Penny Saving

By Reina Kutner

February 6, 2009 4 min read

PENNY SAVING

Those interested in saving cash might do well in an RV

Reina Kutner

Creators News Service

Ready for a vacation, but don't have a lot of cash? A recreational vehicle might just be the perfect solution.

According to a study by PKF Consulting, RV family vacations on average are 27 to 61 percent less than other types of vacations. Considering this study was done in the summer of 2008, when gas prices were much higher, the cost may be even less now.

"On average, RV vacations were more economical than the other types analyzed except in one case," said Kannan Sankaran, PKF's lead researcher in the study, which compared the costs of eight different types of vacations for three, seven, 10 and 14 days to different destinations across the United States.

Many of the savings were due to a reduction in restaurant, hotel and air transportation costs. And even more incentive to stay grounded, "You don't even have to take your shoes off," said Courtney Robey, public relations manager for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

With the recent economic downturn, an RV vacation could be a boon for people who want to travel, but don't think they can afford it.

Robey emphasized that this type of getaway is less pricey even considering ownership costs, insurance and maintenance. Overnight rates for campground sites run about $32 per night, much lower than the average hotel room. Plus, there is the added advantage of having a kitchen.

"You can make your own dinner every night," she said. "At a campground, you can build a fire and roast marshmallows and eat hot dogs." In addition to being able to find all your favorite foods at a grocery store and stock them in your refrigerator, portable cookware is available to serve your cooking needs.

To further boost savings, gorving.com and Highways Magazine offer the following tips to cut costs on fuel and other expenses:

* Stay close to home. There are beautiful parks and campgrounds in areas all across the country, and there's a lot to be discovered in your own backyard.

* Take a mini-vacation. A fall 2008 survey by the RVIA estimated that 60 percent of RVers intend to keep their vacations limited four days or fewer. Instead of heading out for a long period of time, plan a short trip and enjoy the few days off.

* If you're connected to the Internet while on the road, look for a campsite that has free Wi-Fi.

* Stay in one place. Many campgrounds offer a variety of services, such as playgrounds and pools, and are near different attractions.

* Lighten your load. Pack lighter and purchase materials when you get to the campground. Don't fill the water tanks in your RV until you reach the campground, and empty your sewage before you leave. The lighter your RV, the more you'll save.

* Driving 55 instead of 65 saves gas -- you'd be surprised at how much.

* Tune up your vehicle. Check the oil, brakes and engine before hitting the road. This will help maximize fuel efficiency.

* Save on entertainment costs by bringing DVDs from home.

* If you enjoy using an RV, consider purchasing one, instead of renting at an average of $250 a day. Not only are there great deals right now, but, according to Robey, almost all RV purchases qualify as a second home, so there might be a tax break.

* There are a number of RV groups, such as Good Sam Club, that offer discounts on campgrounds and fuel, as well as special rates for insurance and reliable emergency road service. There are also camping clubs that provide information on various ways to save money.

*Check out books from your local library or bookstore, or browse the Internet for additional information on quality campsites and the best ways to travel smart and inexpensively in your RV.

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