Buying used doesn’t disqualify you from financing. Scotiabank, for example, will finance an RV that’s up to 12 years old. Ask your financial institutions about options.
Where do you want to go?
While an RV gives you the freedom of the road in exchange for the high price of gas, you’ve also got a lot of freedom in terms of where you stop for the night. Provincial parks and national parks offer sites especially for RV camping, often with hookups for water and electricity. And then there is a massive network of privately owned parks right across Canada. These parks offer a huge range of amenities, from the Cuban-themed Havana Resort (it offers everything you’d find at a Cuban all-inclusive) in Maricourt, QC; to the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts in Ontario and Newfoundland, with water-parks and mini-golf; and the most beautiful remote sites such as Meat Cove Campground on the eastern tip of Cape Breton.
Camping fees vary but, generally, you’re looking at spending between $30 and $40 a night to park in a campground. There are exceptions, though, CanaDream’s Gretzmacher says. “I recently stayed at a campground in an old-growth forest right on the ocean in Tofino, BC, and paid $120 a night. Whistler is also similarly expensive because there is so much demand,” says Gretzmacher. Consider, though, that staying at a hotel or resort in Tofino or Whistler could cost a lot more.
It’s worth noting some families camp at the same campground for the entire length of their stay, letting their kids roam safely and enjoy all the amenities, while parents get to just chill. You don’t have to plan a grand adventure with lots of driving. Mahony estimates 50% of the RVs owned by Canadians are permanently parked up at campsites, with owners heading there for the summer or weekends whenever they can.
Renting an RV
For our CanaDream RV trip, the total cost for a week in a swish Maxi Motorhome that sleeps up to four adults and two children (I’m travelling with my husband, teenage daughter, and sons ages five and seven) works out to $1,590, with taxes and insurance. Mileage of 100 kilometres per day is included, and the cost goes up if you are planning on putting more kilometres in. We are also getting “convenience kits” at $95 per person, which means we don’t have to bring our bedding and kitchen equipment from home. We will pay the extra $5 a day insurance that covers you breaking any mirrors or windows. (Be sure to check exactly what is and isn’t covered before signing any rental agreement, just as you would with a rental car.)
Because our RV has a full kitchen, I’m planning on cooking most meals onboard, hopefully saving a bunch of cash. Eating out usually takes a huge chunk of our vacation budget, and frankly, I resent buying my children meals they don’t eat, so I’m looking forward to saving money this way. I’ll splurge on the odd lobster supper and treats along the way, but we’ll buy the basics before we set out because the motorhome has a big fridge and freezer.
There are other rental companies, both national and local, so you can shop around. Another interesting rental option is peer-to-peer RVezy, which operates like Airbnb but with campers, and you’ll find everything from massive Winnebagos to vintage Airstreams and adorable old-school Boler trailers listed on their site. What’s cool about RVezy is that you’ll find people offering campers everywhere,and not just in major cities. They offer delivery to campsites, and often the pricing is lower because there’s a huge variety of rentals available. Fees can work out as approx 30% to 40% less than a conventional rental, says Michael McNaught, COO and president of RVezy. Insurance is also included in the rental price. “Another thing with RVezy is that the campers often come fully equipped and have extras like DVDs and board games,” says McNaught.
Wherever you choose to rent, be sure to ask about the company’s COVID cleaning procedures in advance. In theory, RVs are a super safe vacation option right now. “You can even pick up all your groceries before your trip and then you don’t need to interact with anybody except your family if you want,” says Gretzmacher.