This decision is a thorny one. I recently read an article in the Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20111004/SPORTS10/110040439/Experience-outdoors-Camper-RV-Take-look that claims that the RV industry is set to increase more than 7% and you can save up to 60% camping over moteling. I wasn’t convinced so I decided to do some quick calculations and comparisons for myself.
My husband and I pay about $370 per month (including insurance) for our 26’ Travel Trailer that we purchased new in 2009. Considering that “camping season” is traditionally reserved for the 90 days that the kids are out of school I felt it only fitting to use that as the annual budgeting factor. So, $370 X 12 months is $4440 divided by 90 days comes to $49.33 per day….oh, don’t forget the new Discovery Pass Fee (in Washington State anyway), brings it up to $49.66. Washington State Parks camping fees range from $22 to $28 per night depending on whether you want full hookups (water, power, septic) or just a plain-Jane, no amenities site. I opted for the full meal deal, so that brings the total nights average stay up to $77.66. That sounds pretty good compared to the fees decent motel rooms run for two or more people and you get the added reassurance of clean sheets and no bed bugs. However, don’t forget about fuel costs.
I found a handy site called gas buddy.com http://gasbuddy.com/GB_Price_List.aspx?cntry=USA that lists average fuel costs by state and city. The average for Washington, for those who haven’t figured out where I live yet, is $3.80 per gallon. Pulling our trailer, we might average 10 miles per gallon (when we are not driving over mountains), so a round trip of say, 600 miles would cost us about $228 versus driving our car that gets about 25MPG, which would cost only $91.20 in the same distance.
Anyway, there you have it. The decision is yours, but it really boils down to preferences. Some people like the quick, clean (?), uncomplicated motel experience, while others like braving the out of doors, setting by a campfire, breathing the fresh air and trying to make peace with the mosquitoes. My husband and I temper our decision to time and destination. If we want to run up to Victoria and take in the colonial sites of their beautiful city, we grit our teeth and pay the inflated tourist-season motel/hotel rates. If we want an out-of-doors adventure and plan on spending a couple or more nights, our home-away-from-home is the only way to travel.