July 14, 2024

I Meant to Cut My Vacation Costs. Instead, I Ended Up Spending Over $100,000

I Meant to Cut My Vacation Costs. Instead, I Ended Up Spending Over $100,000
An RV driving along a road beside a mountain lake reflecting the blue sky and clouds.

Image source: Getty Images

Over the past few summers, my husband and I have discovered that we really enjoy visiting campgrounds. We are able to bring our dog with us on vacation when we stay at campgrounds, and our kids enjoy being outdoors and taking part in all the activities available without us even having to leave the area.

One thing we didn’t enjoy, though, was paying for the cost of cabins. We tend to prefer resort-style campgrounds with lots to do on site, so we were sometimes spending $400 a night or more just to get a cabin with some basic amenities (and, in one case, much to our surprise — no indoor bathroom!).

I decided to look at ways we could reduce our expenses so we wouldn’t have to give our credit cards as much of a workout when we paid for lodging. Surprisingly, though, my quest to cut costs ended up with me spending over $100,000. Here’s why.

A big upfront investment will hopefully save us money over time

When I considered our options to cut our lodging costs, none of them seemed great. One thought I had was that we could stay at cheaper hotels near the resort-style campgrounds and just pay for day passes to visit them. The problem was, the cost of a day pass was so expensive that this wouldn’t save us very much money at all, on top of paying for hotel fees.

I also looked into skipping the campground experience entirely. But by the time we paid for lodging that allowed dogs and other kid-friendly activities to replace the ones we lost by giving up the campgrounds, we would end up spending the same amount of money or more.

Ultimately, the only solution that presented itself was to buy a camper of our own instead of staying in the cabins. The RV sites at the campgrounds we like cost around a quarter of the amount that a cabin costs. So, on every trip, we would be saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Of course, buying a camper isn’t cheap. We didn’t want to have to buy a truck to tow one with, and we needed something large enough to accommodate four people and at least one dog — so we were looking at a Class C or a Class A. The Class C motorhomes turned out to be a better deal and a better fit for us, but we had to spend over $100,000 to get a reliable new one that offered the features we desired.

Be willing to consider out-of-the-box solutions

Deciding to spend $122,000 on a camper wasn’t on my agenda when I went looking for ways to cut our vacation costs.

But the reality is, the camper should last for decades to come. And with how often we are vacationing, the savings on the cabins should more than pay for the cost of the RV over time — even when factoring in gas, insurance and upkeep costs.

The entire process taught me not to be afraid to look for out-of-the box solutions — and to not be afraid of spending money upfront in order to save more later.

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