Hit the Road For an Affordable Summer Vacation


Summer is around the corner-prime time for vacations! But that is where we are all putting on the brakes. We are peering into our wallets and finding a little less now than we are used to. We feel the need to forgo some of our usual luxuries. So, the ten day cruise or five-star resort may be out of the question this year, but we can still have a great vacation. The great American road trip is alive and well, and more affordable than ever. Whether you intend to create an epic cross-country adventure or just need to get the family out of town for a long weekend, it is time to hit the road!

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) says that according to a study by PKF Consulting, an international tourism consulting firm from Alexandria, VA, road tripping can be 50-70% more economical than traveling any other way. The 2008 study compared the cost of 12 popular vacation types including all inclusive vacation packages, cruises, car and hotel road trips and road trips with various kinds of recreational vehicles. The study focused on vacations three to fourteen days long for a family of four with two adults and two children.

A ten day cruise or an all inclusive package vacation will cost over $ 7,000, according to the study. Even factoring in ownership and maintenance costs, a road trip for the same amount of time will cost less than half. Jumping in the car and finding hotels and motels along the way will cost just over $ 3,000. You can save even more money by taking a moterhome or travel trailer. The study said, that “RV vacations are by far the most economical — 50% less than car/hotel vacations, 60% less than bus/hotel vacations, 60% less than train/hotel vacations, 70% less than air/hotel vacations, and two-thirds less than budget cruise get aways.” Driving a motor home and staying in campgrounds will cost just over $ 2,000 for ten days. A family with a folding camping trailer will spend just over $ 1,600, about $ 40 per person per day. These costs included other factors such as park entrance fees, camping fees and food.

If you do not own a travel trailer or other recreational vehicle, renting is an option. While renting may make the trip slightly more expensive, there are good deals to be found. Travel trailer rentals can start at $ 50 per day and go up to $ 400 per day for a class A motor home depending on amenities, location, and time of year you choose to rent. Discounts are often given for rentals of seven days or more. Limited term insurance can be added to your regular vehicle insurance or purchased through most rental companies.

The cost of fuel is a major concern on any road trip. However, according to the study, fuel costs would have to more than double to affect the affordability of a road trip or recreational vehicle vacation, when factored as part of the overall costs and compared to other types of travel vacations. The PKF study was conducted in spring 2008 when gas prices were about $ 3.63 per gallon, more than a dollar more than current spring 2009 prices. 

The study attempted to quantify measurable travel costs, but doesn’t talk about the non-monetary benefits of a great road trip. Traveling the open road is freeing and relaxing. For a fraction of the cost of other vacations, you can experience amazing countryside, explore unique natural wonders, and reconnect to the great outdoors. A road trip, particularly in a recreational vehicle, gives you flexibility to create quality family time and find freedom from the usual day-to-day stresses. A road trip can be good for the soul and that is priceless, without draining the pocketbook.

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