New RV Vacation Cost Study Published

source: Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, RVIA

A recently published study shows that RV vacations cost substantially less than other forms of vacation travel, even when factoring in fuel prices and the cost of RV ownership. For a four­person travel party, the study found savings of 27-62%; a two­-person travel party saved 11­-48%.

The research was conducted by PKF Consulting USA, and commissioned by RVIA. It updates previous vacation cost comparison studies done by PKF.

The PKF study provides a vacation cost analysis using two sets of hypothetical travel parties: a 4­person travel party of two adults and two children, and a 2­person travel party of two adults.

PKF analyzed major costs these hypothetical travelers would incur taking nine different types of vacations to nine popular vacation destinations. For each destination, researchers analyzed vacations last 3, 7 and 14 days.

The study compared different methods of travel, including a folding camping trailer, a lightweight travel trailer, a compact motorhome, a type C motorhome, and a type A motorhome. The type A motorhome was used for comparison vs. first­class travel options such as flying first class, renting a premium car, staying in upscale hotels/resorts, and eating meals in restaurants.

RV travel emerged as having a clear economic advantage over other forms of travel, regardless of the RV type.

Below is what a four­person travel party could expect to save:

  • Folding camping trailer – 47­-62%
  • Lightweight travel trailer – 34­-53%
  • Compact motorhome – 27­-48%
  • Type C motorhome – 28­-48%
  • Type A motorhome – 38%


A two­person travel party also saved, according to the analysis:

  • Folding camping trailer – 38­-48%
  • Lightweight travel trailer – 23-­36%
  • Compact motorhome – 19­-32%
  • Type C motorhome – 15­-28%
  • Type A motorhome – 14%


As part of its analysis, PKF considered how fluctuating fuel prices might affect vacation costs. Their findings showed that fuel prices would have to reach more than $12 per gallon for a four­person travel party before RVing would begin to lose its economic advantage over other forms of travel.

For a two­person travel party, fuel would have to reach $6 per gallon.

© 2016 Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. All Rights Reserved.

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New RVIA Research Shows
Record Level of RV Ownership

RVIA’s RV Consumer Demographic Profile shows RV ownership has reached a new peak and also offers promising news on future RV purchase intentions.

The research, conducted by Dr. Richard Curtin, RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, reveals the number of RV-owning households has grown to a new peak of 8.9 million households. According to the report, 8.5% of U.S. households now own RVs.

“Today’s record RV ownership levels reflect the enduring appeal of the RV lifestyle despite recent economic challenges,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “I expect RV ownership to continue growing as more and more people learn how RVing is a cost-effective and fun way to spend time outdoors with family and friends.”

“The data indicate that the basic appeal of the RV lifestyle remains as strong as ever,” said Dr. Richard Curtin, who conducted the study. Curtin, an economist, is director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan. “Consumers want to enjoy the same cherished experiences of RVing while staying within new budget constraints.”

The RV industry is addressing consumer needs by “right-sizing” RVs to offer the mix of amenities and price that consumers want.

In addition to showing that RV ownership rates have climbed steadily, the new RV Consumer Demographic Profile also offers promising news on future RV purchase intentions.

When RV purchase intentions are combined across current owners, former owners and new market entrants, a total of 21% of all U.S. households stated intentions to purchase an RV at some point in the future.

“These purchase intentions expressed in the new RV Consumer Demographic Profile are very encouraging for the industry,” said Sid Johnson, chairman of RVIA’s Market Information Committee, and Director of Marketing at Jayco. “These survey results were collected in a challenging financial environment yet they are very close to the 2005 data when the economy and consumer outlook was much brighter. Overall, the results indicate continued strong demand for RVs in the years ahead.”

Seventy percent of current RV owners plan to purchase another RV to replace their current unit in the future. When compared to the purchase intentions of owners in prior surveys, the 2011 data indicates current owners have a stronger intention to purchase a new RV when they do buy again.

Among new market entrants, defined as households that have never owned an RV in the past, 14% plan a future purchase with more than a third intending to purchase a new RV.

Among former owners, 27% plan to purchase another RV in the future. Here age was a determining factor with younger former owners (age 18-34) more likely than older former owners to purchase another RV. This underscores the need for the RV industry to stay in touch with recent former owners and to continue to present them ownership options.

Fast facts about RVers from the Profile:

  • The typical RVer was 48 years old in 2011, one year younger than the 49 years recorded in 2005 and 2001.
  • Median income of RVers: $62,000
  • 39% of RVers had children under 18 living at home.
  • RV owners aged 35-to-54 posted the largest gains in ownership rates, rising to 11.2% in 2011 from 9.0% in 2005.
  • Ownership also edged higher among those aged 55 or older, rising to 9.3% from 8.6% in 2005.
  • Among those under age 35, ownership rates were flat – 4.9% in 2011 vs. 5.0% in 2005.

The RV Consumer Demographic Profile summarizes the findings from the eighth national survey of RV owners sponsored by RVIA. The 2011 survey included 4,903 completed surveys conducted from February to May 2011. The sample was selected to be representative of all U.S. households.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association is the national association representing nearly 400 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

Visit for more information about RVing and to watch a video on how to get started RVing.