Do you crave adventure but wonder if it’s in your budget? Maybe you are used to the nomadic lifestyle and are always on the lookout for the best prices. Maybe you are stuck between the choice of hotel or campervan. We have hypothetically planned a two-day getaway for you to find out the best way to travel, budget-wise.
Several factors must be considered: accommodation, food and transportation. We’ve done the homework for you.
Exhibit A: Hotel Getaway
Depending on the location and the season, the price of an overnight stay at a hotel varies greatly. On average, a hotel room between 3 and 4 stars is between $150 and $200/night (minimum). We can therefore establish that two nights cost an average of $350.
It isn’t easy to find a room with a kitchenette for a decent cost per night, so we assume that you won’t be cooking in the room. Having experienced it personally, I did not find it to be that practical. We rarely find ourselves in the hotel’s vicinity when it is time to eat, and we end up eating at a restaurant. Obviously, it depends on the style of travel: during a ski trip, for example, it would be more appropriate to dine in. For these purposes, we will eat on the go.
Fast food lunch (breakfast sandwich + coffee + accompaniment): ≈ $10/person
Fast food dinner (hot-dog + poutine trio): ≈ $15/person
Sushi dinner: ≈ $30/person
Eating modest take-out costs around $55/person per day. Even if you won’t eat the same thing two days in a row, it is assumed that two days of food will cost you at least $110/person. For a two-person trip, the food will therefore cost $220/couple.
If you own a car, this is where you’ll save. Otherwise, renting a basic, economy-type car (mandatory insurance included) will cost you around $120.
We calculate the price of gasoline by hypothetically establishing that you will travel around 500 km (round trip) during your road trip. If necessary, you can adjust the costs with the following calculation. For an average-sized car, you will consume gas at a rate of about 6-7 L /100 km. If it is established here that you will do 500 km and gasoline prices are around $1.30/L, it will cost you approximately $45 in gasoline.
Exhibit 2: Campervan Getaway
Accommodation and transportation
A campervan is a two-for-one mode of accommodation and transport, which is why we consider them together here. We recommend the company RVezy, which facilitates the rental of a large offering of campervans and RVs. The process is simple, and everything is taken care of for you: you don’t even have to worry about insurance. It is possible to rent a campervan in Ontario, throughout Canada and even in the United States.
Renting a campervan with RVezy for two nights will cost you approximately $460, including protection and roadside assistance. You have two ways to park your van for the night: rent a campsite or find a free spot. Several apps are available to help you find a location absolutely for free. Park4night, Campendium and Boondocking are just a few. Nomad Junkies favorite is iOverlander. We choose this option to save money, but above all, to seek adventure.
Obviously, the fuel consumption will be greater for a small RV than for a regular car. The consumption is about twice as much for the campervan as the compact car or about 15 L/100 km. For your 500 km road trip, it will cost you around $95 for gasoline. One way to save on gas is to pick up your van at your destination. Obviously, you will already need a car.
A grocery store shop for two costs around $50. I recommend that you do your grocery shopping in advance and keep it in a cooler or the refrigerator of your van (if there is one). We all know places near our homes where groceries are really cheap. I personally like to go to Walmart. Even though I try to buy local most of the time, it’s hard to resist how cheap it is.
The Verdict: Hotel vs Campervan
According to our calculations, a hotel getaway will cost $735 for a couple or roommates. If you choose to live the vanlife, it will cost you around $605. If you already have your own car, that’s pretty much the same. We conclude that it does not cost more to make a campervan trip and that there is even the possibility of saving money. Note that we did not take expenses associated with alcohol and activities into account. We assumed costs would be the same either way.
What if you take a long road trip?
For longer trips, a month or more, we suspect that it would be cheaper in a campervan. RVezy RV owners often offer a discount between 10 and 20% off for monthly rentals. Furthermore, cooking will cost less for a road trip of several days. This is because eating out every day costs more than doing a big grocery. Personally, I quickly tire of eating at restaurants during a long trip, and it feels good to eat more healthy and nutritious homemade meals.
So what should you choose between a hotel or a campervan getaway?
Narrowing down your choice between a hotel getaway or thee vanlife really depends on what trip you’re looking for. For a unique trip with greater freedom, the real magic happens in an RV. If you don’t like a place, you can easily change locations. Another perk is that you are not stuck near your hotel: you are free to sleep where you want near the activities you want to do. In a van, you will be able to visit more wild places less accessible otherwise. You will live the adventure. If you feel more like cocooning, maybe you will choose the hotel.