How Much Does It Really Cost to RV? 

Spoiler: It’s More Affordable Than You Think 
The Jason and Alison Takacs family watching a sunset outside their Jayco Jay Flight

Disclaimer: We are not financial advisers. Please do your own research and contact a professional when making your RV-related purchases.

Key Takeaways:

  1. RVing is within financial reach due to a plethora of budget-friendly RV models on the market and a variety of financing options.
  2. There are cost-effective campground choices and maintenance tips to keep RVing affordable in the long run.
  3. Cost-saving strategies, such as cooking your own meals and choosing closer vacation destinations, further reduce the overall expense of RVing.

Alison and Jason Takacs sitting at the table with their laptop inside their Jayco Jay Flight

Are you interested in RVing, but are deliberating its affordability? Eight years ago, we were too. 

There's a clear reason why RVing has gained immense popularity over the past few years. RVing offers outdoor lovers a unique way to travel and create unforgettable memories—and in reality, it’s not that expensive.

As a public school teacher married to a nonprofit research scientist living a middle-class lifestyle with two children, we're here to break down why we think RVing can be affordable for anyone.  So, let us show you that RVing is more affordable than you think, and you can join us and the 11.2 million American households with this hobby, too.

How To Select an RV for Your Budget

The first barrier that initially stops potential RVers from getting into the hobby is sticker shock. They see extended travelers on social media who drive around in large, Class A Motorhomes that cost as much as many people’s homes. If you have the budget for something similar with little impact on your bank account, then this article probably isn’t relevant to you. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, keep on reading. 

Start by Evaluating Your Finances 

Think about how much disposable income you normally have to use on entertainment, shopping and other day-to-day activity expenses. That number is a good gauge of how much potential disposable income you have to put towards RVing. My wife Alison and I have decent jobs, rarely eat out and don’t splurge on fancy clothes or jewelry, so typically we’ll have a few hundred dollars every month to put towards our RV travel.

No two financial situations and saving plans are the same, so we suggest you sit down and make a spreadsheet of your income and expenses, or contact your financial advisor, to see how much you can actually afford to put towards RVing. 

Finding the Right RV Type and Floorplan 

Before we even walked into a dealer, we knew exactly the kind of RV we wanted: a small travel trailer. Why? Alison and I had a smaller budget and were very frugal, so we researched online for an inexpensive model that could fit our small family of four. We also wanted to be able to unhitch from the RV whenever we wanted to have some off-road adventures. 

Researching in advance for models in your price range makes shopping for an RV more streamlined. If you are uncertain what you want, use the tools on THOR’s website like the Find Your RV page. It’s a very practical way to help you narrow down the search to find the RV that best suits you.

We also recommend using an RV calculator to figure out roughly how much your payments will be each month. For instance, we know we can afford to comfortably spend $300 per month paying for an RV over 10 years. So, it makes sense for us to buy one under $27,000 (at a 6% interest rate) so we don't break the bank. Again, your finances will probably be different, so you can use tools like THOR’s Finance Calculator to help guide your decisions.

Explore Financing Options


After you have a good idea of what you might be able to afford each month, it’s time to explore financing options. While it's true that RVs can represent a significant investment, there are various financing options available to make your dream of RVing a reality. Everything isn’t paid upfront, so don’t stress. We’ll break down each of your options so you can get a better idea of what is out there.

RV Loans 

RV loans are similar to traditional auto loans, but they are tailored specifically for RV purchases. They offer competitive interest rates and flexible terms. We have seen loans typically fall between five and twenty years. You’ll want to research lending institutions, credit unions, or online lenders to find the best RV loan that suits your needs. 

It’s a good idea to get a quote for a potential RV loan before walking into a dealership. That way, you’ll both have a good idea of what you’ll potentially be paying, and you will be better armed to negotiate a lower price on the RV you want.

Dealership Financing

Speaking of walking into the dealership, another option for financing your RV is to apply for a loan directly from the dealership where you want to buy your RV. The dealership we went through had partnerships with multiple lenders and offered some very competitive rates and terms compared to a couple of our banks.

You may discover some dealers also have special offers or incentives for financing through them, and you might also have more room to negotiate on the price of the RV or the interest rate of the loan. We brought our bank’s offer to the dealership the two times we have purchased RVs and worked out a couple of great financing deals with our dealership.

Personal Loans

If you want some flexibility in what you purchase, try a personal loan. These are great if you have a solid credit score and financial stability, but you might also discover some are even available for people with bad credit history or none at all. You can get these types of loans from a bank, credit union, or an online lender. Shop around if they sound like something that might work for you.

