By Catey Hill
As SmartMoney.com reported this week, baby boomers are increasingly buying luxury RVs for retirement travel. But one of these mini-McMansions on wheels will set you back at least six figures. There’s a cheaper way to get behind the wheel: rent one. Just beware: Even with a rental, you may experience a little sticker shock.
To get an RV with luxury amenities like granite countertops, flat-screen TVs and stainless steel appliances, you’ll pay an average of about $400,000, and for a super-high-end one (think custom-made, rock-star tour bus), up to $3 million. (What does a couple million get you? See our slideshow here.) Quite frankly, that’s a lot of dough for anyone but the most avid RVer.
Enter an RV rental. A small towable RV can cost as little $65 per day; a luxury, custom-built RV with driver runs from about $3,000 to up to around $15,000 per week. You’ll also have to consider gas prices — many big RVs get just 8 miles to the gallon, and with gas prices near $4 per gallon, a round-trip from Miami to Cape Cod would run you more than $1500 in gas alone. Plus, you’ll need to add in campsite parking fees: The average is about $35 per night, but “resort campgrounds,” which may offer a golf course and spa, may charge $100 a night, says Kevin Broom, a spokesperson for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. And you’ll have to watch out for fees: Some RV dealers charge a few cents per mile if you go over a certain number of miles and some have time minimums, so you’ll have to rent for say, three days or more, says Phil Ingrassia, spokesman for the Recreation Vehicle Rental Association.
All in all, your trip could cost thousands, experts say. Let’s say you take a week-long trip driving one-way from Atlanta to New Orleans. If the RV rental costs $200 per day, your total trip could easily top $2,000, including gas, rental costs and campsite fees. And that doesn’t include food, additional fees that the dealer might charge or your plane ticket home to Atlanta. Still, if you’re looking for an adventure, these homes-on-wheels can deliver.