Are travel trailers the biggest bang for your buck? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-10-2011, 10:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Wayne Hill View Post
I am interested in the cost factor of traveling with say a 13 - 17 ft trailer vs traveling with a fuel efficient car and staying in motels/hotels.

How do you put a price on:
- the ability of going where you want
- when you want
- staying as long as you want
- inadvertently finding new locations that you might never gone to
- having your stuff in one spot
- having a spot to disappear to - for whatever reason
- sleeping in your own bed
- eating your own food
- meeting new people
I have lived in San Diego, CA for 35 years but my "hometown" is near Syracuse, NY. Over the years I have made several trips between the two; a couple of times in a 1992 three cylinder two door Geo Metro (42 mpg) and staying in economy motels. (approximately 2-1/2 times campground cost) I averaged between 70 and 75 mph.

I have also made the trip with my 2003 Honda Odyssey (23 mpg alone) hitched to my 1978 Fiber Stream. (16 mpg combined) To achieve this level of economy, the cruise control must stay on 55 mph. 65 mph? = 13 mpg. 75 mph? = 9 mpg!

When I drove the Geo, I was capable of making at least 700 miles per day, spending 14 hours behind the wheel. Get a motel room and crash; 15 minutes from car to bed. Get up to a restaurant breakfast and do it all over again. Made the continent crossing in 4-1/2 days.

Towing the trailer, it's all I can do to achieve 450 miles before I have to get off the road, it's so physically demanding to drive a train... 33 feet of train! It takes 1/2 an hour to set up camp upon arrival and another 1/2 hour to pack up and get on the road in the morning. I only get in maybe 8 or 9 hours on the road a day. It takes a full 7 days to get from San Diego to Syracuse.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:54 PM   #16
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It is not all about the cost of gas and hotel bills. It is also about food. While we usually camp and tour, so we eat out at least one meal a day, we do cook one or two meals at the campground. That has to be factored in, avoiding the cost of restaurant meals.

The difference has allowed us to make decisions about taking a vacation or not. When we paid for hotels, it was easier to decide we could not afford to go. Now, we make a decision about where to go. We are even going to use it for a couple of the professional conventions we go to this year, like we did last summer, take the trailer, stay in a hotel during the convention and tour/camp afterwards.

And, as the hubby said a couple of days ago, in a hotel, you might walk right past others in the hotel, but campgrounds tend to be more friendly. With these little trailers, they attract people who are friendly, sometimes when you would rather they not be. So camaraderie is a factor too.

Ours even served the hubby as a living place while he was in grad class. The week in the campground was a lot cheaper than a week in a hotel.

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Old 01-11-2011, 02:34 AM   #17
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Hi: Wayne Hill...With a TT you can replace the "Tug" anytime... which we have. With the old tug our cost ran $75./day all inclusive. We tend to see more, do more and generally relax more when traveling with "Our Escape Hatch".
We don't include the price of groceries as you'd still eat if you stay home!!!
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:31 AM   #18
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Frederick,
2 years ago we drove 4 days straight from Winnipeg, Manitoba down to Key West. (We had to meet friends to go sailing)
Did we cover a lot of road? Yes
Did we see a lot? Yes.
Did we stop and enjoy a lot? - No
Did we "wish" we had more time and could stop and explore? Yes

We both said that we won't be doing that again. We zipped right thru some beautiful country. Interstates all the way.

Next time we take the time the time, stop and enjoy the trip.

12 - 14 hours in a Toyota Corolla is pretty tough to take.

I don't remember it being tough to drive with our Surfsider but we were both a lot younger then. Looking back we probably drove for a maximum of 8 hours then stopped for at least a couple of days camping.
Wayne
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Old 01-11-2011, 07:51 AM   #19
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Alf,
Interesting cost $ 75/day.

With my Nissan, roughly speaking I routinely get 500 kms/tank (300 miles). Towing a trailer I expect to get roughly 400 kms/tank (240 miles). To fill costs me approx $70.(approx 14.1 L/100 km) Towing the trailer a fill should be around the same just more frequent fill ups.
So depending on how far we drive, I will be spending the same amount on gas. Some days more, some days less - depending on a lot of factors - speed and head wind being the 2 prime ones.

We don't intend on driving long distances but instead will try and break up our trips to smaller more manageable portions and actually enjoy, explore and take it easy while we are travelling.

Wayne
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:05 AM   #20
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CindyL:
Agreed that it's not all about cost of gas and hotel bills.
I've stayed in enough motel/hotels and eaten enough meals out that I like to eat at home and sleep somewhere that I know is comfortable.

A treat (eating out) is nice but isn't a treat if you have to do it all the time.

