Cost Savings of RV Travel
Family RV travel will save you money over almost any other form of travel, while providing the comfort, versatility, and adventure you crave. Even factoring in the initial cost outlay of the RV, a family of four can realize savings of 50 percent or more over other types of vacation travel.
A budget cruise for a family of four can run $3,500 to $4,000 for a week. Add spending money, tips, and costs of getting to and from port to that, and you are going to spend some serious cash for a week of fun. No doubt about it, cruises are great, but for ongoing fun that you can experience every weekend if you like, nothing beats RV travel.
Ways to Save Money
There are many things you can do after you buy your RV to keep your costs down.
A well-maintained RV runs better and cheaper. RVs are big and weigh a lot, and consequently gas mileage suffers. It is not unusual to get fewer than 5 miles per gallon of gas. If a motorhome engine or tow vehicle engine is not well maintained, gas mileage can suffer even more. You should be sure that this maintenance includes tire and tire pressure checks before every trip, especially when traveling in extremely hot or cold weather. According to information from the Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire and Recreational Vehicle Safety Education Foundation, four out of five RVs in one survey had at least one underinflated tire. Nearly 40 percent of RV users say they go six months or more without checking their tires, even though tires in good condition can lose between 1 and 2 pounds of inflation pressure per month. Besides being a safety hazard, improper tire inflation can severely affect fuel economy.
You can save money if you choose your campground carefully. A campground off the beaten track with fewer “extras” can help keep costs down. If you are on a cross-country trip, you might consider some low-cost or free camping options for your overnight stays until you get to your final destination. If the only thing you need is a place to park your RV for sleep, paying for a full night in an RV park does not make much sense. Many places allow overnight parking, including rest stops, grocery and department store lots, some municipal parks, and some government-run parks. When parking on private property, always ask for permission, especially as some municipalities have ordinances against overnight parking of RVs. Your best bet may be to try to find this type of overnight parking place outside the big city. Small towns and rural areas often have fewer restrictions.
Planning for High Fuel Prices
The combination of few miles per gallon and high fuel prices can be a killer. To save some money, try to travel during off-peak times. Fuel prices always seem to rise just before Memorial Day and drop off again after Labor Day, so planning a trip during other times of the year can cut down your fuel bill. If your travel times are governed by the schedules of school-age children, you still have some options. Certain areas such as Texas traditionally have lower gasoline prices (due to lower fuel taxes). Keeping your vehicle well maintained will also help keep fuel economy at its peak.
If you are pulling a high-profile trailer with a car or van, you might want to invest in an air deflector for your vehicle. These deflectors can help ease the wind resistance you encounter while driving down the highway.
When it is time to fill up, lower prices can often be found off the beaten track. Travel centers on major highways often charge more — especially if they are the only game in the neighborhood open twenty-four hours a day. One consideration is that you may be able to park overnight at these travel centers (along with the truckers) with better security.