Saturday, September 23, 2023


Sky high fuel prices: “Our plans won’t change—but my language at the pump will!”

A few weeks back readers were asked to poll and comment on this question: “Will high fuel prices affect your RV travels this summer?” Mind you, that was February 26—just two days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. While fuel prices had decidedly gone up, it was a case of “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

First poll: Optimistic

Even so, the poll results still reflected an optimism toward traveling, despite pump jumps. Here’s the tabulation from that poll, with 2,860 responding as of last Friday:

Will high fuel prices affect your RV travels this summer?

  • Yes, will likely cut dramatically back on how far I travel. 19%
  • Yes, I will reduce the miles I’ll travel. 34%
  • No, the price of fuel will not affect my plans. 44%
  • I won’t travel this summer, price of fuel not a factor. 3%

Less than a fifth of readers who responded suggested that high fuel prices would have a “dramatic” effect on their travels. The bulk—nearly three-quarters—said they’d keep traveling without much in the way of a restriction. Here’s a snapshot of some of the comments made in this survey.

“Not getting any younger”

Typical of many comments, this one from Vincee: “My wife and I have talked extensively about our camping plans this coming season. What we decided is ‘we’re not getting any younger’ and time doesn’t stop for anyone. COVID-19 killed our prior cross-country trip plans, so this year we are going to embark on a long two-month excursion that will be longer with more stops than our prior plans. Are we not aware of the rising fuel costs? Of course. However, sooner or later a choice has to be made to do what you enjoy and let the things out of your control not stop you.”

While pump prices may not be a “stop sign” for most, plenty had comments on how they’d cope with them. “Fuel prices are a factor, but food and commodities are just as big as prices continue to rise for just about everything,” wrote Ozzie. “We plan on trying to save on camping by staying longer for the rate discount, choosing less expensive campgrounds, and limiting our ‘rambling’ in each area. We fulltime, so less camping is not an option.” And Sheryl H. adds her secret recipe for high fuel prices: “Life’s too short! Gas prices will not stop us! We will cut down on going out to eat. I like my cooking better anyway!”

But not everyone held such a rosy viewpoint. Don wrote, “Diesel fuel is now close to $7.00 a gallon here in California. [Cost to] fill up my 100 gallon tank $700.00, averaging 7-8 miles a gallon pulling toad. I’m not driving my RV anywhere. [I] can stay in some nice hotels for that kind of money.” Robert M. echoed similarly: “At $3.50+ a gallon I will NOT be going camping this year. I can’t afford to get to the campground!”

File Photo

Wait and see

Others took a more “wait and see” approach to their travel plans. Wrote Sailor Bill, “Hard to answer without various fuel price levels. $4.00 per gallon gas I expect by summer. $5.00 would make me unhappy. $6.00 per gallon would make me very angry. $10.00 per gallon would cause me to cancel my trip to Alaska planned for this year.”

If you see Bill, there may be steam working its way out of his ears. On Friday, March 18—long before summer—$4.27 was the U.S. average for regular. Pity those traveling through California—$5.80 was the gas average, while diesel drinkers saw an average per gallon price pushing $6.24.

Most recent poll—the tide changes

With this “what’s too high” in mind, we propounded another reader survey. A week ago we asked you, “How would $7 a gallon gas prices affect your summer travels?” With a real value associated with the question, we saw a distinct change in attitude.

  • Yes, will likely cut dramatically back on how far I travel. 28%
  • Yes, I will reduce the miles I’ll travel. 36%
  • No, the price of fuel will not affect my plans. 21%
  • That’s too much. I’m not going anywhere with my RV. 14%

Of the 2,615 responses, we found that more than half of those who earlier reported that high fuel prices wouldn’t affect their plans had a change of heart. A significantly larger number of readers also said they’d be cutting down the length of their trips.

From vacillation to heels-dug-in

Bob P. lamented, “I’m (self) debating between canceling all plans and dramatically cutting. At the current $5.50/gallon I will probably limit my trips to within 200 miles, at $7 I probably won’t travel this summer. “ Adding to Bob’s misery, “It’s painful as I just put in a big solar/battery system.”

Some have already had their minds made up. Montgomery B. writes, “Our diesel at the most expensive place here is $5.49, Murphy is $4.99. Average is $5.08 or so. Ain’t going nowhere with those prices. I can afford it, just refuse to increase bottom line of all of the folks involved in the issue. If we do go, less than 100 miles one way.” But he does add one positive note. “This issue will surely thin herds in RV parks, as many people need to decide if getting to work is more important than taking an RV trip.”

