If you’ve been thinking about ways to travel more while on a budget, RVing may be your answer. According to a new study performed by PKF Consulting USA for Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV vacations and road trips continue to be the least costly way to travel when compared to other types of vacations. Research shows that this holds true in spite of economic stressors and changes in fuel prices over time. In fact, the study concluded that RV travel is 23% to 59% cheaper for a family of four who would otherwise travel by car or airplane and then rent a hotel or vacation home and eat their meals at restaurants.
A 2015 report in Money Magazine, titled “ The Cheapest Way to Roadtrip Might Surprise You”, came to a similar conclusion. When comparing driving a car and staying in hotels, to owning a small RV, author Darrow Kirkpatrick found that two people on a traditional driving vacation in which they used their own car, stayed in hotels and dined out in restaurants, would spend about $181 a day (in 2015) if they were vacationing on a budget. Darrow concluded it would be much more if the couple was staying in hot destination spots. However, if the same vacationing couple owned an RV, Darrow found that, taking the cost of RV ownership and maintenance into account, and including gas, campground rates and groceries, the average daily cost for an RV vacation could be as low as $55 a day. Using a 500-mile trip over 7 days and a 2,000-mile trip over 21 days as his examples, he found that owning a small RV—one less than about 25 feet—was the most cost effective way to travel, allowing RV owners to travel for 30% to 40% less than the traditional car/hotel/restaurants vacation.
The savings add up however, even when considering an upscale, luxury vacation for four in a top of the line Class A motorhome. The RVIA study found that, when compared to four people travelling first class by air, renting a car at the destination, staying in upscale hotels and eating meals in restaurants, the RV vacation would save those same people thousands of dollars.
Of course this isn’t news to longtime RVers—they know that the cost savings in RVing makes it possible to travel more frequently, take longer vacations, and spend more quality time with friends and family. If you’ve been trying to decide whether RVing is right for you and your family, here are some things to consider in regard to cost savings and how to get the most vacation for your money.
RV Size Counts
The RVIA study looked at two types of hypothetical vacationers: a family of four, and two people traveling without children. They then calculated the costs of taking vacations to different popular vacation spots including the Grand Canyon; Orlando, Florida; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Yellowstone National Park; etc. As part of the study, they took into account fluctuations in fuel prices. In all cases, there were significant savings in every category of RV, from pop-up and truck campers, to travel trailers, to all types of motorhomes, including the largest luxury diesel pushers. They found that “RV vacations were more economical than the other vacations analyzed, regardless of trip duration, trip distance, or region of the country where the vacation takes place.” But if you’re travelling on a budget, it’s clear that the largest savings are found in the most economical RVs, including:
Folding or pop-up campers
Lightweight travel trailers that can be towed behind an SUV, crossover vehicle or smaller pickup
Fuel efficient motorhomes like Class B’s and C’s
In the Money Magazine article, Darrow Kirkpatrick agreed. He emphasized that RVs that are less than about 25 feet long are the most cost effective all around. Of course “the exact savings will depend on the nature of your travel,” says Darrow. “Low-mileage, long-duration trips are the most cost effective in an RV.” But for a couple or small family, a smaller RV can be supremely comfortable and provide the most savings, no matter the distance or destination.
RVing Makes Family Vacations Affordable & Convenient
Taking a road trip with children can get expensive fast when you’re doing it in the family car. Between the combination of snack and bathroom pit stops along the road, restaurant meals for the whole crew, and hotel rooms with extra beds for the kids, money practically flies out of your wallet. Taking a road trip in the family RV, however, means you eliminate both hotel and restaurant costs, and you’re more likely to have the food on hand that your family likes best. According the RVIA study, fuel prices would have to more than quadruple before RV vacations would be less economical than every other form of vacation travel for families. And because modern RVs are both more comfortable and more efficient than they have ever been, small families can take advantage of the extra savings you get from the most cost effective RV’s: those compact pop-up campers, lightweight travel trailers and smaller motorhomes.
Kannan Sankaran, Vice President of PKF Consulting USA noted in the RVIA study that, “RVing allows families a unique travel experience that offers appeal for those seeking to foster an increased sense of togetherness, control, flexibility, and convenience to travel whenever and wherever desired,”
For More Savings, Buy a Pre-Owned RV
Both studies show that owning a fuel efficient RV allows couples or small families to travel for approximately 60% to 70% of the usual car/hotel/restaurants-style vacation, even considering the expenses involved in buying and maintaining an RV. That’s great news for those of us on a fixed income or who have children! But vacationers on a budget can save even more money by buying a pre-owned RV. By doing your research ahead of time, so you know exactly what you’re looking for, and making sure you have an excellent RV service technician to look at any RV you’re considering before you purchase, you can find amazing savings on like-new RVs with low miles. Take the time to walk through a variety of RVs before you’re ready to buy; this will save you time later because you’ll already have eliminated features or floorplans that won’t work for you, and you’ll have a better idea of what matters to you the most. Don’t hesitate to give us a call or come and visit us in Junction City if you have questions or you want to peruse the options.
What About Renting an RV?
Renting an RV sounds like it should be a great alternative for people who want the savings of RV travel without the ownership costs. Right? Well, not exactly. According to Darrow Kirkpatrick’s research, renting an RV might not be the best long term vacation option for couples or small families. Yes, the operating costs are the same as they would be if you owned the RV, but the daily rental rate of a smaller RV is generally more than that of a budget hotel room. When Kirkpatrick added rental rates to campground rates, groceries, etc., he arrived at a daily cost of $260 a day for a vacation in a rented RV, which is significantly more than the typical car/hotel/restaurants vacation.
However, that equation changes depending on the number of people you’re travelling with. For a group of adult friends who are splitting the cost of an epic road trip, or for a larger family who isn’t ready for RV ownership, renting might make the most sense of all. When you add up the cost of a larger automobile that will accommodate everyone, or airline tickets for a group, and multiple hotel rooms and larger restaurant bills, the daily rate of even a large Class A rental motorhome may come in well under the other options.
Kirkpatrick also pointed out that renting an RV makes an enormous amount of sense for people who are exploring RV ownership. “Try Before You Buy” is smart, and an RV rental is a great way to see if you’re ready to jump into the RV lifestyle with both feet. Contact Guaranty RV Rentals to schedule a Try Before You Buy RV trip.
If you’d like to travel more, but the cost of vacations gets you down, owning an RV may be exactly what you need to get to all the places you’re dying to see in an affordable way. If you’re wondering what it would take for you to bring home the RV of your dreams, contact the Guaranty RV Finance department to find out about budget-friendly RV financing.
If you’d like to read more about RVing and see a video that might help you decide if RV ownership is for you, check out GoRVing’s “ Discover RVing” page, or contact us here at Guaranty RV.
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