Why RVing May Not Be So Affordable in the Future

Updated on January 20, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I understand better than most the costs involved in RV living and travel and am happy to share this knowledge in my articles.

If you have been to an RV show recently, you probably were shocked to see the high asking prices on campers, trailers and motor homes.

You should have been. Many can cost as much or more than brick and mortar houses!

In recent years, the costs involved in owning and traveling in recreational vehicles has increased significantly, and there seems to be no end in site.

The costs of RV travel may rise to the point where some people may no longer able to afford them.
The costs of RV travel may rise to the point where some people may no longer able to afford them. | Source

The Good Old Days

Some years ago, purchasing a travel unit was a relatively minor expense. In fact, many people would buy one, use it for a summer, and then sell it in the fall. Most would recoup almost all of their ownership costs.

Some would even buy one in the East drive it across the country and sell it in the far West, where they could get more than what they had paid for it.

For around $1,200, you could buy a clean, used popup camper. For $2,000 a 24 foot travel trailer and for $10,000 to $15,000 a good pre-owned motor home.

While it is still possible to find deals like this, it has become extremely difficult to do so.

This means that people who are just beginning their relationship with recreational vehicles had better plan on spending significant amounts of money, even if they only want to buy an entry level previously owned coach.

If they want to buy a new unit, the sky is the limit!

The same was true of camping.

People could easily find sites for around $5 to $10 per night, didn’t need reservations and didn’t have to worry about whether there were cost-raising events going on that would force them to pay more.

Camping Has Become Glamping

Today, most of the mom and pop facilities have disappeared, and in their places expensive parks with unbelievable amounts of amenities have risen.

The $5.00 campsites are gone, but if you have $40.00, you can stay in one that is very similar to what those used to be.

Conversely, you can spend as much as $300.00 per night for a spot that is located in a gorgeous, well-situated, and well-outfitted resort where luxuries abound for those who can afford them.

Camping in scenic, plush resorts can cost hundreds of dollars per night.
Camping in scenic, plush resorts can cost hundreds of dollars per night. | Source

What Happened?

If you are wondering how it is that we’ve gone from paying $5.00 per night to $300.00 to camp, and from $15,000 to $3 million dollars to own recreational vehicles, the answer is demand.

In the early days of RVs, there were relatively few people using them for vacations.

Today, there are more than 9 million of them! In fact, RVing has become a 50-billion-dollar-a-year industry! This means that travelers now have to compete for many campsites, especially those that are in great locations or offer outstanding amenities.

Furthermore, today’s RV owners demand more than those of old because they are younger, more active and have more expendable incomes.

They want more than just a full hookup site and are willing to pay to get it.

In fact, Millennials are fast becoming big buyers of RVS, while Gen-Xers (ages 35 to 55) have already replaced Baby Boomers as the people most likely to buy them.

Jacuzzis, massage rooms, yoga classes, cocktail parties, organized activities, larger, well-manicured campsites with 100-amp electric hookups and telephones are becoming increasingly popular. So have travel units with space for tech devices, special accommodations for pets and storage areas for sporting equipment.

Many are willing to spend even more to have comforts such as multiple flat screen TVs, surround sound, built in bars, oversized refrigerators and even rooftop patios.

As RVs have become bigger and fancier, campgrounds have had to expand their services to provide what owners need. This means larger sites, 100-amp electric outlets, lush greenery, lap pools, golf courses and even movie theaters.

The bottom line is that RV sellers and campground owners gear their products to feed the needs of their main customers.

However, for the older generation, the costs involved in having these things are prohibitive. They either have to find ways to reduce their costs or give up RV travel altogether.

While it still is the least expensive way to go, it still can add up to costs that are much more than many can afford, especially when people add in the expenses involved in buying fuel, dining out, maintenance and travel entertainment.

The Future Will Be Grim for Some

As recently as 24 years ago, my husband and I were able to buy a new Ford Supercab truck for $15,000 and a previously owned slide in camper for another $3,500.

This past summer some friends purchased a similar truck and a larger slide in camper (both new) and paid almost $100,000 for the pair.

Thus they paid 540% more today than we did back then to have fairly similar equipment. This is an increase of approximately 22% per year, which is significant, even considering the fact that their truck is slightly bigger and their camper is new.

If costs continue to rise as much in the future as they have in the past, there will come a time when some people who could previously RV will no longer be able to afford this lifestyle.

However, those who are clever and are willing to make some basic changes may still be able to do so, even though where they can go and what they may be able to do will be limited.

As you can see from the videos, there is a big difference between lower priced campgrounds and RV resorts. (At this writing, staying at Ft. Wilderness costs around $120.00 per night.) Also note the video about fluctuating gas prices. These are the types of things travelers must consider when it comes to costs.

What Can People Do?

People who are willing to settle for smaller, less and sometimes substandard may be able to handle travel costs by

  • buying older but well-maintained travel units,
  • camping in free or reduced cost facilities,
  • driving shorter distances and
  • avoiding the big tourist attractions.

No longer will they be able to stay in resorts, visit the big national parks or enjoy a leisurely drive across the United States.

These will be things that only the wealthier among us will be able to do.

Even as I write this the National Park system is making plans to triple the entrance fees at many of their facilities. They undoubtedly will also increase pricing for items people need to buy or use within the boundaries of their parks.

When this happens, campgrounds that are located nearby will do the same.e.

RV Now or Lose Your Chance

There is no question that owning and traveling in recreational vehicles is fast becoming a rich man’s hobby.

So, if you have any interest at all in this lifestyle, don’t waste a minute waiting for the right time to buy.

If you do, you may find that you will have been priced right out of the marketplace.

Do you think you can afford to own and travel in a recreational vehicle given today's prices?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2017 Sondra Rochelle


Submit a Comment
  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    2 years ago from USA

    Doug West: I indeed to wish you good luck. You should bear in mind that the lest costly newer RVs are usually poorly made, so what you save in buying costs,you may lose in upkeep and repairs. Shop carefully!

  • dougwest1 profile image

    Doug West 

    2 years ago from Missouri

    My wife and I are hopefully going to get a truck and a pull behind camper in a couple of years. From what I have seen, the truck will be $35K and the 19 foot trailer will be around $20K. That is the plan, wish me luck!

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    2 years ago from USA

    Hi Mary: It sure is getting to be that way. Can't help but feel bad about it, though, because this has been such a great way of life for so many years.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    2 years ago from USA

    Don: We've run into the same thing. It's exactly what I'm talking about here. I really do believe that one day people like you and me will no longer be able to enjoyably afford this lifestyle. What a pity!

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    2 years ago from Brazil

    This was an eye-opener. I had no idea that some places were so costly to stay in. Like everything, maybe the changes were inevitable.

    I think you're right, it is a rich man's hobby now.

  • Don Bobbitt profile image

    Don Bobbitt 

    2 years ago from Ruskin Florida

    TT2 - My wife and I have been looking at NEW and almost new motorhomes. Our Fleetwood Bounder is now eleven years old and even though we keep it in good shale, we felt it might be time to test the market and check out the newer ones.


    What a surprise for us. The quality of the woodwork on the cheaper models is deplorable; essentially pressed-wood with a paper wood grain veneer on it.

    The rest of the cheaper units are just as bad, but the pricing has continued to go up much faster than the COL numbers you would expect.

    After looking at one manufacturers products we just walked away, so disappointed in what these things now cost that we feel if we keep our unit going, we have higher quality in our older unit and "IT's paid for!".

    Have a good day,



This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, axleaddict.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)