Sticker: Adacito on

Some who may benefit from the “herd thinning” may include Bill & Brenda. They related, “We planned to RV to Alaska via Banff and Jasper Canadian National Parks the summer of 2020, and COVID caused us to postpone that once-in-a-lifetime trip. We plan to make the trip this year and have made most of the critical reservations.” And as to fuel prices? “We presumed gas would average $5.00 per gallon. $7.00 per gallon gas will increase our fuel cost by about $2000 but we are going. No one knows when their last day on earth will be and we don’t want to wait another year to make this epic trip.”

Stay or go, high fuel prices are definitely fodder for deep feelings. You may enjoy this thought from Dan: “We don’t travel very far from home in our RV, usually less than a full tank of fuel in either direction. We are simply recreational RVers. Our plans won’t change, but my language at the gas pump will.”


RV Consumer Support: Fuel-saving devices – Are they “snake oil”?

U.S. Energy Administration weekly fuel price report


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. As to Dan’s thought at the end. I agree, have done that, even get so mad I have been known to kick the gas pump kick the

  2. We were going to spend the summer on the road to Alaska & Canada. No longer. Then we were going do several states and now we are staying in-state.

  3. Back in 2008 when fuel prices were high we decided to cancel our planned 5-month RV trip from VA to several Rocky Mtn. states from late spring to fall. We’ve regretted it ever since. Fuel prices have never prevented us from shortening or cancelling another RV trip since then.

  4. I don’t understand all the hand wringing about the cost of fuel. On a 800 mile trip at 8 mpg, the additional cost between $3 per gallon and $5 per gallon would be $200. Hopefully that will not make or break the average RV’er.

    Many of us spend more on insurance and property taxes/registration fees than we spend on fuel in a year.

    My solution is to not overpay for coffee at Starbucks or wait at the drive through for my fast food fix.

    Just my .02, YMMV.

  5. We just ran into higher prices and are thankful to have a TSD Logistics fuel card. Diesel at a Petro truck stop had a pump price of $5.42/gallon and an after-discount-price of $4.28/gallon. Both are bigger numbers than I’d like, but I certainly prefer $4.XX over $5.XX.

  6. Again people that will travel to closer campgrounds will fill those campgrounds for people traveling long distance, won’t change a thing unless we all stay home and give the greedy fuel companies a lesson that we won’t be taken advantage off
    Unfortunately by these poles, that isn’t going to happen.
    Too many people willing to pay what ever it takes to travel.
    High prices are here to stay unfortunately, they will lower slightly periodically to make us feel good!
    Look at lumber prices.
    Same greed

  7. On the bright side, both my Jeep and Motorhome are diesel. Diesel in Punta Gorda Fl went from $5.06 last Monday to $4.84 today. It has been dripping all week long. As for our future plans, we are leaving from Punta Gorda to Jackson Wy to Colorado Springs to Temecula, CA then back to Fl leaving in August and returning late October/early November, regardless of fuel prices. We aren’t getting younger and still can enjoy life and smell the roses. (Are they blooming in the fall???)

  8. We’re full-timers so home is where we park it:). We are in Texas. Answered first poll when diesel was still barely squeaking to $4 that we wouldn’t change plans. A week later diesel in the same location jumped to $5. Finally discussed the wisdom of going further into West Texas around Big Bend where the towns are farther apart and smaller and they would need to charge more for diesel than in a metropolitan area. Our West Texas portion of our plans was just over 1,000 miles. At 9 miles a gal. pulling fifth wheel and then needing gas to go to stores and parks the math proved steep. Nice thing about full-timing is we can pivot and reroute. Hadn’t put any deposits on reservations in West Texas so easy to cancel. Reroute and longer stays took off 500 miles. Found what look like some great rv parks for our stays so are also excited to explore these new areas!

  9. Where we live fuel is between $5.50 and $6.90 a gallon. Will this curtail my travels? No. What it reinforces for me is driving our rig with economy in mind. In Town: Slower starts from the lights, timing lights to be green as we approach. Highway: Instead of our usual 65-70, we will run between 55-60. Camping: We will stay put, in any one place, as long as we can.

  10. Guess; Justin T does not get it?? Gov’t can cap Fuel Costs to Consumers both Federal & Provincial. At least, we would hear a New Whine from Big Oil!!
    Simply; have made a personal choice not to Travel. However, HRH keeps telling me “There’s The Front Door!!” Hmmmm!!

