Controlling RV Costs During Economic Setbacks

Apr 15, 2020 | Rigs

Controlling RV Costs During Economic Setbacks

To help RV owners everywhere, we’ve pulled together some steps you can take to help control RV costs during an economic setback.

By Kerri Cox

Photo: Rennai Hoefer

RVing is a unique and special way of life. But for many of us, our normal RV plans have been drastically altered by current events. RVers aren’t able to hit the road and use their units like they normally would. But we believe these difficult times will one day be in our rearview mirrors, far behind us as we get back to enjoying all the things that make owning an RV so incredibly special. Until then, we want to make sure your RV doesn’t become a financial burden or extra nuisance. To help, we’ve pulled together some steps you can take to help control RV costs during an economic setback.

Couples stands in grassy field with pine trees in front of class c motorhome
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

Contact Your Lender

If your economic situation is affecting your ability to make your vehicle or RV payment, reach out to your lender right away. Rather than just avoiding or skipping payments (which can have serious, long term consequences), be honest with your lender about your current situation and hardships. These are unprecedented times and your lender may be willing to work with you.

In fact, many lenders are offering special COVID-19 assistance programs. You may be able to reduce your interest rates, negotiate a payment reduction, or defer payments temporarily. Note that during a payment deferment period interest may still accumulate on the loan, but this may be worth it if it allows you to keep money in your hands during an economic setback. Hopefully, by having an honest dialogue with your lender, you can find a solution that will work for everyone.

Adjust Insurance Costs

If your tow vehicle or RV is just sitting in your driveway instead of rolling down the highway, you may be able to reduce your insurance costs. When signing up for your policy, you were likely asked to estimate how many miles per year the RV would be used. If that mileage is no longer accurate, ask if your agency will allow you to amend the original estimate. This may grant you a rate deduction due to the decreased mileage.

Class c motorhome parked in empty parking lots surrounded by tall pine trees
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

During major global events and economic setbacks, the auto insurance industry often sees large reductions in claims and expenses due to limited travel. Because of this, some insurance agencies will pass those savings on to their consumers. Be sure to check with your agency to see whether they are participating. If so, you may receive a rate deduction or a check in the mail.

Negotiate Storage Fees

Some RVers face the additional cost of storing their unit if they aren’t able to park it at home. To help reduce your monthly storage costs, be sure to ask your facility if they would be willing to renegotiate your fees or offer a deferment.

Another idea is to seek a different storage facility altogether. Some locations are seeing a slump in new rentals, so they may be willing to offer special or discounted rates. You can always try local campgrounds as well. Since many RV parks and campgrounds are losing out on campsite fees, many are offering short-term storage deals and discounted seasonal spaces.

Class c motorhome parked in campground with picnic table and tall pine trees, some other RVs visible in the background
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

Stay Vigilant With Your Maintenance

While you may be facing uncertainty in your household, remember that good maintenance saves money in the long run. Right now, paying for maintenance services or supplies might seem like a nonessential, but you shouldn’t put off anything that could potentially be damaging to your RV. Changing the oil, servicing the generator, and replacing filters are just a few items that will help keep your RV in great shape.

It’s also worth noting that not all maintenance tasks cost money—some just take time. While your RV is sitting stationary for an extended period, try taking care of some annual tasks, especially if you already have the supplies on hand.

Proactively Manage Camping Expenses

During difficult and stressful times, it can be easy to forget about reservations you made in the past. But it’s important to think about any trips you have already booked and see if you can get some of that money back.

Some parks have strict cancellation policies, keeping as much as 50 percent of your full payment. Others may keep only one night’s fee or less. However, if the campground or RV park has cancelled your reservation due to their own closures, your whole deposit may get refunded. Some national chains have announced specific policies regarding COVID-19 closures (check out KOA’s and Jellystone’s, for example). Be sure to check each campground’s cancellation policy and read it closely.

Empty playground among tall pine trees with slides and small dinosaur sculpture
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

Another option is to consider rescheduling, especially if you think your financial situation is likely to rebound. If you can reschedule your trip rather than cancelling it completely, you may not have to forfeit any money.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call the campground or park directly. Managers and park owners may offer you better terms once they understand your situation. If you use the online reservation system to cancel, you won’t be able to ask for this leniency.

Find New Value in RV Ownership

If you do have an RV just sitting outside, try to find new ways to use it. If your family is working and schooling from home, consider using it as a home office or an extra living space. It could even become a man cave or she shed—a fun respite during difficult days.

Young boy sits smiling on entrance steps of class c motorhome playing on an iPad
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

Your RV can also be used to keep yourself and others safe. If a family member needs to self-isolate after potential COVID-19 exposure, an RV can be a comfortable spot for him/her to live temporarily. Some owners are even lending their trailers to members of the medical community in an effort to provide them with a place to stay that is separate from their families but still relatively close to home.

Most importantly, don’t forget to find joy in the little moments. We love camping because it offers a getaway from the usual routine, a chance to connect with family, and more time in the great outdoors. So, even if you can’t leave the driveway, perhaps you can still unfold your camping chairs, fire up the grill, and gaze at some stars. These unique memories will be truly unforgettable.

Father and daughter throw a football in a desert landscape, with two young kids at a table and a class c motorhome in the background
Photo: Rennai Hoefer

Times may be tough, but tough times don’t last forever. Hopefully, by controlling some of these RV costs now, you will be better able to ride the wave of uncertainty and emerge successfully on the other side. After all, the open road, beautiful campsites, and plenty of adventure will be waiting for you when you’re ready to roll again.


Kerri Cox

Kerri is a teacher and freelance writer. The decision to buy a travel trailer (christened Birdy) in 2015 changed her life for the better. You can follow her journeys at Travels with Birdy. She lives in Missouri with her husband and teenage sons.