11 Ways RVing Beats Flying

You never look back on your RV trip and say “oh yeah I remember when we were stuck waiting to take off for three and a half hours.”

Everyone should experience traveling the country in an RV. There is no other way of travel that compares. You can enjoy the scenic wonders of nature without compromising on comfort no matter where you travel.

If you love RVing, you’ve probably found yourself aboard a commercial jet at one time or another, thinking to yourself, “I sure wish I was 30,000 feet below, cruising down the highway in my coach.”

Driving north on US 89 near Page, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And you’re not alone. Millions of people, including your friends at RVing with Rex, would choose the freedom of the open road over a cramped airplane any day.

Nevertheless, there are those out there who feel that traveling the “friendly” skies is the way to go. For those folks, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why hitting the road almost always beats taking flight.

Camping at River RV Park in Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. When you’re up in the sky, you miss the journey

One of the best things about over-the-road travel is the time spent on the way to your destination. The road trip games, bonding with family and friends—not to mention the sights and sounds you encounter driving across the United States and Canada.

I’ve posted numerous articles about our travels and the amazing destinations we’ve discovered and toured including Arches National Park, Cajun Country, Alabama Gulf Coast, California Gold Country, Grand Canyon, and Bourbon Country.

Visiting new places and experiencing new adventures are one of the great things about the RV lifestyle. From the fields of green and gorgeous mountain ranges to the soaring skylines and unforgettable landmarks, it doesn’t get any better than life on the highway.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Riding in a coach is better than flying coach

Up in the air, you’re forced to spend hours on end confined to a narrow seat in a cramped space. Turbulence is a nightmare that is often unavoidable, and if you aren’t lucky enough to land a window seat, the only scenery involves the people sitting just inches away.

Related Article: Why RV?

A motorhome or trailer, on the other hand, is a roomy, plush oasis where everyone rides first class. You choose the movie, and can even take a nap in your bed.

Driving Newfound Gap Road through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. On the ground, you’re in control

When you board a flight, you’re no longer the leader of the ship. You’re told when you can get up and walk around and snacks are limited to a bag of peanuts and a can of soda—if you’re lucky. Should you need assistance, you have to rely on a flight attendant who is likely exhausted, jetlagged, and irritated from dealing with rude passengers.

With an RV, however, you’re the captain, in charge of everything from the speedometer to what’s playing on the radio.

Camping in Lake Mead National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. With an RV, you can bring it all

Sure, flying will get you there, but you’ll be leaving a whole lot behind. Save for some luggage and a small carry-on bag, you won’t be bringing much with you on a plane other than a few essentials and some travel-size toiletries.

Get there in an RV, and you and yours will arrive with all of your gear, including your entire wardrobe, camping, and recreation supplies—and even your pets.

Touring Gettysburg National Memorial Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. You can stop whenever you want

It’s nice to get up and stretch your legs after sitting for a long time. On a plane, you can walk back to use the restroom, but that’s about it. In an RV, on the other hand, you can stop as often as you’d like, get some fresh air, and even go hiking for a while before hitting the road again.

Dining at La Posta in Historic Mesilla, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. The food is better

Airplane food is mediocre at best. Regardless of what they offer, there’s a science that explains why it tastes so bland. Studies have shown that your sense of taste isn’t the same at 30,000 feet in the air. Wine can also taste more acidic than if you drank the same type at ground level.

Related Article: Why are RVs So Popular?

In your RV, you get to fully taste everything you make, and you aren’t limited to a menu.

Motorhomes at Mount Rushmore National Memorial © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. In an RV, you don’t have to go through TSA or security

Nobody likes passing through security. In a motorhome, you don’t have to deal with this step and even travel with bottles that are larger than travel size. Not to mention you’ll never be randomly selected for a pat-down.

Driving the Davis Mountains in Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. You get to experience all of the amazing sights along the way

There are places worthy of your bucket list from coast-to-coast. Flying across the country takes you over all of it but in an RV the whole trip is an adventure.

The roadside attractions, local restaurants, famous landmarks, and beautiful scenery all combine for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You may not remember much about a flight you took 10 years ago but you’ll always have great memories from a road trip.

Driving Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. You can save money on hotels (and sleep in your own bed)

Campgrounds and RV parks cost less than hotels. Plus, in your RV, you’ll get to sleep in your own bed with the pillows and blankets that you’re comfortable with and won’t have to worry about pests like bed bugs.

Camping along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. RVing just plain costs less

In many cases, traveling by RV adds up to a less expensive family vacation.

