Friday, December 9, 2022


Letter to Editor: Snake in the RV grass


Dear Chuck,
It has been a year since my wife and I sold our 2013 Itasca 35’ motorhome and its hybrid toad. Previous to its sale we had been RVers since 2009, first with a then new 35’ fifth wheel and diesel pickup combination. We traveled and volunteered for five years and workcamped for one year. It reached a point where we desired to be retired and take an occasional trip via car/plane/hotel.

We have not looked back nor do we miss any of the large expenses incumbent with RV ownership. We have taken several very nice trips with a total cost not even approaching the annual cost of owning/maintaining the RV (payment, storage, insurance and maintenance) while taking similar trips.

I believe the “newbies” have absolutely no idea of the cost of RVing. Most are buying bumper tow trailers of low cost/quality (however, the quality of even the big rigs is now questionable). We bought into the big lie that RVing is much less expensive than “conventional” type travel. We met many full time couples in our eight RVing years, becoming close friends with a few. In every case these people were getting old (not older) and had no exit strategy. They reminded us of nomads that wandered, lost, in the desert. It for sure reinforced our decision from the day in 2009 when we bought the 5th wheel, to not full time.

There is a snake in the RV grass threatening to end the current boom in RVing: the quickly rising cost of oil. Just this past week oil rose $10 a barrel. Here in San Antonio our gas price went from $2.03 to $2.17 a gallon. The so called experts are saying this trend will continue into 2018. If that is the case we should be seeing gas back to $3.50 a gallon by Summer. People purchasing RVs lately were paying $160 to fill their 80 gallon gas tank will suddenly be paying $280, even more should gas prices rise higher. Once again we’ll see RV manufacturers and dealers going belly up. The price of used RV will crash as people try to bail out from under because they will no longer be able to afford even short trips. Of course the same will happen with the trade in value of the expensive SUVs, the current darling of automotive sales.

Of course all the above is just an opinion of a former, content, retired RVer now driving a new mid-size hybrid and enjoying 43 mpg.

Arthur Jacobson
San Antonio, TX

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Melissa Manning
5 years ago

If you can’t afford fuel, you REALLY can’t afford an RV.

5 years ago

The price of fuel won’t greatly affect the rv industry- as evidenced in the past. Nor did this affect rv manufacturers going out of business. There were at least two builders who collapsed just prior to our last recession- and both did so mostly because of poor leadership and an overall lack of judgement. The rest of the manufacturers failed or scaled back production because of the collapse of the real estate industry and our reliance on mortgage backed securities, and of course all the “collateral” failures due to this as well. There are at least two things that will always do well in any economy- fast food and liquor stores. People will elect to pay for anything they want as long as they want it enough.

Rory M Roberts
5 years ago

While the RV manufacturers are putting out too much junk with little quality control, the buying public is also complicit, because we as a group continue to purchase sub-standard products, instead of passing on them and buying the good builds that don’t have all the “bling”. If we stopped buying poor products they would be forced out of business or have to bite the bullet and produce quality products.. Buying the bad products and whining about them after the fact won’t solve the problem. Let your purchases make the point for you…….

Jim Bennett
5 years ago

There is little doubt that the current trend in the RV lifestyle will thin the herd…like it has in past cycles.The main problem is the RV manufacturers are putting out too much junk with little quality control…just today the lavatory faucet broke in my 8 month old Grand Design money pit.I replaced it with a better quality faucet from the local big box store. I know every buck counts to RV dealers and manufacturers..but come on..$60,000 for Chinese junk. Obviously since the banking flap in 2008 did a number on decent RV brands,like Nu-Wa and Peterson,but for what these crooks are charging for new rigs now,they should all be Gold plated. Add the rising cost of spots in many decrepit campgrounds,and one can see where this is all headed.Too much greed is ruining the RV experience,and at my ripe age,I am seriously thinking about giving it all up.

JR Thornton
5 years ago

Everyone run, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

5 years ago

I use the government travel regulations for comparison, which is $80 a night for a (not very fancy) hotel and $60 per day per person for meals and incidentals, as a national baseline. High cost areas are more. For a couple, that would be $200 a night for hotel and meals, and that doesn’t include travel. Last year we spent about $160 a night travelling in our motorhome, including fuel, purchase cost of the RV, trading for a newer model, repairs, maintenance, and all other expenses including the extra sheets we bought for the motorhome’s bed. So, it isn’t cheap, but if you are travelling more than a few months a year it is less than hotels, plus all the other advantages.

Mel Goddard
5 years ago

Gas is $2.17 a gallon?
Get real, and kuiturgoddambitchin’!
Gas in Ontario is $1.25.9/litre which is $4.78 of your gallon.
And further more, most of our traffic lights are timed Red-to-Red-to-Red.
Welcome to the ‘great white North’.

