Are RV Rentals an Affordable Vacation Option?
You might be surprised when you discover Why RV Rentals Are Cheaper Than You Think!
RV rentals are becoming a popular option for everything from multi-week vacations to weekend getaways. Many people are surprised by the price of an RV rental when they first start researching their trip. Is it truly a better deal to rent an RV vs. staying in a hotel?
We investigated both options to find out which is better for the typical family vacation. The costs below are based on travel for a family of four. Let’s take a look to see which vacation option is the best deal and fit for your family.
RV vs. HOTEL
When trying to determine which vacation is more affordable, there are many factors to consider. In addition to the nightly rental rate of an RV Rental vs a hotel, other costs, such as food, transportation, and campground fees, all have to be considered when calculating the total price of a vacation.
NIGHTLY RENTAL RATE
Renting an RV is a very affordable way to travel. Most nightly RV rental rates are less than the cost of an average hotel room. You will also find more amenities in an RV rental than you would find in a basic hotel room.
Having a kitchen for meals makes an RV rental a great value. For a family traveling with children, RV travel is an affordable way for parents to have their own room while having space for the kids as well. Having the space of an entire RV allows for more privacy without having to pay for two hotel rooms.
If you are traveling with a large family or group, renting an RV becomes an even better deal. With sleeping for up to eight people (or more!), one RV can accommodate as many people as two or three hotel rooms.
RV rental rates vary by the type of rig, amenities, updates, and features. The time of year, the length of the rental, and the rental location will all impact the price as well. Average daily rental rates for RVs range from $75 for a pop-up camper to $400 or more for a brand new, well-appointed Class A motorhome. Most people, on average, spend around $150-200 per night on an RV rental.
Hotels have a huge variance in price as well. For destination resorts and hotels, the cost can be much more than a roadside hotel room. Most people spend, on average, $200-300 per night on a vacation resort hotel room.
Another bonus is that with an RV rental of as little as $150 per night, you will most likely have a full kitchen and multiple sleeping areas. Having a full kitchen and separate sleeping areas gives an RV rental an even more significant advantage over a hotel room.
Winner: RV Rental
When you consider the cost to travel to a vacation destination, RV rentals are cheaper than the average hotel rooms in these areas.
RELATED READING: For some awesome info about how to find affordable RV Rentals anywhere in the US and Canada check out our article called Cheap RV rentals – Affordable RV Rentals for Less!
One of the best parts of RV camping is that you have access to your kitchen wherever you go! Food is often one of the most significant expenses on vacation. Instead of dining out for every meal or eating cold leftovers in your hotel room, you can prepare food in your camper just like you would do at home.
Having a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove, and even a microwave allows you to keep your food cold, prepare meals, and avoid unnecessary spending on your trip. Even if you choose to dine out on occasion, preparing even a few meals in your camper can save you a bundle. Making breakfast in your RV or stopping for snacks out of your own kitchen instead of a convenience store means considerable cost savings for you. Plus, who doesn’t love eating outside or cooking over a campfire?
A family of four dining out on vacation can expect a cost of around $100 per day or $700 per week. A family of four eating most of their meals at home in their RV with one to two meals in a restaurant will spend around $35 per day or $250 per week.
Winner: RV Rental
Being able to save on dining is a massive benefit of RV travel. The savings you will get from having a kitchen in your RV will make up for some of the other costs you may have with an RV rental.
GAS AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS
Whether you rent an RV or drive or fly to your vacation destination, transportation costs will be a part of your expenses. Gas is definitely a cost to consider with an RV rental. However, you will also need gas to drive your vehicle to a hotel.
If you are renting an RV, ask about the average mileage that you can expect in the rig. Remember, this is just an estimate, and the mileage will vary based on your driving style and road conditions.
If you are renting a travel trailer, it may be difficult to guess what your gas mileage will be since there are so many factors involved, like the capability of your truck and the size of the trailer. In general, plan for around 8 to 10 miles per gallon on your trip.
If you are driving an SUV or truck to your destination, you will average between 17 to 22 miles per gallon. For a small car, plan for 28 to 32 miles per gallon.
It is cheaper per mile to drive a car or truck to your destination than to tow or drive an RV. How much less expensive depends on your vehicle and the number of miles you have to drive. For a destination 300 miles away, you will spend around $60 on gas driving without an RV and about $120 total with an RV.
If you plan to stay in a campground during your RV vacation, nightly camping rates are an additional cost to consider. Keep in mind that you will not have this cost if you choose to dry camp, or camp on public lands, during your trip.
If you do plan to stay in a campground, your costs can vary depending on whether the campground is public or private. State and national park camping can range from $15 to $25 per night.
Private campgrounds and RV resorts vary widely in price, but on average range from $30 to $60 per night. Most pricier RV resorts offer the same amenities that you would find in a resort hotel, including pools, spas, splash pads, mini-golf, scheduled activities, a clubhouse, and more.
