Thursday, March 30, 2023


Husband’s dream RV is wife’s “gas hog” nightmare

Dear RV Shrink:
We are looking at a 38-foot motorhome that is like a McMansion on wheels. It has all the creature comforts of home. It has been my husband’s dream for years.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it too, but I can’t get over the poor gas mileage. I keep thinking every time we drive five miles it’s going to cost us whatever a gallon of gas costs. It seems absurd.

Am I just thinking too hard?  Are we nuts buying this gas hog? —Gas Math in Maitland

Dear Gas Math:
I would say you are not thinking hard enough. You have to do the math several different ways and see if this RV, or even the RV lifestyle, is going to work for you. I can tell you your fuel bill is, in most cases, not going to be your biggest expense.

Most people with a rig your size are pulling a toad. Your gas-hog expense is going to get you from point A to B; from there you will be driving the toad.

I suggest you sit down and run through what you would like to do for a six-month trip. Figure your mileage, your gasoline costs, camping and maintenance. That will give you a better picture of what your costs are going to look like overall.

Many of your costs are not going to change whether you stay at home or travel. You will still eat, heat, cool and entertain.

You should also compare your trip expense with other travel options. Figure the same trip without the motorhome and add the expense of rooms, meals and fuel. Try doing the trip using a train and a berth. Compare it to some organized tour package.

All these travel methods can ring up dollars quickly. Running the numbers may make you feel better about how you plan to travel and the cost of getting the beast down the road. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

##RVT772 ##1263



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Ian C
3 years ago

Hi fellow RV’ers
It is always a treat to be in a fuel station, especially Costco, and have the person next to you ask how much does it cost to fill that thing.
One item that no one mentioned is that we get to sleep in our own bed every night, we don’t have to lug our luggage behind us.
And did I mention, we can cook our own food and not have to pay restaurant prices.
And another very important item I can take my dog and three cats with us.
Think of what great mileage your toad gets while being towed behind your motorhome.
Has anyone priced a nice hotel room lately, 200.00 plus dollars .
Buy your RV, enjoy the countryside….

3 years ago

Surprised at 38’ RV shrink did not suggest to GAS Hog towing, diesel is much better option especially if u do not plan to stay near sea level.

Stu Mathison
3 years ago

If you stay in a different place every day then yes, the fuel costs are too high. I figured that if we just stay 3 days in one place then we pretty much break even compared to a moderately priced motel and eating cheap. Based on driving no more than 300 miles between locations. Anything over 3 days the costs keep getting better.

That was using Thousand Trails, Passport, state and federal parks with the occasional Wal-Mart.

3 years ago

If the first question an RVer proposing to buy into this sport asks is “what do you get for gas mileage with a _____________ “(fill in the blank) I’d tell him or her if fuel economy is even 1% a concern, you’re barking up the wrong tree. So many right answers follow. 1st timer – glue yourself in the advice, then if you still proceed maybe consider a smaller diesel rig that gets you in and out of places you’ll never get to park beside with a goliath, and the mpg, will double if you drive like a nice person.

Bob p
3 years ago

7-8 mpg isn’t that bad for a house!

Mark Anderson
3 years ago

After we bought our motorhome , one day i was at a filling station and a man at the other pump asked how I could afford to fill something like that. I told him I don’t drive it to work everyday.

Eric Kaminsky
3 years ago

It is no secret that fuel costs of driving an RV greatly exceed that of a car. It is no secret that an RV is a rolling fix-it list. But it is also no secret that an individual trip in an RV is generally much cheaper that any other method of vacationing and travel. Then why are RVs so expensive? Because only RVers go on several, if not many, travel adventures per year. Before we retired we belonged to an RV club and went out 11 times a year, each time for three days. Then a vacation each year and possibly another trip or two. Since retiring our RV rarely goes for more than a month without a three or four day trip, sometimes a week or two. This doesn’t count the many successive months each year we travel the country. When we travel in our RV our non-RVing friend ares sitting home. That is why RVing is expensive, not for each trip but for so many trips.

