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.