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Rising fuel prices could lead to camping cancellations—and opportunities for some RVers

Record fuel prices that are approaching or exceeding $5 a gallon have arrived in certain cities and states, and those high costs will undoubtedly change summer camping plans for more than a few RVers.

“Camping closer to home” has been the mantra of many time-starved RVers since the 1980s. For decades, campground owners altered their marketing messages to reach out to nearby RVers, hoping to be the time-saving, convenient camping option just down the road.

Time is still in short supply for many busy families, but the rapidly rising cost of fuel to push that RV down the road will likely leave more campers looking for close-to-home options.

Rising fuel prices could be an opportunity for some RVers

This is where rising fuel prices could be an opportunity for some savvy RVers.

Think about it. For months, we’ve been hearing about the millions of new RV owners champing at the bit to hit the road in their new rolling vacation homes. Long, extended “dream trips” to iconic national parks, monuments, amusement parks, and seashores were on their immediate bucket lists for this summer.

Many of those new RVers were likely factoring in the $2.25-a-gallon price of early 2021. Even if they raised their tolerance to the $3.26-a-gallon price national average we saw by the end of 2021 it’s unlikely they foresaw the numbers we are facing now.



Will RVers change their camping plans?

We did a short survey on February 26, asking RVers if rising fuel prices would change their camping plans. More than 2,500 RVers responded, and at the time 46 percent said they had no intention of changing their plans. But that was when the average price of gasoline was around $3.62 a gallon, and just before Russia invaded Ukraine and unleashed runaway prices for both gas and diesel.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas according to AAA stood at just over $4.25 a gallon on Wednesday, March 9, the highest prices have been since September 21, 2012. The rise in price isn’t showing any signs of slowing.

A sudden rise in camping cancellations

It’s reasonable to assume that many RVers planning long, cross-country trips are now in the process of changing those plans, again turning to shorter trips closer to home. That could lead to a sudden rise in camping cancellations as spring unfolds, giving alert RVers a second chance at camping reservations in choice locations.

Campgrounds we’ve checked with said they aren’t seeing any unusual wave of cancellations yet, but some park owners are concerned that high fuel prices could change the trajectory of what was predicted to be another record summer camping season.

“There is so much demand for campsites that it might be a while before we see significant cancellations,” said one campground owner who asked not to be identified. “But if history is any indicator, campers do have a limit to just how much they are willing to pay for fuel to get where they really want to be. I guess we’ll find out where that limit is in the next few months.”

What do you think? Will campers now holding advanced reservations be canceling due to high fuel prices? Will you?

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Nan
4 months ago

I too cancelled Junes RT because gas prices at $6. gal. could go even higher in California and Oregon and along the way.

Heather
4 months ago

Too bad the inventors of water-run vehicles disappeared mysteriously for some reason.

Vanessa Simmons
4 months ago

I won’t be towing this summer…not because of the price of fuel but the price of trucks. I need a new engine in my tow vehicle and/or a new tow vehicle. I’ll save money this summer to put a bigger down on the new (to me) vehicle. This summer I’ll drive my car to visit my grands and camp in my sons RV while there. I don’t want to impose my two dogs on them 24/7 for three weeks so putting his RV in a local campground for the time will work fine.

Paul Robinson
4 months ago

I have a nice Dodge truck with a Cummins I’ll sell you104,000 milis on it 03 3500 Dodge truck quad cab.

Paul Robinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul Robinson

Was my dad’s truck

bwodom
4 months ago

We are anticipating cancelling a trip out west. When we added up all of the fees for cancelling, they were enough to offset the gas increase…at least for now. (And there was no difference in the fees for changing the dates to a later time and for cancelling altogether!)

Marcus Price
4 months ago

I would love to see 50% of campers stay home this summer. I have a 10,000 mile road trip planned and the fewer people on the road the better. I didn’t take a road trip last summer but in 2020 we did a 10,000 mile road trip while basically the entire country was shut down and it was wonderful.

