Author Topic: Why rent an RV for a vacation?  (Read 11234 times)

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1999
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« on: October 23, 2017, 08:41:16 AM »
DH and I are in the brainstorming phase of a month-long summer vacation to the mainland this year. One idea was to rent an RV for a week and drive through some national parks. We have two toddlers, btw--at the time of the trip they'd be 18 months and 3.5 years.

I plugged in a few cursory dates and pickup spots on the Cruise America website and found that an eleven day trip from Los Angeles was $1100. This seemed like a good deal to me until I started talking to DH about it.

"That's $100/day for your hotel AND your rental car, right there!" I said, gleefully.

"Um, no, you still have to pay the KOA fee and the gas would be insane. Plus I think you have to pay extra to dump out the literal sh*t," was DH's rejoinder.

Oh...

Hm. It seems like it would be cheaper and less hassle to do what my folks always did on our family vacations: rent a hatchback, bring a hot plate and some basic cooking gear, and drive cross-country staying in Motel 6s and Super 8s and cooking dinner in the rooms.

What am I missing?

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3356
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2017, 08:48:13 AM »
For a few minutes  each year, I think it would be fun to lumber along the roadways in a big unwieldy vehicle for the sheer novelty of having our live /sleep space right there with us. That, and the practical aspect of being able to bring along a dog or two is an attraction.

But then I come to my senses and remember that I prefer traveling light and lean. Taking a small suitcase for both DH and me, tossing our dog's stuff into a bag snd loading up his crate and him is ultimately simplet, even if we have to look around for motels that will accept dogs. Or, for hot weather vacations, we leave the dog(s) at home and hire a sitter, allowing us even more freedom.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 08:53:52 AM by iris lily »

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3875
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2017, 09:35:46 AM »
What am I missing?

Several things, though I agree that the Cruise American prices are insane.

My inlaws own a class A motorhome (the all-in-one kind, looks like a bus, diesel motor in the back, etc), and they make very good use of it - their approach to Idaho winters is "Don't be in Idaho for the winters," so they go down to Arizona/California/New Mexico/etc for about 5-6 weeks leaving the day after Christmas if weather is tolerable.  And take it out camping regularly during the year (we go on probably 4-6 camping trips a year with them, and they go camping an awful lot themselves as well - semi-retired).

They generally go out "boondocking" - camping away from civilization.  So there's no hotel to stay in, even if they wanted to (and, trust me, they don't want to).  They go find some chunk of land out in the middle of the desert and camp, at which point having all your stuff with you is pretty convenient.  Since it carries water, has heat, has waste tanks, etc, they can camp just about anywhere they want.  They usually charge the batteries on solar (not hard to find sun in the Arizona desert in the winter), so they're pretty much limited by water and food.  If it's really cold, propane, but that's not usually the limiting factor.

Another aspect, especially with toddlers, is that they have a familiar place to sleep.  It's not a new hotel every night, and you don't have to haul a bunch of stuff in and out.  If your kids sleep fine in random beds, that's likely not an advantage, but it's certainly one we've used on occasion (our daughter got used to her pack-n-play in the motorhome, and would sleep fine there, even if we were somewhere new).

Pets, as mentioned, are another one - not one we make use of, but an awful lot of the RVers I know have a dog or cat or such, and that's difficult with hotels.

But, basically, if you're going from "hotel spot to hotel spot," or even "improved campground to improved campground," there's not a huge advantage to them.  It's when you want to go out of the way, or go traveling for a long period of time, that they make sense - and generally, that's not a Cruise America unit.  Those are seriously tourist traps.

ixtap

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1514
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2017, 10:01:19 AM »
We are in the process of looking for next spring, so I have some concrete answers:

It is something my father has always wanted to do.

My husband is excited about boondocking. We own a boat and this is the land equivalent to anchoring in a quiet cove. With the Cruise America RVs, you only have a couple of days before you need to empty the black water and refill the fresh water, but that still means you only pay the campground fees occasionally, not every night.

You have to clean up to move on, but not pack up and get everything back into the car.

You have full facilities to make regular meals.

You can pull over anywhere and have an instant potty break. Also easier to pull over and fix a meal.

Someone else mentioned having a familiar space for the toddlers. Do not underestimate this benefit. Now that I think about it, my husband needs this, too.

Shit dumping is usually free: they want to encourage everyone to do it properly!

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3116
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2017, 10:17:59 AM »
I've priced it out a few times and usually end up back at the cheap motels. Other pluses I have been thinking of:

- you get to be out amongst the trees. Not something you get in a motel. No matter how close it is to pretty parks

- campfires every night. (only a pro in places where campfires are allowed)

- closer proximity to the outdoors. This is a big advantage in very busy (and huge) national parks. I don't like the thought of driving 1-2 hours a day to go hiking or something.

- mobility to places without easy access to lodgings.

That said - i have found other ways like tent cabins, airbnb spots, etc etc and so we haven't done it yet. My teen son really wants to - but I haven't found the right timing/trip/circumstance for it yet.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3356
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2017, 10:23:34 AM »
I am not sure why these are advantages:

1) pulling over to take care of nature's call
2) fixing a meal

I find having to dispose of your own waste, and continuing the drudgery of meal prep, to be decidedly non-vacation activities.

 Ut this is why we all have different ideas of "vacation." Years ago for one of those dumb team building retreats at work, our administrative team had to choose a place where we theoretically would all vacatin. There were the actin/adventure people, the lay-around-on-the-beqch people, the see-mnau-sites people, etc. It revealed basic differences in vLues about vacationing.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3875
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2017, 10:25:40 AM »
1) pulling over to take care of nature's call
2) fixing a meal

I find having to dispose of your own waste, and continuing the drudgery of meal prep, to be decidedly non-vacation activities.

Disposing of waste: Go to a dump spot.  Pull tube out of RV, insert in dump spot hole.  Turn valve.  Wait.  Rinse it out, if you are done.  Not a big deal.

