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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