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Home » Market Data and Trends » Vacation Costs
Contact: Kevin Broom
Director of Public Relations
703-620-6003, ext. 304
kbroom@rvia.org

Travelers Save When They Go RVing, Study Reveals

Consumers looking to get away more and save on travel should go RVing, according to a new study comparing vacation costs. New research shows that recreation vehicle trips remain the least costly, even during this time of economic turmoil and fluctuating fuel prices.

The study, prepared for Recreation Vehicle Industry Association by PKF Consulting USA, a member of an international travel and tourism consulting group, found that RV travel is 23-to-59 percent less expensive than other types of vacations, for a family of four that owns an RV. For an "empty-nester" couple traveling by RV, savings were 11-to-46 percent.

Even after accounting for factors such as RV ownership costs and fuel prices, the study confirms that RV vacations offer greater savings than those taken using a personal car or airline, staying in a hotel, rental house or condominium, and eating in restaurants.

"The study puts numbers to what RV owners have known for years - if you want to save money on travel, go RVing," said RVIA president Richard Coon. "With the opportunity for frequent getaways to spend quality time outdoors with family and friends, RV ownership is a great value."

PKF analyzed vacation costs for two sets of traveling parties - a family of four, including two adults and two children; and a party of two adults. PKF calculated the costs for these hypothetical travelers taking nine different types of vacations to nine popular vacation destinations, including: 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 popular RV types, including folding camping trailers, lightweight travel trailers, compact motorhomes, Type C motorhomes, and Type A motorhomes. Vacation durations were 3, 7 and 14 days, and were directly related to the round-trip distances in highway miles between city-pairs. PKF also analyzed how theoretical increases in fuel prices could affect vacation travel costs.

"RV vacations were more economical than the other vacations analyzed, regardless of trip duration, trip distance, or region of the country where the vacation takes place," said PKF vice president Kannan Sankaran. "As the data indicate, while fuel costs are a component of the overall vacation cost, they are not significant enough to materially affect the outcome of our analysis."

Trips in type A motorhomes - typically the largest and most luxurious of RVs - were compared to other upscale vacation travel options. The study found that Type A motorhome vacations were 45 percent less expensive than upscale air/hotel vacations.

According to the study, for a family of four, fuel prices would have to more than quadruple for RV vacations to lose the economic advantage over other forms of travel. For an adult couple, fuel prices would have to more than double before RV vacations would become more costly. According to PKF, fluctuations in fuel costs economically impact all of the vacation types analyzed. Airlines, for example, often add surcharges when fuel prices rise, in addition to other fees.

PKF's findings match the experiences of RVers, according to RVIA's biannual Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners. In a survey conducted in September, 89 percent of RV owners reported savings of 10 percent or more when they travel by RV. Two-thirds reported saving 25 percent or more.

The study did no attempt to quantify non-monetary benefits that RV vacationers enjoy.

"RVing allows families a unique travel experience that offers appeal for those seeking to foster an increased sense of togetherness, control, flexibility, and convenience to travel whenever and wherever desired," said Sankaran of PKF. "Typically the budgetary constraints of raising a family coupled with the trend of taking shorter vacations close to home match quite well with a desire to experience a cost-conscious vacation with few hassles. RV ownership provides an attractive choice for meeting all those requirements."

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

Visit GoRVing.com for more information about RVing and to watch a video on how to get started RVing.

RV Vacations Save Money

How going by RV reduces family vacation costs vs. other vacation types, according to a comprehensive study comparing travel expenses to popular U.S. destinations:

Vacation Type Itinerary Amount Saved By RV
Folding Camping Trailer vs. Car / Hotel Denver to Grand Canyon 42 percent
Type C Motorhome vs. Airline / Rental Car / Hotel Atlanta to Orlando 46 percent
Travel Trailer vs. Airline / Rental Car / Rental Home Washington, D.C. to Cape Cod 37 percent

 

Table 1
Cost Comparisons of Vacations Using Recreational Vehicles Versus Other Types of Vacations (4-Person Travel Party)
Vacation Mode of Travel 3 Days 7 Days 14 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 trucl/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

 

Table 2
Cost Comparisons of Upscale Vacations Using Recreational Vehicles Versus Other Types of Vacations (4-Person Travel Party)
Vacation Mode of Travel 3 Days 7 Days 14 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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