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RV or Hotels?

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RV or Hotels?

Postby maverick » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:00 pm

My wife will not camp any more, bad past experiences, so which is a better way to hit up several parks, hotel (in park or near park) or RV? If you have done both, would love to hear a comparison. What are the pluses and minuses of both? Which is more expensive in the long run? Thanks
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby hjldennis » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:02 pm

Small RV is the best for me. We have 23ft Itasca Navion, and love it. Gets better gas mileage than my truck at 15 mpg, and it will fit in many regular parking spots, and all of national parks' camping spots. I've also traveled in my sister's 40ft rig. Although it's very comfortable once all set up, it's cumbersome to drive, gets 6-7 mpg, and will not fit into many national park spots. Driving our RV is really just like driving a van, so my wife drives it too.

As for the cost, unless you are spending a lot of time on the road, it is less expensive to get lodging, when you consider the initial cost, maintenance, insurance, etc. But it's the mobility and semi camping experience of RV that we like. We just hop in and drive off since evrything is all in there, and when we get tired or to save a few dollars, just pull over and sleep. We don't have to worry about places to eat or cook, although your wife may not like this too much, lol. We do many last minute trips, and never really worry about room or even campsite availability even during a peak summer weekends.

If you are thinking about full time or semi full time RV, then a little bigger ones at around 32 ft might be better.

Our rv is for sale, btw??? Lol I am resisting, but my wife wants to sell it, since the kids are old enough, and we hardly stay in the RV anymore but go out backpacking.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby rlown » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:23 pm

I'd go with the motel/hotel.. I have a camper with genset, full kitchen, bathroom with shower and two places to sleep (sleeps 4 actually).. Wife doesn't like that thought anymore either. Their comfort first. I can sleep ok on a flat rock :) :)
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:38 pm

For many years my wife and I fantasized that on retirement we’d buy an RV for winter camping. (She’s still happy car camping and sleeping in a tent in the warmer months.) A couple of years ago, I began doing research. Since we wanted a stand-alone type setup like a Roadtrek, we thought it wouldn’t be too expensive. New, the cheapest Roadtrek is $90,000, used you can get one for $40,000-$50,000. When you add in the increased costs for gas and maintenance versus a Prius, we realized we could spend a lot of nights in National Park lodging off-season before we’d come close to spending that amount of money. So we’ve opted for car camping and staying in National Park (or comparable) lodging in the winter.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:56 am

Having a similar domestic situation & having done all three (hotel, camping & RV) methods, I can give you some bullet point highlights:

1. Unless you're paying for the very best (read: most expensive) hotel room with a great view, outdoor patio, etc, you'll be spending all of your time outside in a public park, hiking, etc, or in the common area, just to avoid the sense of wasting your vacation inside a room. After awhile, you can begin to feel rootless/homeless, so while you may want to just chill in your own private abode, the "it's beautiful outside and here I am inside" angst begins to get to you again.

2. (Car) camping - with all the fixins' - is the cheapest, most flexible, and easiest way to go. But ... there's a ton of packing to do beforehand, then you have to set-up camp when you arrive, then you have to break-down camp when you depart, then you have to unpack when you get home. (I used to feel like I needed a vacation when I got home. LOL)

Secondly, even if you've gone to all the effort to make your wife happy, warm & dry, there's still gonna be:
- her midnight pee walk to the campground bathroom
- her shower in the campground public shower
- nothing to do after it gets dark/cold in the evening except go to bed (campfire is fine, but soon enough ...)
- dark/cold in the morning, but someone has to get the stove going to make coffee, etc
- a lot of exposure being outside all day long - we have a pop-up shade tent and even then you can begin to get too much "outside"

3. RV. RVs are expensive - as mentioned above, even the small(er) ones are pricey. And that's only the beginning - maintenance is a killer. The best description I ever heard was "a house undergoing a constant earthquake". All that household plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc gets shaken to hell driving down the road. And since the loads are heavy, the engine, drive train, spring, shocks, tires, etc are all under stress. Did I mention sales tax? A $50k RV has a $4k sales tax.

The alternative to getting a new(er) RV is to get an old(er) RV, but then you're dealing with a lot of repairs; it's OK if you know how to work on cars. This is what we did, but since I've rebuilt/restored a few cars since I was a teenager, I generally knew what I was getting into. If you need to rely on a mechanic, then it will eat you alive.

On the plus side, RVs give you (read: your wife) a "place to be". You can sit at a normal dinette table, someone can be napping while the other is watching TV, reading, chilling, etc. There's a frig, so you don't have to keep getting ice each day for a cooler, there's an internal stove, so you can make coffee without going outside, there's an internal bathroom so "someone" doesn't have to go outside ... (Are my hints about "someone" registering? LOL)

However, the number one thing I love about our RV is this: you can get a sense of being outside in your own space while being inside. In other words, open the doors, windows, awning, etc and you literally feet/inches away from actually being outside, but without the constant exposure from really being outside. IMO, this is key. It's one thing to be worked while backpacking, but in a domestic situation, you (or that certain someone) are looking for that balance of getting outdoors, but not being "homeless".

