Increasing Pessimism about RVing
Over the past two months I have seen eight articles stating that the current costs of fuel has killed RVing. And I have seen many more articles that hint at this attitude. If you can afford to own an RV and have it sit in your driveway (it's still costing you even if you don't use it) there is no reason you cannot still enjoy it - if that's why you bought it in the first place.
Vacations using your RV can be much less expensive
If you take family vacations even without children - just the two of you - a vacation using your RV will almost always cost less than that vacation using public transportation (Air or Amtrak) and paying for a hotel room - even if it is a cheap one. Here's a real-life example of a trip we took last summer, with two children, to New York City. The total trip took two weeks, one week of which was spent touring New York City.
Charlotte to New York City
We picked up the children, ages 10 and 8, at the Charlotte NC airport, drove east on I-85 to I-77, north on I-77 to I-81 and followed I-81 all the way to I-78 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Then east in I-78 to Elizabeth, New Jersey where we signed into the RV park on the west bank of the Hudson River. On weekdays you can take the ferry to Manhattan (about 15 to 20 minutes) and on weekends there is always the subway (also 15 to 20 minutes). Once you park you don't have to move your vehicles again until you leave for home.
We made many stops along the way, e. g. , Endless Caverns in Virginia, Hershey's Chocolate World and the other venues in Hershey, Pennsylvania and just about every rest stop (the children need frequent breaks and the driver should). We have an upright freezer (in addition to the refrigerator) in the 5th wheel and we stock it to the brim including plenty of ice cream. Note that, while it is legal to carry passengers in the fifth wheel trailer in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we rarely do that unless it is nap time (in which case my wife is in there with them. In that my wife and I each have our own individual cell phones, we use them for communication rather than investing in an intercom system. (With Verizon, the calls are free if both phones are Verizon. )
Touring New York City
New York has a lot of thrills for 8 to 10 year-olds (actually for all ages). They could spend a week in the Museum of Natural History, all day in fascination at the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art (a 9,335 square foot scale model of the entire 320 square miles occupied by the five boroughs of New York City with over 800,000 true-to-scale buildings - the largest scale model of any city in the world). See: http://www.what-where.info/new_york.htm
Touring New York City requires a lot of walking and, frequently, standing. Little legs get tired. So we made a few extra trips across the Hudson on the ferry so they could eat and take naps (New York restaurants can be expensive and we do have a refrigerator and freezer full of food. ) This allowed us to revisit the Big Apple in the evening with the children fresh and full of energy. The entire week-long stay cost us $380 at the RV park, $236 for fares and $160 for admission charges (many things are free in New York), - a total of $776 for the week. The least expensive hotel within manageable distance of midtown Manhattan is $250 per night for just one room. And we didn't have to worry about picking up bed bugs! With the two children you really should have two rooms (we have two bedrooms in the 5th wheel).
Return to Charlotte from New York City
Although the children would have loved to revisit Hershey, Pennsylvania, we returned by a different route. I-78 takes you to Lancaster, site of Dutch Wonderland - a kids’ paradise - and connects with I-83 which takes you to I-95 and Washington, DC. We think all kids should get a dose of our nation's capital - but not an overdose. We parked in College Park, MD, and used the Metro subway system (it's really great!). Still there was a lot of walking. Then it was back to Charlotte and their return home to California on the plane.
What the costs could have been
The cost of the trip north was $433 which includes $313 for diesel, $90 for RV parks and $30 for admission fees. Of course, if we had flown or taken the train the kids would have missed these sights and thrills and it would have cost at least $600 by train and at least twice that by air (plus parking fees, of course).
What were the real costs
The cost of the return trip was a little less than $500 which included $270 for diesel, $180 for RV parks and $48 for admission charges. We spent a total of $607 for fuel (including 6 gallons of gasoline for the Onan generator); the grand total for the whole trip was only $1,731. The hotel room in New York would have cost more than that!
Don't forget the ‘fringe benefits’.
And, remember, - if we had flown or taken the train from Charlotte to New York and back the kids would have missed out on all the sights and thrills they took in on the way up and back. Now tell me, can you really afford to give up RVing?
Bob Masters started RVing in a converted 1958 Flxible bus in the 1960s. He has traveled extensively throughout the 48 states and has written many ‘travel logs’ describing some of his journeys. Having traveled extensively with children, and, later, grandchildren, he has become very familiar with the best places to stop and enjoy what a local community has to offer. Recently he started the RV Guide project to make available to RVers a graphic directory of the locations of RV parks and campgrounds near the Interstate highways (http://www.RV-Park-Guide.org ) including locations of RV sales and service centers.