Is It Cheaper to Rent an RV or Stay in Hotels?

RV Lifestyle | Road Trip


More and more couples, families, and digital nomads are considering entering into the recreational vehicle craze. This is unsurprising, considering renting an RV is one of the best ways to travel, take in the sights, and achieve travel dreams without spending a small fortune. 

In fact, with RVs becoming an incredibly popular mode of transportation in terms of recreational travel, they are the new norm in the travel industry, with many choosing RV travel over air and sea. Yet, does this make them a cheaper trip option for those who want to go on vacation or enjoy a weekend getaway

In our article, Cruise America has given a cost comparison between traveling in an RV and staying at various hotels to help you determine if it is a cheaper and better alternative for you. We’ve also discussed important factors you should note. Armed with this information, you can decide for yourself.

What Factors Influence Whether It Is Cheaper To Rent A Motorhome Or Stay In A Hotel? 

Before we compare how much it would cost to stay in an RV versus at a hotel, we want to tell you more about the factors influencing which option is cheaper. Have a look below to learn more about these factors. 

  1. The Number Of People Participating In The Trip

Arguably, one of the most important factors influencing whether it’s cheaper to travel in an RV or stay at a hotel is the number of people participating in the trip. Typically hotel rooms have a limit on how many people can stay in a room, with most limiting it to four people per room. 

In addition, you will often be responsible for paying a fee per person for staying overnight, which can become expensive depending on the hotel you’re staying at and the facilities you use. Of course, hotel deals are also available, but there is no guarantee you will secure one each time you want to take a trip. 

In contrast, if you rent an RV, you can often take everyone with you for the same hired daily rate. How many people are going with you depends on size, but most RVs can accommodate between four and eight people. 

  1. The Distance of The Trip

The distance of your trip will also impact if it is cheaper to rent an RV or stay in various hotels. In many instances, if the trip is very far and you need to get to your destination quickly, it’s cheaper to fly. However, this will also depend on the time of year you want to travel and how many people are going with you on your journey. 

If you travel with two or more people, renting an RV and paying fuel and per-mile fees when applicable are usually better. If you’re planning on multiple stops along the way, traveling in an RV is also usually cheaper despite fuel costs. 

  1. The Type Of Motorhome Used To Travel

Some motorhomes are cheaper to run and maintain than others, so the type of RV you rent will impact whether it is cheaper than staying at hotels during your trip. If you rent a larger RV like a Class A or C, you will have to pay more for the rig on a daily hire fee and fuel, but this is usually cheaper than paying for numerous people at a hotel. 

In addition, renting a motorhome will also impact if it’s cheaper than a hotel stay. For the most part, even during peak times, renting a motorhome is still less expensive than staying at a hotel since peak season is when accommodations tend to make the most money. 

  1. Where You Plan To Have Meals

Many people forget to factor in their meals when debating whether renting an RV or staying in a hotel is cheaper. Although it is convenient to have meals at a hotel, it can become costly quickly, especially if you plan on eating out every night and are feeding more than two people. 

If you rent an RV, you only need to pay for your weekend, week, or month’s groceries and propane to cook your food. This often works out cheaper than eating out, especially if you have a moderate to large group of people to feed during your trip. 

Even if you eat out once or twice you’ll still be saving money than if you ate only at hotel restaurants or other nearby establishments while on the road. 

  1. Your Destination

Where you plan on going will also impact if staying at a hotel or in your motorhome is cheaper. Some campgrounds are incredibly expensive and can cost upwards of $150 per night per rig, with additional fees for older campers and those camping with pets. In these instances, hotels with lower rates could work out cheaper than staying at a campsite with your family or friends. 

However, most campgrounds are reasonably priced, and many have weekly and monthly prices that work out cheaper than staying at a hotel, so keep this in mind when considering these trip options. 

Is It Cheaper To Rent An RV Or Stay In A Hotel? – A Cost Comparison

Now that you know more about the factors that influence whether it is cheaper to rent an RV or stay in various hotels, we can share a cost comparison of the two. 

Below you will find three example situations with different trip lengths, distances, and motorhome types with their cost comparisons to demonstrate why opting for an RV over a hotel is better. 

Cost Analysis: Three-Day, 270-Mile Trip In A Class A - Los Angeles To Las Vegas

  • Fuel costs: 8 miles per gallon on average, making the total price for a 270-mile trip roughly $170.76 based on current fuel costs of $5.06 per gallon in LA. 

  • Meal costs: $24.02 on average daily for three people, making the trip total $72.20

  • RV campground costs: $24 per night, making the trip total $48.

  • The number of people: 3

If you take a three-day trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and drive there without taking detours, you could need to pay an additional $127 per person per night in a hotel room on average. You might save on fuel driving in a car but not much. 

You would need to add $381 minus $48 for the RV campground, equaling $333 for a one-way trip if you didn’t rent an RV. If you did not choose a self-catering establishment, you would also need to pay additional for meals at restaurants or takeaway shops. 

Cost Analysis: Five-Day, 550-Mile Trip In A Class B - New Orleans To San Antonio

  • Fuel costs: 20 miles per gallon on average, making the total price of a 550-mile trip roughly $89.38 based on current fuel costs of $3.25 per gallon in New Orleans.

  • Meal costs: $31.9 on average daily for four people, making the trips meal total $159.50

  • RV campground costs: $41 per night, making the trip total $205.

  • The number of people: 4

Should you take a five-day trip from New Orleans to San Antonio and drive your Class B directly there without stopping or eating out, you could pay $453.88 for the trip one-way. 

In contrast, if you were to travel in a car and stay at a hotel, you would need to pay an estimated additional $79 per person per night. If you have a fuel-efficient car, you could save on fuel, but it wouldn’t make much of a difference. 

Opting to stay in a hotel will make your stay about $395 more expensive for five nights per person. You would need to minus the campground fee of $205 for five nights as well, but it would still cost you more. 

Cost Analysis: Ten-Day, 700 Mile Trip In A Class C - Fort Worth To Nashville

  • Fuel costs: 12 miles per gallon on average, making the total price for a 700-mile trip $196.58 based on the current fuel costs of $3.37 per gallon in Fort Worth.

  • Meal costs: $66.24 on average daily for six people, making the trip total $662.40 for meals. 

  • RV campground costs: $66 per night, making the trip total $660. 

  • The number of people: 6

Those who take a ten-day trip from Fort Worth to Nashville driving a Class C motorhome without any stops or restaurant dining will pay about $1,518.98 for your trip one way. 

In comparison, staying at a hotel with your family could cost about $86.25 per person per night in a hotel room. You would likely save on fuel if you drove in a car, but it’s unlikely to completely offset the costs of staying at a hotel. 

Additionally, staying in a hotel would make your stay about $517.50 more expensive per night, as this is how much it would cost for six people. Even taking off the campground cost of $660 wouldn’t make much difference if you total how much it costs to stay at a hotel for ten days for six people. 

Rent An RV From Cruise America Today To Enjoy Trip Savings!

Evidently, as you can see, it’s often cheaper to rent an RV than to stay in hotels. If you want to save costs on your next trip, renting an RV from Cruise America is an excellent idea. We offer a wide selection of motorhomes and have competitive rental rates. So contact us here, and we’ll help you rent a motorhome you’ll love traveling in solo or with friends or family.