Do you have an RV? Are you considering purchasing one? Instagram and TikTok make RV travel look like paradise. Photos and videos of friends roasting marshmallows over the campfire, hiking to mountaintops to watch the sunrise, and sipping wine overlooking a vineyard fill our social media feeds. But even if you’re not a nature lover, we believe RV travel is better than staying in hotels.
It’s not for everyone, but let’s examine why we love this type of adventure.
Why Has RV Travel Increased?
Over the last several years, RV travel has increased significantly. According to RVIA, over eleven million households in America own an RV. Of those households, 22% are between 18-34. In the same study, RVIA discovered that 33% of total RVers are families who use their RVs about 30 days a year.
Millennials and GenZers are hitting the road at the fastest rate in history, with 84% of current 18-to-34-year-old RV owners planning to buy another RV in the next five years. Families are seeking a cheaper way to vacation and opportunities for short weekend travel. After being cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans hit the road in record numbers, hoping to make memories, connect with nature, and explore the National Parks.
Is Traveling in An RV Right for You?
However, just because many people are purchasing RVs and embracing this lifestyle does not mean it’s right for you. Traveling in an RV isn’t easy. You don’t always wake up to beautiful sunrises and breathtaking mountain views.
RV slides malfunction, roofs leak, bolts come untightened, and tires blow out. There is no privacy, and you must deal with conflict right away. Traveling and living in a small space is a challenge, so before jumping on the bandwagon, there are serious things to consider before purchasing a new or used RV.
Pro Tip: Are you new to RVing? Keep these 7 Key Tips For Every New RVer in mind before you hit the road.
8 Reasons RV Travel Beats Hotels
Traveling in an RV has its disadvantages, but it also has several advantages to other types of travel. Here are seven reasons why we feel RV travel beats staying in hotels.
There’s No Packing and Unpacking At Every Road Trip Stop
One of the worst parts of traveling is packing and unpacking at every stop. If you’re traveling across Texas, you’ll load all your things in Houston, drive to San Antonio, and unload all your items again. Then when you head north to Dallas, you have to do it all over. Lugging suitcases in and out of elevators and unpacking clothes at every stop is time-consuming and not an enjoyable way to spend a vacation.
Additionally, instead of packing all of your clothes, toothbrushes, and shoes into suitcases, they will go into closets, cupboards, and bins. This keeps them more organized and more easily accessible during your trip.
You Can Bring More Stuff!
When you travel in an RV, it is typically bigger than your passenger vehicle – even if you have a large SUV. This means you can bring more stuff. This leads to being more prepared, like having clothes for cool mornings and warm afternoons or prepping food for multiple days and nights.
When you travel with only a suitcase, you’re limited to the essentials that can fit. Very few toys to entertain the kids can accompany you on a road trip. Family games or movies will be limited. You can take all these things in an RV.
We often say that RV travel has spoiled us. We are now terrible suitcase packers when it comes to flying anywhere or staying in a hotel.
Eating Out Is Expensive
Your kitchen is always with you when you travel in an RV. You may eat out a night or two if you want during your vacation, but you can save money (and your waistline) by cooking meals in your RV.
Some hotels will have mini-fridges or a microwave, but many RVs have a full kitchen including a microwave, a sink, a refrigerator, a freezer, an oven, and a cooktop. You’re free to cook any meal you want, plus many RVers have an outside grill as well. Staying in a hotel and going out to eat every night can be costly, especially if you have a large family.
Sleep in Your Own Bed (Whenever You Want)
There’s something about sleeping in your own bed that makes you feel at home. When you get home from a vacation at an Airbnb or hotel, it’s refreshing to sleep in your bed that first night back. But when you travel in an RV, you can sleep in your bed every night.
Should you have a long few hours at Disney World or get up early to hike for a few hours, you can also come back to the RV and enjoy a nap whether you’re in a parking lot or at a rest stop. Enjoy a good night’s rest or a power nap on your own pillow, sheets, and mattress wherever you are.
Campgrounds Near Attractions Are Cheaper Than Hotels
Saving money on food and attractions is essential for families when vacationing. When parents look at their next vacation destination, they often choose Disney, a National Park, or a big city. These destinations can be expensive. But staying in campgrounds nearby helps save money.
Hotels can be costly in popular locations like New York City or Yellowstone National Park. Campground nightly fees may be around $50/night, whereas nightly hotel fees may be about $150+/night.
