Getting ready for your next big trip?
After the exciting work of picking a destination, one of the first tasks on your plate is to figure out how you’ll actually get there. For some reason, it’s still impossible to simply teleport from point A to point B. (Get it together, 21st century!)
But when it comes down to deciding between RVing and flying, there’s simply no contest — and that’s coming from someone who still collects frequent flyer miles and even shelled out for TSA pre-check.
Not convinced? Here’s why RV travel beats the miracle of human flight every single time.
How to Travel the Country in an RV — and Why You Should
First of all, RVing does away with a ton of the hassles you face at the airport. Forget taking your shoes off for security or dealing with hours-long delays that leave you stuffing your face with overpriced, underwhelming food out of boredom. In an RV, you simply gather the family, pack up your rig, and go.
In addition, RVing offers greater flexibility than flying. Even if you’re the type to plan out every last minute of your trip, we all know that sometimes, life delivers unexpected surprises. When you’re traveling by air, you’re pretty much committed to whatever flight paths have already been arranged, and extending your stay or rethinking your destination could incur costly flight change fees. In your RV, on the other hand, it’s as simple as looking over at the passenger seat, shrugging your shoulders, and unanimously deciding to take that intriguing-looking left turn. Worst comes to worst, there’s always a Walmart parking lot.
Furthermore, RVing is way more family friendly — you can actually bring all the things you need. The extended storage space makes carrying kid’s gear or outdoor adventure equipment easy, and your children will probably fare much better in even a small camper than they would cramped into an economy class middle seat.
By the way, if you want to bring your dog, RV travel is the only way to go. On an airline, Fido’s likely flying way worse than coach class. Many airlines cram pet carriers in with regular cargo, a compartment that can become cold and doesn’t allow for water access or bathroom breaks. In an RV, your pet benefits from your normal pit stops and has a chance to actually stretch his legs.
Finally, although it’s no guarantee for instant cost savings, RVing can be more frugal than other forms of travel. That’s because you have a lot more opportunities to control your costs, from cooking your own meals to finding cheap and free places to camp at night. While you’ll still be faced with food, gas, and living expenses, they’re a lot more variable than when you’re traveling by air, for instance — when you absolutely have to find a place to sleep each night and have less opportunity to do your own cooking. And, of course, the flight’s ticket price is fixed, whereas with RVing, your total gas bill will depend on how far you go.
Must Haves for RV Travel
Finding yourself more and more convinced by the awesomeness of RV travel? Looking forward to not having to cram your toiletries into a tiny plastic bag?
While RVing does have a lot of unique benefits, it also requires you to bring certain things you might not think of if you’re used to other kinds of travel. Especially if it’s your first time RV camping, it’s helpful to learn from others’ mistakes and take their packing tips to heart.
So here’s a basic packing list for RV travel — specifically the stuff you might easily forget.
- Kitchenware, including pots, pans, and cooking utensils as well as plates and flatware
- Oven mitts
- Dish towels
- Bath towels and facecloths
- Sheets, covers, and pillows
- A flashlight
- A first aid kit
Basically, an RV is a house on wheels — so for best results, you’ll want to stock it with the basic comforts of home before you set out. This way, you’ll be able to take advantage of the opportunity to cook at home and sleep in a comfortable, familiar bed each night.
RV Travel Ideas
Now for the fun part: Where should you go?
There are so many different RV routes across America, there’s really no such thing as a “best trip.” The ideal route for your RV travel journey will depend on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and goals.
For instance, many campers love nothing more than finding themselves immersed in nature, and set out to tour America’s great wide open west and its fabulous National Parks. Other campers are content with a beachside resort, complete with a bar-side swimming pool and frozen tropical drinks. Still other RVers want to experience the cosmopolitan lifestyle, but with a safe country reprieve waiting once they’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the city.
For RV travel tips and trip ideas, don’t be afraid to engage with the online RVing community. Campers have come up with some incredible RV trip routes and even coded RV travel planner apps to help you map out your great adventure. Just don’t forget to build in some flexibility — after all, that’s one of RVing’s greatest benefits!
Cost of RV Travel
Even if you’re excited, don’t let yourself get caught short-changed by failing to fully and honestly consider your budget. Whether you’re going for a weekend or living in your rig full time, RV travel can be extremely cheap and frugal… but it also doesn’t necessarily have to be. And if you’re hoping choosing RV travel over flying or some other method will automatically save you money, you may be in for a not-so-pleasant surprise. It’s going to take a bit more work than that!
First of all, you’ll want to consider the rig itself. The best built, highest-quality RVs and travel trailers can be quite costly up front, even just to rent… but they might save you expense and hassle down the road when you don’t find yourself facing an exorbitant repair bill for little more than a bump in the road.
You’ll also need to consider what kind of camping you want to do, because this can have a huge effect on your trip’s final cost. For instance, you can boondock in some wilderness campsites for as little as $25 for up to 14 days — or less than a dollar a day — though you will still need to pay for food, gas, and eventually to dump your holding tanks when you get back into town. (You may also want to run your generator, which takes fuel.)
On the other hand, fancy RV resort campgrounds can cost as much as $75 per night, though you might score a discount by staying for a longer stretch of time like a week or even a month. It’s also possible to spend lots of money on eating out or expensive entertainment and activity costs… but again, all that is under your control when you’re traveling by RV.
So if you’ve never given this unique form of road tripping a try, maybe close out of that airfare comparison tab and consider giving RVing a whirl. Heck, even if you don’t save a cent, it might be worth it just to have a full-sized bottle of shampoo at your destination.