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Once upon a time, RV vacations seemed popular among retirees only. Times are a-changing, though, and plenty of people are choosing RV vacations over hotel destinations. And why not? Hotels are expensive. From the room to the meal costs, vacationing at a hotel can get pretty costly pretty quickly. But is vacationing in an RV really that much cheaper?

RV driving down Parks Highway, Alaska
RV driving down Parks Highway, Alaska | Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images

There are a few factors you should consider first

According to NerdWallet, there are several factors to consider when deciding between an RV vacation or staying at a hotel. First things first, how many people will be on your trip? NerdWallet reports that many hotels put a cap on how many people can stay in one room. While you might be able to book more than one room, doing so can get pretty expensive.

It’s also important to consider where your trip is to and what type of trip you’re expecting to take. NerdWallet suggests asking yourself if traveling in an RV will allow you better access to your vacation destination. If you enjoy cooking your own food and are after a room with a view, sticking with an RV rather than opting for an expensive hotel suite probably makes more sense too. 

The difference between owning and renting an RV

It’s also important to consider the differences between owning and renting an RV for your next trip. If you own one already, it’s pretty easy to determine how much your next vacation will cost you because you likely already have a good understanding of how much it costs to travel with an RV.

However, if you don’t own an RV and want to take an RV vacation, you’ll probably have to rent one. According to The Wandering RV, the average cost to rent a Class A RV is between $175 and $275 per night. Opt for a campervan instead, and The Wandering RV says you can expect to spend $75 to $150 per night.

The average cost of staying in a hotel

As for the average cost of staying in a hotel? According to NerdWallet, the average hotel room will run you about $186 per night. Keep in mind that number is based on this year’s data, and we all know that COVID has had a significant impact on the hospitality industry. NerdWallet points out that the average hotel cost $274 per night in 2019. So, once we bid COVID farewell, you can expect that $186 per night cost to rise.

But the per-night cost isn’t the only spend you’ll need to account for if you stay in a hotel. Most hotel rooms don’t come with a kitchen unless you opt for a more expensive suite. With the right RV, however, you can do plenty of cooking on the road. So, rather than spending your money on wining and dining at restaurants, you can spend that money on less costly RV-cooked meals instead.

Of course, you will need somewhere to park your RV while on vacation. Fortunately, there are plenty of cheap campsites to be found all across the country. Certain parks also allow you to park an RV for free, resulting in even more significant cost savings.

Understand how much you’re comfortable spending 

In the end, owning and vacationing with an RV will likely be cheaper than vacationing in a hotel. However, that doesn’t mean that you should go out and buy an RV just yet. While owning one might be cheaper than booking a hotel room for your next vacation, you should also consider what you’re comfortable spending. After all, it’s your wallet that’s going to be taking the hit.