For many retirees, an RV is a major part of their post retirement lives. Some folks downsize completely and "full time" into a fifth wheel or other type of RV. Now, not every retiree goes into an RV full time. My personal experience is that there are pretty much three types of folks who have RV's (if the reality is different, I'm sure my RVing friends will share). I have some friends with small RV's or campers who only travel on weekends or long weekends.
Then of course, there are those folks who go for very long vacations (as long as a couple months or more) multiple times a year. Most people I know personal who own any type of recreational vehicle fall into this group. And finally of course, I have an acquaintance or two who live full time pretty much in their vehicle and have a tiny house or a room with their kids for those few times when they leave their RV's.
Now, at the beginning of retirement, I looked at a variety of options, including an RV. I considered getting a tiny apartment and spending all my time traveling. I also considered simply jumping in an RV and not worrying about a place to live (even with no way to park it). I mean, as an inveterate traveler, I have literally thousands and thousands and thousands of miles under my belt. This would have seemed like a perfect retirement situation, but I was not ready to jump on that proverbial band wagon.
Years later, and post move, I am gearing up again to do some road tripping. I missed my second big train trip last year due to illness. My daughter is gong to grad school and graduating and after I puppy sit for two weeks I'm spending three weeks roaming around the Republic of Texas, and I'm looking at various fall leaf options, just for starters. After revisiting the RV option, I've decided that it still is not for me.
I say this even though I know that almost all of my friends and fellow bloggers who RV are thrilled and have gotten much reward out of doing so. Truthfully, the primary reason that I don't RV are twofold-the way I travel, and the homebody in me in retirement.
The truth is that while I drive through a great many parks as part of my travels, my final destinations are almost always more urban. There certainly are exceptions. Last fall I went to South Dakota for a week-where my entire time was spent in small towns doing the tourist thing. For the most part however, I end up in cities. Cities where I prefer to stay as far in town as possible-which in my experience kind of negates the RV thing. For example, last summer I drove to Seattle. My route there took me through the Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Moab is home to camping and off roading and biking, as well as a couple national parks. RV Parks and camping sites abound. The only thing is, the next two stops on this cross country trip were downtown Salt Lake City, Portland and Seattle. All cities, and all places where I wanted to stay "in walking distance". I guess at this point in my life, I appreciate the man made, at least as much as the nature made.
Of course those are not the only travel reasons holding me back. I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I drive fast. And I like to drive fast. While I am not cranky, I am certainly one of those people driving eighty up the hill and at least chortling on occasion as I pass the RV towing a car going 20. The bottom like is that I LOVE TO DRIVE. And I simply see driving as something different than RVing.
There are certainly other more mundane reasons why RVing is not for me. At this point in my life doing anything more than the very absolute basic maintenance myself is beyond me. I appreciate the finer things in life like getting a massage at the hotel. And last but not least I am a homebody with many hobbies and passions that are not as portable.
I didn't factor the money differential into my decision. I would have if I had felt that RV calling to me more loudly. At this point though, I honestly have no idea if RV road tripping is cheaper or not cheaper than driving (factoring in all costs, including the vehicle). Some bloggers seem to think it is, and some do not (talking about travel here, not a permanent lifestyle). I can tell you what I budget for a day for road trip travel, but someone with an RV would need to do the math including the vehicle depreciation, I suppose. I can tell you that I budget $100 a day for a car road trip, but have done it for much much less, often as low as $50. This budget includes lodging (I'm adventurous in this area), gas, food, and basic attractions. It does not include the extra double check I have done before I head out, nor does it include insurance or the cost of road services like AAA as I would be paying those out. I'll be sharing the cost of my road trip through Texas Hill Country and the gulf coast in my to give an idea of how I meet those prices.
I do understand the attraction of the RV lifestyle, and especially the ability to socialize with others is something that those of us to drive in cars and stay in hotels have to work on a bit more. My solutions to meet people are varied, such as choosing to stay in hostels with group rooms or hotels like the Hilton Garden Inns, which tend to have little happy hours and a get together in the afternoon in the lobby as part of their daily promotions.
I also see the advantage for many folks of having all of "your stuff" (dishes, sheets and so on) and the consistency of one bed if you will, when having an RV, although my car holds a great deal.
For me though, my car still calls me. As do beach side hotels, airbnb, hostels, and the cross country train experience. So for now, I'll plot my vacation (Dallas to Fredericksburg to Austin to San Antonio to Houston to the gulf coast and onward), load up the old car and hit the road. The old fashioned way, if you will.