According to a PFK comparison study, a family of four can save 25-59 percent on vacation expenses traveling by recreational vehicle, while couples can save 11-46 percent, even after fuel and ownership costs are considered.

Related Article: Where are the Best Spots to Live the RV Life and Why?

The same study also found that vacationing in an RV was 45 percent less expensive than an upscale vacation, taking into account both airfare and hotel accommodations.

Along the road to Mount St. Helens in Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

11. No worry about cancellations

Consumers got a taste of what the summer air travel season could look like over the Independence Day weekend when thousands of canceled flights left passengers stranded and luggage piled up at airports across the globe. Aviation consultant Kit Darby told CBS News that a lack of pilots will continue to disrupt flights worldwide through the summer travel season and probably beyond. That’s because many pilots have retired during the pandemic, and it can take years to train qualified replacements. 

Worth Pondering…

No matter where we go in our motorhome, that sense of independence is satisfying. We have our own facilities, from comfortable bed to a fridge full of our favorite foods. We set the thermostat the way we like it and go to bed and get up in our usual routine.

The Great American Road Trip: Born in 1856

Whitman describes a trip on which he is embarking. He describes himself as being “healthy and free,” and he realizes he is the only person who is in complete control of his life; he chooses his own destiny.

Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Indian Creek Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Great American Road Trip was born in 1856 with the publication of Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of the Open Road.”

Or at least that’s how the idea of such a journey came into being since 164 years ago there were no states between Texas and California, let alone cars, highways, or motels. A traveler’s creature comforts back then consisted of liberty and opportunity.

Plano Bridge along the Painted Churches tour in Fayette County, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whitman saw the (future) American Road Trip as a metaphor for democracy. In the new republic, a man had the freedom to go anywhere.

But for decades after Whitman’s poem, America’s “long brown paths” went nowhere.

A scenic drive in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1903, when Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, his dog Bud, and a mechanic named Sewall Crocker set out in a red Winton touring car to claim America for the automobile, barely 150 miles of paved road existed in the entire country. A friend had wagered Jackson $50 that it would take him at least three months to drive from San Francisco to New York. In the end, it took 62 days of hard slogging.

On the road to Mount St. Helens, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jackson’s feat quickly inspired imitators like the Murdocks, the first family to drive across America. In 1908, Jacob, Anna, and their three children successfully navigated the journey with the help of a personal mechanic for the car and a Winchester rifle for the coyotes.

Along Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not to be outdone, 22-year-old Alice Ramsey led the first all-female road trip in 1909, tearing across the country at speeds of up to 42 miles an hour—when not being towed by horses.

Sharing the road in Amish Country, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The road situation remained a literal mess when Dwight D. Eisenhower joined a military convoy on a trip across America in 1919. At times the drivers averaged a mere 6 miles an hour. Those two months on the road helped to convince the future president that a complete overhaul was needed. His answer was the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 and the construction of the Interstate Highway System.

Driving Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The law spurred millions of Americans to take to the open road—and legions of filmmakers and novelists to write about it.

Explaining the point of “On the Road” (1957), Jack Kerouac wrote that the novel tried to recapture a sense of meanings—embarking “on a tremendous journey through post-Whitman America to FIND that America.” 

Driving Montgomery to Wetumka, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

John Steinbeck took on a similar quest of rediscovery and reconnection—with his driving companion a poodle—and wrote about it in “Travels With Charley in Search of America” (1962). The author finished his journey with his hopes dashed, feeling lost, and worried about the rapid changes overtaking his country.

Schnebly Hill Road near Sedona, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Still, Steinbeck fared better than most film characters who attempt the Great American Road Trip. In “Easy Rider” (1969), Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are pursued by murderous bigots; in “Thelma and Louise” (1991), the problem seems to be every American male.

On the road to Madera Canyon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, today’s family road trips don’t lack for human comforts—just a full tank of fuel and a great playlist.

But oh, the options today!

Smartphones or music players can plug directly into the RV’s sound system with a USB cable or auxiliary.

Mokee Dugway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And yet, there’s a lot to be gained from abandoning yourself to the mercies of local radio stations. It’s a chance to ride along, even briefly, with local color that’s otherwise passing too quickly outside the window—the DJ’s accent, charmingly quirky small town ads, music from artists not yet known beyond their part of the country.

Just a fleeting reminder that digital conveniences can deprive us of the analogue pleasure of immersing ourselves in somewhere new.

Worth Pondering…

The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.