Oliver Travel Trailers

Unlock Savings and Adventure: Dive into the World of RV Travel!

travelers save when they go RVing shows study
April 5, 2024

A recent study comparing vacation costs indicates that consumers seeking to save money on travel should consider going RVing. The research shows that recreational vehicle trips are the most budget-friendly option despite economic uncertainty and fuel price fluctuations.

A study conducted by PKF Consulting USA, a member of an international travel and tourism consulting group for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, revealed that RV travel is significantly more cost-effective than other types of vacations. The study found that a family of four owning an RV can save between 23 and 59 percent on vacation costs, while an empty-nester couple traveling by RV can save between 11 and 46 percent.

In addition to analyzing RV ownership costs and fuel prices, the study thoroughly evaluated various aspects of vacation expenses. Despite factoring in these costs, the study unequivocally determined that RV vacations offer substantial savings compared to alternative modes of travel, such as using a personal car or flying by airline. Furthermore, staying in a hotel, rental house, or condominium and dining in restaurants were also found to be more costly options than the economical choice of RV travel. This highlights the cost-effectiveness and value of choosing an RV vacation over traditional vacation options.

The study quantifies what RV owners have intuitively understood for years – opting for RV travel is a cost-effective choice for saving money on travel, stated Richard Coon, the president of RVIA. With the added benefit of enjoying frequent getaways to bond with family and friends in the great outdoors, owning an RV presents exceptional value to travelers seeking memorable experiences.

PKF conducted a detailed analysis of vacation expenses for two distinct groups of travelers: a family of four comprising two adults and two children and a party of two adults. The study involved calculating the overall costs for these hypothetical travelers embarking on nine various types of vacations to popular destinations, which included Branson, MO; Cape Cod, MA; the Grand Canyon; Corpus Christi, TX; Orlando, FL; Lancaster, PA; Napa, CA; Traverse City, MI; and Yellowstone National Park.

The study analyzed various popular RV types, encompassing folding camping trailers, lightweight travel trailers, compact motorhomes, Type C motorhomes, and Type A motorhomes. Vacation durations were examined at 3, 7, and 14 days, correlating directly with the round-trip distances in highway miles between city pairs. Additionally, PKF scrutinized the potential impact of theoretical increases in fuel prices on overall vacation travel costs.

RV vacations proved to be more cost-effective than the other options examined, irrespective of the duration, distance traveled, or geographical region of the vacation destination, stated Kannan Sankaran, Vice President of PKF. The data clearly demonstrate that while fuel expenses are a factor in the total vacation cost, they do not have a significant enough impact to substantially alter the results of our analysis.

The study compared trips taken in Type A motorhomes, typically the largest and most luxurious RVs, to other upscale vacation travel options. The findings revealed that vacations in Type A motorhomes were 45 percent more cost-effective than upscale air and hotel combinations for accommodation.

The study revealed that significant increases in fuel prices would be required for RV vacations to lose their economic advantage over other forms of travel. For a family of four, fuel prices would need to more than quadruple, while for an adult couple, they would need to more than double before RV vacations became more costly. PKF noted that fluctuations in fuel costs have economic implications for all analyzed vacation types. Airlines, for instance, frequently impose surcharges and additional fees when fuel prices escalate.

The results from PKF’s study are consistent with the feedback from RV enthusiasts, as indicated by RVIA’s biannual Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners. In a September poll, 89 percent of RV owners reported saving 10 percent or more when traveling by RV, with two-thirds stating savings of 25 percent or higher.

The study did not attempt to quantify the non-monetary benefits that RV vacationers experience.

RVing provides families with a distinctive travel experience that appeals to those looking to enhance a sense of togetherness, control, flexibility, and convenience in their travels, said Sankaran of PKF. The financial considerations of raising a family alongside the preference for shorter vacations closer to home align well with the desire for a budget-friendly vacation with minimal complications. Owning an RV serves as an appealing option for meeting all of these needs.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association is the national organization representing nearly 400 manufacturers and component suppliers responsible for producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs manufactured in the United States.

RV Vacations Save Money

study shows RVing saves money

A comprehensive study comparing travel expenses to popular U.S. destinations demonstrates that families can significantly reduce vacation costs by choosing RV travel over other vacation types.

RV Type vs.Alternate Vacation MethodItineraryAmount Saved By RV
Folding Camping Trailer vs.Car / HotelDenver to Grand Canyon42 percent
Type C Motorhome vs.Airline / HotelAtlanta to Orlando46 percent
Travel TrailerAirline / Rental Car / Rental HomeWashington, D.C. to Cape Cod37 percent

Cost Comparisons of Vacations Using Recreational Vehicles Versus Other Types of Vacations
(4-Person Travel Party)

Vacation Mode of Travel3 Days7 Days14 Days
Party traveling in personal car, towing their folding camping trailer, staying at campgrounds, and preparing all meals in the folding camping trailer or outdoors at campsites.$721$1,634$3,158
Party traveling in lite-duty truck/SUV, towing their travel trailer, staying at campgrounds, and preparing all meals in the trailer or outdoors at campsites.$880$1,997$3,854
Party traveling in compact motorhome, staying at campgrounds, and preparing all meals in the motorhome or outdoors at campsites.$880$2,035$4,033
Party traveling in a Type C motorhome, staying at campgrounds, and preparing all meals in the motorhome or outdoors at campsites.$930$2,149$4,232
Party traveling in personal car, staying at hotels/motels, and eating meals in restaurants$1,128$2,906$5,456
Party traveling by airline, renting a car at the destination, staying at hotels/motels, and eating meals in restaurants.$2,958$4,045$6,792
Party traveling in airplane, staying at a rental house/condominium, and eating the majority of meals in the rental unit.$2,329$3,133$5,162

*Source: PFK Consulting, USA

Cost Comparisons of Upscale Vacations Using Recreational Vehicles Versus Other Types of Vacations
(4-Person Travel Party)

Vacation Mode of Travel3 Days7 Days14 Days
Party traveling in a personal Type A motorhome, staying at campgrounds, and preparing all meals in the motorhome or outside at campsites.$1,671$4,465$7,700
Party traveling by first class airline, renting a premium car at the destination, staying at upscale hotels, and eating meals in restaurants.$5,619$7,631$12,170

*Source: PFK Consulting, USA

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