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Around the Campfire: Will rising RVing costs force RVers off the road?

She swiped at a tear as it tracked down her cheek. Her husband reached for her hand in support. Harold and Ginny are what I call “long-haul RVers.” Traveling since their retirement 18 years ago, the couple contemplated their future around the campfire a few nights ago. Our conversation made me wonder, “Will rising RVing costs force RVers off the road?”

Camping has changed

Not used to being the focus of attention, Ginny looked uncomfortable. Harold, however, was a man who obviously needed to get things off his chest. “It’s different now,” he began. “When we first started out, we never gave a thought to gas prices, grocery costs, or repair bills—let alone the campground fees. Now, it’s different. When we get back home we plan to sell our RV. We’ll bank as much of the profit as we can, add it to our retirement savings, and go from there.”

Rising RVing costs

Harold and Ginny are not alone. Rising prices may force more than just these two “long-haul RVers” off the road for good. Here are some of the monetary concerns that our fellow campers noted followed Harold’s announcement.

Rising fuel prices

Gas prices are up. According to Pew Research, regular gasoline costs are, on average, at least 59 percent higher this year than last. The respected research company also notes that one reason behind the change in price is that the demand for gas over the past two years had remained quite low—due mostly to the COVID pandemic. Now, with demand increasing, higher prices will naturally follow. The company also reports that current prices for gasoline are, in fact, almost what they were in 2014. That may be true, but for folks around the campfire, it’s a small consolation. The reality of now is what matters, and right now there doesn’t seem to be a limit as to how high gas prices may go. That concerns current RVers.

Rising campground prices

Campground costs are on the rise. It used to be an economical way to vacation. Camping, I mean. Families could stay in a campground for $10-$15 a night, making this an affordable alternative to hotel stays that easily top $100 per day (sometimes much, much more)! Today’s average campsite will set you back between $25-$80+ per night. Many campgrounds have also begun to charge extra fees on top of their base rate. These charges often surprise many campers. You may note charges for electric and water usage and even an “upgrade charge” for 50 amps instead of 30.

Rising repair prices

Repair costs are also rising. Our local, family-owned RV dealer has a wonderful repair shop. Mechanics are well-trained and conscientious. The shop fee is $160 per hour. Across the country, RV repair shops charge, on average, $150 and $170 an hour. Many shops may soon raise their rates because of the high demand for their services. Wait times can be ridiculous, for parts as well as service. That costs RVers time as well as money.

Rising rig prices

The price of new RVs has gone up—waaay up! No one around the campfire voiced plans to purchase a new rig any time soon, but the higher prices of RVs will surely dampen any excitement that potential RV buyers may have. That cost, added to the gasoline and repair costs, may discourage newbies to the camping industry.

Some solutions to rising RVing costs

As I listened to the campfire discussion, I couldn’t help but formulate some ways to get around at least some of the rising RVing costs. Gas prices might be offset by one of the many gas savings apps, like GasBuddy, Gas Guru, Waze, GetUpside, and more. I wondered if Ginny or Harold knew about these apps or even knew how to access them.

I wondered if the octogenarians were aware of the many free camping apps that are available: The Dyrt, Recreation.gov, iOverlander, or HipCamp? Or do they know about the various paid membership programs like Harvest Hosts? Perhaps they’ve looked into these options but do not want to boondock. I can understand that.

I know that purchasing a new RV is not at all on Harold or Ginny’s radar; but if it was, I’m sure the costs would amaze them. While new RVs are selling at all-time highs, I’m seeing more and more “previously loved” rigs for sale. Yes, prices are high now, but the hope is that costs will eventually come down and level off once the post-COVID camping craze is over.

I know Harold has worked on fixing his RV for years, doing all of his own maintenance and even the occasional repair work. New RVers can learn a lot of skills simply by watching YouTube and save themselves a lot of cash in repair/maintenance bills, provided they’re handy and have the right tools.

A fond farewell

Soon we’ll bid farewell to Harold and Ginny. I just have to believe that if the RV opportunity comes to an end for this amazing couple, another opportunity will surely rise. Don’t you think so, too?

Comments are welcome below and over on my forum.

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BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago

Update: March 6, 2022. WTI just crossed $125/bbl with no end in sight. Wonder what the this administration is going to do. Open up drilling, Restart the Keystone pipeline?. Nah, the greenies are in charge, all the way into the 2022/24 election cycle.

Where are all the libs, and their solutions on this. How much more, before a catastrophic collapse.

