How much vacation money do you save by owning an RV?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, friends. Fast question with fast backstory.
    We haven't taken a vacation in ten years, except overnight to see my kids in Illinois. We can't afford planes, hotels, trains, etc. We are TRULY paycheck-to-paycheck. I want to buy a cheap pop-up or RV so we can camp. How much money can you save by using one? I know the camp sites are cheap. What about the upkeep, gas, etc? We are being offered the opportunity to buy a REALLY NICE 25 ft. RV that would attach to our car for $1000. Is it worth it? Can you actually take cheap vacations in an RV? Right now hub can't haul But he has to buy a new car when we get our tax return. A "new" car for us is a new USED car--would a pick-up or van (used) haul this?

    Help!!!! I wanted so badly to go to Ohio to meet you all, but that's not even remotely possible. It made me rethink how badly we need a vacation! Thanks! :D
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    My first instinct upon hearing your question is to tell you NOT to buy it....because you are going to have to go out and buy a large vehicle to tow it.

    Yes, you can find campsites for as little as $10/night. But that might be offset by your expenses. Does your state require registration and insurance on the RV? Not sure about other upkeep issues that you might be affected may/may not have to rent storage for your RV depending where you live. Plus, your towing vehicle will use a lot more gas when you add the trailer.

    If you are truly paycheck to paycheck....I don't see any "savings" gained from this purchase. We are a "paycheck-to-paycheck" family ourselves...and FWIW I would not buy the RV. We have a large tent that we take camping to the state parks....and we go with friends and groups in order to get groups rates on our campouts. That's about the only vacation we have had in a while.


  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    MWM, I started to go this route before. I bought a nice pop-up that I got a GREAT deal on. Then, I sold it because I was afraid that my dogs would tear the screen and possibly get loose if we left them alone in it. But, here are things to consider- the towing vehicle needs to be able to carry the weight. This can be checked online or by calling the dealer of that vehicle. You will need to know towing weight (not the same as overall weight) of the camper to be towed). Also, consider the height of the camper as it is necessary to be able to see over the top when you are in the towing vehicle. This is not a law and many people don't have that, but I found it important since I wasn't used to towing something.

    If you can swing the cost of the camper and a towing vehicle, that's the bulk of it. Gas mileage is not as good when you are towing, but everything else is inexpensive. Other PITA's though are that you have to pack carefully to keep weight balanced a certain way and there's a max weight you can put in there, your choices of vacation spots are limited based on your ability to drive and camp there, a lot of work goes into prepp'ing for the trip since you cut costs by taking stuff (including cooking stuff) with you.

    If you get the camper, you want to think about whether or not AC is needed and if it has one. Also, don't buy it until it has passed an inspection at a reputable camper dealership. Oh- having brakes on it is good. There will be a cost to add some things to the towing vehicle- a hitch certified to carry that weight (if it doesn't come with one) and a brake/light hook-up.

    I opted for getting rid of the camper because I was able to sell it for a lot more than I paid for it and I figured even though I put very little cost into it up front, I could have gone on a couple of vacations for that amount of money. What we ended up doing is staying at KOA campground cabins. You can find locations online and find out if they are air conditioned/heated. Prices vary depending on campground but are pretty reasonable. Some allow small dogs. They are small, but so are most campers. Most campgrounds have pools and activity areas and are located near interesting places. I take a very small charcoal grill and a small tv and difficult child takes his game box. I started a "collection" of older pots/pans, utensils, etc, that I keep in a medium sized cooler for easy access and packing. They have different sized cabins with different amenities but if you plan to take the dogs (which is fun and saves costs of boarding), typically you can only get a 1 or 2 room cabin. We get the 2-room and use one for my bedroom and put the tv and cooler in it, and use the other for difficult child's room and I put the suitcases and other kitchen stuff in it. They have elecetricity but no running water. The bigger, nicer cabins have water and kitchens, I think. The ones we get have a double bed in one room and 2 bunk beds (to sleep 4) in the other room. They are small. I would recommend trying this before investing in a camper and vehicle, unless you and the kids are already used to camping. We take leads and tie the dogs to the porch railing when we are cooking out or just sitting outside and they love it.

    Campgrounds are great, typically safe, places to meet other laid-back, friendly adults and kids. I have considered renting a small 1-room AC'd cabin for me and the dogs to stay in and letting difficult child take a friend and renting them an adjacent tent spot. Of course, difficult child will have to turn into a easy child before I go thru with that!
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Another very economical vacation option is to check out some of the State parks near you and see if there are any that have cabins that they rent. The facilities are different in every park but most of them are very nice, and you have use of all the parks amenities while you're there. Most of them aren't fancy but they are a step above a tent. There is one near me that has very economical cute little stone cabins that look like something out of a fairy tale. They sleep 6, have electric, water and AC, and come with all the linens, cookware, dishes, etc. All you bring is food. They are VERY reasonable, much less than a motel room. And most even allow pets. If you go on the website for your state, there should be a link to the state parks there. It's worth checking out.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have always wanted an RV but I dont think they are really an economical way for paycheck to paycheck folks to take vacations. It would be a great thing to have if you could get one and place it someplace you were gonna go quite often like if I had the ability to get one for the price you are and could swing renting a year round lot in say Myrtle Beach. Then I could go a bunch of times all year long and not have to pay for a motel.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot. I never thought of cabins! I'm going to check them out.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I had forgotten about that, Donna, but we tried that before we did the KOA. The cabins had kitchens and bathrooms and allowed pets. The only bad thing- they also had mice! Every state park cabin we stayed in had mice, but none of the KOA cabins had any signs of them. Odd, I know!
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If it's in good condition and you have a place to store it I would take it in a heartbeat. I'm too old to camp, but I wouldn't mind packing up the camper and taking it easy up in the Cascades.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Funny, Witz- I actually took a 10 day vacation once with a "friend" in a pop-up and did the loop thru WA state. It was a great vacation!

