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Cost of RV vs hotels and B&Bs
Old 07-27-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
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Cost of RV vs hotels and B&Bs

I am sure this has already been discussed, but I am trying to make a decision. I am looking at purchasing a used RV, maybe a class B, around $20K. My DW and I would like to do some traveling around the U.S. One thing we have talked about is driving RT 50 across the country. I am trying to figure out which makes more financial cents. If we get an RV, how much do they charge per night to stay in a camp ground, an average? Would it be just as good to stay at a Days Inn or Motel 6 for one night stays and at a B&B for the longer stays? I am sure someone has done both and has an opinion. Give me some feed back to help with my decision. Thanks
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:15 PM   #2
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The cost to stay overnight in a state park or commercial campground ranges anywhere from $15 or so up to $75 or above. The cost of commercial campgrounds seems to average about $35, with prices being lower the further you are from tourist attractions and large population centers. "Boondocking" is free, provided you can find a place where overnight parking (without hookups) is allowed - and you have the capability/desire to camp off the grid.

My actual experience over the past two years (75 nights on the road) shows an average cost of $21 per night, but that includes several nights of boondocking.

In general, an RV allows flexibility of travel and the ability to sleep in your own bed at night but it is rarely more cost effective than hotel/motel travel.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:37 PM   #3
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Seems to me a big factor is whether or not you cook your own meals in the RV. I haven't done RVing, but do not envy my sister who "vacations" in an RV with her DH and ends up doing all the cooking and cleaning. I suggest you decide on a fair division of the chores ahead of time.
Of course I plan to embark on two days on an extended canoe trip where I will be doing all the cooking on a little Whisperlite stove, so I guess it runs in the family.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:40 PM   #4
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I've actually never taken an RVing vacation; it's something I'd like to try some day. Anyway, I think I'd take my first vacation with a rental to see if it's really something I'm ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars for. It would be a shame to pay that much money and then decide you don't really like that mode of travel all that much.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:43 PM   #5
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Also, fuel costs will be a factor. If you drive 400 miles per day, you'd burn 33 gallons in a 12 MPG motor home. At $2.65 per gallon, that would be $87 per day. If instead you drive a car that gets 24 MPG you'd save about $45 per day, which goes a long way toward paying for a cheap motel.

Then, let's talk about bedbugs . . .
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:44 PM   #6
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My brief experience suggests that on a night-for-night comparison you almost always pay a lot less for a campsite than for a motel, and you have your nice clean room, kitchen, fridge, shower, etc. at your beck and call. At $30 compared to maybe $75 for a typical non-roach hotel, you can save a lot.

However, you have your up front costs, fuel, maintenance, insurance, repairs, etc. lurking in the larger context.

So a room for a night is much cheaper in an RV, but overall you can not really make a case for RVing as a frugal strategy. Either you enjoy it for its many advantages and are willing to pay for them, or stick with traditional travel plans if long-term cost is your concern.

We like RVing for the freedom of planning, good food v. fast food, cleanliness, sense of community, flexible scheduling, comforts en route, etc. We think of it as a rolling condo which you can lug along almost anywhere.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:48 PM   #7
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Seems to me a big factor is whether or not you cook your own meals in the RV. I haven't done RVing, but do not envy my sister who "vacations" in an RV with her DH and ends up doing all the cooking and cleaning.
Exactly. What makes that a vacation? I'd rather stay in a nice hotel or motel where the cleaning is done for me, and then eat at restaurants.

Different strokes for different folks, but it does seem like RV'ing is a bit more popular with the married men here than it is with the single men, perhaps?
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:49 PM   #8
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Sounds like fun, but you can stay in a lot of hotels for the money the RV will cost you upfront and in fuel. Do you have to tow a car too so you have something to drive when you "check in"?
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:53 PM   #9
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... I think I'd take my first vacation with a rental to see if it's really something I'm ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars for. It would be a shame to pay that much money and then decide you don't really like that mode of travel all that much.
Good plan.