And fixing your own food is the way to go.  My body doesn't handle sustained restaurant food anymore. :/

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2017, 10:37:32 AM »
Renting RVs from cruise america is super affordable if you choose to relocate one for them.  You can find this on their website under deals ... other than that. renting an RV makes sense when you want to stay inside national parks or in remote locations

calimom

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 997
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2017, 11:52:47 AM »
I rented a Class C motorhome several years ago and took my 3 kids and MIL on a tour of the National Parks in the west. My fourth grade son was eligible for a full-family access pass to the parks, so that was at least something. It likely would have been cheaper, and possibly less work on my end, to simply drive our family car and stay in lower-end motels. But not nearly as much fun. I don't think we would have enjoyed or been able to see as many stars in the telescope from a Motel 6 parking lot, or had s'mores and sung around a non existent campfire. Only once in a two and a half week trip did we eat in a restaurant, for the most part we had simple, healthy and delicious food prepared in the RV or outside. And no lie, between the RV rental, fuel, camping fees it was not cheap. But it was lots of adventure and a very cozy family time that we still talk about.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2377
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2017, 11:54:30 AM »
I continue to fantasize about this.  Primarily for the traveling part -- I can go to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere!  I can make a pitcher of iced tea and go get it out of my own fridge whenever I want instead of having to look for the next McDonald's!  I can stick the kids in different seats where they can't smack each other, and when they get bored I can sedate them with some lovely DVDs!  But then there's also more freedom to go where you want, not having to pack and unpack all the time, all the good things of camping (basically, s'mores and stars), but with a hot shower and comfortable bed (and climate control!).  Etc.

Then I price them out and go, wow, that's more than I thought.  Then I add campground fees and fuel and go oh, shit, I could stay in hotels and eat out every night for that same cost -- and the hotel would make the beds for me and give me fresh towels every day, and the restaurant would buy the groceries and cook the food and do the cleanup.  Basically, bringing a small house with me means paying a buttload of money to do all of the same chores I have to do at home, but with worse equipment/facilities. 

And then it somehow doesn't feel quite so much like a vacation.

PoutineLover

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1204
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2017, 12:00:25 PM »
My family thought about renting an RV for our cross country road trip but once we figured out how much it would cost in gas and rental we decided not to. We took our car (mazda 5, 6 seats) with 5 people and our camping gear for 6 weeks from Ontario to Vancouver island and back. Stayed in a combination of motels and campsites, depending on weather. Great trip, great memories, some fighting, still worth it. There are benefits to staying out in nature, but an RV isn't necessary.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2017, 12:08:12 PM »
My vote would be to rent a car and do the motel / air B&B / VRBO thing.
Camp it if you are adventurous.

RV's sound like fun, but they are a commitment
- hassle/slow to drive
- something is always broken
- 10mpg on a good day

good luck!

PS: a month on the mainland? I am daydreaming of a month in HI :)

GreenSheep

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2017, 12:23:22 PM »
I rented an RV with a friend to see Banff and Jasper National Parks in western Canada this past summer, and I'll never do it again.

Just for the two of us, we had to pump and dump daily, which is a disgusting and time-consuming hassle. (Okay, it doesn't take that long, but when you just want to get going in the morning...) The RV was a gigantic pain to park, and it wasn't even one of those bus-size ones. Unless you're boondocking, you have to stay in a city of other RVs, often with a long line to check in at the campsite. And heaven help you if your campsite isn't perfectly level; the fridge won't work and the gauges for water and waste won't be accurate.

I very much prefer a car/motel kind of road trip, or tent camping if I'm going to a place where nature is the purpose of the trip. I stop by grocery stores to get ready-to-eat things like fruit or easy-to-prepare things like sweet potatoes that can be made in a motel microwave. It's only a few dollars extra to get a microwave/fridge at a Motel 6, and to me it's totally worth it. I do enjoy a good campfire, but we found that we never bothered building a fire next to our RV anyway, and in some areas, the campsites that allowed it cost more, plus we would have had to buy wood.

homestead neohio

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 854
    • Journal - Seeds Sprout
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2017, 12:32:32 PM »
We are planning a similar trip for spring 2018 after I get laid off.  The main reason we're going with an RV is a consistent place for Mrs. Homestead to sleep as she sleeps terribly in hotels and tents.  Hoping she'll sleep well in an RV "home away from home" after an initial adjustment, which would make a trip like this possible.

It will be more expensive than taking the car and doing hotels or tent camping.  We thought about buying a used RV and re-selling when done, but that ties up a lot of capital if we can't re-sell it when we want, and if things break we're on the hook for fixing them.  Instead we are going to try to rent from a private owner and the timing of our trip is before the summer busy season.  We hope this will minimize how much cash we spend on this.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3875
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2017, 12:33:19 PM »
And heaven help you if your campsite isn't perfectly level; the fridge won't work and the gauges for water and waste won't be accurate.

That's why a decent RV has leveling jacks... drop a sheet of plywood under the jacks if you're on softer dirt, and adjust it to level, regardless of terrain (within a fairly wide range of reason).  Yours didn't?  Maybe they're renting crappier RVs than I thought...

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1999
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2017, 12:43:45 PM »
I had a fun internet rabbit-hole with the search term "boondocking". Sounds like a blast...for retirees...

Anyway, yeah, it probably does seem funny that we are from Hawaii and we tend to vacation in places like Branson, MO and Hot Springs, AK, but it makes sense when you consider we have zero family in Hawaii and a LOT of family in flyover country. And that we have lived in Hawaii for 15 years and spend plenty of time frolicking on beaches and in waterfalls throughout the year.

My vote would be to rent a car and do the motel / air B&B / VRBO thing.
Camp it if you are adventurous.

RV's sound like fun, but they are a commitment
- hassle/slow to drive
- something is always broken
- 10mpg on a good day

good luck!

PS: a month on the mainland? I am daydreaming of a month in HI :)

jeninco

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1191
  • Location: .... duh?
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #16 on: October 23, 2017, 01:48:44 PM »
We split the difference and own a (perhaps unmustachian?) Eurovan with the weekender package. It has the pop-top and a pull-up table, and we carry a 2-burner Coleman stove (to use outside) and a big cooler. Since we mostly camp in the American West, we can generally put sleeping bags on a tarp and cook outside. It's a nice combination of carrying all our crap (including bikes on a rear rack) and being quick and easy to set up and relatively comfortable. No 4wd, though, which is a problem for some of the places we'd like to go. Generally we can get pretty close, then bike the last few miles in...

Unfortunately, a quick google shows that not many places rent the things -- and they are specialty items. If you don't mind setting up adult sleeping quarters outside the vehicle, could you rent a minivan with seats that move around and  fold down, and stick the kids in there?