Gene Bjerke
6 years ago

If your main concern is cost, why are you buying a McMansion? We travel in a top-of-the-line Class B. We get 18-20 mpg, dry-camp frequently, and are perfectly comfortable. If space is most important to you, you have to realize space costs. A smaller rig can be just as comfortable and offer all the amenities at a lower cost. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

3 years ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

18 – 20!!! Lol

3 years ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

It sounds to me like SHE is the one concerned about the mpg, whereas HE is the one who wants the McMansion. Just a difference of expectations……

6 years ago

When we first looked into The RV lifestyle, we were told by some friends who had been at it for a time the following: It gets pretty good gas mileage for a home but lousy gas mileage for a car. Enjoy the times you have and all of the country you will see.

Since then we have been from Alaska to Key West , San Diego to Prince Edward Island Canada and haven’t even started to make a dent in what there is to see.

Mary - Oklahoma
6 years ago

If it’s your hubby’s dream, then just go with him and enjoy it!!

Jerry X Shea
6 years ago

All the comments above are correct. One other important point. Don’t think of gas mileage as “driving to work each day.” Right now we are into our 6th week (of 8 weeks) in one spot. Talk about great gas mileage – ha. You will not be driving down the road 365 days a year. As stated, you will drive your McMansion to a destination and then drive your car around to see the sites. Be sure to pencil in the fact that you are on an extended vacation when you RV. You will be paying to park, admission to attractions, you will eat out to try cultural food of the area, attending RV Rallys, etc. Gas is not your only financial concern.

Richard Warnke
6 years ago

We also drive a 38′ motorhome with a 496 cubic inch gas engine, coupled to a six speed transmission. We regularly pull about 3500 pounds of towed and have the coach loaded to the max.

Over all, we average over eight miles per gallon. That means we drive 60% farther on a gallon of fuel than does the fine lady who wrote the question.

How have we cut our fuel expenses?

Several factors.

First, my wife and I both drive with a light foot. No jackrabbit starts. As long as we aren’t holding up traffic, 55-57 mph is fast enough. Don’t use the cruise control unless the road is really level. Watch the road ahead so that we don’t race up to the red light and have to jam on the brakes. In fact, watch the road ahead so that we almost never use the brakes on expressways. (Brakes destroy the inertia one pays to create with fuel.)

We’ve improved the efficiency of the drive train by adding a Banks system to allow the engine to breathe easier.

Then we pay less for fuel. We use the Gas Buddy app on the phone to find good gas prices — of course, making sure our rig and towed can negotiate the gas station. Next, one of our credit cards (Sam’s Club Mastercard) gives us a 5% rebate on fuel purchases in the USA and Canada, plus 3% on campgrounds. Also we’re signed up with some oil companies’ frequent purchaser discounts.

In this way, with limited $$$ resources, we’re able to enjoy full-timing, including driving our motorhome 25,000 to 30,000 miles per year, taking in many beautiful sights of God’s creation.

I sincerely hope our unseen friends in their 38 footer can do the same.

Loretta Roach
6 years ago

I drive a 34 foot RV and pull a Ford Focus and I routinely get 10 miles per gallon on most roads excluding mountainous terrain.
The trick to reasonable gas mileage lies in how much you have in your storage bays. If you have not used it in a year get rid of it!

Tommy Molnar
6 years ago

Ditto, Richard Davidson.

Richard Davidson
6 years ago

We have been driving that “Gas Hog” for 10-15 years, in the cheap fuel days through the unbelievable $8/gal days and back to the now $2.1/gal days. In every case and in every period you have to take into account not only cost but comfort. How much is it worth it to you to know who slept in that bed the night before? To know for sure that it doesn’t have bed bugs. How much is it worth it to you to not have to pack and unpack a suit case every couple of days and hope you have everything you want with you? To us, these things more than compensate for the cost of fuel. We just got home this year from a 5+ month trip across the USA from south Florida to southern California and up all the way to the farthest corner of Washington State and back and we figured we spent on fuel and campground costs about $8K to $9K. That’s for 5+ months. Add in another $2k for eating out and seeing the sites we wanted to see, doing it all in the comfort , security and familiarity of our home on wheels and I just do not think there is any better way to travel. Try and add up 5+ months of hotel nights alone and see what you come up with. Then add in car rentals or taxi fees, restaurant costs, air fair costs (and hassles). You WILL find out it’s cheaper to RV.

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