Potential RV renters are understandably concerned about rapidly rising fuel costs as they consider a recreational vehicle for their summer vacations. Parking their Prius in exchange for an eight-mile-per-gallon Class C could send them into a pump-induced coma. However, RV rental numbers continue to climb.
RV rental numbers growing
The folks at Outdoorsy, one of the leading providers of peer-to-peer RV rentals, recently pointed out that the RV industry continues to buck economic trends that are crippling other segments of the travel industry.
As of the end of March, Outdoorsy says the company experienced a 13 percent year-over-year growth in bookings for summer RV rental departures. High fuel prices aren’t resulting in mass cancellations, and renters are instead reporting that they are taking shorter trips, spending less time on the road, or even planning something Outdoorsy is calling a “nearcation.”
Outdoorsy says the average cost for a trip via their platform has only gone up about $5 over last year, which is a cost increase of just 0.28 percent per trip. Compare that to hotel prices that are reportedly up more than 40 percent from this time last year.
Since the “typical” RV vacation trip has always been a bit less than 500 miles, there’s no denying that consumers will feel the bite of higher gas prices.
Outdoorsy co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins says RV renters (and RVers in general) can still take their planned trips and minimize fuel impacts by following a few simple tips:
1. Have your RV rental delivered to you
This one could work great for a peer-to-peer renter who plans to stay put at a single nearby camping destination. By having the RV delivered right to the campground, they can avoid gas costs altogether and still have a vacation. More than 60% of Outdoorsy RV owners, or hosts, offer delivery. Cavins said his hosts (the owner/renters of RVs) have not yet raised their delivery rates, but he said he will be watching closely to see if that trend continues.
Delivery-friendly travel trailers (Airstreams, fifth-wheels, teardrops, etc.) make up 50 percent of Outdoorsy bookings for Summer 2022, while Class C RVs and campervans make up 38 percent of bookings for Summer 2022.
2. Consider a “nearcation”
Cavins said that there are options between settling for yet another boring “staycation” in your own backyard and an epic, cross-country road trip that would bust your budget. Cavins and his team call it the “nearcation.” A nearcation brings into play places closer to home yet far enough away to feel like a bona fide journey.
“An interesting fact about RV vacations: most people think that RVs are driven a lot. In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” Cavins said. “They are driven for three hours on Day One of the vacation and then turned into a hotel room on a lake, or a meadow, or a park, or a beach. They sit there for six days (on average) and on Day Seven, they are driven those three hours back to their owner.” So, by camping close to home and limiting the highway time, renters can minimize the fuel-cost damage.
Cavins also said at a hotel you can’t cook your own food. “You almost always have to go out to eat,” he said. “For a family of four and a dog, this can quickly become brutally expensive. An RV allows you to cook your own food, avoiding the inflationary environment of dining out. The vehicle becomes this all-inclusive hotel room on wheels where you can even enjoy your pet, without also footing the bill of boarding costs.”
3. Target states with cheaper gas
Average prices for a gallon of gas can vary a lot from state to state. Instead of a straight shot out and back across the country, maybe this is the year for a circular ramble in a state with less expensive gas. So do your homework and stay in states where fuel price hikes are minimized.
Cavins said this high inflationary period is a good time to share the ride by renting a rig and trying out traveling as a group.
“Outdoorsy offers a variety of vehicle sizes to accompany any size of party,” Cavins said. “From a classic Airstream, to a Class A spanning 21 to 45 feet, to our most popular Class C’s spanning from 20 to 30 feet, Outdoorsy has every type and more available for booking.”
Cavins said in relation to other forms of travel, RV vacations still represent a cost savings of 21-64 percent for a four-person travel party and still remains a cheaper way to travel when you consider the scarcity of rental cars, and the significant increase in airline and hotel fees.