Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to Traveling-Why I'm Not On the RV Band Wagon

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.

17 comments:

  1. OK I wanna know about the "sometimes 50 dollars a day" thing.Would that be the times you use hostels?What are your favorite low cost/budget lodgings?? Do you use airbnb??

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    1. Absolutely, Or places where there are really cheap air b and bs (like in Galveston, where if i stay a week it averages to be like thirty bucks a day), or couch surfing. I fully admit Iam usually in the hundred dollar range and that is because I do my own food except for the occasional really good local restaurant for one night. I also belong to EVERY.single, reward and discount program on the planet.

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    2. Madeline I should also add that I purchase gas cards on four point weekends at our local King Sooper (Kroger stores) and then I use my gas points to get almost free gas, trying whenever possible to find a shared gas station or a shell that takes korger cards. This makes my gas cost closer to fifty to seventy five cents a gallon and I save it all for travel when possible.

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    3. New to your blog and enjoying it very much.
      Very envious of the gas bill for your car.
      We pay $6 a gallon here in the U.K. Ho hum! X

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  2. I'm with Madeline. My travel budgets seem to get sunk by lodgings. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places? I also love to drive. Drove a stick for years until my knees couldn't take the shifting. But out on the open road such fun.

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    1. Yep. My husband and I both drove sticks until my leg started degenerating (the left one). I ove my new
      SUV but even with six cylinders it just doesnt have quite the same "I need to change lanes right now"kind of pickup.

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    2. Actually,Celia, since we have found airbnb (our son introduced us!) our lodging costs have been very low! It is a god send! I have spent just $55 a night in the Northern parts of Arizona like Sedona, and $65 on the Oregon coast. In Prescott we have a favorite hostess and spend just $50 a night. We splurged on our anniversary last year, in Oregon,also..we took 2 nights and spent $150 a night for the most deluxe room you can imagine, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the luxurious home of a very interesting psychiatrist and her retired husband.They had a huge indoor oak bar which overlooked the Pacific,also, free wine and GREAT STORIES each night. I could never have gotten that luxury for that amt. of money in a hotel! I also DESPISE those"resort fees" they charge! One year we found an airbnb room in Santa Barbara, where hotels were going for $200 plus a night--we paid $75--and THAT is another very interesting story--I LOVE AIRBNB! But I did want to hear Barb's tips-- At first we did not want to stay inside a house WITH our hosts, but now we SEEK THAT OUT--we have met interesting people.We will be renting a whole apartment in Copenhagen soon, for just $65 a night--we did want privacy.. airbnb..all the way!!

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    3. We use air bnb in a different way. I often travel with my daughter and her three children. We could spend $50 a night at a hotel and bunk together- a bit tight for us. Instead we go for the $100 - $140 a night and get little houses. We eat dinner and breakfast at a table and are in a neighborhood instead of an industrial district at night. It has been a great money stretcher for us.
      Two summers from now we plan on renting a RV/camper for a month and do the Western National parks. The camper will be expensive, and the spaces will have to be reserved way in advance, but we don't think we could do it better any other way.

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  3. As one of the retirees who bought an RV 5 years ago and has taken both short weekend trips, as well as 2 month long extended journeys, I can add my perspective to the discussion.

    We have enjoyed tremendously the RV lifestyle. We budget about $100 a day for the longer trips. Gas is a biggie, obviously. Nicer RV parks can easily be $40-$50 a night or more. Because we like to think of the trip as a vacation we also eat out often even though we have our kitchen and refrigerator with us.

    There is a lot of preparation before a trip, and cleanup after. RVing is not really a break from chores, cooking, or cleaning. It is more about a change in place and routine, a chance to see other places, and time away from some of the normal responsibilities of home.

    All that being said, we have decided to sell our RV at the end of this year. We have visited 32 states and built some powerful memories. But, we feel it is time to move into another phase of our vacations-more cruises, flights overseas, and car trips.

    The decision to buy an RV was right for us in 2012. Now, the decision to change our approach next year feels best.

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    1. Thanks for your input Bob, I know you've enjoyed your RVing years. We are looking at a "girl's weeek out" cruise for a group of us.

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  4. Last year, we sold our motorhome. Took a huge loss. That has cured us. Eventually,you do have to unload those monsters. Or repair them - and the cost is always high. We learned our lesson. My husband is 60 and I am 63 and we are healthy enough, to just "rough it"in our van, and every other night we hit a hotel to shower. My husband is also retired military,so we can take military flights anywhere there is US airbase.

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    1. Hey, I admit Ive slept in my car on occasion. I have a list of Walmarts where they allow sleeping and parking and I usually park between two big rigs. It's not something I do alot, but if I am between here and there and the weather is warm, it's been known to happen!

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    2. Love your sense of adventure--I'd do it.I figure we could throw an air mattress into the back of the SUV.But airbnb is soo easy.. and often breakfast is included, and you can use their kitchens..I don't mind cooking for some part of our trips-

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  5. As several have suggested, RVing is a lifestyle more than a vacation, though if you enjoy the lifestyle it's a terrific and economical way to vacation for really long periods of time. However, though I would encourage someone considering, I'd never try to talk someone into it as it is simply not for everybody.

    We love it, and are going on our 12th year as RV owners. In my lifetime I cannot imagine not owning one. However, having said that, will offer that we will be VRBO'ing our way through the Canadian maritime provinces next year instead of RVing, because hauling ours there and back from the west coast simply isn't feasible. And I don't think one is inherently better than the other - they are just different ways to accomplish the same thing. 'Vive la différence' I say.

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  6. I'm with you. Cars are much more maneuverable. My husband and I preferred driving, too, though when we were at a retirement age to do more, he was no longer able. Good thing we did as much as we did before then. Does make we wonder if I'm too old now to take off on my own as haven't encountered anyone of like mind to share such adventures now that I've finally stopped working. How about a blog piece sharing references for the older single traveler who wants to travel -- driving -- take trips around U.S.?

    Years ago when I was Jr Hi age we (parents, me, 2 dogs) traveled from Great Lakes area to Southwest, then part way back, living in a small trailer we pulled behind our car -- about 6 months -- several of those months in a Tucson, AZ trailer park. Was interesting experience, so I have some basis for comparison in thinking about what I would prefer now. My physical condition, age, etc. is different now so that influences my needs.

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  7. I too understand the attraction of the RV lifestyle ... for some people. But I wouldn't want to have to drive one of those big things around on the highway or the back roads, or in traffic, or as you suggest, try to park it in any kind of urban area. Plus, there's the gas you have to buy, the pollution you spew out, and the cramped quarters you have to live in. But like I said ... I guess some people like it!

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  8. I think vacationing in an RV would be fun but I have never tried it. I am quite a home body in retirement.

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