Jeannine Demers
5 years ago

RVing is a ‘way of life’ when it comes to traveling. A family in a pop-up camper soon becomes best friend with the neighbor in his luxurious RV: financial barriers are not an issue when RVing.
You don’t RV to save money. Considering the up-front expense, and the traveling expenses, you do it by choice.. Because I have an auto-immune disease, the last thing I want to do is breathe the recycled air of an airplane, or sleep in a bed when I don’t know who has slept in it for the last several months. In addition, I much prefer a home-cooked meal over eating out. That traveling style is definitely not for me as I care for my health.
I continue to enjoy RVing, an activity my husband & I picked up in 1971.

Captn John
5 years ago

Will never full time, need to regroup in our large home at times. Still, trips of 1 – 3 months is what we enjoy most. Yes, the cost of fuel and CG sites is rising, about time! Yes, only 10.5 mpg of diesel fuel pulling a 3′ 5er but with prices at $3.50 again being on the road will be less stressful and more enjoyable. I feel bad for those not doing their homework but everyone should know the economy runs in cycles and what goes up often comes crashing down. As a former real estate broker I’m seeing some of the same in that boom that went bust too. What do you think will happen to the families that move to IN on the promise of a job building RVs when that goes bust again?

Diane Md
5 years ago

We’ve been RV’ing for 22 years. In 2002 bought a 38ft diesel pusher which we still have. Just upgraded paint, interior, engine over the past 2 years. Could not justify buying a new or even used at our age. We new we would never be fulltimers from the beginning. Our kids all live close by & we liked just being home, then escaping with the RV. We live in Calif. If we left, we could never afford to come back. The biggest factor? I tend to be a worry wart, so I didn’t understand what happens when you are too old to travel, or have an illness requiring ongoing care. Or if one spouse dies. Like I said, just not in my personality. Fortunately my husband is of the same mind, for different reasons. As far as climbing gas/diesel prices. Several years ago when diesel was over $4 we talked about not doing our 3 month trip to Florida. I keep all our trip costs on an Excel spreadsheet. When I recalculated the previous years trips with increased fuel costs it was a fraction of what we spent in total. So, while we didn’t like paying the increase it didn’t stop us from going. I know we would have never seen or done the things we have without our RV. I am really concerned with all I’m hearing about full RV parks & having to make reservations far in advance. We do for Florida, obviously, but usually just call 1 or 2 days in advance while we are traveling to Flordia to make sure we have a spot. Glad we are nearing the end of our RV adventure. Sounds like it is getting too stressful. This will probably be our last year making cross country trek to Florida & Indiana in May. Still lots to see in the West so maybe do a few shorter trips rather than 2 long.

jim westfall
5 years ago

My wife & I bought our motorhome in January 2017. We wanted to see places where there weren’t near by hotels. We also knew and were told by the RV sales people that ” …RVing is not cheaper than some alternatives… “. I don’t know how long we will last, but we have had a blast in our first year. When it is no longer fun (no one can estimate the time), we will give it up.

Thanks to all who comment. I am learning much by reading about what others do/discover/think.

KC Piton
5 years ago

It comes down to personal preference. Both houses and RVs are money pits. For the sake of argument, both ways of living cost money in insurance, maintenance, etc. My husband and I built a big beautiful home and realized this country is too beautiful to just watch it on TV. We wanted to see it. I’m going to gloat about one thing that perhaps most do not plan for when thinking about living in an RV full-time. We planned for increased cost. We started planning for full-time RVing 4 years before actually starting in May 2016. We actually calculated our budget with the notion that fuel would be $5 a gallon (we hope and pray that never happens). We can afford this wonderful full-time RVing lifestyle by doing a bit of work-camping in areas that are too expensive. We also have a large solar system on the rig and we are able to boondock and still live in luxury. We stay put for a while and don’t just go, go, go, which saves money and also enables us to really experience what the local area has to offer. There are various ways you can enjoy this lifestyle on a budget. I personally feel you MUST PLAN for it and think up the worst case scenerio. For us, owning a house (and we had owned three on three separate occasions) is a huge money pit, more than owning an RV and traveling full-time. I believe it’s all in the eye of the beholder!

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

We can all justify what we are doing.

5 years ago

Dang folks, seize the day….or don’t….but quit your whining!

Richard Heberlein
5 years ago

There is no way we could snowbird as we do by using planes, trains, cars, motels, restaurants etc. The life style we have adopted, that of enjoying the northern climes during the spring, summer and fall and the beautiful southern climes for three or four months when the snow and ice hits would not be possible or practical without our RV. Say what you will but I, for one, will give up this lifestyle and my RV only when I am no longer physically able to continue.

