Tips for an affordable and memorable RV vacation
Some tips for finding the right type of vehicle and the right place to settle.
L es RV travel is often a planning challenge for those this is a first. Our many tips gleaned from experts and RV travel enthusiasts will surely help them. (All rights reserved)
How to combine the pleasure of travelling the roads while humming (or, even, playing chess) and the pleasant sensation of feeling at home?
By practising caravanning, let’s see! For the holidays, this type of transport – and way of life – allows you to discover the world without being constantly in your suitcases. Chad Davis, CPA, co-founder of LiveCD, is a fan of RV travel. He, his wife and children got hooked after a first experience, to the point of one day going off on an adventure for a tour of all of North America.
A very attractive vacation, regardless of the route, but travelling by RV is often a planning challenge for those for the first time. Isn’t an RV something expensive? To rent one, who are we for? To anchor a time, somewhere, what is there to know?
To simplify your planning and make your vacation affordable and memorable, we present some tips gleaned from experts and RV travel enthusiasts.
- FIND THE RV THAT MATCHES YOU
Recreational vehicles are available in several sizes and configurations, ranging from trailers of all kinds to luxury motorhomes. [See What type of RV for your trip? ]
As Rob Tischler (owner of AllStar Coaches in Miami) explains in a guide dedicated to RVs, we will quickly delimit the options after asking ourselves some basic questions. For example, for your vacation, what proportion of your budget are you willing to allocate to an RV and the campground (s) where you plan to go? Do you want to tow your car in the back of a motorhome? What amenities and amenities are important to you?
“These answers will immediately eliminate certain options that do not suit your needs, whether it is RVs as such or vacation spots where you can get away, knowing that these do not have all the same services, “says the expert.
- START WITH A RENTAL
If you are new to the world of RVing, you will likely want to probe your preferences starting with a rental. You can also get an idea of the options that interest you or not by watching informative videos on YouTube or by going in-person to a retailer who rents recreational vehicles. (In Toronto, for example, CanaDream is an RV rental/sales company usually with a lot of vehicles in stock). And to take advantage of good opportunities, consult the RVezy site, sometimes nicknamed “the Airbnb of RV rentals”. You will easily find class B trailers and motorhomes for $ 120 / night; motorhomes are rented at an average price of $ 250 to $ 300 / night. Also, the site of the Quebec Federation of Camping and Caravanning is a good source of information.
One thing is certain: if you choose a high end, expect to pay a good amount. But if you calculate the savings in the hotel and meal costs (you can cook, in an RV, or do your meals outside), you may come to comparisons that are equivalent or that favour the option more expensive at the start. (To give you an overview of the cost of the holidays, see our approximate budget. )
- THINK OF THE ESSENCE NOTE
Aside from rental fees, consider purchasing fuel, which accounts for the largest share of the total cost. On average, an RV consumes 12 to 30 l of gasoline per 100 km, according to Authentik Canada, a Montreal travel agency specializing in road trips focused on the great outdoors and wildlife observation. Unsurprisingly, the larger the RV, the greater the consumption.
Fortunately, there are ways to save on gasoline or at least offset the cost:
- Choose an energy-efficient RV. Some models have a consumption of 14 to 16 l per 100 km, which is almost twice less than that of more fuel-hungry models.
- Use the Gas Buddy app. Enter your itinerary in this app and it will calculate the total cost of your trip while suggesting places to refuel at a good price.
- Choose a less distant destination. The shorter your trip, the less it will cost you in gas. (This is why we took a 1,200 km trip as an example, below.) Mr Davis knows many caravanning enthusiasts who limit their journeys to 60 to 90 minutes.
- Travel light. The more you carry a large load of objects of all kinds, the more fuel it takes to move this weight. There’s probably no shortage of space, but be selective, all the same.
- Slow down. Adopt the good habit of driving at 80-90 km / h.
- Consider taking advantage of reward points. By paying the fuel bill by credit card, you will accumulate the points of the reward program linked to your card.
- RESERVE YOUR PITCH IN THE CAMPSITE LONG IN ADVANCE – AND SAVE MONEY WITH THE APPS!
A campground can cost anywhere from $ 25 to $ 50 / night, which is much cheaper than staying at a hotel. But as Mr Davis says, they fill up in time to read, so book early. Davis goes to campsites half the time, but also settle on public land, friends’ land or in places like farms or vineyards ( Harvest Hosts ). Bill Best, a staunch caravaner from Toronto who generally travels with friends, settles in a campsite a third of the time. For the rest, he does not hesitate to stop in the parking lot of a Walmart, or somewhere in nature – without services what is called autonomous caravanning (or boondocking ).
To find campgrounds or other places to drop anchor, Mr Best likes the AllStays app. Chad Davis uses Google Maps (satellite view) in conjunction with information from a site called Campendium. Other very useful similar apps include RV Parky, Boondockers Welcome and Passport America (club offering access to discounts: for the US $ 44, we have access to 1,800 campsites at half price).
- CONSUME WATER WITH PARCIMONY
Some RVs are equipped with a generator. If this is not the case, most RVs nevertheless have a battery bank for those occasions when you cannot connect to an electrical network.
If you decide to buy a recreational vehicle, be aware that it is possible to install solar panels as a “free” source of electricity. The price of different systems ranges from a few hundred dollars to over $ 8,000.
Campgrounds usually have running water, but if you’re in a remote wilderness setting, it’s a different story. Sometimes gas stations and national parks give you access to a water source. As Mr Davis points out, it is important to have a good filtration system (or a pitcher from Berkey or Brita brand). Here, the economy is the keyword, knowing that a water tank can sometimes only contain 275-300 litres.
“That’s it for everything … so forget about the long showers,” he says. When I invite people who are not used to RVs and I see them let the water run when I wash my hands, I must call them to order! “
- LIVE THE FULL EXPERIENCE
Forget the costs and constraints in terms of water, to also address the issue of comfort.
Jaimie Hall Bruzenak, author of RV Traveling Tales: Women’s Journeys on the Open Road and Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider’s Guide to Working on the Road, expresses these reflections on family vacations, in a caravan guide for beginners: “It is easy to entertain the children during the journey. You will also like the convenience of an RV. The pee stops are a lot simplified. And your personal belongings (toys, clothes, snacks) are close at hand. Also, no need to worry about coming back to the hotel or finding another one. If you visit a national park, you can set up your penates there and save time that would otherwise be spent driving. Also, they have activities and programs for children. Other families will be there, so your children will be delighted to be around other campers their age. “
Of course, RVing isn’t as cheap as sleeping in a tent or swapping houses. But it’s a great way to spend a vacation that brings you closer to yours, day by day. Susie Kellogg, passionate about RV travel, and mother of two: “It’s a way of life, conducive to often great activities. It’s a good way to create fabulous memories of family life! Mr Davis agrees: “Traveling with my wife and children like this gave us unique family moments, like I never imagined. If you are considering caravanning to vary your vacation habits, I can only encourage you to go ahead! “