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# True cost of rv travel

I am trying to determine the relative cost of RV rental compared with car rental and inexpensive lodging. I understand that there are differences other than cost to consider, but for now I just want some info from those of you who have traveled either way and are able to give me some idea of expenses. Thanks.

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Gas in an RV will vary between 7 and 10 MPG. The larger the RV...the less the MPG. Price of gas will vary depending on where you are and I always budget for HIGH.

A lot of lodging/campgrounds will depend on when and where you are going. If you want to stay in private campgrounds figure \$35 - \$60 per night. If you want to dry camp in National Park, State Parks, National Forest, etc then figure \$10 to \$20 per night. If you are going to popular areas, then hotels/motels are going to be expensive.

Cost of food in an RV is usually just like eating at home unless you decided to eat out.

Hope this helps.

Utahtea

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To expand upon utahtea's math (and from posts here I know she has RVed for years - we have researched and done so just once - after doing the math).

I just check CruiseAmerica website for an imaginary 2-week rental in July. Cost to rent a medium sized RV is about \$200/day - plus mileage. Cost for a rental car for same time period is about \$50/day. So for starters you are spending \$150/night more for an RV. Add campground fees of let's figure \$40/night - you are close to \$200/night for the RV over a car. If you add gas differential between car and RV, even more.

Then figure cost of food - if you choose to eat out 3 meals/day in real restaurants, it could move the costs closer together - but when we road-traveled more we would generally stay at hotels that included breakfast and get takeout/pack sandwiches in a cooler for at least one of the other meals - eating out only 1 meal/day. This behavior is similar to what I might expect of occasional RVers as cooking a full meal in a small RV could get old quickly and one might reasonably spend a bit more on partially prepared food than at home (like bagged salads, already-cooked chickens, etc)

So if one stays at less expensive hotels - when we computed costs it was always less expensive to rent a car.

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Did not see tag on your post of Alaska - my math was based on a Boston 2 week rental - but the concepts remain the same.

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That's an impressive breakdown. I'm not in the market, but appreciate that.
It can also depend on the number travelling--our niece's family travelling with 6 total--and some were big kids--did the RV thing for several weeks out west and had a great time. Being able to move around on the road is good for the kids.

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I think the biggest difference between expectation and reality is the belief that the RVer will be able to roam freely, stopping or changing route as the spirit Moves. You can perhaps do that sleeping in Walmart parking lots or dry camping in National Forests, but you are generally just as tied to a pre-booked campground spot as you would be to a hotel.

The good news is that you really can stop for lunch where you will, you have somewhere to hang out on the inevitable days of poor weather, and the cleanliness of your toilet will not depend on anyone but you.

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The other expense is for mileage, some RV's only get 100 miles/day included in the rental cost, anything over is extra. This is ok if you park in one place for several days, but if you travel from place to place esp. out west, where distances are huge.

An alternative is to pick up some tenting supplies and get the camping experience when you want.

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One other thing to consider is Sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, linens, pots and pans, cookware, fork, knives, etc.

You either have to bring those or rent them. Some of the items like linens is a per person rental. Then, depending on how long you are on your trip, you would want to wash those towels somewhere.

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Plus, it's not the same as camping from your house. You want things like lawn chairs, probably lantern, stuff like that just to sit around camp. They rent those too.

I don't think I would ever look at RVing to save money. It's just a matter of whether or not that's what you want to do or if there is lodging close by. Some places, there isn't much option but camping, if you really want to stay there for a couple of days.

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Since Gail pointed out you tagged this as "Alaska" I would suggest you search on "Alaska RV" and see how others liked using RVs for their trips there.
We rented through Great Alaskan Holidays RV several years ago. With a family of 4, it was worthwhile for us. This RV company supplied all the pots/pans/dishes towels/bed linens etc.
If you get an RV that doesn't supply linens, you could do as my friend did -- they purchased inexpensive sleeping bags when they arrived and donated them afterward.

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My quick math suggests the value isn't there. However, there are some intangibles: Not having to pack/unpack very night or so, eating your own food, and perhaps being able to sleep in much more scenic areas.

Sometimes I pass an RV and feel a twinge of envy. Other times, I wish they would get off the road!

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