You said:
"The difference has allowed us to make decisions about taking a vacation or not. When we paid for hotels, it was easier to decide we could not afford to go. Now, we make a decision about where to go."

I agree 100%.

Right now even though we live in an area that has beautiful camping spots within a couple of hours driving, we just don't go. Or we go on day trips and wish we could have stayed longer. I'm sure we've all left home (happy) very early in the AM and came home late (grumpy) after going all day.

I've also found that people generally are a lot more inclined to stop and talk, lend a hand, etc, while camping than while staying in hotels/motels.

Now if I could only find a nice camping trailer.

Wayne
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:11 AM   #21
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We have had 3 Pick ups and campers and 2 Motorhomes, and 3 travels trailers, and now that there is only 2 of us ( kids grow up ) the Jeep Cherokee pulling the 16' Casita is as cheep of a way to travel as it gets. 16MPG towing 20MPG sightseeing. But the biggest cost saving in camping is what you save in not dining out. Plus you know your bed has not got bedbugs, and you know how your food was prepared.
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:28 AM   #22
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I think when folks need to stay in motels/hotels, travel seems to be about the destination. But, pulling a travel trailer there's a lot about the "journey." YMMV
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:12 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
I think when folks need to stay in motels/hotels, travel seems to be about the destination. But, pulling a travel trailer there's a lot about the "journey." YMMV
I think you nailed it.
Reminds me of when we owned a sailboat, sailing was the objective, not getting somewhere.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:28 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
I think when folks need to stay in motels/hotels, travel seems to be about the destination. But, pulling a travel trailer there's a lot about the "journey." YMMV
Taking the trailer for about six weeks across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchawan and Alberta this past summer meant that we went where we wanted, stopped when we wanted looked at what ever interested us and still slept in our own bed at night and ate from our own plates. We stayed at a lot of very nice campgrounds [and a couple that were the pits], met a lot of wonderful, friendly folk, waved at a whole bunch of other FG's [was that you?] and had a funfilled vacation. If we only travelled a few miles or a few hundred, then the choice was ours. We camped with family at Saskatchewan Island Prov park and at Jasper [worst regulated]. We stopped for museums all across the prairies and at "Hey look at that!" sites too. For us it's the only way to really enjoy a vacation.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:44 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Hill View Post
Did we cover a lot of road? Yes
Did we see a lot? Yes.
Did we stop and enjoy a lot? - No
Did we "wish" we had more time and could stop and explore? Yes
I think you nailed that one; I agree with you.

Unfortunately the constraints of gainful employment have "opportunity costs".
While retirement is a great facilitator of unencumbered travel, it is nowhere on my horizon.

To touch on the initial question ("Bang for your Buck") my initial thought was that for me, economy car + motel won hands down. But, as Donna so rightly points out, Trailering has a way of redefining your focus.
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:04 AM   #26
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We tow a 13dlxe Scamp front bath with a Ford Ranger4.0L, or a Ford Escape 2.3L.
We have averaged about the same mileage on the Ranger, towing or not, within 1 or 2MPG,due to a difference in speed of about 15MPH.
The Escape, with the smaller engine, loses 3-4 MPG when towing but still maintains mid twenties. (same difference in speed).

With over 250 nights logged so far we have averaged $8 a night for lodging, so the initial cost has long since been offset by the savings.

Type of vehicle driven and cost of accomodations at your chosen destination, and most importantly the size of you trailer, are all variables.
I.E. We stayed at Jekyl Island and at Gatlinburg for $25 a night, where a motel could be north of $150.
(Rest areas and Walmarts are free, in transit)
I went to Louisiana recently and paid $114 a night for rooms along the interstate at Holiday Inn Express. the speed difference was great, but the cost difference made me sorely miss my Scamp. [Eggy-Sue (the pull-it surprize)]

Bottom line.... it's sort of apples and oranges,but my Scamp has allowed me to travel economically, while providing a known quantity in terms of comfort and cleanliness, all this and I still have a vehicle worth driving when I arrive.
When it come to motels,I often have "reservations".... but I stay anyway!
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:23 AM   #27
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I took another look at the original post and realized that many of us responders did not address some of the points raised.
So here is some more of my experience just to get things rolling again:

Is figuring a loss of fuel efficiency of 20 - 30 % a reasonable amount on the tow vehicle a reasonable amount?
My 4Runner averages 24 mpg on highway solo. It averages 16 mpg when towing my 3,300 lb 16' Casita at 55 to 60 mph. So for me the "loss" in mpg is 33.33%. Very acceptable to me since my former 35' MH got an avg. of 6 mpg. From that perspective I'm getting 166.66% better efficiency than with my MH!
Besides fuel costs - Is travelling in the USA cheaper/on par than Canada?
Can't address that. I haven't towed the Casita in Canada -- yet! It's on my bucket list for later this year.
Average cost of staying ovenight - full hook up $30?