PRO TIP: A low cost campground memberhsip such as Passport America can save you a bundle, even on a short vacation. For only $44 a year, you can save up to 50% on nighlty campground fees. The membership pays for itself after you only use it for 2 nights! CLICK HERE to check out Passport America for yourself!
There are many ways to save on these rates. If you plan to camp in private campgrounds during your trip, consider a campground membership. A low-cost campground membership such as Passport America can save you a bundle, even on a short vacation. For only $44 per year, you can save up to 50% on nightly campground fees. Many resorts offer discounted weekly or monthly rates, so be sure to ask about those when booking.
Since you will not have to pay campground fees, a hotel vacation is the winner here. However, if you plan to dry camp, you will not pay campground fees.
PARKING AND RESORT FEES
Depending on where you are going, many hotels charge a nightly fee for parking and resort amenities. The parking fee is especially standard in cities where parking may be limited. Resort fees are to be expected if you stay at a resort-style hotel with pools, golf courses, or a spa. On average, self-parking at many hotels is around $25 per night. Resort fees average approximately $50 per night.
Winner: RV Rental
You will not have additional fees for parking or resort amenities at campgrounds. These perks are included in your nightly campground rate.
RV vs. Hotel:
Now that we have compared all the major costs for both an RV and a hotel vacation, let’s determine the winner. For nightly rental rates, an RV rental was a little less per night. Food costs give a considerable advantage to an RV rental. Transportation fees and campground fees provide a slight edge to a hotel vacation. While parking and resort fees nearly offset those costs. When you compare all of these factors, an RV vacation is a clear winner with a lower cost per night for a family of four.
Overall Winner: RV Rental
If you are still not convinced, let’s take a look at the intangible benefits of an RV vacation.
8 INTANGIBLE BENEFITS OF AN RV RENTAL VACATION
1. You Don’t Have to Live Out of a Suitcase
One of the best things about an RV vacation is that you can pack your RV in your driveway and have everything organized and put away before your vacation even begins! Another bonus is that if you plan to move from place to place during your vacation, you will not have to repack and unpack your bags each day!
When you consider the convenience of bringing your lodging with you as you travel, an RV is a clear winner over a hotel. Being able to come home each day to your own space, with your food, clothes, and other items all put away, makes an RV vacation convenient and easy.
2. You Can Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Being able to spend the majority of your day outside is perhaps the most significant advantage of an RV vacation. Having your coffee watching the sunrise or reading in the shade of a lovely tree are intangible benefits that you will appreciate long after your vacation is over.
Research shows that spending time outdoors increases creativity and reduces anxiety. Both children and adults can benefit from time outside. There is no better way to get that time outdoors than an RV camping trip!
3. You Can Make a Campfire
Everyone enjoys a nice campfire at the end of a fun day. Whether you use it for cooking your dinner, roasting marshmallows, or just as a focal point for a conversation, campfires are fun for all ages.
Cooking food over a fire is enjoyable and will help you save money on your vacation. Your kids will remember those moments spent outside around the fire. Even more of a reason to choose an RV trip over a hotel room!
4. Listen to Crickets, Not Footsteps Overhead
Most people go on vacation to “get away from it all.” That can be hard to do when you are in the close quarters of a hotel! An RV allows you to truly escape from the crowds. A wooded, secluded campsite offers much more privacy than a hotel. For the ultimate privacy, consider dry camping on public lands. The only sounds you will hear will be the sounds of nature!
5. Camp Closer to Your Awesome Location You Want to Visit
Whether your destination is Yosemite or Yellowstone, camping allows you to get closer to the action! The number of hotels in national parks is extremely limited. Many have to be booked over a year in advance!
While national park camping reservations can also be hard to get, they are often easier to get than hotel rooms in the parks. Booking a campsite in a national park allows you to wake up, walk out of your RV, and hit the trails! There is no better feeling than waking up in a national park!
7. Family Time
In our overly connected society, it can be hard to unplug and spend quality time with your family. RV camping is growing even more popular with families, as people are seeing the benefit of dedicated family time together outside.
Whether it is a family hike, a card game in the RV, or stories around the campfire, RV camping offers multiple ways to make memories and enjoy time together.
8. Kids Enjoy RV Camping
Isn’t it obvious? Kids love RV camping! From the thrill of adventure to watch the stars come out at night, there is a lot for kids to enjoy on an RV camping trip. While your kids may enjoy a stay in a nice hotel, will they really remember that experience like they would a camping trip?
RELATED READING: To make camping with your kids way more fun and exciting check out our article called 13 Awesome Tips for RV Camping with Kids.
As you can see, when you consider the dollars spent and intangible benefits, an RV camping trip can’t be beaten! And now you know Why RV Rentals are Cheaper Than You Think! We hope to see you out there!