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Weighing the Pros and Cons of the RV Lifestyle

May 17, 2022

Summer is just around the corner and millions of Americans are hitting the road—many for the first time in more than two years. According to AAA, travel to certain destinations this spring is up a whopping 211% over last year and 10% over 2019.1 Due to the increased demand for flights, lodging, and rental cars, many people are finding it difficult to book travel for their preferred dates and destinations. That has led to a growing interest in recreational motor vehicles and campers with self-contained lodging, commonly called RVs. Is the RV lifestyle right for you? Whether you’re considering a weekend expedition, cross-country road trip, or “full-timing,” as it’s referred to in the RV community, it pays to weigh the pros and cons first.

Pros – RVs come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges, from affordable “pop-up” campers to million-dollar luxury motorhomes. They offer the freedom to travel where and when you want without having to repack or haul luggage when making multiple stops. In many cases, you can bring all the comforts of home with you from groceries, kitchenware, and linens, to lawn chairs, outdoor grills, and more. Many also provide the option to tow a car, boat, or trailer. RVs can provide a cost-effective way to visit one or many destinations in a single trip. On average, it costs $20 to $40 to park overnight at an RV park, which is significantly less than most hotel rooms.2 RVs allow you to swap airport hassles, delays, and crowded flights for a slower but more scenic approach to travel. Another bonus— generally, you can alter your plans on a whim without expensive cancellation or change fees.

Cons – The initial and ongoing maintenance costs associated with owning an RV can be high, depending on the size, model, and year of the vehicle purchased. Many dealers offer refurbished RVs, which can be more cost-effective, especially for first-time buyers who may not be ready to fully commit to the lifestyle. While it’s true that rising fuel prices have made RV travel more expensive but as airfare and hotel rates also climb, RV travel remains a comparatively cost-effective option. However, due to high demand, some popular destinations, including certain U.S. national parks, require advanced reservations and overnight rates can be high. For example, Zion and Grand Teton national parks charge over $100 a night during peak season.3 Don‘t forget, if you have to pay to park or garage your RV when you’re not traveling, you’ll need to factor that expense into your budget. Finally, if you haven‘t owned, operated, or traveled in an RV before, consider renting one first to see if it’s right for you.

1 http://www.cruiseamerica.com/rv-adventures/rv-lifestyle/average-rv-park-cost

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

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