I agree with both the "it's lovely to wake up IN the place" sentiment (and I really dislike driving to trailheads, and prefer to find a place to camp that's within easy striking distance of multiple hikes) and the "do you really want to drive that dog" sentiment. It might be helpful to make a list of where you'd like to go, and then check for motel/camping options? Lots of places also rent cabins or yurts in the park, if you're not in the middle of high season.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2017, 01:53:01 PM »
6-8 years ago we did an almost-a-month driving trip of the western national parks -- wonderful, by the way! -- and we started with the idea of renting an RV.  We thought it was the obvious choice:  Rent one item that provides shelter and transportation, avoid dragging suitcases in/out of a hotel and avoid setting up tents.  However, as other people here have found, the reality wasn't what we believed.  Our research showed us:

- The cost of renting (at least in season) was outrageous. 
- The RV gets about eight MPG, so gas would've been outrageous (note that we traveled when gas was something like $3.50/gallon). 
- On top of all these costs, we would've gone over the "included" miles, so we would've paid even more fees. 
- Upon returning the RVs, we would've paid a big cleaning fee. 
- Campground fees for RVs are fairly expensive ... we don't camp at KOAs, but even those Walmarts-of-the-campground-world run $40 or more ... a place like Disney can be $100. 
- Part of our plans included big cities, and we did not look forward to driving the RV in heavy traffic.
- We wanted to visit national parks and other attractions, and campgrounds weren't located conveniently next to all the things we wanted to see -- so we would've had to unhook the RV every day /drive longer distances. 
- Yes, the RV would've provided cooking facilities, but they would've been small.  With only a small fridge and a family of four, we still would've had to stop at the grocery store every other day.
- Likewise, none of us were particularly excited about sharing one bathroom /a tiny shower.  We agreed that we would've walked to the bathhouse as often as possible (to avoid using the small bathroom and to avoid filling the tank). 

Realistically, we decided that hotels made more sense for us.  My husband planned his business travel carefully for about two years, and he ended up with a bunch of points for free /low cost hotel rooms.  I always do well on Priceline.  In the end, we paid "big money" only for a few splurge hotels in the national parks and in Las Vegas.  Unexpected bonus:  We tend to stay in mid-level hotels like Holiday Inn Express and Country Inns & Suites, and they usually give a free breakfast.  With four people in the family, that was a huge bonus for us -- we tended to send two people to breakfast while the other two showered /prepared for the day -- and we often took a piece of fruit or container of yogurt for the cooler. 

For the record, we didn't seriously look into camping.  With two teenaged girls who did NOT want to camp, it wasn't a realistic idea.  We also weren't crazy about all the time it would take to put up /take down the tent each day, and we thought that with full days of outdoor activities, we all wanted hot showers, air conditioning and a TV at the end of the day. 

We didn't end up "cooking" meals ... but our cooler was always stuffed full of sandwich fixings, fruit, and drinks, and we "fixed" many meals in the hotel room or at a roadside picnic table.  Our typical day:  Free breakfast at the hotel ... lunch from the cooler ... and dinner at a restaurant.  For our family, it was a comfortable balance in terms of nutrition, time, and cost.  The single biggest savings:  We never once purchased a drink for the road ... we just reached into the cooler.

If we had the trip to do again -- and I wish we did -- I would make the hotel choice all over again. 

If you're still stuck on the idea of an RV, here are a couple ideas:

- Buy a used RV, use it for your trip, then re-sell it. 
- Do you have a friend who owns an RV?  Could you barter with that friend for the use of it? 
- Is anyone renting an RV on Craigslist? 

 

GreenSheep

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2017, 02:16:43 PM »
And heaven help you if your campsite isn't perfectly level; the fridge won't work and the gauges for water and waste won't be accurate.

That's why a decent RV has leveling jacks... drop a sheet of plywood under the jacks if you're on softer dirt, and adjust it to level, regardless of terrain (within a fairly wide range of reason).  Yours didn't?  Maybe they're renting crappier RVs than I thought...

Nope. :-( We were probably the talk of the campground at one place where we spent the better part of half an hour moving the RV around, inching it forward, inching it backward, inching it left or right, pulling it out of the space and turning it around, etc. trying to find a level sweet spot.

researcher1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 159
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2017, 02:20:30 PM »
Hm. It seems like it would be cheaper and less hassle to do what my folks always did on our family vacations: rent a hatchback, bring a hot plate and some basic cooking gear, and drive cross-country staying in Motel 6s and Super 8s and cooking dinner in the rooms.

You are definitely minimizing the convenience and quality of an RV-style vacation.
With 2 adults & 2 toddlers who want to visit several national parks, I would absolutely recommend an RV over what you describe above.

Here is a snapshot of the trip staying in Motel 6s...
- Check in/out of a different dirty hotel every night, schlepping your belongings in/out of the car every day.
- Spend hours driving to/from your cheap hotel to the national park sights.
- Waste time searching for restaurants, stops for bathroom breaks, driving to your hotel, ect.
- Nowhere for tired/crabby/excited children to nap/play/eat.

With an RV, you stay in the same "place" the entire trip.  You always have a clean bed and bathroom to use. 
It isn't an ordeal when your kids get hungry, need to go potty, need a nap, ect.
You actually get to stay in and experience the parks 100% of the time. 

Would you rather wake up to the beauty of the park, eat breakfast outside while watching wildlife, then get an early start sightseeing...
OR... wake up at the Motel 6, eat a crappy breakfast in the hotel lobby, pack up your belongings, drive 1-2 hours to the park, then hope to get a few hours of sightseeing in before you have to drive to back?

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2017, 02:26:35 PM »
There are also other RV rental share sites out there you could look at.

https://www.outdoorsy.com/


researcher1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 159
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2017, 02:42:10 PM »
The RV gets about eight MPG, so gas would've been outrageous

I hear this rationale a lot, but it simply has very little impact on this type of vacation.
Say the OP intends to drive 1000 miles and gas is $2.50/gallon.
- RV fuel costs would be about $300 assuming 8MPG.
- Minivan fuel costs would be $100 assuming 25MPG.

The additional $200 cost is negligible, considering it allows you to drive a home on wheels.

