Road Trippin’ – Are RVs Really More Economical Than Hotels?

RV

This summer, more than 70% of travelers plan on hitting the road to get to their vacation destination. Why are there so many Americans driving instead of flying? Probably for a variety of reasons including high airfares, budget friendly holidays, genuinely wanting to spend 8 hours in a car with your family, or wanting to experience the more scenic route to truly enjoy your destination.

Lately, RVs have been all the rage when it comes to road trips. But why? Is it really that much cheaper than driving your own car and staying in a hotel? Here at NerdWallet, we wanted to know whether RV travel was truly more budget friendly to Americans.

Based on the current cost of gas, hotels, and RV rental, we’ve determined when it is optimal (and not so optimal) to rent an RV.

When you are planning a 7 night holiday, it’s cheaper to rent an RV when

  • You have more than 4 people: some hotels allow you to squeeze 4 people into a hotel room, which might work. However, if you have 4 or more people, an RV is your most cost friendly option. There are multiple RV sizes you can choose from and they will allow you to avoid paying double (2 rooms instead of 1 room) at a hotel.
  • When the nightly rate of your hotel is more than $200:  If the nightly rate of your hotel is more than $200, there are definitely cost savings related to RV travel.

When you are planning a 7 night holiday, it’s cheaper stay in a hotel when

  • You are traveling with less than 4 people: The price of driving your own car (with more gas mileage) and paying for one $200/night hotel room, is cheaper than renting an RV.
  • You plan to travel a far distance: the more miles, the more gas money. Especially considering the fact that RVs are not the most gas efficient vehicles (they average 12 miles/gallon)!

Even though there are scenarios where RVs are actually more expensive than staying in a hotel, there are additional factors that can play into the decision to RV or not to RV. Some of them include: cost of food (in an RV you can make your own meals!), travel experience, the desire to experience RV travel, the destination (camping), and just personal preference.

So whatever method you prefer, hit the road Jack!