Martin
6 months ago

While RVing we meet more and more people who through one reason or another are now stationary full-timing. They had a dream that retiring on two SS monthly payments would be enough to travel the country and live the good life. But things didn’t work out that way. Many have gone back to work, usually at low-paid jobs. Declining health is a big issue too. We have met some who sold their brick and mortar homes and bought really nice rigs that are now looking pretty bad. Aging in the good ole USA has become a bad dream for many.

John Koenig
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin

Since the beginning of Covid, I’ve been “stationary full-timing” (ie: “Isolating in Place”) in TN. I would LOVE to resume my RV trekking but, as a senior with diabetes and asthma, I choose prudence over impulse. I was VERY concerned re new Super Spreader events after the Olympics & the Superb Bowl but, we seem to have been spared that. Three years ago, I booked a 31 day Canadian Maritime Provinces RV tour that has been put on hold due to Covid. With Canadian diesel SUBSTANTIALLY higher than here in the US, I don’t see 2022 as being the year I head north. Cue the locusts…. 🙁

Lindalee
6 months ago

I really feel sorry for Ginny and Harold! It must be really, really hard to be in your 80’s and have to “start over”! A lot of people don’t realize just how hard life can be passed even 70. Hopefully, someday they will realize but by then, it may just be too late for Mother Earth.

I do wish every article didn’t have to have comments of a political nature. Is that all some people know? What about the tragedy playing out in Ukraine? What about Russia probably trying to take over Europe (like Hitler did back in the 1930s & ’40s)? Aren’t these things to be considered too in rising gas prices and food prices and everything prices? As a 74-year-old on Social Security – I worked for it, it is NOT a hand-out – our raise this year was wiped out by the rise of our apartment’s rent, not counting the rising other prices.

PLEASE FOLKS CAN WE KEEP IT CIVIL AND KEEP POLITICS OUT OF RVTRAVEL.COM?

THANK YOU.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Lindalee

Repectfully, “tragedy playing out in Ukraine”, “Russia trying to take over Europe”.

First one is entirely political, im at a loss on what you think it is.

Second one is not true. For starters, the Ukraine is NOT part of the EU, nor under the protection of NATO (see historical history) Russia IS NOT trying to take over Europe, nor would Putin dare try it. What Russia doesnt want, is a member added NATO (Ukraine) country, right next door. Very much like when Russia was setting up shop in Cuba in the early sixties, and we threatened them with an ultimatum (see Cuban missile crisis).

What our ***** V.P said regarding adding the Ukraine to NATO, was irresponsible. Putin must have been incensed hearing that from the VP of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. The ***** had no clue what she just uttered. Words have meaning, especially from political figures that are incredibly dumb.

Phyllis Nunan
6 months ago

Ok, Billy Bob, Lindalee made a valid point. The discussion is about RV’ing. YOU had to put your political one cent in and she called you on it. I, and probably a lot of people commenting, do NOT want to read your whining so-called o-pin-yion!!

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Phyllis Nunan

Phyllis, suggesting you re-read. Have a good one 🙂

Vanessa Simmons
6 months ago

I have an issue with my tow vehicle this year and I won’t be travelling with the RV. The cost to repair it and the price of gas was making travel this year unappealing. Instead, I’ll put the dogs in my car and drive to MT with one night in a hotel along the way. My son will put his RV in a campground there and the dogs and I will stay in it for three weeks then head home.

Donald N Wright
6 months ago

We could swing the other way, a mini van as a TV, a popup as our trailer, basically a backpacker on wheels. Look for places without wifi,internet or cable. No swimming pool or clubhouse.

Huck
6 months ago

I’m with Harold and Ginny, I sold my Class C last fall after our trip to Niagara Falls from Atlanta GA. I felt the Green New Deal leadership would impact our ability to travel freely and only give me more heart burn on the road. Also, our 13 year old twins where starting to out grow the bunks and the time felt right. Found a good buyer and feel relieved to be out from under the burden of storage, insurance and now rising gas prices.
If I still had my RV (which I will miss) I’d still be traveling and expecting to bite the bullet. It’s part of it.
We will get back into RVing again…..if the government doesn’t strangle this lifestyle in the future. Enjoy the open roads while you still can.

Steve S
6 months ago

We will be embarking on a 7,000 mile journey at the end of April. If diesel fuel is $2/gal. higher than last Spring, for example, we will spend about $1100 more on this trip. That’s a lot of money, but a small fraction of our total trip expense when you consider the cost of the motorhome, our toad, insurance, licensing, meals, RV parks and entertainment. Not happy about it, but it will not discourage us from traveling. Owning an RV IS expensive when you consider what it costs you, daily, while using it. However, considering options such as driving a car and staying in hotels, traveling outside the US or staying home, RVing is still a pretty good deal — and way more enjoyable than staying home.