Besides, you'd probably end up saving that $200 in reduced costs elsewhere.
Would you rather roast hot dogs & smores over a campfire in a national park...OR...
Spend 2 hours (and more gas) driving out of the park to your hotel, then more time & money eating at a restaurant.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2017, 02:58:09 PM »
The RV gets about eight MPG, so gas would've been outrageous

I hear this rationale a lot, but it simply has very little impact on this type of vacation.
Say the OP intends to drive 1000 miles and gas is $2.50/gallon.
- RV fuel costs would be about $300 assuming 8MPG.
- Minivan fuel costs would be $100 assuming 25MPG.

The additional $200 cost is negligible, considering it allows you to drive a home on wheels.

Besides, you'd probably end up saving that $200 in reduced costs elsewhere.
Would you rather roast hot dogs & smores over a campfire in a national park...OR...
Spend 2 hours (and more gas) driving out of the park to your hotel, then more time & money eating at a restaurant.

i'm definitely on your side on this about the extreme advantages of RVs when doing national parks. 

I think we should turn this post into helping the OP minimize those costs.

OP we'd need to know where you plan to pick up the RV for your trip.

Also if you are here for one month it would be pretty cool to use the Cruise america option i listed above.  You could get an RV out of Mesa AZ and drive it up thru the utah or cali national parks - to either Seattle or Salt lake city.  it includes 100 miles per day and is only 24 bucks a day. - a mustashian should be able to coordinate being in Mesa on day one of the month long trip or ending up there sometime to drop off a rental car and switch to an RV to see the sites. - I'd do the Mighty 5 in Utah if i were you.

If you plan to stay in national parks you'll want to book your campsites in advance by 6 months.

canyonrider

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 29
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2017, 03:52:35 PM »


You are definitely minimizing the convenience and quality of an RV-style vacation.
With 2 adults & 2 toddlers who want to visit several national parks, I would absolutely recommend an RV over what you describe above.


Yep, as a father of two I agree with this completely. OP, don't reduce this to a math exercise alone. It's your vacation, and you are comparing two very different experiences.

Which national parks are you considering for this trip? IME, I would much rather stay in a NPS or USFS campground--in an RV or a tent--than a motel in many of the tourist-trap towns located on the fringes of the major national parks. With a little research and planning you can easily avoid the more crowded, less-desirable campgrounds, and can certainly avoid KOAs and the like altogether.

We camp a lot with our kids throughout the western U.S., and only rarely pay more than $20/night for a campsite. This is sticking to federal/state campgrounds or dispersed camping (free) on BLM/USFS land when possible.

Also, motels just outside national parks can easily be more expensive than you think during high season. For a point of reference, both the Motel 6 and Super 8 in Moab typically charge $150/night or more for basic, well-worn rooms in April and May. 

Also research renting from somewhere other than CruiseAmerica. There seems to have been a proliferation of smaller companies in recent years, particularly on the west coast. Some of these rent vans, teardrops, and other smaller options. I'm not sure what kind of rattletrap GreenSheep was renting, but most units should be easy to level and only need dumping every 3-4 days at most (with a family of four).

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1999
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2017, 04:45:27 PM »
Wow, I didn't expect so much great advice and so many perspectives on the pros and cons of RVing.

You know, we're really, really flexible on where we'd go. Part of our trip has to take us to Memphis TN/Branson MO because that's where we have family. We were going to spend two-ish weeks on the family part of the trip, and that part wouldn't include an RV because we'd just be staying with them.

The second part of the trip is up in the air. We have a vague idea of wanting to see Nashville and/or the Smokies, and then we have another vague idea of flying from TN to the west coast and RV road-tripping some kind of National Park trip that maybe ends in Tahoe, because DH's best friend lives there.

Those one-way deals on the Cruise America website are thus extremely appealing. I recognize that our weakness is that we're planning on peak-season for these places.

Thanks so much for all the responses; I'm getting some great ideas for googling.

surfhb

  • Guest
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2017, 04:51:54 PM »
OP:   Super 8s and Motel 6s are full of drugs and criminals..   Not to be an alarmist but you really want to cook ramen on a hotplate with 2 toddlers in a motel 6 to save...what?   $500?   

C'mon...be real.   

I rented an RV for a week on the Cal Coast and the entire trip, front to back, was less than $1600

Jouer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2017, 05:05:04 PM »
Nashville is an incredible city with many great, and inexpensive, airbnb rentals.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6960
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2017, 05:08:39 PM »
DH and I are in the brainstorming phase of a month-long summer vacation to the mainland this year. One idea was to rent an RV for a week and drive through some national parks. We have two toddlers, btw--at the time of the trip they'd be 18 months and 3.5 years.

I plugged in a few cursory dates and pickup spots on the Cruise America website and found that an eleven day trip from Los Angeles was $1100. This seemed like a good deal to me until I started talking to DH about it.

"That's $100/day for your hotel AND your rental car, right there!" I said, gleefully.

"Um, no, you still have to pay the KOA fee and the gas would be insane. Plus I think you have to pay extra to dump out the literal sh*t," was DH's rejoinder.

Oh...

Hm. It seems like it would be cheaper and less hassle to do what my folks always did on our family vacations: rent a hatchback, bring a hot plate and some basic cooking gear, and drive cross-country staying in Motel 6s and Super 8s and cooking dinner in the rooms.

What am I missing?
You aren't missing anything.  I've done those trips, and I've done the math on renting an RV.

The cost for renting the RV, when you add rental fees, staying in campgrounds, gas and mileage is about the same as hotels - and sometimes, you can do better than a motel 6. 

It *might* be worthwhile if you have the option of a campervan. Like Escape Campervans - depending on time of year, they are often the same price as renting a car.  But they are smaller.

But no - we are heading on a week long trip to Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, and elsewhere in Arizona.  It's just cheaper for us to camp a couple of nights (tent), stay in a cheap hotel the rest of the time.

My boss has rented RVs.  He says it's fun, but not cheap.


ETA: I'll give you guys the point on toddlers and sleeping.  My 5yo doesn't sleep well the first night in a new place.  Having a place to nap is key also, for toddlers.

However.  We generally don't go from place to place every day - we prefer to explore places for a few days.  That makes it easier. 

