RV Travel Pros and Cons

A couple camping in the desert.
••• Jordan Siemens / Getty Images

Many couples, those with children, and those who are retired swear that traveling in a recreational vehicle is the only way to take a trip.

Other couples swear that being trapped in an RV together for several weeks, along with all the cooking and cleaning that such a trip requires, is a sure way to end a marriage.

What's at Stake?

The outcome of a family vacation or full-time retirement on the road depends greatly on whether or not expectations of all are being met.

If you have unrealistic expectations about traveling in a recreational vehicle or don't share the workload, your trip can turn into a disaster.

Pros

  • Pretty places to stay. There are some really nice state parks that have sites available for RVs. Hanging your hat in lovely locations throughout the country is very tempting.
  • Save money on overnight accommodations. Although campsite prices have risen in the past couple years, they are still much less expensive than a hotel room.
  • No unpacking and packing and lugging suitcases around. Once you have your clothes and necessities put away and organized, you are set.
  • No searching for a bathroom. When you've got to go, you've got to go! With an RV, there's no crossing legs and yearning for a gas station or fast food place to magically appear.
  • Food costs are less. While you likely don't want to have to do a lot of cooking and cleaning on vacation, there's no denying that you can save money by having cereal and fruit or a Danish pastry for breakfast and sandwiches or soup for lunch in your RV.
  • Pets are happier. Not only does your pet have more room to stretch out while you are on the road, you won't have to pay additional pet fees at hotels.
  • More time to explore an area. Sometimes you visit a town or city or National Park and wish you could spend more time discovering the area and seeing more of the sights there. With an RV, you can stay a few extra days without the extended time destroying your budget.

    Cons

    • Gas expense can be hefty. Look for an RV that gets decent gas mileage.
    • Lack of privacy. Generally, camping facilities can be crowded and noisy.
    • Cooking and cleaning while on vacation. There is an implied expectation to save money by using the kitchen in an RV to save money on a trip.
    • Stress. It can result from unrealistic expectations, vehicle malfunction, working more than relaxing, and spending more money than planned.
    • Camping spaces may be more expensive and less inviting than you planned. Although many RVers save money by staying in Wal-Mart or Cracker Barrel parking lots, this isn't the same as camping in an isolated area by a running stream with deer to watch out your window.
    • Need space to store it. Some communities are becoming more restrictive about allowing folks to park RVs in driveways.
    • Expense. RVs can be expensive to purchase and to maintain.
    • Sleep comfort. Most RV beds don't compare to those in a nice hotel when it comes to comfort and size.

    Communication Is Key

    If you and your partner decide to travel together in an RV, make sure you are communicating your thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, and expectations before, during, and after the trip!