One of the best, and most economical, things we did was purchase a Passport America membership. It is $49 per year, annual renewal at your option, and provides 50% discount at several thousand regular, full hookup private CGs. It has cost us on average $15 to $18 per night with the discount. It is well worth it. We will boondock or use FS or other public CGs for several days to a week (using our "Geezer" pass which averages $5 to $10 per night) and then hit the full-hookup private CG, using our Passport America whenever we can. (example: 4 days at $8/nite using geezer pass, 1 nite boondocking at $0/nite, and 2 nites at $18/nite using Passport America = $68 for 7 nites or less than $10/nite) These are typical numbers for us.
Average cost of a decent hotel/motel room $120

Our experience with motel rooms is similar. It averaged $100 a night (from $85 to $110 or so). When we did that for a couple of years we had several motel chains' discount cards that earned points to give free nights occasionally but it took about 6 months of purchases to earn enough points for 1 or 2 free nights. Most motel rooms now-a-days include some sort of "breakfast" but we still felt it was way too expensive just for a place to flop for the night.
Average cost of restaurant meals for 2 $60 vs

We always figured about $50/day for outside meals. When traveling we usually only bought two meals per day using take-along snacks while on the road midday; ($20 for breakfast or lunch (depending on whether or not the motel included breakfast) for two and $30 for dinner for two) We don't eat a lot and we try to eat simply and healthily. With restaurant food it is difficult to control portion size (and your subsequent intake), the freshness, the quality and the nutritional value - not to mention fat, collesterol, salt, etc. Often, however, there was enough for a "doggie bag" for on the road the next day.
Average cost of buying/preparing your own food $20 ?

As others have mentionned, we don't count the cost of food that we prepare on the road since we would be buying food to prepare at home, too. If anything, we spend less to cook on the road because we eat less and can't "stock up" on things like we do at home (read "Costco syndrome")
Maintenance costs of trailer.

I haven't yet spend two cents on unintended maintenance on my year and half old Casita. The MH I had, however, was a money pit for maintenance.
Initial cost of trailer.

Paid cash for the Casita from the proceeds of the private sale of my MH and had enough left over for some initial mods on the Casita and a solar panel set-up for boondocking.

Before an extended trip I lay out a tentative budget that usually averages $65 to $75 per day. During the trip I keep daily track of expenditures. If we spend too much one day we boondock an extra day or stay in one place and off the the road for an extra day or two. The more often and farther you move in a given amount of time, the more expensive the trip will be.

(Typical buget for a recent 11 day trip: 6 nites at federal CGs using Geezer pass = $42 total; 2 nites at private, full-hook CG using Passport America = $38 total; 3 nights boondocking = $0 -- total lodging for 11 nites = $80 or $7.27 per nite. Gas for 1,500 mile round trip @ 15 mpg (I like to budget conservatively) and $3.75 (I like to budget high on fuel since it so volatile) comes out to $375 for fuel. (1,500 / 15 = 100 x $3.75 = $375). Misc: books, meals out, souvenirs, entertainment, junk store druising, etc for 11 day = $245 or $22.27 per day. Total trip $700 for 11 days or avg $63.63 per day. Even if you round it up to $1,000 for 11 days that's still only $90.90 per day.

This trip, as you can see, we only drove an avg of 136 miles per day, we did more sightseeing and hiking. If you drive more (our avg is 300 miles per day), it will push the avg daily cost up into the $75 - $90 per day range, still acceptable to me.

After 40 years of RVing in tents, tent-trailers, MH, stick-built trailers and now a Casita, for us there is no comparison. The Casita travel style is the best, most enjoyable and most economical we have found.






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Old 01-11-2011, 05:22 PM   #28
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WtMtJim,
I had a long winded reply all typed up but I got booted off the computer and you guessed it, the reply is gone.

I had worked out all the $ figures. It works out that even at non prime time with a deep discount on a monthly rate for a kitchenette, the costs are still somewhere around $75/day while staying in the motel and driving my tow vehicile (SUV).

This is with a deep, deep discount. The difference grows astronomically when you consider the same situation at prime time.

Vacationing in the trailer is hugely more economical then.

While walking in the dogs today in a location that I normally don't go, I noticed a white ? Surfside trailer with a black (from tree sap?) roof in one of my neighbour's yard. It doesn't look like its moved in quite some time. I'll have to see if it's available. If the price is right, then maybe roll up my sleeves and get working on it.

Wayne

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