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Old 03-23-2015, 04:12 PM   #29
Rivet Master
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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$100-$150 a day sounds abut right for our trips. But of course, that does not include depreciation on the trailer, running costs (tires/repairs etc), storage - if applicable, insurance.

Although it is often promoted as a low cost way of vacationing, I'm not so sure about that! I think it is more a lifestyle choice.

Of course it very much depends on your style of camping - things such as will you eat out often? (no need to if you don't want with an RV, and that will realize significant savings. In our case, my better half insists that for it to be a vacation also for her, we must eat out fairly often!).

Also, how far do you want to travel? Some folks - like us - often travel across the continent, and at 12mpg, fuel costs can add up - but maybe you won't want to be doing that?

There can be quite a difference in RV site rental costs too, depending on what you want, basic parking spot, or all the amenities, hot tubs, pool tables, etc.

Free overnight stops can often be found also - Flying J truck stops, Cracker Barrel, etc. We do that often when covering mileage on long trips - mostly for the convenience, but the $ saving doesn't hurt either, especially if you travel a lot.


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Old 03-23-2015, 05:38 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
$100-$150 a day sounds abut right for our trips. But of course, that does not include depreciation on the trailer, running costs (tires/repairs etc), storage - if applicable, insurance.

Although it is often promoted as a low cost way of vacationing, I'm not so sure about that! I think it is more a lifestyle choice.
Compared to other vacation modes, such as flying to a destination, staying in a hotel, and renting a car to get around while you're there, it's really inexpensive. Especially since the fly/hotel/drive vacation is all money down the drain. An RV may depreciate quite a lot, but even when it's fully depreciated, it still has some residual value, and you can still get some of your money back when you're done with it. Not so with plane tickets, hotel bills, and rental car receipts.

The RVIA studies I cited in a previous post assumed that the average RV owner would sell their RV in five years— which is about typical for RVs other than Airstreams— and recoup some of their expenses in the sale, thus bringing down the average cost to own and use an RV.

Depreciation is a fixed cost. It depreciates exactly as much sitting in your driveway as it does while you're using it. And since it will be fully depreciated in about 10 years, if you keep your Airstream for longer than 10 years the cost of ownership goes way down at that point. Same as if you buy a used one that is already 10 years old and fully depreciated.

Insurance is a fixed cost. You pay the same for insurance whether you use the RV or not. So the more you use it, the less you pay per day of use.

Even storage is a fixed cost, since you're paying the same for storage even while you're using your RV— unless you can store it at home, in which case storage costs you basically nothing. The money you put into installing hookups and a storage pad becomes a home improvement cost and not an RV ownership cost, and provides at least a slight increase in your home's equity and value.

Running costs are higher the more you use your RV, but only within reason. You'll have to replace the tires every five years or so anyway, so unless you get a blowout and have to replace a tire early, that's practically a fixed cost. You'll have to replace your house battery in a certain number of years whether you use the trailer or not, so that's almost a fixed cost, too.

Plus you have to look at running costs as separate from use costs. Some things cost more the more days you spend on the road. Some cost more the more days you spend in camp. Very few of the costs go up both the more time you're on the road and the more time you're in camp. So by careful allocation of camping days versus travel days, you should be able to find a good balance that minimizes your total per-day cost.

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Old 03-23-2015, 05:57 PM   #31
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Some very good information on here. Protagonist, your posts are especially good. I am going to look up those RVIA studies.

For us, we could not justify the cost of a new travel trailer at this point. I'm 45 and my wife is 44, but I was 35 when I bought the first Airstream. We both work, so we are lucky to camp three full weeks a year. Usually a 1-2 week trip in the summer with a few weekend trips in the spring and fall.

What worked for us was buying an older trailer and fixing it up. I started with a '77 Excella, but it needed serious structural work and I didn't have the time, at the time, to do it. So I sold it to a nice couple who was going to do a frame off on it. Wound up with an '87 Avion 34X that was similar but a little bigger. Paid about $7200 for it but within two hours put another $600 and change into it to replace six cracked to pieces tires. I've fixed about everything there is to fix on it (they are remarkably similar to Airstreams with the exception of a heavier frame, metal sprung suspension on all but the last year, and more "common RV industry" parts). Like an Airstream, the shells last basically forever but you have to replace the systems. I've done a new fridge, new a/c, new water heater, new toilet, three new roof vents, converted from 30amp to 50amp, replaced the front gaucho with a custom bunkbed for the children where the bottom serves as a couch for watching TV, a 32" Panasonic flat screed LCD/LED TV, a 300w speaker system with 100w powered sub (nothing like home theater in the aluminum tube....), new faucet, new shower rod and curtain, converted the rear twins to a rear king, had laminate flooring but got a leak that messed it up so took it out....will try again at some point, upgraded the 40lb Worthington tanks to modern OPD valves, sanded and painted the frame and suspension, new shocks, new LED lights all around, the list could go on.....

Grand total, I've got about $15K or $16K in it. I went to Jackson Center a few years ago and saw a new 34 footer on the line and it was $110K. While it was nice, it wasn't really much nicer than my old fixed up one. While I'd like to have the new one, I couldn't justify that much money for one.

Anyway, the point of my ramble is that yes, your operating costs will be about the same with any of them. But your overall costs can be much lower if you are handy and buy one that has already depreciated.

Were I retired and full timing, I might buy a new one. But, I've seen so many problems listed on here by folks buying new ones that I think I'd rather buy one a few years old instead. There's nothing on these tubes that is that hard to work on. I was scared at first, but I learned a tremendous amount from this forum.

We've pulled the Avion from Maine to FL, and everywhere in between. At least 25,000 miles. I think we got our money's worth.

Best of luck, and hope to see you on the road,
- Jim
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:12 AM   #32
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2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
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We travel quite a bit. Just recently got home from a 9 wk trip south ( getaway from a wild NE'tern winter). Stayed in State Parks, National campgrounds and military bases as well as private CG's. By-the-way camping on military base is NOT free to vets. In fact it's not open to a vet unless retired or disabled. Most military base CG's are nice and reasonably priced but not free. The most we paid for CG was $45 in Ft. Lauderdale on the way to Key West. The lowest was $13 at military bases. Most are higher but in the $25 +/- range. We often stay at COE sites if we can and have found one as low as $2. Yes that's $2 with my access pass. So the range is all over the place but I think we can travel and average the cost pretty well to make it affordable.

Roger in NJ

" Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the rest"
Winston Churchill 1948

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