When I pull up to the fuel pump with my diesel pusher my wallet takes a real serious hit.
With a tank that holds 100 gallons, and diesel prices running close to $4.00 per gallon, I can expect to pay near to $400.
That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change for most people, and I assure you being independently wealthy is a far off dream I don’t expect to reach.
Pick an RV You Love – Not One With Gas Mileage You Love
I don’t mind the cost anymore.
After my experience last summer you may see why I fully believe that you should buy the RV that suits your needs instead of worrying about how many miles per gallon it’s likely to get.
A number of years back I purchased a 30’ class “A” motorhome. It had all the normal amenities. Though it didn’t have any slideouts, it did carry us on a few comfortable vacation trips, giving us a number of fond memories.
Then the price of gas started climbing…
For the next couple of years that motorhome was used only for local weekend outings. We tried to stretch our recreation dollars and hardly made use of our rolling retreat.
Last year the poor neglected motorhome nary turned a wheel.
We had gotten so accustomed to spending only X amount of dollars when it came to traveling that once it was obvious our modest budget was very much busted, we simply chose to stay home.
Downsizing to a Camper – Would It Be the Answer?
By spring I had decided to sell the faithful RV.
In short order it was headed to Canada to become the pride and joy of another family.
Now it was time to shop for something much smaller that hopefully I could tow behind my Dodge Caravan. The Dodge was rated to pull a trailer up to 3,500 lbs.
Having become very used to all the amenities, the idea of going without just didn’t sit well.
We ended up purchasing a 13’ trailer that had a lot of the things we wanted. Bathroom, shower, air conditioning, microwave, and all the normal kitchen appliances.
It was stand up height, so the two of us and our small dog hopefully would be comfortable.
But all good plans come with an Achilles heel you might not have considered.
Two people are very cramped for elbow room in something this small. Only one could stand at a time, so the other had to be sitting at the dinette, or if in sleep mode, laying on the bed.
It also turned out the Dodge Caravan couldn’t handle the drag of this trailer. We had to buy something that could.
Time for a Jeep
We chose a used Jeep Cherokee with a tow package that was rated to pull 5,000 lbs.
It did do a reasonable job pulling the trailer, though it required locking out overdrive. Because the handling was less than ideal, I kept the speed down to about 60 mph.
We took one trip with this arrangement, bemoaning the lack of comfort and overall cramped accommodations. Imagine my surprise when I tallied up the average MPG achieved during our trip.
Here is the comparison:
- Class “A” motorhome. 30’ with plenty of room and comfort managed a strong 10 MPG on the road as an average.
- Jeep Cherokee towing a small and cramp 13’ travel trailer with OD locked out managed the exact same 10 MPG during a weeklong trip.
We had sacrificed our comfort and gained not one single MPG for our effort!
Going Back to the Class A Motorhome Days
The small travel trailer went up for sale immediately after returning home.
Later that summer I stumbled upon my current rig: A 1993 Pace Arrow Turbo Diesel.
This is the top of the line for that year, and is solid.
The running gear is rated about half a million miles before any major repairs and it’s got only 70,000 miles on it. I will never be able to wear this thing out.
At 37’ in length, it is way more comfortable both driving down the highway and set up for living. I travel in complete comfort now, and couldn’t be happier.
Here’s the best part:
This heavy duty highway cruiser averages about the same 10 MPG of fuel economy.
Thus proving my hypothesis: Buy the RV that best suits your needs, and don’t worry about the fuel economy.
No matter what, it’s going to cost somewhere around $0.50 per mile to travel in an RV. Any RV!
You might as well buy the rig that fits you and your budget the best, and just accept the cost of travel as being what it is.
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