One of our dreams is to take a cross-country RV trip with our family. Preferably, we’d take some of our extended family along. We’d want to take our time, especially since we have kids. While I’ve driven almost across the country in 3 days before, I know there’s an additional day of driving I didn’t do, and a lot of sights I didn’t see along the way. Plus, that was only a one-way trip.
With kids and all the extra time they take, it would be super cool if we could do two months. This is not in the cards for us this summer as the husband is taking a summer course that he actually has to take in the classroom as opposed to online, but maybe next year.
Rent vs Buy
We’ve done some research and found that on average, it would cost about $800 per week to rent an RV. That includes the actual cost of the rental plus mileage surcharges. It doesn’t include things like gas or insurance. (I’m pretty certain we’d be covered under our current auto insurance policy, though when the time comes I’ll have to double check because it is a larger vehicle than what we normally drive.)
Eight-hundred dollars per week over the course of eight weeks is $6,400. That’s a ton of money. Like way-more-than-our-rent money.
So we started looking into alternative options, like purchasing our own. We found some trailers for $6,400. While many of them need a little love, we’d get to have them for keeps. Investing a little extra to make them prettier doesn’t seem like too big of a deal, and some of them are livable as they are.
While the best option would be to pay in cold, hard cash, we were surprised to find that financing wasn’t such a bad choice, especially if you plan on making future summer road trips. For example, a 5-year loan on a $6,400 RV financed through PenFed would have a monthly payment of $124.18 per month and only incur $1,050.61 in interest if you assume a $0 down payment and pay it off as scheduled. That’s like paying for 1.31 extra weeks of renting, except you get to keep it for the long haul.
Which Way is Best?
The absolute best option would be to buy an RV or trailer in the $6,400 range in decent condition with cash.
Short of that, it would come down to if we thought this was something we were going to do again. Even if we plan on only taking one additional, shorter trip of two weeks, financing would still put us ahead financially. If, however, the two month trip was the only time we’d use the RV or trailer in the next ten years, renting may be a better bet.
Have you ever been on an RV trip before? How did you handle the rent vs. buy debate? Where did you go? Here are some of my top to-see destinations when we finally make this happen.
This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union.