Can I Afford The RV Lifestyle?



One of the best things about RV travel is that there are options for every single budget. You are in control of so many price points including the type of camper you purchase, how far you travel, and what campgrounds you visit.

Many people worry about cost when they are entering into the RV lifestyle. The RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) estimates that RV vacations cost up to 59% less than other types of vacations. Even so, it can be tough to figure out exactly how much you will spend since this is not an all-inclusive, package-deal type of travel.

If you are the kind of person who likes to crunch the numbers, here are the things you should take into consideration when budgeting for RV travel.

1. The Cost of the RV.
With new RVs costing anywhere from $6,000 to $300,000, this is the most important place to manage your costs. If you are financing, divide your total yearly payment by how many nights you plan on traveling. In our opinion this number should be far lower than what you would spend on a hotel room or vacation home. However, some people are willing to spend more because of all the benefits of having a home on wheels.

2. The Cost of Maintenance.
There are definitely annual maintenance costs for your RV, and it is important to be comfortable with them before you commit to a purchase. Price out winterizing and dewinterizing, along with basic service prices at your dealer. Again, divide the costs by the number of nights you plan on camping to get a fair RV vacation cost. Remember that the cost of maintaining a motorized unit versus a towable will vary greatly so do your research!

3. The Cost of a Campground.
This is another amazing way that you get to control your budget. National and State Park campgrounds start at around $20 for no hookups. The best resort campgrounds might charge as much as $90 for waterfront, full-hook up sites. The average private campground with basic amenities will cost you around $50. What do you want to spend? You can find a place to fit that price point.

4. The Cost of Driving.
Your gas bill will definitely be higher if you are towing a travel trailer or driving a motorhome. If gas prices are a significant concern for you, pay close attention to the weight of the rig you are purchasing. Also consider distance in your vacation planning. Staying close to home will significantly reduce this cost. Having multiple stops on a trip will drive it much higher.

5. The Cost of Food.
This is our absolute favorite way to save money while traveling in an RV. It is so easy to stick to your normal grocery budget, which means you are not spending a dime more on food than you would at home. However we also like to experience local food culture, so we usually eat out for a lunch and dinner at each vacation stop. Meal plan ahead of time, pick a few special splurges, and you can easily track your spending on food.

You have infinitely more control over how much you spend when traveling by RV than with any other form of travel. Once you figure out a budget for each of the above categories, you can get on to the really fun part…planning those trips. If you ask us, an RV vacation is worth every single penny.

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