Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

A motor home or travel trailer may sound like a good idea for those with a wanderlust, but it ends up making travel much more complicated, not easier. These ungainly houses-on-wheels are promoted as giving you the "freedom of the open road," but in fact they imprison you. If you really care about traveling, you don't need one.

RVs are for bloated Americans who can't bear to leave home without all their useless Stuff. The RV allows them to carry it all with them! Unfortunately, this also forces them to carry a huge, expensive infrastructure with them, too. Like a fixed home, the RV has to be maintained. Instead of spending your time and resources seeing the world, you're spending them on the RV itself.

I've actually owned an RV (a small one), so I know how useless they are. I would have been far more comfortable in a van or car. Most people who buy a RV make only one or two trips before the magic is gone. Thereafter, the vehicle sits in storage and is merely a burden.

The gas mileage is horrible, and there are a lot of places RVs can't go. This leads to the absurdity of people hauling a regular car behind their RV to use for sightseeing and errands. Your range is also limited when you're in an RV: You can't take it on a plane or boat with you, so you're trapped on the well-worn highways of your current continent.

If you want to experience the road, it is much easier to fly somewhere and rent a car. You keep the car only for as long as you need it, and someone else is responsible for maintaining it. Where do you sleep at night? Try a motel! Anywhere you can plug in a RV you can usually find a cheap motel. You can stay at a lot of Motel 6™s for the cost of an average RV and campground hook-ups. And, again, you use the room only for as long as you need it while someone else is responsible for maintenance.

Better yet, try CAMPING! That's real camping close to nature, not pseudo-camping in an artificial bubble. You will experience the environment directly and learn how to adapt to it! Or how about sleeping in your rental car? Once you get used to it, the back seat of a car be as comfortable as any RV bed.

An RV provides bathroom facilities, but in the rural areas where people typically take their RVs, there are plenty of facilities—everywhere! Try the bushes! If you go in the woods or in public restrooms, there is no holding tank to empty or water system to maintain.

Kitchen facilities? Again, you can buy a lot of nice restaurant meals for the price of an RV with a kitchen. If you are traveling in a rental car, you might not be able to "cook" or "refrigerate", but there are plenty of innovative options you can come up with for cheap eating based on local food sources.

There's hardly any Stuff you need to take with you that you can't buy or rent when you arrive. Instead of hauling a bicycle or kayak with you, you can usually rent one at any scenic attraction where such devices are used. Or try walking on your own two feet, which involves no rental charge.

Unlike a fixed home, an RV depreciates quickly. As soon as you buy it, it starts losing value, so as a financial investment, it is a very poor one. It's also a poor travel investment, because it ties you down to the road you're on.

If you like to travel, then just do it! Just get on a plane and go! You don't need all the excess baggage.

Released from San Antonio, Texas.


  1. I have long suspected that for a huge percentage of people who get sucked into the economic black hole of RV ownership, it's mainly about having your own bathroom.

    My wife and I use an old 4 wheel drive minivan for camping in some awesome places, and it seems luxurious to us. These days we take along an amount of stuff that we think is ridiculous, but it all fits in the van easily, with room left over for the dog.

  2. I actually lived out of an RV this past summer. I owed rent to no one, explored while having my home with me and flipped it come winter time for more than I had paid. I feel that having an RV parked somewhere 95% of the year is a waste and using it as a means to "camp" is rediculous. On the other hand living out of my Rv is an experience that I will NEVER regret!! It is common in Europe for long term trips and I personally know 2 people in my area that are living free right now.

    I think owning a sailboat is a waste too. But I want to pick up a 30' sloop and explore. The world would be my backyard. I would owe nothing to anyone. I would not have to pay for rent or transpiration. Sailing around the world is the most economical way to see the world. It is in my plans for the next couple of years and right now I know nothing about sailing. Its going to be fun.


  3. The best way to camp in a vehicle is to get a hatchback car where the front passenger seat and the back seat fold down flat. Then you will have plenty of room to stretch out and sleep comfortably. Keep a cup to pee in at night and when you need to go to the bathroom otherwise, stop at a store or rest stop. I can't see the need for an RV at all, unless you have a really large group of people.

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