Virginia
4 months ago

It’s not just about the money. It’s about conservation and social responsibility; strategic use of resources for the greatest needs, such as supply distribution, power, et al.

I am old enough to remember gas rationing during my childhood (1970’s). I don’t want to be on the other side of the country when that happens.

PJ Perkins
4 months ago
Reply to  Virginia

Where did you live? I live in Ky and we did not have gas rationing.

Vanessa Simmons
4 months ago
Reply to  PJ Perkins

I don’t know about Virginia but I lived in GA and we did.

Tim
4 months ago
Reply to  PJ Perkins

Lived in NJ in the ’70’s and there was gas rationing.

Carl Hooper
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Indiana, no rationing, but the evening news showed people lined up in CA, NY, and probably other places.

Kristina
4 months ago

I sure hope they do! I don’t camp to be around flocks of people. I hope this weeds out all the RVers who ran to buy an RV during covid. Stop complaining about fuel and just go enjoy yourself. We just move finances around and cut out budget from elsewhere so we can afford to go travel. Totally worth it.

Edward
4 months ago
Reply to  Kristina

All it’s going to weed out are the folks who can’t afford it. Maybe they should bring back the luxury tax. I would think buying a $150,000 RV is a luxury, Especially if you know you have to gas it up. However these fellow citizens are paying more in gas tax.

Sam
4 months ago

I will use a common example. Truck 53k. Travel trailer 28k. Truck camper 30k. Salary 100k. If I can not put 600$ in gas in my vehicle instead of 300$ as planned I have some more serious financial issues and it’s not the price of gas.

Diane McG
4 months ago

Just had a nice surprise. Fueled at TA in Lafayette. When I looked at their website it was $5.32. I check TSD and thought they must still be have trouble as they were showing the discounted price to be $4.28. When we pulled in the pump price was down to $5.28. After we filled I checked our account on the TSD app. It was $4.28 after their 10% of the savings. So $1 off. Must be Christmas. Waiting to hear it was a mistake😬.

Tim
4 months ago

If you are taking a 3000 mile trip and your truck gets 10mpg, that is 300 gallons of fuel.
At $3.50 a gallon you would have spent $1050 on fuel.
At $5.00 a gallon you would have spent $1500 on fuel.

That is a difference of $450.
If $450 is the make or break point of your trip, you need to reconsider RVing.

Sam
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim

Totally agree.

Theodore Hunt
4 months ago

True camping is in a tent and half the price of an rv site and 10% the cost of an rv. Campers are great. If you are going to get away from it all why take it all with you? Seen so many sitting inside watching tv and eating microwaved popcorn while I was by my fire enjoying God’s beautiful creation. They listen to the tv or radio, I listen to the sounds God created for us to enjoy. I do use a cot with an air mattress. Too old to lay on the ground. $3000.00 will buy all you need and then some. Last for years. That’s about 4-6 rv payment? State sites between 10- 20$ a night and most have hot showers and toilet facillities. Even an on site store. Next time you want to get away from it all then leave it all behind. Grab your tent and enjoy nature. One night in an rv will pay for a two day trip with a tent.
Tent is freedom. Very mobile. Rv’s are great for travel. It is convenience not freedom. Those who know will understand.

Kristina
4 months ago
Reply to  Theodore Hunt

I do both and both are totally acceptable. Both are camping and one or the other doesn’t make you better or a “true” camper. I have health limitations that don’t allow me to tent camp as much as I used too. Mainly due to cold weather and I LOVE cold weather camping. We get out of our trailer as much as we can, but if you’re going to judge someone who is making microwave popcorn, I think you need to practice what you’re preaching.

BWO
4 months ago
Reply to  Theodore Hunt

Agree. That is camping at its most basic. But as you age, Mother Nature forces changes upon you, not necessarily of your own liking. For some of us that means not sleeping on the ground, and having certain necessities nearby. Just because we age does not mean we want to give up our commune with nature — we just have to adapt!