John
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve S

I don’t know, now that I’m retired, and facing the current costs and crowding, staying home is looking more enjoyable. There are lot’s of places in our area the wife & I can enjoy an afternoon ride on our Honda PCX150.

Joseph Eafrati
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve S

Steve, I just talked to a gentleman who is moving into his fifth wheel in a few days and he is spending $1000 a week in a small hotel nearby. I can’t imagine traveling by car or plane and staying in a place you have to pay about $4000 a month for. Yeah, you are going to take a hit on an extra $1100 for your trip but think about shelling that out in a hotel and you still have to pay to travel. RVs are still the way to go. I’m still planning a trip about 5500 miles and it’s going to cost extra.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago

SURVEY; Just a heads up inquiry; how many will be cancelling their travel plans, if the cost of fuel gets to a certain threshold point like $5.00, $6.00 or $7.00 a gal.

It would be interesting to know at what point do you all cry uncle?

bull
6 months ago

$15.00/gallon!

As Steve S said above his planned trip will cost him $1,100 more for Diesel fuel this year versus last year. He’s still going on his trip!

IF that $1,100 is such a big a deal in a persons RV world the question of whether you RV or not is the least of your problems!

Last edited 6 months ago by bull
Mark W
7 months ago

Everything is easy when you know what to do. You just can’t assume that everyone is skilled enough to work on their own rigs or just able to watch a ‘youtube’ video and be capable of making repairs. That’s a huge wild assumption. Plus, there’s a huge difference in the price of parts for certain rigs and the “compactness of Class B motorhomes” make working on them more difficult. I have seen how small the space is for components on my RV and the shop working on my RV has shown me up close how difficult it was for them to gain access to certain parts.

And, it’s absolutely true that the price of new Class B’s especially have really gone up…. more than 30 percent in the last few years. Yes, this has a dramatic impact on late model prices as well. This has all happened in the last 3 years.

Contention for camp sites is almost as bad as getting box seats at the theater for a concert, so, of course it’s a supply and demand thing running up the price on rates.

bull
7 months ago

Will Rising Costs Force RVers Off The Road?

DEPENDS?

The ONLY RVers forced off the road due to high prices will be those that could not afford to RV in the first place!

Which means most all the new RV folks that bought into the lifestyle in last several years!

Many of these new RVers were already BROKE when they bought in to this new RV lifestyle therefore the decision to leave the RV lifestyle and selling their RV will not be that hard as it will be a matter of their families financial survival!

For all those OLD Long Time RV Folks Death, Declining Health and Taxes will continue to be the number One, number Two and number Three reasons for the Old Long Term RV folks to be Forced Off The Road!

Last edited 7 months ago by bull
BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  bull

bull, one thing i got from reading your post, No Bull from you dude 🙂

Bill T
6 months ago
Reply to  bull

Well said.

John
7 months ago

I think high fuel costs, high rig costs and now a glut (or at least significant increase in inventory), will trigger a huge drop in prices. Soon many people won’t buy an RV. Glad we bought our 2006 Winn Aspect in 2012 and got almost 10 good years of taking trips with it. Because if the current trend continues, especially gas and site rental costs, we’ll try to sell it and then walk away from camping and RVing, probably in the next couple of years.

Bob M
7 months ago

I think the price of gas will hurt a lot of people. Gas this morning at two stations in Scranton, Pa was $4.29 gallon and diesel is normally 75 cents to a dollar more. When newbies realize their tow vehicle gets around 9 MPG. It’ll be an eye opener. Drove by the Harrisburg, Pa auto auction yard Sunday and it was loaded with RV’s. At the Harrisburg, Pa RV show prices on RV’s were up. There was no shortage of new RV’s at the Harrisburg or CNY, New York RV shows.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Bob might be on to an early indicator of the pending collapse coming soon!

captain gort
7 months ago

There are going to be A LOT of RVs for sale in the not too distant future! And they will be cheap. There WILL be a big reversion to the norm…probably preceeded by a significant dip below the norm. The now-arrogant RV salespeople will be humbled…good! I’d bet that most new and used RV sales now are to people who intend to use them as their primary homes in lieu of expensive real estate. And they won’t be traveling much in them because of the price of fuel due to our country’s recent reversal on fuel independence that we briefly enjoyed under the previous administration. It will be like big powerboats: most are now liveaboards parked at marinas that hardly EVER go out and if they do, its just a short, quick turnaround, not an extended cruise. Why? Fuel cost. Who can afford 20-30+ GPH? Who can afford 5-9 mpg RVs? Some can, sure…but most cannot or simply will balk.

