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 > Roadtrip by car vs RV, a couple of thoughts...

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Ellicott City, Maryland

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Joined: 08/23/2005

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Posted: 01/13/23 10:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BB_TX wrote:

For those retired or unlimited time available, RVs certainly are generally preferable for trips short and long. For those still working, then RVs are great for shorter trips, or longer trips if available vacation days allow. But for those on limited days available and a desire to visit distant areas, then air and hotel makes more sense. Or maybe car and hotel if reachable in 2 long days. 3-4 days to reach a destination by RV and 3-4 days to return when you only have 10 days to 2 weeks open leaves little time to enjoy that destination. We always based our travel method on distance and available time before retirement, and many times afterward. And always enjoyed both. Never tried to justify costs of one over the other for any given trip.

This sort of says it all. Time permitting I'm taking the RV.
I am not retired so time is a factor.
I committed to the RV the day a bought it. The only way I get any value out of the RV is to use it. Leaving the RV parked is in of itself a lost money.
We all know RV travel has a cost, trying to avoid those cost defeats the point of owning an RV!
Choosing an alternative method to travel when you have the time to take the RV is always a mistake in my book. If you are retired time is on your side. While I understand we all have time restraints There is no need to rush back to retired life!
RV travel has never been the cheapest way, unless you ignore the cost of owning the RV.
However if you already own the RV the only way to maximize its value is to use it!

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Southeast Louisiana

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Posted: 01/14/23 05:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our story, after traveling for about 12 years in the motorhome we bought a cabin 1300 miles from our house. We leave in late May each year and spend 3+/- days traveling there in our Roadtrek 210P van. Then drive home in late Oct. or early Nov. Then in Jan. we drive the Tahoe to the cabin for a month or two.
It's much nicer traveling in the van, we can stand up and stretch, use the bathroom, fix lunch, and have our own beds. Occasionally if the weather's bad we'll stay in a hotel.
Interestingly we get the same fuel mileage in both. In the RT we're driving 64mph and the Tahoe we'll drive the speed limit. But the way our trip is it will take 3 days at either speed.
It generally costs less in the RT since we're not eating out and not staying in hotels.



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Posted: 01/14/23 05:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wife and I are over 80....We've done both over the years although the last few its more leaving the trailer at home and using a motel/eating out. Much easier for us....especially the wife as she does the cooking and I do the labor part.
Leaving the trailer at home allows us to stop any where along the road to see a local sight or a nice spot or place to eat. WE always carry a ice chest with eats/snacks/drinks for that purpose.

We're retired and live in the center of a beautiful 40 acres so no need to just get out a enjoy what nature offers. The trailer now gets used more for the grand kids/great grand kids when they visit.

I never try and justify the rv one way or the other. We've always enjoyed doing both.

"good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment" ............ Will Rogers

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Posted: 01/14/23 07:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are over 80 and the DP never sits for long. Most trips are less than 1000mi because Mama thinks any more is "to far" for someone my age. But although we have been out west before I want to make another pass that way. Time will tell. This post opens some eyes. I hate motel/hotel stays. carry it in, pack it up and carry out every day and I like my own bed. If I go I just have to buy fuel, no matter.

C Schomer

Pueblo West, Co.

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Posted: 01/14/23 12:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Older camping friends sold their truck/5er last summer and did car/motel trips with us. They like it just fine. the $$ is a wash, and it's getting me thinking, too. I bought my outfit, cash, at great prices, so I will keep it for awhile, but the camping duties are wearing on me. Craig


Southeast Michigan

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Posted: 01/14/23 04:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for the wonderful report with complete real cost breakdowns. While it substantially confirms what my numbers have told me, the thing you did not get into (which is a lot of our case) is that many of the places we have seen and enjoyed do not have any local accommodations.
As far as fly-drive, I have to admit that Hawai'i has a lock there.

Matt & Mary Colie
A sailor, his bride and their black dogs (one dear dog is waiting for us at the bridge) going to see some dry places that have Geocaches in a coach made the year we married.


Milford, CT

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Posted: 01/25/23 09:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:

For short trips with lots of miles, leaving the RV behind often makes sense.
- You can travel faster.
- You buy less fuel.
- You are paying premium short stay rates for campgrounds.
- You are probably going to go out to eat several times anyway.