    • Unfortunately Trudeau like most politicians doesn’t care about the people that elected him.
      They don’t want to cut taxes on fuel because the won’t be able to give as much of our tax dollars away, CERB for example

  11. All – Last week oil dropped to about 96 barrel, but now, the price is 104 up 7 on Friday. This is going to get worse, Canadian Pacific has just shut down whole system because of labor dispute, locking out workers (hope they break union permanently). That Keystone pipeline that is cancelled, that oil is still going to move, but now by rail and truck, more environmental damage when those crash. Now the Canadian oil wont move as much further tightening supply, CP strike, so expect more price increases, hmmm, bread is going to cost 10+ loaf, no telling diesel fuel price when that happens. It’s not Ukraine, it’s stupid energy policy in the US government made up of idiots. I know, I worked for the second largest Electrical Power Marketer/Transmission system operator in the USA. The only way to recover is for us to pump, and pump in USA, we have PROVEN oil Reserves out for 200 years, and PROVEN natural gas reserves out for 500 years. Yet idiots in WDC buy Russian oil.

    • AMEN! They want to push the new green deal. It is in the build back better they are trying to pass. Force the prices up to force people to go electric.

      • I’m assuming you’re not going to be around when human caused climate change makes many parts of the world uninhabitable, because your comment sounds completely out of touch. You know that if we don’t eventually end oil production (like in the next 30 years), climate change will be so unfathomably bad, yeah? Mass migrations because places are simply too hot to live. Countries fighting over water. Plant, wildlife, and human loss in the billions and mass crop and production failures, bigger and worse hurricanes, almost every year, no more ice caps, etc. It’s all already happening, and getting worse and worse with no end in sight.

        Maybe, just maybe don’t blame the effort of new generations to undo and alleviate the global crisis that past generations caused, when oil companies continue to post growing profits through all this. Might I remind you that gold mines were posting record profits during the gold rush, that is, until they ran dry, and thousands and thousands of people lost their jobs suddenly, gold lost much of it’s value and the executives disappeared with all the wealth. All while the US govt permitted native American genocide.

    • Or we could take a second and consider how immensely dependant we actually are on oil, (not to mention the keystone pipe would actually destroy and pollute native American land, and freight oil, while still bad, isn’t as bad as the proposed pipe, even if it means cheaper prices for you) and that if we don’t actually curtail our unsustainable oil development (with insane govt subsidies towards oil corps that the taxpayers pay for) and transition towards a no pollution world, the next ten to thirty years is going to be very, very grim both environmental (as oil pollution is a major contributor towards anthropogenic climate change) and geopolitically, especially as oil industry shifts from artificial scarcity to actual scarcity, and nations begin to fight over the scraps of crap left over until there is nothing. All of the major world leaders are complicit in the destruction of this planet, they are all telling you to continue to care for the oil companies while the world burns.

  12. Love your very RELEVANT topics. If i may suggest. Snowbirds; report back on how many vacant campsites were available, when going into any state system. Please dont report back on “empty” sites, those are probably the “stiffs” we have delved into on earlier discussions.

    Only vacancies at time of booking, will indicate if the approx. 20%, who say they are changing their plans based on fuel, will give a real indication if the situation is, in fact trickling down to open reservations, in this current “snowbird season”.

  13. As for the price of gasoline, I have the F-150 with the twin turbo 3.5 engine. Did you know that I normally use 87 octane, but pulling a trailer 89 octane, and going up in elevation, 91 octane. Actually, I am used to paying higher prices from last year .In hindsight I should of bought a CRV and towed a Leisure Lite trailer !

    • The higher in elevation you go the lower the octane of the gas they sell. Has to do with less oxygen the higher you go. Next time you travel at higher elevations check the octane sticker on the pump it will tell you the lower ratings of all grades.

      • Is it a correlation of higher detonation, from the octane fuel additives, in relation to less oxygen at elevation, which equates to allowing lower octane fuels needed?

  14. Planning a 3 week trip in May and several 5 day trips this summer. We will probably do another 3 week trip in the fall.
    What are we supposed to do. sit home and count our money? Did that for the last 2 years. My wife and I worked 40+ years and we are now retired. Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor before it’s too late. Let’s move on!

  15. Our Summer travels will remain the same as we vend and vacation between huge Irish & Celtic Festivals. Staying on venues without cost makes up for all increased gas prices.

  16. Unfortunately, I have canceled my summer plans to travel to Massachusetts, do the gas price. However, in 2004, when the gas price sored to $4.40 a gallon, we still went to Washington, DC. The difference was that I was still working and now both of us are retired. We will camp in Michigan and travel through the state, it will still be pricey, but we will not be traveling as far.


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