Jesse Crouse
7 months ago

Our MH is in great shape and shows it. Just takes money and time. People who have seen it think we are rich. Far from it. Still working full time and when we do go away I lose money. Self employed and no employees- I don’t babysit anymore. We bought a 12 year old Tiffin 40′ Phaeton that had been well cared for and from a trusted dealer- our 3rd unit from same dealer. Our salesman knew what we were looking and gave us a heads up when it came in. Bottom line is we planned and got lucky. When you see a well MAINTAINED coach don’t assume they are RICH. Assume they cared for it and it takes care of them- no breakdowns-YET. And yes we are more selective about where we RV.

John E Bloxham
7 months ago

Not just the price of RVs might keep people from getting into this lifestyle but the cost of an RV Park site. I checked with a KOA RV Park with tent camping and they wanted $96 a night for a tent site. Are you kidding? Calculate what an RV site will cost in the future. The retail RV parks will just keep raising the prices as the demand goes up.

captain gort
7 months ago
Reply to  John E Bloxham

Greed. Pure and simple. Gouge ’em while you can!

Vincee
7 months ago

Some of the prices mentioned in the article must be from 30 years ago. Harold and Ginny seem like they are up in their years and yeah prices probably have skyrocketed since they set foot in their first campsite.

As we all know prices have gone up ridiculously over the past
couple of years, but soon there should be a glut of gently used rigs out there in all RV types waiting for the first offer to come along and free the newbies of their 20-year loan they can’t afford.

Jesse Crouse
7 months ago
Reply to  Vincee

I would be careful of recently manufactured and up for sale units. Gently used CRAP is still CRAP.

Vincee
6 months ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Well, put Jesse!

Joe Goomba
7 months ago

To the fools blaming “the administration” over gas prices. If it’s our administration’s fault, then explain how gas prices are rising worldwide. Surely you’re not stupid enough to think our “administration” controls prices in other countries, are you? As for the last administration, they were too busy letting hundreds of thousands die and grifting. Gas was cheaper then because no one was driving due to lockdown.

Vincee
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

Joe, we could be energy independent like we were during the last administration if the currant fools in Washington allowed it. Drilling permits on public lands, offshore permits, a continuation of the Keystone Pipeline, and others shut down within days of the clowns declaring an environmental war on the fossil fuels industry. You don’t kill your way of living, aka fossil fuels, in the hope, a newer technology, wind, solar, anything from California, replaces it until that new technology has surpassed the capabilities of what’s being used now. It’s like someone with terrible arthritis that stops taking their medicine to cope daily with the pain because there is a new treatment on the horizon years down the road.

Swede\'nTexas
7 months ago
Reply to  Vincee

“The currant fools in Washington” want everyone to be driving EV’s at 2X to 3X times the cost of the gassers, our electric grid infrastructure, can’t handle the electric load now let alone if we all have EV’s. How far can you get with an EV RV, when it takes 5-6 hours of charging time?

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Swede\'nTexas

Your killing me here with just common sense. What needs to occur is our economy needs to be crushed, by the not so bright greenies, only then will the middle wake up and send them to an early political grave.

Its coming people, hold on the Calvary is arriving in 2022,24, and there is nothing the libs can do to stop it.

Michael
6 months ago
Reply to  Vincee

Can you define what you mean by ‘energy independent’ and what has changed since the current administration took over? Cancelling a permit for an unbuilt pipeline didn’t affect worldwide production or prices.

According to several sources, permits for drilling on public land (approx. 10% of US oil and gas) were actually higher than 3 of the 4 years of the previous administration, so that’s not it.

OPEC reducing production at the urging of the previous administration might have had something to do with prices. The US has no control over OPEC’s production.

It’s true that Covid caused reduced production. The US’s approach to battling the pandemic can affect production. I’ll leave it to others to argue about the two administrations’ approaches. The economic opening up of the economy which vastly increased demand ahead of increased production (worldwide) probably had a lot to do with the price.

Russia’s (the Number 2 exporter of oil and gas) invasion of Ukraine will affect it even more. If the world decides to boycott Russian oil, it will affect prices and supply.

While it’s comforting to apply partisan talking points to the price of gas, the reasons for high prices today are much more complicated than whose butt is in the POTUS chair.

Oil and gas is a worldwide market where supply and demand rule.

Don
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

Fact, the last POTUS made this great country energy independent and by doing so he also made our country stronger and we were respected, sad to say this is just not the case today.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goomba

Where oh where do i begin. Sir, the “lockdown”, was in the last year of that administration, gasoline prices were declining for the first three years prior.

