To RV or not to RV….As an avid outdoors woman and traveler, it’s always been a dream of mine to hire an RV and take a road trip off the beaten path. Unfortunately it hasn’t been an option so far, but I really envy those who own or rent one and create their own vacations. RV ownership is very expensive and it’s more of a lifestyle choice then anything else, so I will just be including the rental options in this comparison. The cheapest option by far is to sleep in a tent, but for most people comfort is a major priority. Let’s examine the average weekly cost and some pros and cons of RV rental, and see which is a better option for your needs. This isn’t an attempt to turn you off, but to inform you of all the options available.
Average Cost of Renting An RV for One Week (off-peak times in mid-October):
Standard RV: $875
Mileage charge for 1,400 miles: $490
Fuel Costs (100 gallons @ 3.00 a gallon): $300
Provisioning rental (kitchen stuff, bedding): $225
Campground Fees ($10 to $50 a night): $300 (Plus national park entrance fees)
Total Average Weekly Cost: $2,319. (or $331 a day)
Average Cost Of Hiring A Car + Hotel For The Week (for the same time period):
Standard Rental Car: $278
Fuel cost: $132
Hotel costs ($70 a night): $490
Total Average Weekly Cost: $900. (or $128 a day)
- It’s comfortable and you have your own space. This is probably the number 1 reason many people choose to rent an RV. It’s your own space and you know where you will be sleeping every night and it’s reasonably clean, which can’t be said for some hotels.
- It’s a good option for children and pets Having areas for kids to stretch out and nap in is great, as is having a toilet on board. It’s also a good for pets and some companies allow animals. It’s far less stressful then moving around to a different hotel every night
- Stay in areas with no hotels close by I remember my last trip to Yellowstone and staying in a hotel that was 90 minutes away from the park. Although the scenery was beautiful, it was a pain driving in and out every day. You can also pull over and nap in rest areas.
- great for national parks It really is the best way to see the national parks. Speed is not a concern when touring around so you can travel at your own leisure, stop when you want and sleep at the designated camping grounds.
- can sleep 5-7+ people It really is a great option for families to disconnect and spend time together exploring the country.
- Have your own kitchen This is a HUGE advantage over hotels, especially in remote areas. It’s so great to be able to cook yourself a hot meal and save money on eating out three times a day.
- Privacy An RV is your own private home and living space on wheels. You don’t have to deal with loud people in the room next door, and if you don’t like your neighbors you can pick up and move.
- On your own time Hotels have a set check out time, but not RV’s. You can wake up whenever you like, have breakfast and take your time getting ready for the day.
- Good for events and high tourist areas/times It would be such an awesome thing to drive an RV up to Sturgis and party all week. RV’s are great for attending events and you can go wherever the party is.
- Good option for visiting family and friends and not invading their house Its a great option for visiting family and not wanting to inconvenience them by staying in their house. Park and live in their yard National Lampoons Christmas Vacation Style!
- It’s expensive Yea…look above. It is not a budget friendly ground travel alternative. You could stay in a top-notch hotel each night for the price of the RV rental and gas.
- Mileage is not unlimited And it’s expensive. You are charged per mile and usually in an estimated package
- Slow, bulky and cumbersome Ask any long-haul trucker and you will soon find out just how exhausting driving a large vehicle really is.
- Camping and hook up fees getting higher RV parks or campsites are not that cheap anymore. You may be lucky to find one for $10 in undesirable areas, but typically a campsite with hookups/utilities from what I’ve seen, runs $20-something on up (I’ve seen well over $50+) per night.
- have to pay extra for pots, pans and bedding If you are from overseas, interstate, or just don’t want to bring all of your own conveniences, expect to pay an extra $225 per family to rent there from the RV company
- Winter travel is not advised Some companies do allow it on the understanding that you will winterize the vehicle when not in use. This involves draining water to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting and using LP gas to heat it. Not only will it be cold, driving an RV in bad weather is not advisable.
- Depending on size may be difficult to get into restaurants and fueling stations Most places are designed for cars and depending on the size of your rig, pre-planning has to be done to ensure you have room to fuel up or park.
- Getting into RV parks can be a nightmare My weekend cabin in the mountains is near an RV park. On public holidays there is a line all the way down the street to get in and vehicles don’t move for hours.
- Showering can be a problem If you and your family enjoy long hot showers forget about RV’ing, or learn to adapt accordingly.
- Mobility is limited. You can’t just nip off to the shops real quick if you run out of bread and milk. You have to pack up and take the whole fam-damily. This is why RV owners often tow a small car behind their rig.
List of popular American RV Rental companies:
Cruise America: https://www.cruiseamerica.com/
El Monte RV: https://www.elmonterv.com/
Road Bear: http://www.roadbearrv.com/