|In my ten years of mobile
publishing, I've camped in every type of facility imaginable. From casino parking
lots in Mississippi, to the beaches of Padre Island, on the Gulf coast of Texas, to state
and county parks, to a Boy Scout campground in Iowa, to Corps of Engineers campgrounds,
and luxury resorts. Many of these campsites are free, or a very nominal
charge. The most I've ever paid was $43 in downtown Key West.
Yes, that's for one night; and that same fee was cheerfully paid by some European visitors for pitching a tent!
Folks happily pay it, because it's an easy walk to Duvall Street and Mallory Dock.
And 1/3 the cost of a hotel room in the same town.
Is the RV lifestyle for you?
About 2/3 of Two-Lane Roads subscribers presently own a recreational vehicle (RV).
And many of them are "full-time" RVers - that is, they are retired, they sold
their house, and live year round in a RV - a travel trailer or motorhome.
But I suspect that many folks who read this website might be thinking about renting or
buying their first recreational vehicle. May I suggest a subscription to Two-Lane
Roads? I am not sponsored by any RV manufacturer, dealer, or club. I have no
obligation to tell you the RV lifestyle is always perfect for everybody. I'll tell
you the good things, and I'll tell you the not so pleasant experiences!
For example, myth number 1: Traveling by recreational vehicle is the least expensive
way to go. After all, I can simply pull off the road and sleep anywhere, so my
family won't pay for motels. We can cook our own meals, so we won't need to eat in
restaurants. Don't believe it. Traveling by RV is seldom the least expensive
way to travel, unless you very rarely move your rig. "Rarely move it?
What in the world are you talking about, Loren?"
Actually, thousands of retired RVers are willing to do just that - to stay in one
place for weeks or months at a time, driving very little. Since they seldom move
the RV, they spend very little in fuel. These folks sold their home; many even made
a nice capital gain over the years. With the proceeds, they buy an RV, and invest
the balance so they have a monthly income from the investments. Without the house,
they no longer have that huge real estate tax bill, no homeowner's insurance, or utility
bills. Many also do some "campground hosting" in exchange for a free
campsite. They plan to see all of America - in due time. Hey, they have the
rest of their lives to do it! Their RV is also their only home, and they might move
it 2 or 3 times a year, following the sun. Summer in the mountains, winter in the
Sunbelt. They still own a car or truck, which either pulls a travel trailer,
or is towed behind a motorhome. But it is quite possible that they are spending
less money than they would if they drove the car only, and then rented housing in each
place where they stay.
But what if you want to see America, and you want
to keep moving? What if you are not of retirement age, but you would like your kids
to experience the RV lifestyle? If your family is willing to pull a small folding
tent trailer behind your small family sedan or minivan, your fuel economy will still be
Once you graduate into a larger trailer, you'll
need a big car or truck to pull it - or you choose a motorhome. Either way, you'll
be lucky to get 8-10 mpg. Maybe 12-15 with a diesel. If you drive long
distances you will spend more money each day on fuel than you would on a motel. Add
the interest and depreciation factor on a vehicle which is only used a few times a year,
and your costs skyrocket. When it comes time to replace tires, brakes, and anything
else that wears out (and it will), it will cost far more than the same item on a passenger
car or van.
Don't count on sleeping free every night. It won't happen every night. Not
even close. Yes, there are free campgrounds, but how often will you find one where
you want to be? In most states it's illegal to camp overnight in rest areas.
(And noisy and risky in any state!) Pay a few bucks for some peace of mind. In
most campgrounds, you get nice public toilets and showers, a picnic table and maybe a
campfire ring. It's worth every dime you spend!
Not the cheapest - only the best!
I know that it costs me more to travel in an RV than it would to drive a small car, and
stay in motels every night. I travel by RV not because it is the cheapest way to go,
but because it is the most pleasant way to travel! Anytime I need a cold drink, or I
need the toilet, or I feel the need to take a nap, I have all those facilities with
me. I sleep in my own bed every night. Instead of traffic noise, I am lulled
to sleep by a choir of frogs! I stay in a mixture of private campgrounds and public
parks; sometimes in a big metropolitan area, but much more often in faraway places.
Either way, the campground usually has the feel of the great outdoors. Compare this
with a concrete parking lot and multi-level motel building. Crime, while not exempt
from campgrounds, is very seldom a problem in a campground. Drive through any
campground, public or private, and the first thing that you will notice is that many folks
leave hundreds of dollars worth of camping and picnicking gear outside all day long, even
when they leave the campground for an all-day adventure. When they return, their
fellow campers have not looted their belongings!
Folks on special diets appreciate travel by RV, since it is much easier to prepare your
Families drawn closer together
Families appreciate RV travel, especially by motorhome. While Dad drives, kids can
sit at the table and work on activities, or take a nap. Mom can serve cold drinks or
sandwiches from the fridge. Kids love the camping experience. Build a campfire
and toast some marshmallows!
Never a "No Vacancy"
I know, I just said I don't advocate boondocking. But what if you do happen to
arrive in Cheyenne on Frontier Days weekend, or Daytona during Bike Week, and the motels
and campgrounds are all full? Well, if you are traveling by car, plan to drive to
the next city to find a motel. In my RV, I have never not been able to find a place
to park overnight. Many campgrounds will have an overflow area, and they will seldom
turn you away. If the town is having a big festival, they will generally permit
overnight RV parking somewhere in town.
You don't need to travel by RV to enjoy exploring America's two-lane roads. But it
doesn't hurt! Likewise, reading Two-Lane Roads quarterly isn't just for RVers.
On the other hand, if you are considering the RV lifestyle, and you would like to read a
first-hand account from someone who has traveled over 150,000 miles since 1988 in travel
trailers and motorhomes, please consider a subscription to Two Lane Roads quarterly.
Want to learn more about
recreational vehicles and the RV lifestyle? Continue on to our next page for a
calendar of major RV shows.
Keeping in touch while on the road. How can you
receive and send E-mail while on the road? Skip ahead to this page.