Reduce the miles or longer duration trips and it starts tilting back toward RV.
This has been my experience also. When I retired in 2004 I kept track of each trip we made on a spread sheet. Trips less than 3 days it was cheaper to take the car, longer than 3 days the RV was cheaper for me. 95% of my trips were dry camping no FHU campgrounds so this might factor into costs. My trips averaged from $67/day in the lower 48 states to $107/day for a 3 mo trip to Alaska. The biggest expense has always been fuel. Fuel to Alaska and back was about $5000 about 1/2 the cost of the total trip. However, by car and hotels where can you find a hotel for less than $100/day let alone eating out and fuel for the car. An RV trip is totally different experience, I had my bike, fishing rods and rubber raft with me, was able to stay inside the NP's and NFS campgrounds with the RV instead of trying to find a hotel outside and driving into the scenic areas. The trip up and staying at the NP's in the US and Canada was just as nice as the destination. Having said all that, we flew out to Las Vegas last Nov. for my nephew's wedding, rented a car and went to Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Sedona, visited friends in Snowflake and Phenix AZ and returned to LV to fly home. It was a good trip now that we are older, just not the same as taking the MH. I did not figure the cost, but it was much more than a MH trip.



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Posted: 01/25/23 11:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think that how much using a camper costs vs flying has far too many variables to just make a blanket statement. Sounds more like some are trying to validate having a camper while others are trying to validate the decision to get rid of it.

So you people are flying with your dogs? I've never tried that. I don't think the dog would tolerate that. I'm not sure a planeload of people would enjoy listening to her sing the ancient dirges of her people (aka "rooing"). She has a lovely singing voice that carries well... just ask her.

"Paid for" used (cheap) slide in truck camper + "paid for" used pickup truck + a few fairly cheap modifications (to allow parking overnight in parking lots) = cost of fuel to travel. Also it's 3 hours to a major airport on one end of the flight and 1 hour on the other end to visit family (requires a car rental on the destination end) + hotel room + eating every meal out. I know what it costs for the same trip taken in the truck camper (2022).

In Feb, I'll find out what it will cost to make the same trip in a plane (both my daughters cooped up in a plane together, then cooped up together in a rental, for 3 days). And there's also the 3 hours worth of gas in my Jeep to and from the major city with the major airport. I'm losing my jeep for 5 days because it's 4WD and the roads in winter are unpredictable. I'm the lucky one, I get to stay home with a dog that will be freaked out because her "mummy" is gone.

Basically the cost of allowing the dog to go traveling in comfort is priceless.



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Posted: 02/01/23 07:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You can get significant savings on campgrounds if you have the Federal Senior Pass if you're 62 or older. We stayed in your hometown of Payson at Houston Mesa Campground for $12 a night with the pass. We also stayed at Canyon Point,a Forest Service campground on 260 for $19 a night with electric. We usually go to Texas from Pa every year and one Federal Campground in Arkansas is only $7.50 a night with water and electric. Then we stay at Canyon Lake which is north of San Antonio for $19 a night with water and electric and we are lakeside. Like you we do most of our own cooking. For the trip,my wife makes meals you can freeze and then thaw out in the microwave. She makes pot pie, shepards pie,ham and string beans,lasgna and other things like that. Hotels,especialyy good ones are expensive.And like you said,eating out has gone up alot in the past year.So we spend more on fuel,but save on food and overnight stays. We feel it is worth it to sleep in our own bed and use our own bathroom.


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Posted: 02/01/23 11:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BB_TX wrote:

Never tried to justify costs of one over the other for any given trip.

Learned our lesson years ago with a cheap weekend in Vegas that wound up costing 4 times what we expected when all was done and said because we didn't take the time to price out all the misc costs.

Now we do a quick calculation when comparing travel options including most of the misc stuff (gas, meals, entrance fees, parking, local transport, etc...). We don't always take the cheapest option but we have a good idea of what it's going to cost us ahead of time. We have a simple spreadsheet that helps us remember most of the costs to check.

Budgeting and planning allowed us to semi-retire at 37 (work part time while traveling 80-90% of the time) and fully retired last month at 52. Tracking the costs is well worth it for us.

Example: In April, we are flying back into Michigan from overseas for a few days to take care of some personal stuff. Then we need to get to Montana to pick up the RV before heading north to Alaska.
- Flights into Detroit were running $800. Chicago was running $600 but we would have to drive an hour further to get to our destination (mid-Michigan). For $400 savings, well worth it.
- Departing Michigan, tickets to Montana were running $450. On a whim checked Amtrak and for $600 we get a roomette. Costs more but saves us a hotel night cost and we have some heavy stuff that would be require an extra baggage fee with the airlines. Still probably a little more costly but also a bit of an experience since time is not pressing.

Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

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