I also have higher standards than Motel 6.  We do okay with a combo of Hampton Inns, Holiday Inn express, AirBNB, etc.  Breakfast at the hotel makes it easy, a mini-fridge for lunches and snacks.  I don't even like to eat dinner out.   We fly with one of our carryons being a cooler-bag with soft sides.  So:

1. No searching for restaurants.  Just grocery stores.
2. No dirty hotels.
3. Driving to the sights really depends a lot on where you are going.  So that is a case by case basis. 
Joshua Tree? Easy
Grand Canyon? Depends on time of year (but camping there is pretty awesome).
Bryce/Zion?  Depends on where you stay.
Yosemite?  Definitely stay in the park if you can.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 05:44:30 PM by mm1970 »

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6960
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2017, 05:20:41 PM »
6-8 years ago we did an almost-a-month driving trip of the western national parks -- wonderful, by the way! -- and we started with the idea of renting an RV.  We thought it was the obvious choice:  Rent one item that provides shelter and transportation, avoid dragging suitcases in/out of a hotel and avoid setting up tents.  However, as other people here have found, the reality wasn't what we believed.  Our research showed us:

- The cost of renting (at least in season) was outrageous. 
- The RV gets about eight MPG, so gas would've been outrageous (note that we traveled when gas was something like $3.50/gallon). 
- On top of all these costs, we would've gone over the "included" miles, so we would've paid even more fees. 
- Upon returning the RVs, we would've paid a big cleaning fee. 
- Campground fees for RVs are fairly expensive ... we don't camp at KOAs, but even those Walmarts-of-the-campground-world run $40 or more ... a place like Disney can be $100. 
- Part of our plans included big cities, and we did not look forward to driving the RV in heavy traffic.
- We wanted to visit national parks and other attractions, and campgrounds weren't located conveniently next to all the things we wanted to see -- so we would've had to unhook the RV every day /drive longer distances. 
- Yes, the RV would've provided cooking facilities, but they would've been small.  With only a small fridge and a family of four, we still would've had to stop at the grocery store every other day.
- Likewise, none of us were particularly excited about sharing one bathroom /a tiny shower.  We agreed that we would've walked to the bathhouse as often as possible (to avoid using the small bathroom and to avoid filling the tank). 

Realistically, we decided that hotels made more sense for us.  My husband planned his business travel carefully for about two years, and he ended up with a bunch of points for free /low cost hotel rooms.  I always do well on Priceline.  In the end, we paid "big money" only for a few splurge hotels in the national parks and in Las Vegas.  Unexpected bonus:  We tend to stay in mid-level hotels like Holiday Inn Express and Country Inns & Suites, and they usually give a free breakfast.  With four people in the family, that was a huge bonus for us -- we tended to send two people to breakfast while the other two showered /prepared for the day -- and we often took a piece of fruit or container of yogurt for the cooler. 

For the record, we didn't seriously look into camping.  With two teenaged girls who did NOT want to camp, it wasn't a realistic idea.  We also weren't crazy about all the time it would take to put up /take down the tent each day, and we thought that with full days of outdoor activities, we all wanted hot showers, air conditioning and a TV at the end of the day. 

We didn't end up "cooking" meals ... but our cooler was always stuffed full of sandwich fixings, fruit, and drinks, and we "fixed" many meals in the hotel room or at a roadside picnic table.  Our typical day:  Free breakfast at the hotel ... lunch from the cooler ... and dinner at a restaurant.  For our family, it was a comfortable balance in terms of nutrition, time, and cost.  The single biggest savings:  We never once purchased a drink for the road ... we just reached into the cooler.

If we had the trip to do again -- and I wish we did -- I would make the hotel choice all over again. 

If you're still stuck on the idea of an RV, here are a couple ideas:

- Buy a used RV, use it for your trip, then re-sell it. 
- Do you have a friend who owns an RV?  Could you barter with that friend for the use of it? 
- Is anyone renting an RV on Craigslist? 

 
+1.  This is pretty much how we do it, and how I analyzed it.

bogart

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2017, 07:54:20 PM »
We own a camping trailer (bought used for ~$9K 6 years ago), pull it with a Tundra, and love it.  Every now and then I look at renting an RV (e.g. if we fly somewhere else) but am flabbergasted by the relative  cost, and quickly abandon the idea.  That said, we love the trailer.  As others have noted, it's a place to stay that can go to where you want to be and stay there as long as you want.  We camp almost exclusively in state parks and pay anywhere between $12 and $40 per night (SC coast is not cheap) for sites with electric and water hookup, and free dump stations.

One summer we drove through NC, TN, and KY and camped at Breaks Interstate Park (KY/VA), Panther Creek State Park (TN), and Nolan Lake SP (KY).  We've also camped at New River SP in NC and have heard good things about Stone Mtn. SP in NC though have not camped there.  Where else in the general vicinity you mention ... ?  Pipestem WV and Beechfork WV.  We've liked all of them and all have full hookups (well, except sewer ... but we own a grey water tank that can be used to empty the grey water from the trailer and rolled to the dump tank -- they are common among the trailer/RV owning set, though probably not worth buying for 1 trip, which is generally an every-other-day thing at most and could be less if only my DH would use the showers in the bathhouses as I do :)!). 

I enjoy the convenience of the camper but would be fine with tent camping, though probably not enthusiastic with the age kids you have (we bought our trailer when DS was 3 and have just the 1 kid) -- but DH would not.  A nice thing about the camper versus tent camping is that you can keep stuff dry even if it pours.

calimom

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 997
  • Location: Northern California
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #30 on: October 23, 2017, 08:44:46 PM »
My vote would be to rent a car and do the motel / air B&B / VRBO thing.
Camp it if you are adventurous.

RV's sound like fun, but they are a commitment
- hassle/slow to drive
- something is always broken
- 10mpg on a good day

good luck!

PS: a month on the mainland? I am daydreaming of a month in HI :)

I just rented a Cruise America RV (Class C) this past summer.

We achieved roughly 17-18mpg on average over 2000 miles.
Nothing broke.
Driving was horrible for the first 2 hours until I adjusted from sub-compact to giant monstrosity.  It was again horrible going through Tacoma WA where the lines are barely as wide as the RV.
I'm not sure how fast it could have gone - but I chose to drive slow because crosswinds in Utah at 65mph made me almost crap my pants.

Chiming in again on this post to say the Class C I rented from El Monte also had decent gas mileage and nothing broke. I'm just shy of 5' tall and after a couple of hours fell into a groove with this machine. I'm used to driving a much smaller vehicle.

