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CamperDays – a comparative study

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What is less expensive? Traveling in a camper or renting a car and spending the nights in hotels?

Freedom on four wheels – many tourists explore their destination by car and spend the nights in hotels. Nowadays, more and more people decide to rent a camper. But which one of these two options is actually more affordable? To ascertain this, CamperDays compared these two ways of traveling.

With its data and those of its partners all over the world, CamperDays identifed the six most popular countries for a camper vacation, the average vacation time, the average distance driven and the price for the rental vehicles. Building on this data, it was possible to calculate total rental prices for peak and off-peak seasons. These prices are calculated on the basis of:

  • Vehicle rental: the price for the most commonly booked campers and cars, including the
    most frequently booked additional services such as GPS or child seats
  • Accommodation: the average price for a double room at a three star hotel and costs for a
    parking space on a campsite with access to power and water supply
  • Fuel: prices are calculated in consideration of the distance covered, current fuel prices (gas & diesel) and average fuel consumption

All data in this study are averages. Depending on the number of people traveling together, different scenarios with major price disparities are possible. A critical factor in this calculation are the costs for the overnight stays. You will find more information on the different scenarios in the conclusion of this study.

 

Directory
  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. USA
  4. Canada
  5. Germany
  6. Iceland
  7. Conclusion

 

1. Australia

On average, CamperDays customers cover around 2,300 kilometers in 20 days. The most commonly booked type of vehicle is the Hippie Hitop (suitable for up to two adults). This camper is part of the Apollo camper Holidays Family, which provides the most vehicles.

  • Ø Duration: 20 days
  • Ø Milage: 2.300 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 1,08 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

People using a camper to travel through Australia can save up to 26 % (average) in the off-season compared to those who travel by car and book hotels. In the peak season both kinds of travel cost the same, as seen in the following graph.

This is caused by a strong increase of the daily rental price for campers in the peak season. Compared to the off-season, the rental price in the peak season increases by nearly 60 %.

 

2. New Zealand

CamperDays customers spend an average of 23 days in New Zealand. During this time they cover around 1,300 kilometers. The most frequently booked company is Apollo, which also provides the most commonly booked vehicle, the Cheapa Hitop (suitable for up to two adults).

  • Ø Duration: 23 days
  • Ø Milage: 1.300 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 0,86 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

Especially during the off-season it is very attractive to take a camper through New Zealand. Here, travelers can save more than 40 % compared to traveling by car and staying at hotels.

But this changes when traveling during peak season, as the following graph clearly indicates. In the peak season the prices for a camper can quadruple compared to prices in the off-season. This is mainly caused by the vast demand in campers during this time. By renting a car and staying at hotels in the peak season, tourists can save more than 20 % compared to traveling in a camper.

For both kinds of travel you can save the most if you adjust your accommodation. If you travel by car, choose hostels or motels instead of hotels. If you travel by camper, pick one that is self-contained (toilet/shower) so you can stay at the free campsites you will find all over New Zealand.

 

3. USA

During their 18 days of travel in the USA, CamperDays customers cover a distance of approximately 2,500 kilometers. The most commonly booked vehicle is the C-25 (suitable for up to 4 adults and one child) by North America’s biggest camper rental company: Cruise America.

  • Ø Duration: 18 days
  • Ø Milage: 2.500 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 0,72 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

Off-season traveling in a camper saves you about 10 % compared to traveling by car and staying at hotels. Since the daily price for campers more than doubles in the peak season, it is about 20 % cheaper to travel by car and sleep at hotels.
For those who go by car, accommodation is a crucial point to save money, since hotels with three or more stars are often quite expensive in the USA. Motels and hostels are more affordable alternatives.

For those who go by car, accommodation is a crucial point to save money, since hotels with three or more stars are often quite expensive in the USA. Motels and hostels are more affordable alternatives.

 

4. Canada

Approximately 2,000 kilometers is the distance CamperDays customers travel during their 19 days of vacation in Canada. Just like in the USA, the C-25 (suitable for up to four adults and one child) by Cruise Canada is the most commonly booked vehicle.

  • Ø Duration: 19 days
  • Ø Milage: 2.000 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 0,85 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

Canada’s off-season can be compared to the off-season in the USA. Traveling with a camper is cheaper than going by car and staying at hotels, but the price difference in Canada is negligible.

During peak season a strong price increase can be found for both hotels and campers. Since the daily rental prices for campers increase by more than 100 %, choosing a car and hotels is cheaper.

 

5. Germany

CamperDays customers travel an average of 900 kilometers in 16 days. The most commonly booked camper is the Family Standard (suitable for up to four adults). The rental company McRent provides the most vehicles in Germany.

  • Ø Duration: 16 days
  • Ø Milage: 900 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 1,17 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

There are only minor differences in prices if you compare traveling by camper to going by car and staying at hotels in Germany.