Topwop
4 months ago
Reply to  BWO

My wife and I are now in our mid 60s and camped in tents with our 3 kids as they were growing up. Now it’s just a little bit more comfortable in our class B RV to get where we want to go and not have to deal with setting up every few nights and I think we’ve earned it 😂.

Bill Fisher
4 months ago

Well, we’re on an extended trip out West from Florida, currently in Joshua Tree after leaving Death Valley this morning and I was relieved to pay $6.49 a gallon for diesel after filling up yesterday in Furnace Creek for $9.99.9 a gallon. Wow!

L. Meyer
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill Fisher

Up to $7.99 a gallon in the bay area (San Francisco to San Jose California).

rollin mckim
4 months ago

Take a Biden Vacation!!!

Your driveway charges you no rent and it won’t take too much gas to get there!

Seriously, folks, it’s time to check out your State Parks.

Happy Trails!

SheriKen
4 months ago
Reply to  rollin mckim

That’s funny & yet sadly true.

GlennieHB
4 months ago
Reply to  rollin mckim

In my state (California) you better be ready to get online at 12:01 AM six months to the day you want a camping site. Literally, if you snooze, you loose.

Colin
4 months ago

I am travelling in south Texas and diesel went from $5.29.9 to $4.69.9 in the last 24 hours. I drive an older Sprinter class B and get good fuel economy by not going over 60. There was a lot of common sense when speeds were reduced to 55 in the past because of gas shortages. At 60 I get 22.5 but at 65 I’m at 19.5. Slow down cheaper and safer.

Gary
4 months ago

Prices have gone down about 10-20 cents here in N. Tex. in the last day or so.

Heather
4 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Being the Oil Baron state, I always suspected Texas gas was $1-2 per gallon while everywhere else was jacked up as high as possible, especially for California & NY. : P

Mike Nohr
4 months ago

We are in Florida and were planning a trip to Montana. That is 5500 miles RT. At 12mpg and looking at $6 Diesel, we are going to put it off for a while. Not sure the price of fuel will ever fully recover to what it was.

Bill Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Nohr

I feel your pain, but keep in mind “for a while” sometimes doesn’t come.

SheriKen
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill Fisher

Great advice, Bill. Take your trip and let your life enjoy living. Plan meals in your rig. Put off purchases and write a journal. Take pictures as a beautiful memory.

Betsy
4 months ago

I take reservations for a campground on the Outer Banks of NC and I have had several cancelations for Spring Break and a few for July mostly from people who were having to travel several hours to reach our campground. They have said the fuel cost was too high and they would be camping closer to home. Those cancelations will now allow campers who couldn’t get a reservation to get one. I really don’t see that in the long run the campgrounds bottom line will suffer too much but it may be too early to predict that,

Allison
4 months ago
Reply to  Betsy

Would love to have one of those reservations!

BILLY Bob Thronton
4 months ago

Can i put this out there;

First Q; Type of Rig and MPG?

Second Q; if fuel economy will effects your decision now, with prices headed skyward?

Thanks

Roger V
4 months ago

This is an interesting question. We just came back home from a two month vacation in Florida at both military and state parks. We’re in a Class B with excellent gas mileage for an RV, so it theoretically doesn’t hurt us quite as much as the big rig owners we’re usually surrounded by. On the other hand, they tend to stay in one place much longer than we do. In recent weeks, the rise in prices was definitely the number one topic in all the campgrounds though. It’s having an impact, but only time will tell just how much of an impact. We’ve got another 15K miles planned this year. Full steam ahead. I’m not getting any younger!

SheriKen
4 months ago
Reply to  Roger V

Roger, thank you for saying “Full steam ahead.” Many RVers will agree with us. Live your life now, enjoy the present day to the fullest. There’s other ways to budget so a person can take their planned RV trip around these fuel prices. Happy Safe Travels!

Michael Deegan
4 months ago

The city I’m in outlawed RVs on street overnight looking for anything to live in until my death hope it’s soon hate this time in our country who would have thought I would prefer death to this Regeam

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