Filling up $900: High gas prices hit RV drivers the most

Rise in popularity of RVs During the pandemic, travelers looked for safer ways to travel while maintaining social distancing. Americans continue to turn to RVs, even as they have grown increasingly comfortable flying and staying in hotels.

RV production in North America hit an all-time high in 2021, with more than 600,000 vehicles produced, according to RV Industry Association spokeswoman Monica Gerasi. The association expects 2022 to be its second best year of production. RVs are especially popular in the South and West.

Thor Industries, which owns popular RV brands Airstream and Gecko, said this month that its sales in the past three months were up 34.6% compared to the same period last year. Thor Industries says it still has a backlog of RV orders worth $13.88 billion.

RV experts say consumers are adjusting to higher gas prices by taking shorter trips.

“If you live in Phoenix and were thinking about Yosemite in California, you might do the Grand Canyon instead,” said Randall Smalley, who leads marketing and business development at Cruise America, which specializes in RV rentals. takes over.

Dan Lee and his wife Jenna sold their Dallas home and bought an RV in 2020 because their jobs were taken away during the pandemic.

They’ve crossed the country twice in their RV, but will be staying closer to family this year in Birmingham, Alabama. Lee said it could cost about $900 to fill his 150-gallon diesel tank empty. But they don’t plan on going back to a traditional home.

“We had a pool and a fence and all that stuff in the suburbs. It got a little monotonous to go to the office and go back home,” Lee said. “The flexibility to see a new scene every week is awesome. We’ve found where we want to be.”

John Gray, CEO of RV Share, an online marketplace for renting RVs, told CNN Business that the average customer commute in May was 9% lower than in May of last year, a little less than 350 miles.

RV Share will give customers a $500,000 gift card this year to offset the increased gas prices on trips. Despite high gas prices, Last week was RV Share’s biggest day of bookings this year, Gray said.

Jennifer Young, co-founder of RV marketplace Outdoorsy, said “near-cations” are a big trend, as many people live within 100 miles of home. Young said the average nightly cost of an outdoor rental increased by $5 over the past year. Outdoor rentals for the 4th of July are up 4% from last year, Young said.

The increased fuel cost of an RV may be more acceptable to passengers due to inflation in the economy, including More expensive airfare. RV costing may not seem as daunting as comparing the alternatives. RV travelers often bring their own meals and help manage costs. Many RV passengers drive exclusively on the first and last day of travel and leave the RV for the rest of the trip.
A Winnebago Industries Inc.  Travel trailer stands at a dealership in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“RVs are not gas-powered vacations,” Young said. “They look like they are because they have a steering wheel and four wheels.”

RV experts say a growing industry trend is delivering RVs to an RV site for a vacationing family to use.

RV Share CEO Gray said 20% of his rental includes the RV owner driving the vehicle to a campground or destination and leaving it there for renters. This way passengers can drive their own fuel-efficient vehicle in place of an RV. They can then enjoy the benefits of vacationing in an RV – which can feel like a hotel room whose door opens to some of the most beautiful places in the country such as national parks – without having to drive a vehicle long distances. without refueling. RV Share started offering the service early in the pandemic.