Posted on April 11, 2017
By Katherine Hunnicutt
That is today’s question. We had our RV, Big Lou (the 2016 A.C.E. 30.2), for 6 months before we finally bought a tow dolly. We had a lot of time to consider the cost/benefit of a dolly while on a road trip over the summer. In the end, we decided that a dolly was worth it.
There are at least three types of RVers (which I have just now made up)- those who go on long road trips, driving hundreds of miles a day; those who set up camp for a few days and travel to the different sights around that central location; and those who rent a seasonal or annual spot, set up camp once, and travel to and from their RV in a car. The last type will likely benefit the least from a dolly. The first would need to consider how often they plan to travel away from their RV and the additional fuel cost of towing.
My family is typically the middle type: traveling to a central location, setting up camp, and then leaving the RV to sightsee.
There are three factors we considered when looking at dollies: cost, convenience, and comfort/security.
The dolly and all the additional accessories cost just under $1,500. No small sum. However, over the summer, we had to rent one car for 2 days, which cost $170, and took a taxi to and from a theme park, which cost $60 round trip.
In the end, we will begin regaining the cost of the dolly after 18 days of renting a car or after 25 trips in a taxi. Since we enjoy driving into cities to sightsee as well as setting up camp in a central location, I estimate we will begin regaining the costs within a couple years.
When we had to pick up the rental car outside Charleston, SC, we had a difficult time navigating to and from the rental car store in our big RV. It was a stressful and not something I wish to repeat. In an unfamiliar city, you never know what the driving conditions will be.
When we took a taxi at Williamsburg, VA, to and from a theme park, we had to take car seats for our kids since no local taxi companies provided them. When we got to the theme park, we found out that there were no lockers big enough for car seats- meaning we had to carry them around with us all day. It nearly ruined the day.
Having our own car with us immediately solves these two potentially stressful situations.
I never feel “stranded” when I’m in my RV, because it’s a vehicle I can drive anywhere if there is an emergency.
But during a trip to Pensacola, FL, we made arrangements to have a rental car company drop off the car at our campground, which was located on a military base. We chose a company that was able to come on the base. Once we were all set up and stayed one night, the rental car company told us they were unable to deliver a car on the military base.
Despite meticulously choosing a company that would meet our needs, we ended up without a car, which changed our vacation plans. It’s true that we could have packed up camp and picked up the rental ourselves, but in the end we determined that was too much trouble. I felt stranded at the campground and disappointed that I had to cancel plans.
We’ve towed along our little car on several vacations since we bought the dolly last year. Now our little tow car, The Snot Rocket, is just another staple you'll find on our camp site.
Katherine and her family love traveling, tasting new foods, and exploring our great nation. The Hunnicutts are on a mission to discover as much as they can on affordable, weekend trips in their RV. Follow her blog www.thepavedfrontier.com to see their RV travels, advice and travel tips.