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!”
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.”
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.”