Let me tell you a story about a family that was bitten by the wanderlust bug. There is no cure for the disease the wanderlust bug transmits. A regular dose of travel here and there helps for a short time but once back home the bite flares up again. The mom in this family thought an RV, a vacation home on wheels, would help treat the wanderlust. Having an RV would mean her family could take a weekend trip any time they wanted to. The RV would save her family so much of their travel budget while traveling the U.S. that they could save money for world travel. The RV would ensure that they could easily and conveniently see almost every state in the U.S. An RV would be the cure for her family’s wanderlust!
This mom searched two years for an affordable, light weight, clean RV that would comfortably sleep six. One day while searching Craigslist, she found one! Exactly what she was looking for! She and her husband went to check it out and it was even better than what the seller had listed on Craigslist. While it was used, it had only been used a handful of times, everything was like new! There was even a separate bedroom with quad bunks for her four boys. The search was over. A couple of days later her husband pulled the RV home and the family lived happily ever after…
Now The Rest Of The Story
It seems everyone these days wants an RV. The popularity of RV ownership is rising as the image of RV travel is that it is affordable and more memorable. The families in RV ads are always smiling and relaxing or getting ready to head off on another amazing family adventure. Why would you want to travel without an RV? Camping without an RV? Not even possible! Actually, let me tell you why we chose to trade our RV for hotels, vacation rentals and tents.
There is kind of a honeymoon period when you first get your RV. The first camping trip you take is amazing! Instead of the hard ground or an uncomfortable air mattress, you wake up refreshed from sleeping on a soft, plush mattress. You didn’t freeze or wake up drenched in sweat because you have central air and heat! You have a private bathroom and a full kitchen. There’s even electricity so your boys can watch movies in the bunkhouse when you’re camping on Spring Break and it rains the entire time. So why in the world would we decide to get rid of our RV and camp the old fashioned way!?
The Logistics of RV Travel
We don’t have a profusion of time to travel. I wish we did but my husband only gets so much PTO every year. RV travel is much slower than jumping in your car and taking off. You can’t drive as fast on the highways, you have to stop for gas much more often and RV driving is much more taxing so you can’t drive as many miles in one day. Maybe you can drive 12 hours in a car in one day to get to your destination, but it will take you two days with an RV. There is also a fair amount of time spent on setting up and packing up the RV, which means more time spent with your RV than time spent exploring some new and exciting destination.
On our trip to San Antonio we stopped at the Texas State Capital Building in Austin. If we had taken our RV we would have had to find a place to park and leave the RV or we would have had to skip stopping all together. Our neighbors have a RV also, while in Georgia they really wanted to stop at a restaurant they had heard about and were looking forward to trying. They couldn’t find parking for their RV and had to skip it. We don’t want to miss out on anything just because we can’t find parking for our RV.
All That Extra Cleaning
I knew that obviously I would have to clean our RV after a trip, but then I figured it would be clean until the next trip. Not the case. While it’s waiting for you to pack it up and take it somewhere exciting, the bugs and the mice and the dust move in. There are dead beetles and wasps that have somehow found their way in laying everywhere, mostly on your beds. So you have to take the sheets off and wash them, sweep, mop, dust and repeat again when you get home from your trip. Extra cleaning before and after a trip is what every busy parent looks forward too.
And more cleaning… yep that’s right. Here’s a little RV secret, every.single.time. someone does a big job (you know- number 2) the toilet has to be cleaned. What!?!?! You don’t want to have to scrub poo out of a toilet six times a day every day of your vacation? What’s even better is that if you’re at a campsite without full RV hookups, then you get to store all that nastiness in the sewage tank. It doesn’t smell at all, just kidding, you can always kinda smell it if you’re in the restroom, and towards the end of your trip it starts permeating through the rest of the RV.
Dump stations. Some only make you gag a little, some singe your nose hair and leave you begging God to take away your sense of smell. You walk away with your stomach cramping in excruciating pain as it tries to expel anything that’s ever been put in it.
Mice. If they can move into your RV they will. There is one way to keep mice out of an RV. Tried and true, it’s Irish Spring soap. Put a bar everywhere they can get in at and it will keep them away, however, now the smell of Irish Spring knocks you off your feet every time you open the door.
Cost and Upkeep
There is a common misconception that RV travel is more affordable. If you can find an RV cheap enough then maybe it can save you money but probably not. Our RV was a lightweight bumper pull and cost us $9,500. Add tax, inspection, insurance, a new battery and repairing the sewage tank cap, we were up to $11,000. It cost us more money in gas to pull it than to drive the same distance in our van. When you get to your destination you still have to pay to set it up somewhere. Campgrounds and RV parks run anywhere from $25-$75 a night. At some point you have to replace tires and make repairs- that’s just more money to spend. If you have to buy a vehicle to be able to pull your RV then tack that on to the growing list of expenses. Do the math- you probably won’t save a penny on travel expenses.
Having an RV is like having another house. It’s another roof that has to be repaired. It’s another heating and a/c system, plumbing and electrical systems potentially in need of repair. It’s an extra set of appliances just waiting to break. An RV is more work. Our time is valuable, we decided to spend our time on the upkeep of our home and farm and when we go on a trip to leave it all behind and stay in a vacation rental or hotel. When we leave our vacation rental we walk away and leave the upkeep to someone else, we don’t have to take it with us. We use travel miles and points to stay in hotels free or at a discount. We stayed at five different hotels in Arizona for free because we had earned enough travel miles to cover the cost.
Why I Might Consider Having A RV Again
While my husband says no way, no how will we ever own a RV again and we decided that RV travel wasn’t for us, there are some pros to RV travel to consider.
If you can travel as often as you want, for however long you want, whenever you want then an RV might be worth it for you.
Another pro is that once you pack the trailer you don’t have to haul suitcases in and out of hotels. You don’t have to worry about losing a shoe or leaving anything behind.
If you have family and friends with RVs then it might be worth it. Our neighbors are all related to each other and all own RVs. They also have other family members and many friends with RVs. For probably 30+ years they have gotten together to go camping with each other. Camping over Spring Break, Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day have become a tradition for them. If we had friends or family that we RV’d with then we might have considered keeping ours. All our friends tent camp so it would have been awkward to go camping with them and retreating to our air conditioned RV and plush beds while they were sweating to death on the hard ground. Or watching them walk to the public bathroom because there is no way I’m scrubbing the toilet after someone else stains it up! Gross!
There are many pros and cons to owning an RV, our family ultimately decided that RV travel is not for us. What about you? Do you own a RV or want to? What are some of the things you enjoy or dislike about RV travel?