On that note, I should add that one thing I never appreciated was having 'somewhere to be' between the 11am (check-out) and 2-3pm (check-in) hotel/camping witching hours. With an RV, you can just pull over to any old turn off - oftentimes a beautiful vista - and chill. With either car camping or hotel, you are definitely homeless, with an overriding desire to get checked in and settled.

One last thing about an RV - all your sh!t is already packed. Bed, clothing, chairs, shade umbrella(s), etc, etc, etc. This is a very big deal, something you may not appreciate until you no longer have to do all that packing when car camping. Set up and take down is practically non-existent. That means you can make decisions on the fly to just pull over and check someplace out. We did a trip to Zion & Grand Canyon a few years ago. On the way home, we decided to spend the night on the Colorado river below Laughlin. Pulled in late, backed up, cracked a beer (or two). Here we are minutes after parking (see the smile[s]?): Edit: see the wife in clean, white clothes?

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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby sambieni » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:17 am

[quote="hjldennis"it's cumbersome to drive, gets 6-7 mpg,....[/quote]

:eek:

Always wondered what the mpg big RVs pulled . And wow.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:19 am

I should add this last important piece, which is that my wife made the final decision to get an RV. I had been bringing it up for a couple of years, but never really pursued it too hard. She really enjoyed "luxury" car camping in the E Sierra, and was actually a little wistful when camping season was over. That is, while car camping is great with long(er) days, it really becomes much more 'difficult' (ie "less fun") as the days get shorter and/or the weather becomes colder/stormier.

Since we live by the beach, we're always going for beach walks - her favorite area is Crystal Cove SP. A few years ago, after the state took 25 years to finally evict a shabby mobile home trailer park (a relic from 30s squatters), they built the beautiful El Moro campground. We were returning to our car as the sun was setting around 5:30, and we passed by the newly opened campground. My wife got a look at some of the RV set-ups with their camp lights, a lady cooking inside, camp fire outside, etc and pretty much decided right there and then that we were going to get an RV.

A few months later, this was our set-up at the self-same park:
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Looking out the rear-window:
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:26 am

sambieni wrote:Always wondered what the mpg big RVs pulled . And wow.


You need to look at the incremental cost. A fully loaded passenger car (like our Sienna) with a bunch of gear will get around 20mpg. Our RV gets 10mpg; so 10mpg difference. Up & back to Yosemite is 800 miles, or 40 extra gallons of fuel required. At $3, $120 bucks extra. One night @ the Ahwahnee is over $500. The Lodge, if you somehow win the lottery, is cheaper, but one night will equal the difference in fuel costs.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby maverick » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:58 am

Thank you for everyones input, very helpful. To clarify, the RV would be rented, not purchased, it would be used to go on a road trip. Just interetsed in the differences of the convenience factor, fuel cost, food, parking, ect.., so we can see which mode of travel will she end up being the happiest. Camping is out, no sleeping in tents, hot water/shower/bathroom required, and a comfy bed.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby dave54 » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:21 am

Motels are cheaper in the long run.
An RV has the costs and needs of both a vehicle and a small home.

But you cannot find a motel at all the places you want to visit. Sure, you can find a motel in a nearby town, then drive an hour or more just to get to the place you want to go for that day, or you can walk out your door and be there. You cannot find a motel out in the middle of nowhere with no two legged neighbors within miles (the RV world calls it boondocking -- camping outside of established campgrounds at the end of some remote road, no hookups or facilities). I have set up camp in a spot where I did not see or hear another person or vehicle for a week.
Then there is the yuckiness factor. In an RV you are sleeping in your own bed with your own sheets. You know who used those sheets last. In a motel -- who knows what drunk vomited in the bed last week or which hooker slept there?

We travel with our pets. Finding a motel that takes pets is problematic. Our cats just stay in the RV while we are out about for the day or overnight. Otherwise we would have to board them, adding to the cost of the trip.

On the flip side. RVs are high maintenance. I am constantly making small repairs or adjustments on mine. Propane has to be kept filled, batteries checked, black and gray tanks drained and flushed (the yuckiest part of an RV) , tires, brakes, electrical, et al. It requires literally the maintenance of a second car and a second home.

I love ours. I have a 30' Arctic Fox travel trailer, pull it with a Toyota Tundra. We set up camp, then use the truck to drive around and do things, coming home to a shower, cold beer in the fridge, and real bed at the end of the day.

