Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are looking at a 38-foot motorhome that is like a McMansion on wheels. It has all the creature comforts of home. It has been my husband's dream for years.
Don't get me wrong. I love it too, but I can't get over the poor gas mileage. I keep thinking every time we drive five miles it's going to cost us whatever a gallon of gas costs. It seems absurd.
Am I just thinking too hard? Are we nuts buying this gas hog? --Gas Math in Maitland
Dear Gas Math:
I would say you are not thinking hard enough. You have to do the math several different ways and see if this RV, or even the RV lifestyle, is going to work for you. I can tell you your fuel bill is, in most cases, not going to be your biggest expense.
Most people with a rig your size are pulling a toad. Your gas-hog expense is going to get you from point A to B; from there you will be driving the toad.
I suggest you sit down and run through what you would like to do for a six-month trip. Figure your mileage, your gasoline costs, camping and maintenance. That will give you a better picture of what your costs are going to look like overall.
Many of your costs are not going to change whether you stay at home or travel. You will still eat, heat, cool and entertain.
You should also compare your trip expense with other travel options. Figure the same trip without the motorhome and add the expense of rooms, meals and fuel. Try doing the trip using a train and a berth. Compare it to some organized tour package.
All these travel methods can ring up dollars quickly. Running the numbers may make you feel better about how you plan to travel and the cost of getting the beast down the road.
--Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink