We have been in the RV world for about 7 years now, and the culture is undergoing a continued metamorphosis, as all things tend to do. We are currently in Navarre Beach, Florida, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by snowbirds. A number of my readers are RV oriented and may be a little behind the curve as a result of Covid, so indulge me as I offer a peek into the changes and expectations today.
Food. One of the terrific advantages of traveling in a RV is the ability to cook in your mobile condo. We have been stunned at the inflationary impact on dining out. We love dives and diners, but even the seediest stop for normal stuff will easily run 30 bucks for two. We have strayed into a number of eateries and dropped half a Benjamin on lunch. Unless you are grabbing a Happy Meal and water with lemon, food out is going to be expensive. Two meals out, even when you are careful, will easily burn through a Benjamin. Coffees are going to bump you an easy 6 bucks a couple and it adds up. Pack the grill, set it up, and cook under your awning. In a hurry yesterday, we stopped at a Seattle based coffee place and a short macchiato was 6 bucks……..I didn’t price a cup of their normal swill……..
Park rentals. When we started, your rental for a night was comfortably within the 30 to 50 buck range. We insist on water, sewer and electricity and avoid setting up in mud or on sand. Today, you can anticipate 50 as a minimum, and we are currently over our normal pay grade here at 100 a night. Inflation is alive and well in this industry. Parks are expensive propositions to operate, and the costs must be passed on. Obviously, state parks are a better option, but RV’s are being built and put on the streets at an astronomical rate and they all have to be somewhere, every night. State Parks require planning well in advance. Book ahead and do your homework here. There are options available, depending on what level of utility connectivity you are comfortable with.
Fuel costs. Do I need to even comment here? With a big diesel, I average around 11 MPG. My neighbor who just pulled in with his new coach gasser, averaged 5 MPG. You can do the math.
If you are just getting started in this pastime, please listen carefully to the next piece of advice. Choose your dealer as carefully as you choose your primary care physician. The RV industry is plagued by a very poor support network after the sale. When you are 800 miles from home or your place of purchase, you are on your own. Mobile techs become your salvation. This industry is not like the auto industry where a Chevy dealer in any town USA stands ready to help when your vehicle throws craps. I am not turning this piece into a shill for my dealer, but when we had a problem, miles from home and the manufacturer would not even answer the phone, he stepped in and is negotiating a payback to us with the manufacturer (We relied on a mobile tech). There are various networks you can join that help mitigate these nightmares……but the dealer is the key. If a dealer cannot guarantee his advocacy, find another one.
For the love of all that is sacred, please take the time to go to a big parking lot with your new RV and a half dozen cones and practice maneuvering the unit, whether a motor coach, 5th wheel or pull behind. I watched a very nice man in a 38 foot 5th wheel, his first RV, try to back it into a tight spot in this luxury park. It was painful. His frustration was overwhelming, his wife in tears and a couple of folks who obviously knew even less than him offering advice. There is NO substitute for experience when towing or driving a RV, and your failure to practice will be all too evident at a fuel stop or park. In Texas, I white knuckled our 38 foot trailer into a tight spot after dark, and needed a shot of Jack after bringing the beast to a stop. Practice and experience will add years to your life!
Finally, develop a relationship with someone experienced in this pastime that you trust before buying, hitching up and taking off to parts unknown. The RV pastime is not rocket science, but there are many considerations relative to your goals, tow vehicles, and operation of these little homes on wheels that require knowledge and are best considered from a position of experience. It is fun and the people you meet are mostly great folks. Your mentor should be able to help you from the selection process through your first experiences on the road. Like piloting an airplane, handling a RV and touring the country is a pastime that never stops delivering surprises, and you will learn every day you are out. Our RV delivers views like the one here and the ability to have your pup, cat or alligator with you all the time. It is a hoot……but a thinking person’s hoot.
Have a great weekend!