Originally Posted by deloid
Most are addressing maintenance/storage issues. There was a brief mention of fuel efficiency but actually fuel use (gas alone) can be the greatest expense. I have heard of a drop in fuel efficiency...65% mentioned here seems high. A seller states that he typically drops 4 MPG when towing a 20 footer. This translates to just short of a dollar per mile (not including wear and tear on the towing vehicle). So a simple 600 mile trip out (12,000 round trip) might cost about $1,000 in gasoline.
If I am incorrect please let me know on this forum.
It depends on the tow vehicle and the driver's habits, the roads, the weather, etc.
For example, this last weekend, towing on relatively flat land, I got roughly 11.5 MPG with our diesel truck while towing the camper. That included a number of traffic lights and all, too, so not all highway. With the camper on the highway, I can hit ~12 MPG.
But I get about 11 MPG when I'm driving the truck around town solo, with a lot of traffic lights, stop signs, etc. Like any vehicle, the stops and starts really kill the mileage. On the other hand I achieved over 17 MPG solo on the highways with the truck, even with climbing mountains on the PA Turnpike and I-70. I got roughly 13 MPG while towing a U-Haul trailer with a car on it over those same roads in the other direction, so that matches the 4 MPG that person reported.
The point of the numbers above isn't really about the mileage itself, but the comparison between towing mileage and solo mileage.
But, in general, fuel costs are a huge component of usage. Not ownership as much - if I never used the camper, I'd never pay for any fuel to move it - but it does have to be figured into the costs of a trip. I think I spent about $600 one way for a trip from DC to Disney World in January, 2012. To me, though, that wouldn't qualify as a "hidden" cost - it's pretty obvious that moving several extra thousand pounds around is going to cost more. From a strict cost point of view, it might have been cheaper to fly and stay in a hotel there, but that's not what we wanted to do.