If you are looking to save money while traveling in a camper, make sure to travel in the off-season. A peak season journey is over 20 % more expensive.

 

6. Iceland

In Iceland, average CamperDays customers cover about 1,800 kilometers during 12 days. Like in Germany, the most frequently booked vehicle is the Family Standard (suitable for up to four adults) by McRent.

  • Ø Duration: 12 days
  • Ø Milage: 1.800 km
  • Ø Petrol price: 1,39 €/ liter
  • Ø Travelers: 2

Iceland is one of the most expensive countries to visit and travel around with a camper. No matter which season, it is more expensive to travel with a camper than traveling with a rental car and sleeping at hotels.

While the price difference in the off-season is rather small, you can save nearly 30 % in the peak season if you travel by car and stay at hotels.
This major price disparity is caused by a tremendous demand for rental campers over the last couple of years.

 

7. Conclusion

This study indicates that the biggest matter of expense while traveling with a camper is the rental price for the camper itself whereas, while traveling by car and sleeping at hotels, the accommodation is the highest cost factor.

The fact that there are partly enormous differences in price between peak- and off-season is worth emphasizing in this study.

Major price disparities – Off-season is camper season
It is noticeable that renting a camper is often more affordable than choosing a rental car and hotels while traveling in the off-season. This study shows two exceptions: Australia and Iceland. In Australia renting a camper can be the cheaper option, even during peak season, while renting a camper in Iceland is always more expensive. In most countries it is more cost-effective to travel by car and sleep at hotels during the peak season.

“Daily price for campers: the biggest difference in prices between peak season and off-season can be found in New Zealand”

When comparing the price differences for campers between seasons New Zealand stands out. While prices in the USA, Canada or Iceland can be twice as high in the peak season, they quadruple in New Zealand. This gap is much smaller for rental cars but the hotel prices strongly increase during the peak season, too.

The greatest savings when traveling by camper in the off-season can also be found in New Zealand (44 % cheaper), followed by Australia (26 % cheaper). The most expensive way to travel in a camper is in the peak season in Iceland (43 % more expensive) and in New Zealand (29 % more expensive).

Traveling in groups becomes much more affordable if you choose to travel in a camper and split the price equally.

The highest average daily prices for a rental camper can be found in Iceland and the USA, while Australia and Germany have the lowest average. The same applies for renting a car.

General remarks about the CamperDays comparative study
As mentioned in the preamble of this study, all data mentioned are average values. The costs for accommodation are based on a double room in a three star hotel and campsites that provide fresh water and power supply. It is possible to save a lot of money no matter the option you choose, if you book low-cost accommodation. For those who travel by car, hostels or motels are a more affordable alternative to hotels. When traveling with a camper it is not necessary to stop at a campsite with fresh water and power supply every day – normally a plain camper parking space is much cheaper and in some countries even completely free of charge!

Potential travel scenarios
Based on our customers’ booking data, we calculated the average price assuming you travel with two people. However, you should take into consideration that several of the cheapest campers can accommodate up to four adults, which can diminish the total price dramatically if you travel with more than two people. At the same time, the total prices for staying at hotels would increase.

The following scenarios are possible in the larger vehicles (USA/Canada/Germany/Iceland) mentioned in this study:

  • Scenario 1: traveling as a couple (2 adults)
  • Scenario 2: traveling as a couple with one child (2 adults, 1 child)
  • Scenario 3: traveling as a small group (3 adults)
  • Scenario 4: traveling as a small group (4 adults)
  • Scenario 5: traveling as a family (2 adults, 2 children)
  • Scenario 6: traveling as a family (2 adults, 2 children, 1 baby)

Rule of thumb: The more economically you use the space in your camper, the cheaper each person travels.

Additional costs and savings
Apart from the costs for the vehicles and the accommodation, travelers should keep in mind costs for groceries and toll roads. These costs are not mentioned in this study, since they can differ strongly. The fact that travelers can cater for themselves when traveling in a camper can reduce costs, as eating out is more expensive in most countries mentioned in this study.
Furthermore, travelers can profit from early bird discounts if they book their hotel or camper in time.

Additional facts that may help you decide
Your personal preference and the nature of your vacation should not be neglected when deciding whether you want to go by camper or by car and stay at hotels.

While some people enjoy staying close to nature, e.g. in a national park, others prefer the comfort of a hotel in the city. Before planning your next vacation you should ask yourself, what kind of activities you would like to include in your vacation: city trips, outdoor activities, cultural trips …?

For activities that mostly take place in major cities a rental car is probably the smarter choice since it may be difficult to find adequate parking space for a camper.

If you want to be active and enjoy nature by hiking or mountain biking and spending the evenings with a barbecue you will most likely prefer a camper.

 

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