It was still a good experience. I'm glad we did it and yet won't be repeating it anytime in the near future. Subsequent family trips have involved hotels/motels, Airbnb, freeloading with relatives and a house exchange toÖ.Kauai!

englishteacheralex

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1999
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2017, 11:43:22 PM »
I've priced it out a few times and usually end up back at the cheap motels. Other pluses I have been thinking of:

- you get to be out amongst the trees. Not something you get in a motel. No matter how close it is to pretty parks

- campfires every night. (only a pro in places where campfires are allowed)

- closer proximity to the outdoors. This is a big advantage in very busy (and huge) national parks. I don't like the thought of driving 1-2 hours a day to go hiking or something.

- mobility to places without easy access to lodgings.

That said - i have found other ways like tent cabins, airbnb spots, etc etc and so we haven't done it yet. My teen son really wants to - but I haven't found the right timing/trip/circumstance for it yet.

All this can be achieved by spending your vacation in a tent, combined with hiring indoor alternatives if the weather is too bad. We have spent our whole lives car/tent camping. You pay much less at the campsite than in a camper van. You can also do wild camping, but need some flat gras in a private spot. This is definitively the cheapest option. But you'll need some proper gear so that you are warm and comfortable enough. Why not go this year for a combination of tent and hotels/airbnb?

You know, we were big tent campers before kids, and intend to be tent campers again in a few years, but toddlers have made wusses out of us. Hence throwing out the RV idea.

The more I'm reading all these great tips/perspectives, though, the more I'm thinking of putting off a road trip of any kind and just driving a couple of hours to Nashville and spending a week there at an Air BnB. Or the Smokies. Or back to Branson. The road trip thing with tiny children doesn't sound realistic.

I'm thinking three more years and it'll be awesome, though. Tent camping/cheap hotel-ing.

iluvzbeach

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 278
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2017, 06:49:21 AM »
Definitely donít let cost be the deciding factor, as long as you can afford it. The RV sounds like a great option for so many of the reasons described above. Since you live in Hawaii, would you give any thought to advertising on Craigslist an option to swap your home for the use of someoneís RV? I donít know how itíd work logistically, but might be worth exploring if cost is your primary concern.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #33 on: October 24, 2017, 06:56:33 AM »
Definitely donít let cost be the deciding factor, as long as you can afford it. The RV sounds like a great option for so many of the reasons described above. Since you live in Hawaii, would you give any thought to advertising on Craigslist an option to swap your home for the use of someoneís RV? I donít know how itíd work logistically, but might be worth exploring if cost is your primary concern.

Do you understand what site you are on this isnt the normal run of the mill spend your money b/c you can afford it site.  Many people on this site can afford many things and choose not to. 

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3116
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #34 on: October 24, 2017, 07:30:58 AM »
I've priced it out a few times and usually end up back at the cheap motels. Other pluses I have been thinking of:

- you get to be out amongst the trees. Not something you get in a motel. No matter how close it is to pretty parks

- campfires every night. (only a pro in places where campfires are allowed)

- closer proximity to the outdoors. This is a big advantage in very busy (and huge) national parks. I don't like the thought of driving 1-2 hours a day to go hiking or something.

- mobility to places without easy access to lodgings.

That said - i have found other ways like tent cabins, airbnb spots, etc etc and so we haven't done it yet. My teen son really wants to - but I haven't found the right timing/trip/circumstance for it yet.

All this can be achieved by spending your vacation in a tent, combined with hiring indoor alternatives if the weather is too bad. We have spent our whole lives car/tent camping. You pay much less at the campsite than in a camper van. You can also do wild camping, but need some flat gras in a private spot. This is definitively the cheapest option. But you'll need some proper gear so that you are warm and comfortable enough. Why not go this year for a combination of tent and hotels/airbnb?
I totally agree :) And so we tent camp a lot.

Also, I personally like sleeping in a tent better. I have overnighter in an RV before and another time spent a few evening hours in my friend's trailer. Not the same as tent camping and not as enjoyable IMO. You are much more removed from the outdoors in an RV. It just feels much more enclosed and separate.

I use tent cabins/airBNBs and have considered RVs for times when it is too far to drive and we have to fly. I have not yet managed to convince DH to try flying with our tent camping gear. And to be fair, we don't have the right gear (too bulky).

I am still hoping a campervan/RV will make sense someday as I'm curious to try it out.

Sent from my STH100-1 using Tapatalk


researcher1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 159
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #35 on: October 24, 2017, 08:15:06 AM »
All this can be achieved by spending your vacation in a tent...
You can also do wild camping, but need some flat gras in a private spot. This is definitively the cheapest option.
I totally agree :) And so we tent camp a lot.

Did you bother reading the first post from the OP?
- They are travelling from Hawaii
- They have two young toddlers, age 18mo and 3.5yrs.
- They want to tour several national parks over the course of ~1 week.

You think they should drag camping gear for 4 people all they way from Hawaii?
You want them to set up & break down camp several times within such a short time period?
You want them to do all of this while toting two very young toddlers around?

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #36 on: October 24, 2017, 09:38:01 AM »
All this can be achieved by spending your vacation in a tent...
You can also do wild camping, but need some flat gras in a private spot. This is definitively the cheapest option.
I totally agree :) And so we tent camp a lot.

Did you bother reading the first post from the OP?
- They are travelling from Hawaii
- They have two young toddlers, age 18mo and 3.5yrs.
- They want to tour several national parks over the course of ~1 week.

You think they should drag camping gear for 4 people all they way from Hawaii?
You want them to set up & break down camp several times within such a short time period?
You want them to do all of this while toting two very young toddlers around?

plus the option i proposed to rent the RV out of Mesa is likely quite equivalent to tent camping and could be cheaper when food costs/savings are accounted for.  24 bucks a day for a class c rv vs cost of camping gear transport and ice for the cooler etc. The sanity saved alone with two small kids and an RV is worth the small added costs of a net around 10-12 a day for a family of 4 i'd think.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #37 on: October 25, 2017, 12:01:31 PM »
Hm. It seems like it would be cheaper and less hassle to do what my folks always did on our family vacations: rent a hatchback, bring a hot plate and some basic cooking gear, and drive cross-country staying in Motel 6s and Super 8s and cooking dinner in the rooms.

