Guest Author - Jim Fortune
I have been watching all the ballyhoo about $4 gas and how it will be affecting vacation travel and it got me to thinking about taking an RV trip with $4 gasoline.
I sat down at my desk this past week and opened up the 2011 Directory of RV Parks and Campgrounds. I picked a random page about in the middle of the directory and I landed at Muskegon, MI. I live in Colorado so this is quite a trip for me. 1240 miles each way to be exact.
This is why I think that RV travel with $4 gas still makes sense. I do a little RVing every year. Some years a little more RVing than others.
I like to RV in the shoulder season. On the calendar that is between April 1st & May 31st and September 1st & October 15th. An RV rental for me at this time of the year costs $1289 per week with extra days at 1/7 the weekly rate or about $185.
Notice that I say that I am renting an RV. If you have an RV, taking a vacation with $4 gas makes even more sense. But I am a renter. So let's continue.
This trip will be 10 days. My RV rental cost for this trip before I even leave town will be $1844. That is $1289 for the week + three extra days at $185 which equals $555. $1289 + $555 = $1844.
Since I have an RV rental, I usually dry camp for the nights between my house and where I am going. So I will plan on four nights of dry camping. Dry camping means I am not checking into an RV park for the number of nights between my house and my destination. I will be using my self contained propane for cooking, heating water, etc. and using my generator to give me electricity for TV, DVD, microwave, and electrical appliances. My water is also self contained.
Doing this is more of a convenience since RV parks between stops are usually only $28 - $32 a night. So we are not talking about a huge expense to stop at a real park with all of the amenities. And they include water, and electric and often Wi-Fi for my laptop connection to the Internet.
It's just that I like to drive until I get tired and pull over and stop - where ever that might be.
I've never been to Muskegon MI, but it looks like a nice place AND they have a terrific RV park there called Duck Creek RV Resort. It gets really high marks (10, 10, 10) in the directory, so I know it's a first class place.
So what is this trip going to cost me? Here are the numbers:
2480 miles round trip to Muskegon MI and back. In Colorado I know I get about 10 mpg and I am guessing in Muskegon I can get about 15 mpg so let's say I average 12.5 mpg for this trip. That means I can expect to use about 198.4 gallons of gas. Given $4 gas and my gas cost will be $793.60 for the trip.
The place where I rent gives 100 free miles for each day of rental and charges 28¢ for each mile over. Since I know the trip is 2480 miles and my trip will be ten days, I get 1,000 free miles and have to pay 28¢ for the 1480 miles I go over. That comes to $414.40.
The rates at Duck Creek RV Resort are between $35 and $50. So let's split that and say we pay $43 per night for 5 mights. The RV park will cost us $215.
I am going to plan on staying 5 nights. I will pick up the rig at noon on Friday. Drive out 4 hours and stop the first night. Drive 8 hours and stop the second night. Drive 7 hours and I'll be in Muskegon MI.
We eat a lot better when we travel in an RV than we do when we go by car. And we pay about 1/3 less. Steak at our grocery store is a lot cheaper than it is at Outback Steakhouse. You probably get the idea. For two adults and two children our cost per day runs about $50. When we travel by car meals with tips run about $132 per day. We always bring our own wine. So plan on $50 for the trip.
So how much will we spend by renting an RV? $3812.00
A car trip will cost us $396 gas (2480 miles / 25 = 99) * $4 = 396, Motels $84 x 4 nights = $336, Fairfield Inn in Muskegon MI @ 109 x 6 = $654, Wear & Tear on car = $1264 (2480 X 51¢) (IRS rates for wear and tear), Meals for 4 = $1320, Wine cost $50. Total = $4020.
I have to tell you that there is one advantage of RV travel that is priceless. Living with your family in a 30 foot RV for 10 days will bring all of you closer and better able to appreciate each other than the same trip by car.
Despite the economy I hope you are travelling and enjoying yourself. Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Jim Fortune - the Bella Budget Travel Guy