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Myth Busters on the Affordability of RVing

Many people long for the spontaneity and seemingly carefree lifestyle that RVers enjoy. Standing in their way, however, is the belief that RV rentals and purchases, and the costs associated with such a vacation are too pricey.

The facts are, RVing is an affordable trip alternative and way of life.

Let’s dispel some myths and see if an RV vacation makes financial sense for you.

MYTH #1: RV RENTAL/PURCHASE AND MAINTENANCE IS COSTLY

While luxury 45 ft motorhomes can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, a 24-30 ft unit (that sleeps four to six) and smaller RVs, including fifth wheels and trailers, may easily meet your budget, especially if you buy a used unit.

There are countless brands and models to choose from and your decision will depend on variables such as style and size and needs and wants.

A new towable travel trailer generally costs *$13,500 to $45,000, fifth wheels run from $45,000 to $100,000, and truck campers (attached to the base of a truck) may range from $15,000 to near $50,000. Class Bs (similar to elongated vans) average $90,000 and up, with lower priced brands and models available, while Class Cs (larger and more spacious than Class Bs) range from $100,000 to $190,000.

An alternative to buying an RV is renting one. Rental plans will generally include a mileage package and options for a fully equipped kitchen, towels and bedding. When renting, there are no costs for maintenance. Vacation RV insurance may be something you want to consider, depending on the rental agreement.

The 2020 Family Vacation Cost Analysis published and released in January of 2021 by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada, the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association and Go RVing Canada, listed and compared a number of RV trip costs (for a family of four including prepared meals) to personal car/hotel and Airbnb stays and air travel trips. Average RV costs were: $375-$425/day for a tent camping trailer, $400-$440/day for a travel trailer and $475-$575/day for a Class C motorhome.

Another mistruth about RV ownership is that winterizing it is expensive. This can be done by the owner or a local dealer/storage area for about $100-$150. When it comes to RV maintenance, as with car ownership, you will have oil changes and overall wear and repair of the unit. Costs will vary from RV type to overall usage and whether you need to outsource the work.

MYTH #2: IT’S CHEAPER TO STAY IN A HOTEL

The cost of a room in a motel, hotel or resort has risen sharply in recent years. The average 2021 price for a hotel room in Canada based on double occupancy is $140-170/night. This quickly adds up for large families.

In contrast, RV campsite reservations are much less and average $30-$40/day for no services and $45-$80/day for full hookups (electricity and sewage). Prices depend on the time of year, campground location and amenities (private or provincial/national), campsite location (larger and waterfront sites costing more) and available amperage. Rates may be subject to change depending on the length of stay. In addition, mum, dad and a family of four or more can camp for the same price, in the same unit.

An additional way to cut costs is to join an RV club or camping network. They often offer deals on RV sites at participating parks and have various perks.

MYTH #3: IT COSTS TOO MUCH TO FUEL AN RV

Like the auto industry, RV manufacturers are investing in ways to make models more eco-friendly and cost efficient, with all-electric options and aerodynamic designs. It’s true that gas prices are high, but your wallet takes a hit to put gas in your car too and airfare costs have risen. A great way to determine your gas expenses for your RV trip is to go to Gas Buddy.

Ways to cut RV fuel costs:

Look for discounts. Fuel up at a truck stop where prices tend to be more competitive or use a discount gas card.

Drive a smaller RV. The larger the rig, the more gas it consumes. A 40-ft Class A consumes 18-29 litres/100 km (7-13 mpg). A smaller Class C can expect to get 16-23 litres/100 km (14-18 mpg); while a Class B gets a more thrifty 11-13 litres/100 km (18-25 mpg) or better. The same goes for a trailer or fifth wheel – the smaller the unit, the less gas or diesel is consumed.

Pack less. The heavier your motorhome, the more fuel it costs to haul it. If you don’t need it, don’t bring it.

Check those tires. Like a car, you need to take care of your RV or trailer wheels; having the right tire pressure results in less fuel consumption. Invest in a tire pressure gauge if your RV does not come with a tire pressure monitoring system.

Slow down. Driving 80-90 km is optimum for saving gas. If you lead foot it, you’ll guzzle more gas.

MYTH #4: AN RV WILL LIMIT WHERE YOU CAN GO

While navigating a 45 ft RV down a narrow, twisty road is not recommended, most RVs can be driven anywhere that a car can go. Today’s RVs are well-built, easy to drive, and can climb into steep mountains and cross hot deserts. In fact, travelling by RV can make your vacation more spontaneous. In British Columbia you have hundreds of campgrounds to choose from, including private campgrounds and RV parksnational parksprovincial parks, or recreation sites.

Also, if something happens to your vehicle, you have access to all the comforts of home before help arrives or you seek out a mechanic.

MYTH #5: COOKING IN AN RV IS DIFFICULT

Most RVs come with kitchens, some very modern, and are equipped with refrigerators, freezers, stoves/ovens and even microwaves. Cook outside when you can, you ARE camping! Barbecue and build a campfire or bring along a camp stove; you can even do a few slow cooker meals before you hit the road.

Travelling in an RV means you can stock up on groceries and take advantage of local produce and markets and eating at your campsite instead of dining in restaurants can be a major money saver. The average cost of a mid-priced meal for two in Canada is now around $60 while the grocery cost (for a family of four) in the 2020 Family Vacation Cost Analysis was $61.15 per day!

Tips for cooking in an RV include investing in a few versatile pots and pans, planning ahead, simplifying food prep and trying different camping recipes or fun one-pot meals. Many RVers swear by ‘cooking once, eating twice’, which means use those leftovers. Cleaning up after every meal will help to avoid kitchen clutter and free up needed counter space.

If you’re looking for a trip that’s fun, flexible and economical try an RV vacation.

*Quoted prices in Canadian dollars.