You are definitely minimizing the convenience and quality of an RV-style vacation.
With 2 adults & 2 toddlers who want to visit several national parks, I would absolutely recommend an RV over what you describe above.

Here is a snapshot of the trip staying in Motel 6s...
- Check in/out of a different dirty hotel every night, schlepping your belongings in/out of the car every day.
- Spend hours driving to/from your cheap hotel to the national park sights.
- Waste time searching for restaurants, stops for bathroom breaks, driving to your hotel, ect.
- Nowhere for tired/crabby/excited children to nap/play/eat.

With an RV, you stay in the same "place" the entire trip.  You always have a clean bed and bathroom to use. 
It isn't an ordeal when your kids get hungry, need to go potty, need a nap, ect.
You actually get to stay in and experience the parks 100% of the time. 

Would you rather wake up to the beauty of the park, eat breakfast outside while watching wildlife, then get an early start sightseeing...
OR... wake up at the Motel 6, eat a crappy breakfast in the hotel lobby, pack up your belongings, drive 1-2 hours to the park, then hope to get a few hours of sightseeing in before you have to drive to back?
I've never stayed in a Motel 6, and although I have encountered dirty hotels at some points in my life, I haven't seen one in a long time -- not since I finished college and quit choosing by price alone. 

You have a point about getting toddlers in/out of hotel rooms.  We made this trip with teens, so each of us had two assigned items to bring in /out of the hotel each day -- very easy.  In all honesty, I'd think twice about a road trip with toddlers.  They're not the easiest of travelers and cannot help with the luggage, as I described above. 

On our trip, we included a wide variety of activities:  state and national parks, museums, cultural attractions -- and we chose hotels near the activities we'd planned.  An RV would've increased, not decreased, our miles -- at no point did we stay 1-2 hours away from our intended activities.  The worst crowds we encountered were INSIDE Yellowstone National Park (July is insane there).  Yes, we enjoyed the beauty of the parks -- and we rented cabins inside the parks a number of times.  It worked out very well.  But we also enjoyed city outings where we could walk to a downtown ballpark to see a game, walk to interesting shops, etc. 

Yes, an RV gives kids a place to play, but it happens to be the same spot you and your spouse are using for your own quiet relaxation after a day of driving /enjoying nature.  By staying in hotels, we didn't have the same space every night.  Every couple days -- or on days when we knew we'd have been cooped up in the car for a long drive -- we opted for two adjoining rooms (or a suite) so our teenaged daughters could spread out a bit (and on days when we knew we'd be getting in late, we skimped and chose a basic room for four).  We all benefited from the extra space every couple days.  Also, most hotels offer a pool, and my kids found that to be an ideal way to relax in the evenings; it was a rare night when they didn't swim. 

As for restaurants, do you have trouble finding them?  We don't. 

I hear this rationale a lot, but it simply has very little impact on this type of vacation.
Say the OP intends to drive 1000 miles and gas is $2.50/gallon.
- RV fuel costs would be about $300 assuming 8MPG.
- Minivan fuel costs would be $100 assuming 25MPG.
We drove almost 4000 miles on our trip, and we traveled when gas was well over $3/gallon.  We did the math ahead of time.  Could not make the RV "work". 

If you plan to stay in national parks you'll want to book your campsites in advance by 6 months.
Absolutely true.  The National Parks are crazy-busy during the summer months.  I noted on my calendar when "the dates would open up", and I called ON THE VERY DAY to get my reservations.  I specifically remember that for the Grand Canyon (North Rim), I called mid-morning and was assigned to the next-to-last cabin.  If I'd waited an hour, I probably wouldn't have been able to get that reservation.  Admittedly, we checked in on July 3rd, so that's probably as extreme an example as one could give. 

OP:   Super 8s and Motel 6s are full of drugs and criminals..   Not to be an alarmist but you really want to cook ramen on a hotplate with 2 toddlers in a motel 6 to save...what?   $500?   
Who suggested staying at crappy hotels full of drugs and criminals?  With all the hotels out there, you can certainly find something that won't give you Hep-C as a parting gift.  We read lots of reviews and only stayed at nice places. 

We didn't really "cook" on our trip.  We tended to "fix" sandwiches and salads from the cooler, and we ate out one meal a day ... we often had leftovers, and hotel rooms these days always have refrigerators and microwaves in the room.

We have spent our whole lives car/tent camping. You pay much less at the campsite than in a camper van. You can also do wild camping, but need some flat gras in a private spot. This is definitively the cheapest option. But you'll need some proper gear so that you are warm and comfortable enough. Why not go this year for a combination of tent and hotels/airbnb?
We love camping, but when we camp it's for the sake of camping.  We're outdoors.  When we did our western road trip, we wanted to see and enjoy a wide variety of attractions -- if we wanted a month-long camping trip, we could've done that at home. 

We briefly considered the combination of a tent and hotels ... but we rejected it because of space in the car.  If we'd brought along camping equipment, we would've had to "upsize" our vehicle -- a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows for four people wouldn't have fit into a small space. 

As for tenting with toddlers, I remember that being a great deal of work. 
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 12:07:30 PM by MrsPete »

kevj1085

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2017, 12:23:38 PM »
I haven't read all the posts but another thing to add, usually campgrounds are FUN for kids. They get to run around, see stuff, playgrounds, etc. Our kids always make friends when we go to koas. You won't see that at a motel.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #39 on: October 25, 2017, 12:56:48 PM »
Mrs. Pete most can be booked online as well.  i just did my research a few hours before the time you could book on line. 

sequoia

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 607
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #40 on: October 26, 2017, 06:55:55 AM »
Following with great interest. I have always been wanting to rent and RV and try it out, but looking from cost wise, it never work for us.

RE "Super 8s and Motel 6s are full of drugs and criminals" that is funny. Maybe some are like this, but plenty of nice hotels for cheap/reasonable prices if you shop a bit online.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #41 on: October 26, 2017, 11:21:16 AM »
I haven't read all the posts but another thing to add, usually campgrounds are FUN for kids. They get to run around, see stuff, playgrounds, etc. Our kids always make friends when we go to koas. You won't see that at a motel.
You don't take your kids to the hotel pool or playground? 