Just like with RV loans and dealership financing, we suggest you compare the interest rates, terms and monthly payments to find the financing option that best aligns with your budget. We couldn’t find a personal loan that had rates as good as the first two categories for us, but it’s still a good idea to shop around. 

Leasing an RV

Maybe you aren’t quite ready to fully commit to long-term RV ownership. Leasing is a good way to dip your toes into the hobby and can be a cost-effective option if you just want to test out RVing for a few years. Just like leasing a car, some often require down payments, and you may pay a monthly fee to use the RV with higher costs over time, mileage limits, and maintenance fees. The big benefit is that leasing provides you with the opportunity to upgrade your RV after the term is over, which is great if you are into keeping up with newer models.

We personally don’t lease because we like to own what we spend money on, and in reality, you don't own a leased vehicle. With that said, this option might work for you, so make sure to explore it.

Alison Takacs and her family sitting in front of their RV at their campsite in Dinosaur Valley State Park

Other RV Financing Options


If the first three types of financing don’t work for you, you can give one of these other options a shot. They are a little less common when it comes to purchasing an RV.

Home Equity Loans

If you have lots of equity built up in your house, maybe a home equity loan will work for you. It basically uses your home as collateral. They usually have lower interest rates than unsecured loans, but they also come with more risks. We suggest you tread carefully with this type of loan.

Credit Cards

If you are like us, you pay off your credit card debt every month fully. Credit cards are another way to finance your RV purchase, but we only like this option if you can pay off the balance quickly since most have very high-interest rates and fees.

Honestly, credit cards probably should not be your primary source of financing, but they are another option if you are great with your money.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

There is a growing trend of people using peer-to-peer lending. If you have never heard of it, this online lending connects borrowers and lenders directly without involving banks. Sometimes you can find lower interest rates and more flexible terms than traditional lenders, especially if you have good credit.

We suggest you do thorough research before diving into peer-to-peer lending because of the variable interest rates and limited regulation to protect you.


This option is a pretty unique way to get money for your RV. This method would require you to create an online campaign explaining why you want to buy an RV and how much money you need. Then, you ask your friends, family, and even strangers to donate to your cause. If they like your story or unique purpose for getting the RV, they may give you money through social media or dedicated websites.

Will this one work? You’ll never know if you don’t try! We think you might want to give it a shot if you are a creative person or someone with an interesting story.

Affordable RV Insurance Solutions


With your new RV purchase made, it’s important to insure it. RV insurance is your safeguard against unexpected events on the road and ensures your peace of mind while exploring in your home away from home. While insurance is a necessary expense, there are still ways to save money in this area. 

Here are our recommended strategies to find affordable RV coverage: 

Shop Around

We suggest you don't settle for the first insurance quote you receive. Instead, request quotes from multiple insurance providers and compare their coverage options, deductibles and premiums. This competition can help you find the best deal, just like when you were shopping for the best RV loan.

Bundle Policies 

If you already have insurance policies such as home or auto insurance, check with the company you are already insured with about bundling them with your RV insurance. Many insurers offer discounts for bundling multiple policies. We have one company covering our house, vehicles and RV and it saves us a significant amount. 


Some insurance companies offer discounts for keeping a clean driving record. You might also find they have discounts for completing safe driving courses. It doesn’t hurt to ask them what deals are available for you to save a few bucks.

Choose the Right Coverage 

Not everyone needs the same insurance coverage. We have a small travel trailer and don’t require the same level of coverage as someone with a high-end, luxury RV. So, take the time to assess your needs and choose coverage that fits your RV and travel style. Also, keep in mind that if you have a higher deductible, it can lower your premium, which saves you money regularly. Just make sure it's an amount you can comfortably afford in case of a claim.

Budget RV Campground Choices

Let’s move on to the fun stuff and explore budget-friendly campground options,  so we can show you how inexpensive this hobby really is.

When it comes to RVing, we have found one of the many advantages is the diversity of campground options available. From picturesque natural settings to family-friendly parks, there's a campground to suit every traveler's preferences. Many of these options are surprisingly budget-friendly, and just about all are cheaper than a hotel room. We have ranked different campground types so you can get a rough idea of how you might want to budget for your campsites while RVing.

The Jason and Alison Takacs family's Jayco Jay Flight

The Best Budget Campground Options Ranked

  1. Boondocking & Dispersed Camping

    Free-$20 per night

    Adventure in remote areas with minimal amenities, often free or low-cost.

  2. City & County Campgrounds

    $15-$35 per night

    Affordable urban escapes with well-maintained facilities.

  3. Army Corps of Engineers Campgrounds

    $20-$40 per night

    Tranquil settings near water bodies, provide economical options.

