Traveling America in an RV During a Recession

One of the few positive results of a recession is that people generally become more creative about how they spend their time and money. This is probably most true when it comes to the family camping vacation. This year, as we begin to see rays of hope that the recession is, pardon the pun, receding, many of us are still reluctant to splurge on an extravagant trip. More of us are opting to hit the road instead of flying the friendly skies, and there are multiple ways to do that.

Do thoughts of hitting the roads in a recreational vehicle cause flashbacks from Robin Williams’ 2006 movie, RV? Relax! And consider joining the thousands of other families who have found that vacationing family-style in an RV can be fun and relaxing, as well as economical. An RV vacation is more affordable than our typical American-style trip to the popular megaparks.

Consider this: An international travel and tourism research firm, found in its most recent (in 2008 when fuel prices were at a cyclic high) that typical family RV vacations on average to be 27 percent to 61 percent less expensive on a per day basis than other types of vacations. Among the RV vacations, even those taken in an ultra-luxury Type A diesel motorhome were less expensive than flying and staying in a hotel. For a family of four taking a 7-day vacation from Chicago to Branson, for example, the costs range from $1,700 for those traveling by SUV plus a travel trailer, staying at campgrounds, and preparing their own meals, to $3,500 for those traveling in a luxury motorhome, staying at RV resorts, preparing most of their own meals. This compares to more than $4,000 for the same family vacation if they choose to travel by plane, rent a car, stay in a hotel and dine in restaurants.

Admittedly, RVing isn’t for everyone. If your thoughts of the ideal vacation mean getting away from making the beds, preparing meals and cleaning up after the family, this might not be for you. And you’ll need to make lots of small decisions along the way. If uninterrupted relaxation is what you want on this vacation and you would like for someone else to take care of nearly everything for you, an RV definitely isn’t the right choice for you.

But the trade-offs can include new discoveries – of each other and the world in which we live – that can far outweigh the nuisance of doing daily chores. America’s national parks are incredibly beautiful and very affordable, offering a multitude of recreational options for every age and skill level. Swimming, mountain biking, river rafting, rock climbing, and hiking are all great options for family recreation, and they’re just a little more enjoyable when you have a comfortable home to come back to, to cool down (or warm up) and enjoy a snack or a nap.