Are you considering a road trip for your next family vacation? If so, you’re not alone! RV sales have been off the charts in recent years, and many new owners are looking to hit the road with their families.
There are many advantages to RVing when it comes to family vacations. However, you might be wondering, is RVing cheaper than hotels?
If that’s a question you’ve been asking yourself, wonder no more! Today, we’re taking a closer look at this question and helping you consider the whole picture of the costs of RVing.
Do RVs Save You Money?
RVs might be the answer if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to vacation. An RV not only gives you a place to sleep at the end of the day, but they often come with refrigerators and kitchens, too.
This means you can prepare meals and avoid eating at expensive restaurants for every meal while on vacation. Being able to crawl into a bed that you know has clean sheets is priceless for many RVers.
While there are many perks to RVing, you can’t forget to account for the expenses that come with them. You may need to pay for a parking spot when it’s not in use, spend money using it, and maintain it between uses.
If you’re only planning to use it for one trip a year, an RV will likely not save you any money.
What Is the Downside of Owning an RV?
RVs can be fantastic for vacations and weekend trips, but they’re not perfect. One of the biggest downsides of owning an RV is maintaining it. Something will break no matter how new or expensive it is.
If you’re planning to own an RV, you better learn from watching YouTube videos and have some DIY skills. If not, you’ll get tired of paying someone else to do repairs.
Another downside of owning an RV is that you have to have someplace to store it when it’s not in use. Even if you have a spot at home to keep your rig, some HOAs and communities see RVs as an eyesore and prohibit parking them overnight in driveways or on the side of the street. Storage costs vary based on the size of the camper but can easily cost over $100 per month.
Is RVing Cheaper Than Hotels?
Whether RVing is cheaper than hotels typically depends on your travel style and how often you plan to travel. If you plan to frequently use your RV and already own a capable vehicle to tow it, then it can be cheaper.
However, it may not be if you have a hectic schedule and can only use it once or twice each year or don’t already own a vehicle capable of towing a camper.
Both campers and trucks can be insanely expensive in the current market. You’re going to be paying a premium price on a depreciating asset.
We’re not financial gurus, but we know a bad financial decision when we see one. It may be a tough pill to swallow to book a hotel for a vacation, but in the long run, you’ll be saving money by not having a truck or trailer sitting in your driveway for 51 weeks of the year.
What Costs Are Involved With RVing?
Buying an RV isn’t a decision you should make quickly. Understanding all the costs involved is essential. You don’t want to discover that you can’t afford your new RV because you didn’t consider the expenses.
Let’s look at a few you need to consider!
Buying or Renting an RV
Whether buying or renting an RV, it can be costly. You can find travel trailers well over $50,000, fifth wheels over $100,000, and motorhomes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. RVs often depreciate faster than most people can pay them off.
They can be worth half their initial value in a few short years. This is why many who want the RV experience choose to rent instead.
Renting an RV can seem expensive at first. However, you have to consider that you get to avoid paying for annual maintenance, storage fees, and the massive depreciation of the rig.
If you’ll only be using the RV for a trip or two each year, renting when you need to use one is a much better financial decision.
Whether you’re considering a towable or driveable RV, you can’t forget to consider fuel costs. Fuel costs often fluctuate and vary quite a bit depending on where you live or travel. In general, the larger the RV, the more you should plan to spend on fuel.
Depending on your vehicle, you can often experience single-digit MPGs while RVing. If you’re traveling far, you can easily spend several hundred dollars on fuel, especially considering the fuel prices we’re seeing lately. Make sure you factor fuel into your RVing budget.
While there are free options for camping, most RVers book campsites to park their RVs while traveling. Reservation fees can be just as much as an inexpensive hotel room, depending on the campground. It’s not uncommon to see upscale RV parks charging over $75 per night.
If you’re looking for a more authentic camping experience, you can typically find state parks and other local, budget-friendly campgrounds. Depending on the amenities, you can expect to pay $15 to $45 per night. A campsite with full hook-ups will cost more than a campsite that only has electrical connections.
Consider checking out one of these 7 Underrated State Parks for your next camping trip.
One necessary evil of RV ownership is the required maintenance. You must keep bolts tight, moving parts lubricated, and ensure a water-tight barrier around the rig. Even if you stay on top of the maintenance, things can break when you subject your rig to earthquake-like conditions while traveling.
Manufacturers often provide a recommended schedule for maintenance. Some RV warranties even require that you stay on top of things, or else it voids the warranty. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a massive repair bill that a warranty would have covered had you followed the maintenance schedule.
Insurance requirements often vary from state to state, but typically, you’ll need full-coverage insurance if you take a loan out when purchasing your RV. While those using their RV for weekend trips and short adventures may get by with an inexpensive policy, those using their rig for full-time traveling will likely need a more expensive policy.
When purchasing insurance, it’s important to know what is and isn’t covered. Full-time RV insurance will often cover lodging costs should your RV need to spend the night at a repair facility.
Some insurance policies only cover the RV itself and not the contents. Again, make sure you’re familiar with your specific insurance policy details.
RV owners need a place to park their rig when they’re not using it. Storage rates often vary based on the rig’s size and any amenities available at the facility. You can find everything from climate-controlled RV storage to uncovered storage parking spaces. Any type of covered storage will come with a premium price tag.
Rates will vary from location to location, but a standard storage spot can cost over $100 per month. Some premium storage locations can cost several hundred dollars each month. So an RV can cost you money even when you’re not using it.
Is Owning an RV Cost-Effective?
RVs can be a great way to make priceless memories. Owning an RV can be cost-effective in some instances, but it’s not always the case. The more you use your RV and make memories, the more cost-effective it can be. If it allows you to avoid paying hotel fees and buying expensive meals while on vacation, it can be extremely cost-effective.
However, many RV owners overestimate how often they’ll use their rig. While they may dream of taking their rig out every weekend during camping season, life often gets in the way.
Families with busy work and active schedules may not be able to use their RV as often as they like. As we said earlier, your RV will cost you money no matter how often you use it.
Is It Cheaper to Vacation in an RV?
If an RV fits your travel style, it can be a cheaper way to vacation than hotels. There are many campgrounds and locations where you can park your RV and have an entertaining weekend without leaving the campground.
Whether playing games at the campsite or hiking a trail, there are often infinite free entertainment possibilities while camping in an RV.
For those who only take one or two vacations a year, the expenses of owning an RV might not be worth it. You must accurately assess how everyone in your family wants to spend their vacation time.
Buying an RV and rarely using it is a terrible investment and will likely cost you more than if you were to book a fancy hotel for your vacations.
Do you prefer to book hotels or campsites for vacation?
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