When our kids were small we did some tent camping and then "splurged" on a simple pop-up that I bought used for a few hundred dollars. Essentially it was a tent on wheels - no stove, sink or any other amenity. We used that for a few years until the floor fell through - literally. We then progressed over a 30 year period to what DW has now established as her "minimally acceptable" level of comfort - a 40' motor home.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:57 PM   #10
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Different strokes for different folks, but it does seem like RV'ing is a bit more popular with the married men here than it is with the single men, perhaps?
We just returned from a trip to the PacNW and couldn't take the MH due to time constraints. DW remarked on more than one occasion, "If we were in the MH I could buy that!" No way to get all those 'road bargains' in your checked or carry-on bags.
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:59 PM   #11
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When our kids were small we did some tent camping and then "splurged" on a simple pop-up that I bought used for a few hundred dollars. Essentially it was a tent on wheels - no stove, sink or any other amenity. We used that for a few years until the floor fell through - literally. We then progressed over a 30 year period to what DW has now established as her "minimally acceptable" level of comfort - a 40' motor home.
That's the thing. If we ever decided that was a good lifestyle for us in the future, I suspect it would have to be sufficiently big and luxurious to receive an acceptable "wife acceptance factor." Otherwise she'd likely consider it only marginally better than camping.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:03 PM   #12
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Exactly. What makes that a vacation? I'd rather stay in a nice hotel or motel where the cleaning is done for me, and then eat at restaurants.

Different strokes for different folks, but it does seem like RV'ing is a bit more popular with the married men here than it is with the single men, perhaps?
Well, if it is possible to rent an RV, certainly it's possible to rent someone to . . .
Never mind.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:04 PM   #13
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Sounds like fun, but you can stay in a lot of hotels for the money the RV will cost you upfront and in fuel. Do you have to tow a car too so you have something to drive when you "check in"?
Depends on the RV.



One like it cost us $3k and is now refurbished and ready to go.

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Old 07-27-2009, 05:04 PM   #14
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I have never taken an RV vacation, nor spent any night in one. I have also been debating with myself regarding getting a class B/C or a small travel trailer. It is a different mode of travelling, particularly for a long trek cross-country, something I like to experience.

Regarding cost, it appears that while lodging and meal costs are lower, the fuel price may be a large offsetting factor. Hence the attractiveness of a class B. And then, one cannot forget the maintenance, operating, and depreciation cost.

I think for us, the advantage would be the ability to be on the road for months at a time. We have found that we cannot be perpetual travellers. After many trips, we have found that, for us, the duration limit for living out of 2 carry-ons is two weeks before we miss home. Well, on a road trip, as we can take more with us, we may be able to go for a bit longer. I am hoping that even a small motorhome or travel trailer would allow us homebodies to feel somewhat cocooned at night, and able to extend a trip to a few months.

I don't know yet, and am just guessing. The rental fee of a class C for 1 month is from $4000 to $5000 for a 3,000 mi trip. It is not cheap, so I think I am better off studying the best I can, then hold my nose to buy a used one. Shorter trips to test the water might not be a valid "stress test" in our case.

PS. My wife never complains about cooking. In fact she enjoys it. In recent years, I have also learned to cook. So meal preparation is not at all a chore for us.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:14 PM   #15
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I remember when my father proposed a 'frugal' vacation - 5 kids in the family. My mother quickly let him know if cooking, cleaning and making beds was on the menu, it was not her idea of a vacation. We made the trip, but motels and restaurants were on the menu. I have always liked the idea of RVing, but for the amount we travel the up front cost out weigh the 'fun'.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:20 PM   #16
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Exactly. What makes that a vacation? I'd rather stay in a nice hotel or motel where the cleaning is done for me, and then eat at restaurants.
I guess it depends on perspective. I don't consider it a "non-vacation" if we do some of our own cooking, cleaning, making the bed and so on. The point is, we won't be rushed or dealing with the stresses of w*rk and 105º day after 105º day. We'll be doing that when we go to NM next week, and I consider it (a) a "vacation" from w*rk and (b) a vacation from endless triple-digit summers. We're going to just live like we're home, just the two of us and our dog, doing some reading, playing some board games and just living easy... in cool weather.

And yes, since it's sure to come up as a result of my comment above -- I do most of the cooking in our household and I don't mind it, and I don't consider it less of a vacation if I have to fire up the grill we'll have on the deck (did I mention it's cooler outside up there?). It'll be nice to "play with fire" with a cold one in my hands when it's not 105º outside...

Having said that, I can understand why someone who spent a significant "career" as a homemaker would feel like that's w*rk...
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:23 PM   #17
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Rving isnt about being cost effective its about enjoying the lifestyle,personally i like a small fuel efficient car (40+mpg) and a motel at the end of the day,but i can see the lure of a Class A and just using it as a rolling country cottage for 7 or 8 months a year. The class B is way too small for anything more than long weekend getaways. If you do go the Rv route buy used.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:26 PM   #18
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On the other hand, a class A may limit your ability to get into tough boondocking places...
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:29 PM   #19
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On the other hand, a class A may limit your ability to get into tough boondocking places...
...much to the delight of DW.
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Old 07-27-2009, 05:30 PM   #20
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'fun'.
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