4,000
  • Other fixed costs during trip: $14,000

That doesn’t include the biggest “expense,” opportunity cost. I didn’t work much over those six months I was on the road, so the trip “cost” me half a year’s income.

Overall, was it worth it? Without hesitation, I say: YES.


  1. Jeff
    December 20th, 2011 at 17:46 | #1

    What did you decide to do for your return home game? Any festivities? 🙂

  2. December 20th, 2011 at 20:06 | #2

    Hey, I didn’t see “Super cushy guest rooms: 1” listed.

    I tried to talk the hubby into a round-the-world honeymoon, but he couldn’t handle the sticker shock of the total. We spend more than that living here! Oh well…

  3. Jeff
    December 20th, 2011 at 21:06 | #3

    @Jeff Played at the Xcel Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. Full post pending!

    @Stacy That gets at one of the themes of the trip. Although not everybody is in a position to take half a year off and travel the world, smaller trips can be done on any availability and under the smallest of budgets.

  4. Greg Hicks
    December 20th, 2011 at 22:01 | #4

    So what are other fixed costs? Is that items you had to pay for because you were on the trip or items that you would have had to pay whether you were traveling or not? All the costs up to that one seem very reasonable and a trip well worth the expenditure. And, as for opportunity cost, don’t confuse it with opportunity lost because the trip is really opportunity gained.

  5. Jeff
    December 20th, 2011 at 22:21 | #5

    @Greg Hicks As with many things that come with accounting, the answer gets a bit soft if you begin to poke to hard at it. I lumped things like student loans, car insurance, health insurance, and cell phone bills, to name a few, into the “fixed cost” bucket. I suppose I could argue that a certain minimal expenditure for housing should be a fixed cost, and that argument could probably work for food, too, but I split them out because their nature was so different on the trip vis-a-vis my normal life.

    I agree about the cost of opportunity lost. Money cannot fix regret.

  6. Sue P.
    December 21st, 2011 at 13:34 | #6

    Congrat’s on the finish line Jeff…….. a “goal” that can be checked off your list! A little “goalie humor”………

  7. Jeff
    December 21st, 2011 at 22:28 | #7

    @Sue P. Thanks! Yup, this was one goal that I’m glad wasn’t a save.

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