Fuel Economy, MPG, RV fueling, RV Idling, RV Life, RV Tips, Take it Slower, tire pressure, Travel Safety, Travel Tips
Even though fuel prices have dropped significantly over the past several years, some RV owners still wonder whether their chosen way of life continues to be affordable. Traveling by RV is a lifestyle choice that is not largely driven by fuel prices, but visiting the pump is a fact of life.
There are a number of things owners of both gas and diesel vehicles can do to combat fuel prices. This is especially important as we head into the summer months; a period of historically higher fuel prices and plenty of travel. Some are fairly widely known, while others require a little more thought. Many drivers, especially those with trailers and motorhomes, are likely aware of some of the ways to improve fuel economy, but they bear repeating here.
One of the best ways to improve fuel economy is to drive slower. As a vehicle increases speed, it takes more energy, and therefore more fuel, to overcome the increasing air resistance. The relationship is approximately three-to-one. What this translates to is that for every 5 m.p.h. over 60 that is driven, the fuel economy drops roughly 8% for an average passenger vehicle. This number is slightly higher for a large gas vehicle, or gas vehicle towing a trailer. It is believed by many that 55 m.p.h. is an appropriate speed to maintain maximum fuel efficiency. This of course depends on the vehicle, but slowing down is a sure way to improve fuel economy. Besides, as RV’ers, we want to slow down and enjoy the sights!
Another sure way to save fuel is to drive shorter distances or spend more time in one place. Why not experience the sights closer to home base rather than heading for your favorite destination out of state? Find a comfortable RV park closer to home and spend some time there.
A lesser recognized method of saving fuel is to ensure correct tire pressure. In my last article I addressed this issue. Don’t carry more weight than necessary or the RV is rated for. Although larger vehicles aren’t as affected by weight, it is still something worth considering. For a medium vehicle pulling a trailer, there is already significant drag due to the weight of the trailer alone. Adding additional weight to the trailer increases the drag, and therefore the fuel consumption.
Last, but certainly not least, eliminate unnecessary idling. When a vehicle idles, it is getting zero mpg, and it’s bad for the environment. Turn off the engine when stopped or parked.
Although fuel prices have been dropping over the past few years, the cost is still a major contributor to the price of RV travel. RVing continues to be one of the most cost effective and enjoyable forms of travel. According to survey results collected by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), travel by RV costs a family of 4 between 26% – 71% less than any other form of travel, depending on the size and type of RV used. Also, more than 80% of RV owners report their RV vacations cost less than other methods of vacation.
Survey results indicate that fuel prices would have to increase several times over to make RV travel more expensive than other forms, so don’t let fuel prices temper the excitement and enthusiasm of travelling the scenic highways of North America.
Sheryl R. FL~ “This is the first time we used the service and were very impressed with the attentiveness of the rep on the phone, the service of the rep that came to the site and the follow up.”
I am not sure agree with the statement, that it cost less then other forms of vacationing! Because most people finance
there RV, that monthly cost needs to calulated into cost of the vacation. Along with storage fees and insurance. One also needs to consider that even if the RV is not used, it still is costing them something, which is the same cost when it is in use. Plus the depreciation cost of the RV. Even those that pay cash have to consider the same factors. The only difference is, the money they paid for the RV is now lost future income and any interest they may have gotten from it lost as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my travel trailer and truck. And I knew going into this deal, now my 5th RV, that it wasn’t a cheap way to go. But we enjoy the ability to go pretty much wherever we want to go, and stay as long as we like. And as my wife would say; Sleep in our own dirt! I would say Full Timing is cheaper then owning a home, but that also depends on the cost of the RV. I had $66k invested into the fifth wheel and truck when we full-timed. You can’t buy much of a house for that price. GO RVING!
Don’t forget that the truck or car used in other forms of recreational travel depreciates like an RV does, so one cannot write off RV depreciation totally as a negative. And it’s common to deduct from taxes the interest on an RV loan much like a mortgage; except for vehicles for business use, that’s hard to do with a car or truck.
A much bigger gripe than fuel costs for me is the ridiculous RV park fees. 30 years ago we got $25 motel rooms for our honeymoon, the same decent quality places as offer today’s $80-$100 rooms. Now if I don’t stay for a week or a month to get discounted rates, a one to three month, day-to-day motorhome tour wipes us out for the next year or three. And it’s not from the fuel costs. We don’t go to our FMCA club rallies like we’d like to either, because they average out $300-$500 for 3 to 4 days; and yet there are those that wagon-train from rally to rally – more power to them I suppose if they have bottomless pockets. The 50% off discount clubs would be great except for their many cumbersome limitations and exceptions. We don’t join the Elks as many recommend because you have to have a sponsor and go through some initiation ceremony, a human habit fine for some but which I’m averse to – like a pet doing entertaining tricks for his treats.
Okay, reckon I popped plenty of nails from that soap box. But it’s pretty true… the RV park side of things is a far greater cost than the fuel, and I can calculate ahead of time pretty much a fuel budget for our trips. The park fees vary considerably, as does the quality of parks and sites. That’s a much more challenging proposition enroute than worrying about fuel cost.
I agree with your post. We live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and just to go to stay in Florida for warmth and some sight seeing, it is not cheep for sure. And the closer you stay to places to sight see, so you don’t have to drive so far. the more expensive it is to stay. We have to budget for our vacation (as I’m sure most people do). This winter will be the second time for us. I hope we can keep doing this for some time. I agree with your wife also. We like that we are in our own home away from home and in our own bed.
I don’t know that you are on a soap box. You are probably speaking what a lot of people are experiencing. Maybe as we go, we’ll learn the ins and outs of RVing more inexpensively. RV newbees and loving it.
Our motorhome and TOAD are paid for as is our home. We are retired and enjoy our annual journeys plus our snow bird destinations. RV Parks are a bit of a drag depending on quality and amenities and gas prices are what they are. We simply enjoy traveling in our motorhome rather than flying, or driving and doing the motel thing. Besides, we travel with our fur child and never have any issues as to where we can stay.
I find that “drafting” an 18 wheeler also improve MPG, I usually hang back 60-70 feet so they dont feel like I’m up their ass, but I have gotten 2 mpg better by doing this. with more and more fleet trucks being governed at 65 mph, you have your picking to which one you want to draft…happy drafting
I’m sorry, Jeff, but that is not something you’ll catch me doing. At 65 I’m not going to be anywhere near the draft zone of a big truck I can’t see around. If something ahead of him makes him hit the brakes, I have less warning than if I was following a car. If he jackknifes I likely have even more limited maneuvering room. And if in a motorhome my stopping distance is considerably longer… even worse if I’m towing something.
Besides, true effective drafting, racing or otherwise, requires getting closer than that. Hanging where you are is in more turbulence than vacuum, and is probably as fuel detrimental as much as it is unsafe.
An accepted rule of thumb for following distance calculations is one car length for every 10mph of speed. At 65, and averaging a car length at +/- 15 ft, that’s nearly 100 ft.! And that’s if you are in a car, not a motorhome with a far longer braking distance.
I know, in younger days I too used to think I was saving fuel by “drafting”, and maybe I was if I actually got close enough. But too many near misses, and seeing the consequences to others from such questionable habits, has brought me to value reasonable safety practices and a long, uninjured life far more than mileage.