Rory Roberts
5 years ago

Thank you Richard for stating your feelings very clearly. I hardily agree. I started FT’ing in 2014 and soon found that I love this lifestyle. I don’t care what you do expenses will continue to increase. I remember when gas was 20.9 cents a gallon. Now here in Ca I pay in the neighborhood of $3.80/gal. I have since decided that I will live this lifestyle until it is physically impossible for me to continue. Then they can bury me in my 45′ coffin. Meanwhile I hike, kayak and do yoga to keep “Arthur” at bay LOL:

5 years ago

For every unhappy camper there is a happy camper-such is life. I beg to differ about the future price of oil. Yes it has recently risen primarily due to some temporary factors including current cohesion among OPEC members, but that may not last based on past actions. Point is who knows what oil prices will be in the future? Yes it may go up, but it could stabilize or even decline. We live and adapt.
Life goes on. What u say about naive rv buyers could be said about other groups as well. Home buyers for ex. Car buyers too. But we live and adapt and life goes on….

Mike Whelan
5 years ago

We have a bit of a different take on RVing and the cost as compared to the planes, trains and automobile form of travel. Prior to retirement I spent up to 80 per cent of my time traveling that way. I prefer to not see another plane or hotel for the rest of my life though I know that is not true. As for cost we keep very accurate expense records (force of habit) about our travels as part timers. We also have real expectations as to the maintenance and care of our motorhome will be. For us RVing is less expensive travel than my old life of planes trains and automobiles and far more laid back. As a business traveler I used 4 and 5 star accommodations. As RVer’s we prefer State Parks, Corps parks and many of the fine public managed camping locations across America. Our costs are lower and our locations are more serene. If we used destination private parks I suspect our costs would be comparable to those of conventional travel. Even then I prefer to have my own bed and cook what I prefer to eat. As for fuel costs I see that as part of the life style. Our coach only gets 7 miles per gallon so I understand price changes. Yet that does not stop us from exploring on whim. When fuel cost increase we do modify our travel to include Walmart and other RV friendly no cost or low cost overnight spots. Our average cost per month has changed very little over the past few years. In fairness our coach is paid for with only upkeep and maintenance part of the annual budget. When we replace it our cost will increase as we spread the cost of the coach over the next ten years. By that time we may retire from RV travel due to age or health but we can always return to our brick and stick home. There are snakes in the grass but for us they are the lack of campsites and overcrowded campgrounds. … but that is a story for another time.

Arthur Jacobson
5 years ago

I want to add one more point. I mentioned we were volunteer camp hosts in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. All but last year were spent at a wonderful Texas State Park about 55 miles north of Dallas. We got into volunteering because our daughter was having some personal issues at the beginning and we longed to be near her and give her love and support. The state park became a great place for that to happen. Last year we volunteered for a National Historic Monument on the Atlantic coast of Georgia. Volunteering became a job and obligation. Yes, we were provided a nice full hookup spot in return for a total of 24 hours state and 32 hours federal. It required we two retired people to awake by the alarm clock we swore was passe. We had specific duties to fulfill during our “work” time. No problem there as the work was very easy and sometimes very monotonous. What we objected to were some, not all, employees taking what I called “indoor annual leave” during our shifts. This was especially true on the federal side. We would show up and we might not see a paid employee for six hours. We were there to help them not replace them. It was after Georgia last year we decided it was time to hang it up, sell the RV and toad and become fully retired people.

john stahl
5 years ago

Anyone that is RVing must realize that it is a luxury and that an RV is a money pit, and that you seldom make any kind of profit from owning or selling one. I could take awesome vacations anywhere in the world every year for the annual cost of the RV or related expenses. If you cannot afford the gas increases, the cost of repairs, the storage costs, etc. then do not buy an RV. An RV is not an investment. It is a luxury item. Be sure you can afford all the expenses before you buy an RV. Save the money and take an awesome vacation each year. But as for me, I love RVing. So we go everywhere in the summer and then the rest of the year we take one weekend a month to go RVing. We are not full-timers and have a nice spacious home to return to after our outings. If you can have your cake and eat it too. Then go for it. Long live RVing.

Curtis McRee
5 years ago

I agree with both of you. I started R.Ving in 1074. For years it was a joy to be out on the road enjoying so many
things to see and do. In the mid 80’s things began to go down hill. Now it isn’t enjoyable at all The workmanship in new R.V’s are terrible. If cars and trucks were built so shoddy as R V’s There would be an up rising. of people complaining, It cost a lot of money for upkeep and all the other expenses to own any R. V. now it is hard to find a space to park for the night. It is for better and cheaper to stay in a motel and eat in a restaurant than to own and maintain any R.V.

5 years ago
Reply to  Curtis McRee

Will you share the location of the fountain of youth? 1074?