Mrs. Pete most can be booked online as well.  i just did my research a few hours before the time you could book on line.
I'm not sure if you mean RVs, campgrounds, or hotels -- but, yes, all can be booked online. 

GreenSheep

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #42 on: October 26, 2017, 12:56:14 PM »
You do have to be careful which specific hotel you stay at within a particular brand. I've stayed at some horrible Motel 6s (even checked right back out of one just after checking in), and I've stayed at some that were great. There's a lot of individual variability.

sequoia

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 607
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #43 on: October 26, 2017, 02:10:22 PM »
You do have to be careful which specific hotel you stay at within a particular brand. I've stayed at some horrible Motel 6s (even checked right back out of one just after checking in), and I've stayed at some that were great. There's a lot of individual variability.

Exactly. My wife booked the hotels in the past several years, so I do not know the details, but I bet the average price is less than $50/night. Yes some are more expensive, like when we were in San Diego, San Fransisco, Miami, NYC, but a lot of places that we stayed are cheap, including suites, and lots of places has free breakfasts and snacks.

Just got to be able to find the deals. 

hoping2retire35

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1401
  • Location: UPCOUNTRY CAROLINA
  • just want to see where this appears
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #44 on: October 26, 2017, 02:15:24 PM »
I think you have heard the spectrum of opinions here so I won't add anything, but assuming you want to go east of TN in a RV to two parks over the course of a week...

If you wanted to do Smoky Mountains and something else I would do the KOA, the actual park doesn't have anything decent for camping; you know with electricity.

After a few days, drive about 2 hours to a state park(national parks are too far of a drive for your trip); anymore will be difficult with little kids, especially through the mountains. Maybe can take the Blue Ridge parkway for part of the drive.

The area around Boone has lots of high mountains and campgrounds, here is one state park(never stayed, but it would be the one I would try).
https://www.ncparks.gov/grandfather-mountain-state-park

http://www.dupontforest.com/
/\/\this is a short drive for us, it is nice, lots of bike trails.

https://southcarolinaparks.com/devils-fork/camping
been here a few times but not stayed yet. everyone loves it. We plan to take the boat and paddle boards soon, but maybe not until next spring if we don't get a warm day soon.

Our youngest will be 3.5 next summer too, so I think we will be doing more camping soon, for now the pop-up is in the driveway waiting on those warm nights.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 02:17:42 PM by hoping2retire35 »

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #45 on: October 26, 2017, 02:21:45 PM »
Just make sure you do the math and get the right national parks pass-  they are talking about jacking up rates on entry fees which makes the annual pass worth while just visiting 2 parks

smallstache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 144
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #46 on: October 26, 2017, 02:53:39 PM »
I'm so much looking forward to taking the two wives out for a month long trip in our RV. Class B is fully contained inside a full size van and gets 18 mpg. 24' length is easy to drive and even to parallel park. Waste disposal is quick and not messy at all. The van has heating and A/C, a toilet that can be used while traveling, shower, fridge, microwave, stove and bed for three.

AmberTheCat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #47 on: October 26, 2017, 07:14:23 PM »
RVing has always been my dream. I hope to do it sometime.

thinking back to when i had a 1 & 3 yr old -- the best trips we took were to ONE place that we would stay at for awhile. Like a condo in the mountains; or dessert, or a relatives house on the coast.  We would do occasional road trips from the condo, but always had that one place to come back to -- and would make dinner, swim, nap in the afternoons, and etc. Going from hotel to hotel, and traveling lots of miles was hard on the kiddos (and parents). 

you will have many years to do more adventurous vacations and trips. Road tripping is SO FUN with kids. We've been all over. But not when they were that age. Make a home-base in your sweet-zone and do day trips. (just my thoughts!)

researcher1

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 159
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #48 on: October 26, 2017, 08:59:40 PM »
- We made this trip with teens, so each of us had two assigned items to bring in /out of the hotel each day -- very easy.
- We included a wide variety of activities -- and we chose hotels near the activities we'd planned.  An RV would've increased, not decreased, our miles -- at no point did we stay 1-2 hours away. 
- Every couple days -- or on days when we knew we'd have been cooped up in the car for a long drive -- we opted for two adjoining rooms (or a suite) so our teenaged daughters could spread out a bit.
- We drove almost 4000 miles on our trip, and we traveled when gas was well over $3/gallon...Could not make the RV "work". 
- As for restaurants, do you have trouble finding them?  We don't. 

You seem to be confusing YOUR vacation with the trip the OP asked about... 
- The OP wanted to take a road trip to see several national parks with 2 young toddlers.
- They plan to rent an RV...OR...travel in a small car and stay in Motel 6's.

Most of the points you made favoring hotels over RV's simply don't apply to the OP...
- They are not planning on driving 4000 miles.  Gas does not cost well over $3/gallon.  They don't have teenage daughters.  They won't be sticking their 2 toddlers in a separate hotel room.  They are not visiting the same types of sights/activities you did.

How far of a drive is it from Yosemite valley, Grand Canyon, or Zion to the closest Motel 6?  The answer is 2+ hours round trip.

How close are restaurants to these places?  Do you want to spend an hour at the end of a long day in a restaurant with 2 tired/cranky toddlers?  Do you rush out of a park to find a restaurant at a reasonable time for dinner?

Quote
Although I have encountered dirty hotels at some points in my life, I haven't seen one in a long time.

You simply aren't paying attention or looking closely if you haven't encountered a dirty hotel room.
I've stayed in a wide range of hotels from...Hampton Inns, Embassy Suites, Westons, luxury Vegas casino suites, ect.  I wouldn't walk around in bare feet or lay down on the comforter in any of them.  Hundreds of slobs stay in these hotel room, and the unmotivated staff spend about 10 minutes "cleaning" each room.

COEE

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 612
Re: Why rent an RV for a vacation?
« Reply #49 on: October 26, 2017, 09:55:58 PM »
We used a pop-up trailer a lot as a kid.  I recall the whole trailer only being a $1300 or something.  Many can also be pulled by cars.  We pulled ours with a Olds Cutlass Sierra.  It takes a few minutes to setup - but less time than car/tent camping.  The beds are somewhat more comfortable.  We had a portable toilet we stashed in a storage compartment for late night use or camping when we didn't have access to toilets.  We used it for 4 or 5 years and dad sold it for about what he paid for it, but I still have fond memories of camping in Mexico and Arizona mostly.