    On the east coast, difficult child and I have stayed in 8-9 cabins in 6 different states. MWM, you also might want to check out privately owned cabins. Sometimes people have great rates on them, particularly with the economy so bad. I found one several years ago in WV on a river in a residential neighborhood. It was the biggest we have ever stayed in but cost less than a lot and even had a jucauzzi and we were allowed to ttake the dogs. It was in a small town that had nothing but within a 1 hour drive, we could get to a lot of different interesting places/activities. difficult child was ecstatic because it had satellite tv he could watch if it rained and the rrest of the time, he was either fishing in the river or soaking in the jacuzzi. LOL!
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would take the camper out here at my place too because we live on the acreage. Just having it for the kids to have used as a place to hang out or camp out in the back yard would have been great. Heck...we could use it now for Cory!
  11. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I've never actually stayed at any of the state park cabins myself but I've always wanted to. I have friends at work who spend two or three weekends a year in the cabins at different state parks. They just pack up the kids and the dog, buy some groceries, and go! The rates are very good anyway and then they get 50% off for being state employees, Can't beat that!
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Donna, I used to live in TN. There used to be a great place with cabins around Gatlinburg. If you are interested, PM me. Although, I'm not sure if the place is being kept up, you could probably checck online and find out.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, forget the I called a few and got such high rates that one week was more than our I'm very frustrated. Does anyone want to unload an RV? :tongue: Or have any CHEAP cabins for rent? I mean $89-$300 a night???? Are you kidding me????

    Hub has been wanting to go to Dayton Ohio to show us the Air Force Museum. He worked on some planes in the AF that are there and he wants us to see them. We're always going "next year" (for five years at least). Also, there's a waterpark there, a Six Flags, I think. We haven't gotten there yet. We can't afford the hotel room. It's very frustrating. Also, I did want to come to the CD get together. I'm very sad that I can't. I don't know how we are ever going to find a way to travel ANYWHERE. Our credit is shot from when hub had to cut down to part-time. And by the time we tried to send our normal payments in they had such high late fees that we were out of our league so it's going to have to be bankruptcy!
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, not ideal maybe but try this- it's supposed to be less than 1 hr drive (50 mins) from Dayton. You can play around with the dates and details- this is one room with pets- $58/night thru summer (cost less with KOA card which I think cost about $25). Remember, some money is saved from not having to eat out all the time.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
  15. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Oh an RV sounds so cool. THis husband and my dream. But i also think the add ons would add up. They are going cheap right now with the economy.
    With our kids it would be the smartest way to travel, for us.
    Maybe one day.
    All of us could have an RV convention?
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Tell ya what. Everyone that has a tent or rv...can just come to my place. I have at least enough room for 20 or 30 mid sized rvs or even more if we pack them in Thats not even counting our other lot that wouldnt have access to electricity. If your rv has a generator we could use that lot. I can run a power cord from my house for people here. Though...there isnt a darned thing to do here! We could go to Fantasy Lake and swim!
  17. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    It depends.

    My WH bought a mobile home RV two years ago over my objection. The first year, he used it to take the boys to Scout camp and he stayed in it for two weeks while they were there. Although I stayed home and went to work everyday, it was the best vacation I've had since I had kids!

    Since then, it has been used primarily to transport my kids and their friends to the movies. Last night, we packed 16 of daughter's friends into it to travel to the prom, so we saved on limo rental!

    I have reserved a rental car for daughter's orientation in a couple of weeks, though H swears we'll be able to take the RV. It's almost 400 miles.

    If you have a husband who plans to actually go somewhere it might be a good deal.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    HUB SAID YES!!!!!!!

    We're getting a 25' RV from a kind man and woman who have a lot of money and bought this RV for only two trips this year. MUST BE It's not new, but he's fixing it up for them and we can do the rest. All this for $1000. We're going to see it next week and put a down payment on it. We won't have it until next year, but that's ok! Maybe CD will have so much fun you guys will have another meeting next year too and we can haul our RV and stay at a campgrounds! :D
    I think it will save us tons of money. Hub is a mechanic and used to work on RV's. The gas will be a biotch, but it will still beat flying or an airplane and certainly campgrounds are much cheaper than hotel rooms. I"m so excited!
    Janet, it would be so fun to all camp out by you! I love the country!!!!
  19. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    A little late coming in on this ~ because of my health I no longer camp. Having said that husband & I found some really nice cabin rentals in northern WI for $500/week. On a beach, with a canoe, grill & firepit. With people trying to sell their vacation homes & having no luck they are renting out cheaply.

    We spent one weekend in Buck Lake; another on Rice Lake. We made our own meals in; there were t.v's for inclimate weather ~ no cable, just movies. husband & kt packed their bikes & fishing gear. I had my art gear & we had a blast. In the end we saved big bucks over a motel.

    Just a thought.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Be sure to look at campgrounds to see if they have waterparks. I know in Ohio there are some and at least at one admission is just the cost of a parking permit.