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Camper shortage finally ends, prices ease: time to buy?

Two years of pandemic shortages and soaring prices have come to an end.
RV mania
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 24, 2023

With the cost of airfares and hotels sky-high this year, many people wonder if this might be the summer to hit the road with a camper or RV.

Millie Weaver and her son Owen were checking out RVs, thinking this might be the year they finally buy one.

"Do you want mom to buy it?" mom asked. "Yeah," her young son replied.

But during the height of the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, it seemed everybody wanted a camper so they wouldn't have to go to a hotel.

Supplies were tight, prices were high, and you were lucky to find one.

Market returning to normal

Jamie Evans ofCamping World,however, says that's changed.

"We've got a great selection of RVs. They are starting to come back," he said.

He says the hottest things this year are smaller camper vans that are easy to maneuver.

NerdWallet travel expert Sally French says you will find better deals now compared to 2020 or 2021 when high demand and low supplies sent prices through the stratosphere.

But before you take the plunge on a tow-behind camper or motorhome that you drive, make sure it is the right fit.

"I always recommend that people at least rent a few times to make sure that the RV lifestyle is for them," she said.

You can rent RVs for as little as $1,500 a week at sites like RVShare.com.

French says to make sure you consider all the costs before you buy, such as:

  • Gas prices, as many motor homes get less than 10 miles per gallon.
  • Maintenance of at least several hundred dollars a year.
  • Parking or long-term storage.
  • Campground fees, from $25 to as much as $100 a night in high-demand areas.

While photos of campers parked all alone at lakes look great, French says, "If you want to be able to plug in and get water or power, you're probably gonna need to pay those campground fees."
And do your research. Know which model is suitable for you.

According to Consumer Reports:

  • Class A motor homes are the most expensive but the most spacious, often as large as a bus.
  • Class B vehicles are easier to drive and park (often built on a Sprinter chassis) but expensive for their size.
  • Class C, with a sleeping cabin typically over the driver, are usually the least expensive but can be a bit cramped.

Too pricey for you? Consider used. Especially campers purchased during the pandemic that the owners barely took anywhere and now have no use for.
Millie and Owen Weaver are ready for an adventure.

So this might be the year to buy, with less competition than in the past three years.

That way you don't waste your money.