Is It Cheaper To RV Or Stay In Hotels?

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If you’ve ever wondered if RV camping is cheaper than a week in a hotel, then you and I have been thinking the same thing. I decided to set out to answer the question: Is it cheaper to RV or Stay In Hotels?

As a family who utilized a lot of FREE HOTEL STAYS and credit card points, we have often wondered if taking a road trip in our RV travel trailer would be more economical than road tripping and staying in hotels.

Given the changes happening in travel right now, I decided to do a little math and see what I could come up with. Here’s a quick comparison based on our typical travel and RV camping style.

Is It Cheaper To stay in an RV Park or Stay In Hotels?

Of course, this is really going to depend a lot on your travel style and your level of desire to stay in a luxury hotel versus low budget hotel as well as whether you are boondocking, camping in a State Park campground, or choosing an RV park.

In this post, I decided to compare the rate of staying in an RV park versus a hotel. I didn’t compare state parks, because I wanted to compare to something with as close to the same amenities as I would have in a hotel.

Most RV parks are going to offer full hook ups, dump stations at your campsite, and other amenities such as a pool for the kids and playgrounds.

State parks are definitely going to be cheaper in most cases as would boondocking, and most state parks will have plenty of amenities, but for as close as possible a comparison I chose to look at moderately priced RV parks vs. moderately price hotels that would sleep at least 5 family members.

Cost For Family of 5 To Stay In A Hotel For One Week

Our family generally needs a hotel which has sleeping for 5 people, an onsite restaurant, and a pool. This costs us a minimum of $200/night on average plus an average of 14% in hotel taxes and fees. A one week stay would cost us ~$1596.00

When staying in a hotel without a kitchen, we are most likely going to be spending anywhere from a minimum of $60/day for food to as much as $150/day. We’ll take an average of $100/day for meals.

Assuming you take a road trip for 375 miles and the average cost/gallon is currently $3 and assuming you are driving a minivan or a sport utility averaging 15 miles/gallon on a 25 gallon gas tank, your fuel cost to drive the car to the hotel would be approximately $75. This doesn’t figure in any additional driving you may do after arriving, but even if you have an RV, you are likely to rent or pull another car to the campground, so for simplification purposes, we will just call that even.

Cost for a 1 week stay in a hotel for a family of five is approximately: $2371

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How Much Does It Cost To Stay In An RV Park?

RV parks can cost as low as $25 per night (generally state parks fall in this range) to as high as $80 per night.

The average cost for staying in a moderate RV park with a 35ft travel trailer is around $45/night.

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Cost For Family of 5 To Stay In An RV Park For One Week In a Travel Trailer You Own

Now, taking the same numbers, let’s look at staying in a moderate RV park in our own RV travel trailer.

Using our same calculations above, that’s $45/night x7 nights=$315

Assuming we buy groceries for the week instead of eating out every meal and even if we eat out on a few dinners (which we are apt to do sometimes, even while camping in our RV) our daily average should be closer to $200 for groceries + and additional $150 for eating out, that is $350 for the week or $50 per day.

Here are some great cheap camping meals to help you stretch your food budget even further.

Finally, pulling our RV with our truck is, of course, going to cost more per gallon on the gasoline. We tend to only average about 8 miles per gallon with our rig. So using the same calculations as above it will cost approximately $140 in fuel to pull the travel trailer.

Cost for a 1 week stay in an RV Park for a family of five in a travel trailer is approximately: $805

As you can see, camping would definitely be more economical for our family. Of course, this doesn’t account for the times we have been able to get our entire week of hotel costs covered using credit card points, which would, of course, level the playing field and bring the costs down to only $775 to stay in the hotel for a week. But, all things equal, RV camping is cheaper.

These calculations assume a travel trailer that is paid for and doesn’t take into account costs for your vehicle over the course of the year. If you want a more in depth look at this question, read this article at Money.com

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What About The Cost To Rent An RV for A Week?

For one last comparison, what if you want to rent an RV for a week for your family of five? Is that cheaper than staying in a hotel?

Again, for comparison sake, let’s assume you will be renting a hotel that has 2 bedrooms so that you and your kids each have your own private sleeping area as you would in your RV rental.

We already know that the cost to rent the hotel for the week would be $2371 and the travel trailer you own would be $805, so in order to get the rental rate, we want to look at the cost to rent a 35 foot RV travel trailer for one week and add that to the $805.

Using the Outdoorsy RV Rental site, we chose an RV Travel trailer we could rent in the Smoky Mountains which is approximately 2 hours from our home.

Since we wouldn’t be pulling the trailer the entire trip, I used the fuel costs from the hotel in this calculations rather than the cost to pull the trailer.

However, there are sometimes delivery fees if you choose to use this route, so that needs to be calculated in as well.

Be sure to always check for discounts and sign up for our email so we can send you any discounts currently running.

For example there is a Spring Discount code right now you can use to save 10%: SPRING10

  • Cost for RV Park= $315
  • Cost for Food= $350
  • Cost for Fuel= $75
  • Cost for Travel Trailer Rental for one week= $139/night (taxes and fees included)- any discounts running such as the Spring Discount= $973

Cost for a 1 week stay in an RV Park for a family of five in a travel trailer is approximately: $1363

So as you can see, it is more expensive to rent an RV, but still nearly $1000 less than a hotel for the week because of the savings on food.

However, keep in mind, that I chose a travel trailer that was only about 28 feet, but it did sleep 6 people. I also chose one that was being delivered which made fuel costs about even. The costs can go up significantly if you choose to rent a larger RV or take a longer road trip.

That being said, RV rental is a great option if you are looking to really enjoy the outdoors on your family vacation, get away from it all, and cut down on eating out.

Getting kids in the outdoors is a wonderful experience and makes some truly amazing family memories.

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