As to worldwide increase in energy; the idiots think, wind and solar is the answer, well just look at Germany, and you will see your answer. Idiot Merkel shut down the nuclear plants there, and put up windmill and solar. The idiot also signed on with Gazprom (Russia) to have them supply Natgas. I mean what level of idiot are we talking here.

Now, back to our country. Drilling was immediately halted on all federal lands when the current admin. Took over. The Keystone pipeline was immediatly halted as well. Prior to that, we were a NET EXPORTER of petroleum products. Therefore simply supply and demand economics governs here. So, if the current admin. Knew what was good for the American people, they would reverse those decisions. It really is that simple.

Lucy Iovinelli
6 months ago

Wow. Politics rule the conversation. My RV is parked 7 hours from my home. I live in the DFW area, go to my “vacation home ” when circumstances allow it. My neighbors are “Winter Texans”, all RVERS. We agree that your political beliefs, sexual preferences, religious beliefs are all your business & not a topic for cocktail discussion. We all agree that the fishing in the Gulf is great! We all help each other when possible. This is what the RV lifestyle is about.

Gary Freeman
6 months ago
Reply to  Lucy Iovinelli

I like the way you think.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Lucy Iovinelli

Current realties that are political (in order of importance); Russia is invading Ukraine, murdering women and children. Gov’t deficite spending last year, 5 Trillion dollars. Causing inflation last year of 30.5%, more on the way. Halting of oil drilling and pipeline completion, adding to $5.00/gal gas (current).

Drink cocktails my friend, for tomorrow might bring a different mindset.

Marielle Roches
6 months ago

Wow, if this is the kind of idiocy I’d have to listen to sitting around a campfire at the KOA I’ll pass. And of course your name is Billy Bob😂🤡

Carol Lennon
7 months ago

My husband and I have been RV’ing since 2000. 5 years full time in a 40 ft. diesel. We down-sized, so we could fit in more State Parks. I know we have been fortunate to see all of this wonderful country in the USA. Camping has changed, with higher resort prices, more full time families, and an increase of gas prices. We don’t need to travel the States any more because of our age, so we purchased an RV spot at a resort. The yearly cost, for us, will save us over $12,000.00. This is fine with us. We have a 5 year old trailer, which we have upgraded the inside, every year. It looks like new, and cheaper than buying a new unit. We hope that everyone has the opportunity to continue this wonderful way of life.

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago

Oil just crested $115/bbl and is on a rocket trajectory. Currently, the administration has no intention of upsetting the greenies, and will continue to sell the whole smoke and mirror, windmill, solar boondoggle. One has to look no further than Germany, to see what that idiot Merkel did to their energy sector.

That same ideology is currently in play here in our country, with the cover story that its Russias fault. We import approx. 600,000 bbls/day from the Ruskies. The crazies in Washington, refuse to stop that importation, which fuels Putins economy. Instead, they have set the likes of CNN, MSLSD, etc. To sell the narative its russias fault, when gasoline had already doubled before they started bombing the Ukraine. The wise move would be to stop the freeze on US production, re-start the Keystone pipeline, and become energy independent, like we were just one year ago under the previous Administration.

These are the facts, as set forth on March 5th 2022.

Rich Mann
7 months ago

Well said. Thank you!

Drew
7 months ago

Thanks for this. I know this isn’t an rv specific question but Jen Pasaki(sp?) at the white house states Keystone would yield little towards our total demand. I wonder if that’s true.

BILLY Bob Thronton
7 months ago
Reply to  Drew

The WH press Secretary, who holds a degree in Gender studies from lib central Oberlin College, her?. Yeah, like she has a clue. She wouldn’t know pipeline transmission data if it spewed in her face.

Dave
7 months ago

Fellow RVrs in the US,think your gas price is high.
In Canada our gas topped 2.00/litre this week, that’s 9.00 gallon!
Worse still so called experts think that this is going to be the norm.
So what cost 200 to fill our motorhome hast year will be 450 roughly now, maybe more this summer.
When will people say enough is enough?
I was shocked to see how much oil the US and Canada imported from Russia.
I thought the US was self sufficient with all the advertisements on tv not long ago, and we have more oil in Canada that we know what to do with.
So this is another excuse to raise prices as been the norm for the last couple years
Wasn’t long ago there was pictures of tankers waiting to get unloaded in US ports, but there was no room for the oil.
Now supplies are low?
Go figure!!!

DW/ND
7 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Dave: The sad fact in the USA is – Elections have consequences!