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Old 08-13-2009, 05:52 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
4,086 posts, read 5,096,573 times
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I want to make sure I understand the situation with RV'ing, so I figured I'd post my take on it and then see what others have to add (particularly those of you who have more experience with RV'ing than I do).

Also, I'm going to consider "RV'ing" to mean travel in any mobile home (class A, B, C) as well as large trailers (e.g. fifth wheel and large non-pop-ups), whereas I'll consider "camping" to be in anything from a tent (or no tent) up to a small, one-axle pop-up trailer.

It seems that RV'ing requires an obviously large outlay of money just to buy the RV. In the case of trailers which may cost less than motorhomes, the savings is spent on a vehicle large and powerful enough to tow it. In both cases fuel costs are high, I'm guessing at least double the costs of driving a regular car or minivan or even SUV.

So, while it's true that the cost of hotel/motel is saved by going RV'ing, isn't that cost more than exceeded by the investment in the initial outlay and operating (fuel) expenses?? I didn't even mention maintenance/repairs, DMV fees, etc.

Also, while a motel cost may be saved, typically these RV's are used in RV parks or campsites which are not cheap anymore. A campsite with hookups/utilities, from what I've seen, typically runs $20-something on up (I've seen well over $50) per night. So I wonder if even the per-night savings are all that much as many RV'ers like to make it out to be.

To make these costs a value in comparison to travel involving camping or staying in hotels, one would have to use the RV a LOT, I would think. Most working people have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation (if even that). Of that vacation time, if they go away for 2 or 3 weeks, that is a lot. But even 3 straight weeks of RV'ing per year would not make it a good value compared to other forms of travel; it would still be much, much more expensive.

I realize that there are a few things that are offered by RV'ing which other forms of travel don't offer. Mainly, the convenience of always having your "home" with you, and being able to experience the great outdoors conveniently and easily. To me, the best thing about RV'ing would be (as they show in the "go RV'ing" commercial I've seen), waking up (with your friends or family that you're traveling with, and looking out your window to see some magnificent sight, like the Tetons or the red rock of the Utah desert, and stepping right out into it from the comfort of the RV. It's like being able to put your personal cabin RIGHT where you want it in the wilderness. Even then, you're a little limited, because you can't get as deep into the wilderness as some cabins are, or even as deep as many campers can go.

So to sum it up, the pro's of RV'ing:
- Convenience - you have your home with you at all times
- Savings on hotel/motel costs
- Access to staying in beautiful wilderness settings with beautiful views
- Comfort - most RV's are about as comfortable as any cabin or home
- Privacy and security - RV's can be set up to block out anyone from seeing inside, and they're harder to break into than a car or tent or pop-up tent trailer
- Mobility - the pro to this is that by being forced to drive, you see more of the country, which is wonderful to experience
- Fun - they are fun and interesting to use, no doubt; the design of RV's is admirable how they make use of space and provide so many conveniences

And, the cons of RV'ing:
- High, high cost; it's more expensive than taking several weeks of vacations every year, even flying and staying in nice hotels
- Travel is limited to the continent; even parts of the US are off limits to RV'ers, such as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam
- While more secure than a tent or tent-trailer, they are still susceptible to bears and thieves, much more so than a hotel room
- Maintenance/Setup - All the conveniences also require that connections be hooked up and other setup procedures be followed when settling in somewhere, and at certain points toilets need to be emptied and other routine maintenance is required which takes time away from the trip
- Lack of Mobility - while they are mobile to get around the nation, they are actually best suited for trips to the open country. Visiting a city would be extremely difficult, maybe even outright impossible for some. I know I don't see these things in NYC more than a couple times a year, and then they're always moving, never stopped anywhere - they can't park anywhere, not even in a parking garage, they don't fit.
- Inconvenient in many ways - once you're set up, there's no driving out to a store or moving that thing, unless you disconnect and close it all back up. You may not be able to find parking, you may not be able to stop someplace you want to see because there's nowhere to park.
- The beautiful wilderness views will be affected by other RV'ers, possiby, and also by the limitation of the RV not being able to go as far off the road as regular vehicles or hiking w/ backpacks and tents, so even the great outdoors experience will have limitations.

In the end, RV'ers pay a high price for their activity. It's obviously up to each person to decide whether or not it's worth it for them. For me, it's just not worth it. I think even if I had the time to go for months-long trips, I would opt for a smaller, more economical vehicle that's much better on gas, which I can park anywhere, and which requires no special attention or maintenance beyond that of any other vehicle. I'd go with some kind of van that is outfitted for light sleeping/camping, and I'd take a tent along. I think it's just as nice to wake up in a tent and step out to the great outdoors, when I consider the value.

And, I'll say that it does come down to the money. I'd have to really have a lot of money to burn before I ever bought and used an RV. It's just a very high price to pay for something which will also restrict my travel options and negatively impact my travel more than the positive enhancements it would bring to travel. I could afford a lot of airline tickets and hotel stays for the cost of an RV, and have plenty left over for other things. I can even afford to rent an RV several times and still have money to travel in other ways and to other places which are beyond the boundaries of the RV.