You Can More Easily Bring Your Pets
One of our favorite reasons for RV travel over hotel travel is the ease of bringing our dogs with us. Finding dog-friendly hotels can be difficult, and even then you can get slapped with a dog fee as steep as finding a boarding facility. Taking your dog out to potty from a hotel room can be more cumbersome, and the constant change of lodging can be stressful for pets.
RV pets get to enjoy a consistent space, complete with their bed, bowls, toys, and familiar smells. You’ll usually be closer to nature (for when nature calls) and most campgrounds are pet-friendly as long as your furry friends are kept leashed and you clean up after them.
Hotel Stays Are Hard for Large Families
For large families or those with younger kids, staying in a hotel is challenging. Lugging everyone’s suitcases around is one thing. But very few hotels have accommodations for large families. Parents have to pay for multiple rooms or rent an Airbnb, which can be very expensive.
Parents of younger children who need naps can find it challenging to get them to sleep during the day when not in their own beds. Hotel guests or maintenance could also make lots of noise. Because of this, it’s often much easier for large families to travel in an RV where all of their things are already in place, everyone has sleeping arrangements, and it feels like home.
Boondocking Means You Can Stay Anywhere
Not only are campgrounds available to you when traveling in an RV, but there are quite a few boondocking options all across the country. Boondocking is camping without hookups (water, electricity, sewer) usually on public lands. These locations require no reservations and often get you off the beaten path and into nature.
In our experience, boondocking is one of the best ways to camp. We love its flexibility and simplicity, with no reservations and no check-in or check-out times. While there are still boondocking rules you have to follow and you have to have the right boondocking setup, these spots can sometimes be just as good as your trip’s destination.
Are There Disadvantages to RV Travel?
RVing does have cons, like dealing with repairs and living in a small space. Travel days are much slower because you shouldn’t drive over 60-65 MPH to maintain safe speeds and decent fuel efficiency. This usually means more stops, making the day even longer.
In addition, bigger vehicles have more complexity. It’s harder to park at attractions if you’re taking an RV. You can’t simply pull into any fuel station, restaurant, or grocery store as easily as in your passenger vehicle. And definitely don’t try to take your RV through the drive-thru.
It takes planning to figure out the best route and how to maneuver around the area you want to explore. Smaller vehicles don’t require such planning. You don’t have to worry about low clearances or weight restrictions when driving a minivan.
Is RV Travel Better Than Flying?
If you’re short on time, flying will give you the most vacation experience. You can quickly get to your destination, enjoy a couple of days of relaxation, and then fly back to start work on Monday. But if you want to save money without dealing with the hassle and challenges of airport security and delayed or canceled flights, RV travel is an excellent alternative. Even with fuel prices, RV travel likely won’t be as expensive as an airplane ticket and hotel fees.
You can’t beat the scenery of a road trip, and you have the flexibility to stop at hole-in-the-wall diners or excellent roadside signs. There are no layovers, no luggage lost, and no strangers sitting next to you.
How to Save Even More Money Traveling in An RV
There are expenses to RVing, and depending on your traveling style, it may be more or less than another RVer. If you’re on a budget, you can save money through camping memberships. These memberships offer discounted or free nightly stays. A fuel card like TSD Open Roads for diesel trucks and motorhomes offers significant savings at the pump.
Many RVers collect grocery discount cards country-wide to help save money on groceries. Apps like GasBuddy can help find the cheapest gas for drivers who don’t have a TSD Logistics card. Other memberships like Good Sam and AAA can offer discounts on camping gear, campgrounds, and travel assistance.
Finally, boondocking can save thousands of dollars yearly because you don’t pay nightly campground fees. Dry camping means no hook-ups, so not every RV is for this style. But if you have good RV batteries and know how to conserve water and electricity, you can stay for days in a remote location.
Pro Tip: Keep your monthly budget low by joining these Best RV Memberships for Saving Money.
Is RV Travel Worth It?
We believe RV travel is one of the best ways to see the country. Imagine the changing landscape; the rolling mountains of the Smokies, the vast plains of Oklahoma, and the rugged desert of Nevada. Scenic drives along the Pacific Coast offer views of crashing waves and jagged cliffs. Even after living and traveling this way for over 7 years, we still think there’s nothing like packing up the RV and heading out on an adventure.
Plus, depending on the campgrounds you book, how often you cook your meals versus going out to eat, and what attractions you visit, RV travel can be cheaper. You’ll spend more time making memories and not waiting in an airport security line or unpacking your suitcase. You enjoy sleeping in your own bed with your family beside you. It’s your home on wheels.
Is RVing the right travel style for you and your family? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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