  4. State Parks

    $20-$50 per night

    Enjoy stunning natural beauty at affordable rates.

  5. National Parks

    $20-$50 per night

    Experience breathtaking landscapes without breaking the bank.

  6. Membership Campgrounds

    Membership Fees Vary

    Access a variety of affordable camping options with club or network memberships, featuring enticing discounts.

  7. Private Campgrounds & RV Resorts

    $40-$100+ per night

    These campgrounds offer a range of amenities and services, typically at a higher cost than other options on this list.

Since we are on a budget and like affordable travel, we tend to primarily camp in categories 1 through 5. They are all consistently great options for frugal people like us who RV at least twice a month. The majority of our campground adventures on shorter trips consist of a combination of drives to relatively close state parks and Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds since they usually are in the $20 per night range. You really can’t beat that price for the amazing outdoor locations you get.


RV Cost-Saving on the Road


Finding a budget location isn’t the only way to save while RVing, there are plenty of ways you will be saving while camping to make this a relatively cheap form of travel.

The Alison and Jason Takacs family sitting at a picnic table outside their Jayco Jay Flight

Ways to save on the road

  1. Cook Your Own Meals

    One of the biggest advantages of RVing is having your own kitchen where you can prepare your meals instead of dining out constantly.

  2. Buy in Bulk

    Having an RV allows you to stock up on non-perishable essentials like canned goods and dry goods to take on numerous trips.

  3. Cheap Entertainment

    You can bring your own entertainment and don’t have to go out all of the time while traveling.

  4. Facilities for Kids

    You’ll probably be staying at parks where there are places for kids to play so you don’t have to go anywhere and pay extra.

  5. Closer Vacations

    It’s easy to save on gas by going to local campgrounds and not traveling as far, which also avoids pricey airplane tickets.

Let’s look more closely at the two biggest cost-saving benefits of RVing: eating in and closer vacations.

Eating In 

We have found that by eating around the campground, we end up saving a ton of money versus going to restaurants all of the time while on vacation. We apply the same principle to our home lives. We happily trade eating out several times a week for being able to enjoy this amazing RV hobby.

Staying Close to Home 

Think of the cost of airplane tickets. In order for us to travel as a family of four a couple of times a month like we do now, it would be a small fortune to do anything fun jetting all over the place. Flying is expensive for families. Instead, we just load up our Jayco and take a little trip of under four hours to an epic stargazing spot or just relax and unwind by a beautiful lake for just a fraction of the cost.  

Take a look at another article we wrote comparing a local RVing trip versus what it normally would have cost staying in a hotel and eating out. The cost savings are more than double.


Maintenance and Long-Term Savings

Jason Takacs inside his Jayco Jay Flight

We have read people talk about how costly upkeep is for an RV, and we have honestly not had this issue. As owners and heavy users of two different Jayco travel trailers over the years, we have learned one simple key to lowering the cost of owning an RV: upkeep.

Think of your RV as a long-term investment and home away from home. You need to take care of it so it will continue to pay you dividends we call “enjoyment”. Look at regular RV maintenance as not only essential for safety, but also a key factor in saving money in the long run.

Prevent Costly Repairs

Routine maintenance can help you identify and address minor issues before they escalate into costly repairs.

Extend the Lifespan

Regularly servicing your RV's engine, electrical systems, and appliances can extend their lifespan, reducing the need for early replacements.

Learn Basic RV Maintenance

Familiarize yourself with basic RV maintenance tasks like checking and changing the oil, inspecting the roof and seals, and maintaining the battery.

Online Resources

There are numerous online tutorials, forums, and videos dedicated to RV maintenance to guide you through common DIY tasks and provide troubleshooting tips.

Use Your RV Owner's Manual

Don’t forget to read your RV's owner's manual which outlines specific maintenance schedules and procedures.

We have discovered by investing time and effort into regular maintenance and learning basic DIY skills, you not only save on repair costs but also contribute to your RV lasting much longer. It's crucial to stay on top of the small issues and learn how to protect your investment so it lasts for many years.

If the idea of RV ownership has been a distant dream, it's time to reconsider. RVing isn't just for the wealthy; it's a cost-effective way to experience the beauty of our world. Once you get into it, you’ll quickly discover that the open road is filled with countless affordable adventures waiting for you.

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

Find Your Perfect RV

Whether you're new to the world of RVing or you're ready to narrow your search, we're here to help you sort through it all and find the RV that's right for you. Explore RVs based off of your lifestyle and the features important to you.

Find Your RV
An travel trailer RV parked in a green field.