Again, I'm not out to "bash" RV's or those who enjoy RV's. I am just trying to put out my thoughts about RV'ing and my reasoning that it's a particular group that will enjoy RV'ing as opposed to "the masses". As I see it, the RV enthusiast:
- Has lots of money to spend on RV'ing
- Has lots of time to spend on RV'ing
- Prefers a particular type of travel which focuses on the outdoors and wilderness settings while avoiding cities and avoiding foreign travel (other than Canada and maybe Mexico)

I can understand why retirees would want to spend long periods of time RV'ing; they have the time, they presumaby have the money, they want the peaceful travel in the wilderness and outdoors, and they enjoy the flexibility of having their home with them wherever they drive.

But I can't see a family man with a wife and a couple kids, who works and gets a few weeks of vacation a year, and is trying to get a value for his vacation bucks, being someone for whom RV'ing is a good option.
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Old 08-13-2009, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Where there is too much snow!
5,817 posts, read 7,376,665 times
Reputation: 2444
Can you give us a more condensed version. I just got a head-ache trying to read all that .
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:48 PM
 
1,030 posts, read 1,831,328 times
Reputation: 1300
I didn't get a headache. Thank you for writing all that.
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:02 AM
 
47,586 posts, read 35,883,543 times
Reputation: 21592
An RV or trailer also allows you to travel to visit people who may have a large yard or driveway or live semi-rural or rural and stay in your own place.
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:23 AM
 
Location: virginia beach, virginia
128 posts, read 377,089 times
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Most of what you've said is valid and we all know that. I'm actually dealing with some of the issues you've brought up. My inexpensive way would be getting my Outback installed with a hitch and maybe trailer brake set-up and then finding a used pop-up designed for 2 people and a dog. I do have a lot of time to travel and feel that RV'ing will give me more choices at less cost. I have been vascillating a lot of late as in why not sell or trade-in my Outback for a used Pickup that would give me more choices in pop-ups or small trailers. The pickup would get less gas mileage but would be better suited for towing. And as mentioned more options for towing. I've recently traveled a lot in favored vacation areas and found that you just don't find CHEAP motels or hotels that you would want to sleep in. RV and campgrounds were abundant though. I'm still feeling this out. I didn't think your post was detrimental at all and although probably already said before was a good service to throw it out here again. Thanks.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
3,043 posts, read 7,557,011 times
Reputation: 1830
I've looked at this scenario in much the same way. RVing is expensive when you add it all up. Factor in the lower mileage and (relatively) high cost of fuel, and it becomes an expensive way to travel. When you do the math of the expenses such as registration, insurance, monthly payment, and fuel, you can arrive at a figure for annual cost, and determine if you spend anywhere near that in fuel and hotels for the vacations you are taking now. If one is significantly lower than the other, then I think that would be the option you would want to select.

Where I have seen an RV prove its worth is for people I know that use them two or three times a month, even if just on weekends. Many people I know take their RV with a motorcycle trailer behind it (obviously with motorcycles on or in it) to the local riding area every other weekend, or they do something similar at the lake with their boat in tow. If the spend Friday and Saturday night on each of these weekends, and do so twice a month, that's 48 nights they are away from home. Many of these places don't offer motel rooms, so the only other option is to camp out there. Since the campsites are primitive (no hookups, water, etc.), they cost the same for a tent as for an RV. After riding dirt bikes for a day, having a warm shower in the RV is a welcome luxury. There are also no places to eat out, so you have to prepare your own food with whichever option you choose. The RV has a nice kitchen area, while you'll need to pack a table or something to have a place to prepare your food when you tent camp.

I personally have opted not to purchase an RV because I don't think I'd use it as regularly as I would need to in order to justify its cost. I do, however, have a very nice camp setup that I can use with my tent so I have all the luxuries an RV provides, with the exception of the security of the hard sides of the RV. The biggest problem with what I have is that it isn't particularly mobile, so I have to stay somewhere for several days to benefit from setting it all up. With an RV, you just level it for the night, then drive away in the morning (aside from setting up awnings, chairs, and such).
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Old 08-14-2009, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Texas
66 posts, read 39,153 times
Reputation: 89
I would say you are pretty accurate on all accounts. But let me tell you another you missed that you can not put a price on. I get to sleep in my own bed no matter where I end up. I have my own pillow that no one put their filthy greasy head on. I have my clean bed that no one spilled any bodily fluids on only to be covered up with more clean sheets.

I can get off on any exit and park without having to worry how much that motel or that hotel costs. At every RV park there will be some fun things to do to break the monotony. Few Hotels have anything more then a pool. I can even set my thermostat to whatever I want to while most hotels put a plastic box with a lock over it in the rooms.

Cost? I do wonder about the future of RVing when gas hits $5 a gallon next year. When I owned a travel trailer my truck got 8MPG, now my motor home gets the same 8MPG. I never carry a toad so when we feel like spending some time where we are then we rent a car and Enterprise will bring it right to you. That to me is cheaper then owning that car and paying the extra gas to tow it. I hate towing. I hate it so much.

Yea this freaking rig cost a bundle but it will be paid off in another 11 years. Insurance is cheap. The addional emergency road service is about $25/m. LP gas is costly in the winter but a tank will last 7 months if you dont need heat. If you call $30/m costly. But in the south you only have to pay that for 3 months and then our 18 gal tank lasts all summer long providing hot water and cooking.

Every once in a while we stop when we see an open house sign. We walk through some nice houses and think about it for a moment. Then the moment is gone. I honestly can not see owning a home for a long long time if ever. This life style is in my blood and it ain't going anywhere but to the next city, then the next then the next. We are about to move again because we want new adventure. I just can never give up the ability to move at the wink of an eye. What a great feeling!!

Even when we owned a real house, we took off to southern Utah nearly every weekend. I just love it on the road.

Last edited by RVer; 08-14-2009 at 04:55 PM.. Reason: add
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:19 PM
 
Location: virginia beach, virginia
128 posts, read 377,089 times
Reputation: 57
Good post
I envy you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RVer View Post
I would say you are pretty accurate on all accounts. But let me tell you another you missed that you can not put a price on. I get to sleep in my own bed no matter where I end up. I have my own pillow that no one put their filthy greasy head on. I have my clean bed that no one spilled any bodily fluids on only to be covered up with more clean sheets.

I can get off on any exit and park without having to worry how much that motel or that hotel costs. At every RV park there will be some fun things to do to break the monotony. Few Hotels have anything more then a pool. I can even set my thermostat to whatever I want to while most hotels put a plastic box with a lock over it in the rooms.

Cost? I do wonder about the future of RVing when gas hits $5 a gallon next year. When I owned a travel trailer my truck got 8MPG, now my motor home gets the same 8MPG. I never carry a toad so when we feel like spending some time where we are then we rent a car and Enterprise will bring it right to you. That to me is cheaper then owning that car and paying the extra gas to tow it. I hate towing. I hate it so much.

Yea this freaking rig cost a bundle but it will be paid off in another 11 years. Insurance is cheap. The addional emergency road service is about $25/m. LP gas is costly in the winter but a tank will last 7 months if you dont need heat. If you call $30/m costly. But in the south you only have to pay that for 3 months and then our 18 gal tank lasts all summer long providing hot water and cooking.

Every once in a while we stop when we see an open house sign. We walk through some nice houses and think about it for a moment. Then the moment is gone. I honestly can not see owning a home for a long long time if ever. This life style is in my blood and it ain't going anywhere but to the next city, then the next then the next. We are about to move again because we want new adventure. I just can never give up the ability to move at the wink of an eye. What a great feeling!!

Even when we owned a real house, we took off to southern Utah nearly every weekend. I just love it on the road.
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Old 08-15-2009, 08:48 AM
 
16 posts, read 54,321 times
Reputation: 76
I don't know about it being a ridiculously expensive thing.

We got our (used) tow vehicle for right at $5,500. But the thing is, we needed a new vehicle anyway, so we were going to be getting something, we just thought, "Why not get something that will pull a camper?" Plus, it gets the same mileage as our old minivan did. It drops when towing, but the time spent towing is a drop in the bucket of actual miles driven over a year.

We also got a killer deal on our (used) camper. We picked up an '06 hybrid travel trailer for $10,000. Yes, it's more expensive than a tent. But we'll be able to stay very inexpensively pretty much anywhere we'll ever want to go. EXAMPLE: Our condo in FL two years ago ran us $1,800 for one week. That's just the condo, no food or gas. The next year we stayed at a state park in our camper less than 3 miles from that condo for $24 a night. And don't forget, now we have a camper that we can take out whenever we have the time. We're not relegated to the "ONE" big trip a year anymore. And we plan on keeping this trailer for at least another 10 years. When you divide that cost over the years kept, its not that big a deal.

We paid cash for both the truck and the trailer, so we're not paying any interest on a bank note.

And as mentioned before, we KNOW who has been sleeping in our beds and using our shower. And the simple truth of the matter is, my family LOVES camping together in this camper. We're spending many, many quality hours together and I can't imagine putting any sort of price tag on that. The world is far more than what you get when you "run the numbers."
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:10 PM
 
Location: God's Gift to Mankind for flying anything
3,464 posts, read 5,053,051 times
Reputation: 2232
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtbeck View Post
The world is far more than what you get when you "run the numbers."
You got *in* for around 10K .... (forget the *new* car)
The OP is talking about those big units where you need at least 5 times, if not 10 times what you spent ......
Apples and oranges ...
Both fruit, but different taste ....

I think, what you are trying to convey is that you do not need those big honkers to have quality time with your family.
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