Go to an RV show and look around at the wide variety of sizes and types, and the interiors. They are not the austere box they used to be. Quite comfortable with all the luxuries and amenities -- microwave convection ovens, air conditioning, big screen TV, full sized showers. Upscale models have fireplaces, hot tubs, and full entertainment centers.

And rent the movie RV with Robin Williams.
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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby oldranger » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:29 am

Great question Mav. I feel strongly both ways. We are on our second trailer in 3 years. The decision was based on our feeling that car camping was a little too labor intensive while hotels and B&Bs require a little too much planning, and some places we visit have no options other than camping or rving or trailer. We opted for a trailer rather than an RV because we didn't want an additional motor vehicle and when we get to our destination we can disconnect and then with the 4 Runner can go anyplace we want. The problem with the trailer is that we can't pull the boat and the trailer at the same time. We are contemplating 2 long trips in the fall and we are likely not to take the Trailer or the 4 Runner but the new Outback that replaced the Prius because Kathy needs the 4 Runner to pull the trailer while I need a more capable vehicle than the Prius to get to some of the more difficult Trailheads.

We love the trailer because we are sleeping in the same bed every night. We both have difficulty sleeping in strange beds so even the poshest accommodations do not always provide a good night's sleep. The little trailer has a larger than standard 3 way refrigerator, microwave, stove, usb outlets, radio, hot water heater, shower and toilet (that we have used for a closet only), air conditioner (only works if we have AC hookup) but no TV. The bed is set up all the time and the dinette can be converted to a bed for 1 grandchild. It also has an outside shower to rinse off said grandchild. Trailer is pretty light at 2300 lbs dry and about 2600 lbs with propane, water, and beer. weightwise the Outback could pull it but tongue weight is more than it can take so we opted not to get a trailer hitch for the Outback.

But it is still fun to stay in nice B&Bs and funky Historic Hotels.

Cost wise I think as much as we do it it is kind of a wash. The 4 runner pulling the trailer gets about 14 mpg compared to the prius 50 and the outback about 33 on the highway. When gas was $4 a gallon the difference in the cost of gas between pulling the trailer and the Prius darn near matched the cost of lodging when we are on the move every day. If I had my drothers I think I'd opt for a pickup and camper so I could pull the boat. But marriage is a compromise and sometimes I just shut off my need to fish.

We just returned from a week long hot springs tour in Southeast Oregon and Idaho. Here are a couple of pics of our rig.
willow.jpg
Willow Hotsprings, free BLM managed--no drinking water, just tables and outhouse--no accommodations within 2 hours drive
Crane.jpg
Crystal Crane Hotsprings, Commercial. We opted for no hookup as site was much nicer than hookups. There are cabins available for rent here.


One more thing. We are campers at heart so we still spend almost all of our time except sleep and xxx :o outside the trailer unless the weather is particularly nasty. Really don't understand those people who go out into a wonderful setting an then spend their time inside the trailer or RV, and we see it all the time.

Mav feel free to call for more elaboration if needed.

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Re: RV or Hotels?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:43 am

Mav, if/when you rent, try to get a Class C between 20-25' *. Anything under 20' will be more like a van (Class B), not the least of which is you might not be able to stand upright. (It's little things like this about which one doesn't have the slightest clue until you actually have first hand experience. Dooh!)

Anything over 25' is going to be harder to handle, see, park, etc. Don't underestimate the ability to go into day use areas - state park beaches in SoCal charge $15 up to 25'; longer gets a surcharge.

Hotels are cheaper, but not by much if it's anywhere nice and/or anything decent. That is, if you can get a room. Again, don't underestimate the ability to just go if you have an RV.

Here's an example: I told my wife this morning that it's supposed to be really nice this weekend. Later, she sends me an email asking if I'd like to camp at our local beach (we do this fairly regularly during the winter). I say sure if she can find a spot. She lurks for a cancellation and bingo, Sunset Vista here we come:

Image

If you have some good experiences, the market for a decent used 25' Class C is around $15-25k. You can go (a lot) cheaper like we did, but then you'll be doing DIY repairs.

* Thor Industries (the biggest RV maker in the USA, they own Airstream and a bunch of other brands), created the Four Winds Majestic class C specifically for Cruise America. I have a neighbor who has a 19' footer; there's a retired guy (he's not motor homeless) with the 19' who is at the beach every single day. He puts his "beach house" shingle out, sits in his chair in the sun with his Chihuahua, and chills. IMO, if possible you should shoot for renting the 19' or maybe the 23' if it seems too small:

http://www.cruiseamerica.com/buy/modelD ... odelNo=19G

Image

Note the non-dually rear wheels. That means this baby is light & maneuverable.
Last edited by Hobbes on Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:22 am, edited 3 times in total.
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