PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Surging fuel costs are impacting travel plans for many RV drivers who typically stop in Alabama on the way to vacation.
Many recreational vehicles and trucks used to pull them get poor gas mileage that can lead to more frequent and expensive pit stops.
“I think we are at about $700 in fuel costs and we are substantially less than that in campsite fees,” said Doug and Lonnie Randle, who are on their way back to Florida.
The Randles use a diesel truck to haul their camper. Doug Randle estimates he gets between nine and 11 miles per gallon depending on the conditions.
“We also carry some apps on our cell phones with us that give us the clue to the price of fuel at various stations,” said Randle.
The couple spends about two weeks on the road each month and the other time with family in Florida.
“The two of us have been doing it for two and a half years. We got back into it. Now partly to spend more time with one another,” said Randle.
The open road is getting more expensive for everyone.
The manager of Birmingham South RV Park in Pelham told CBS 42 that fuel prices have impacted the summer guests.
“We have always seen northerners coming down to the gulf and back,” said Tammy Johns, the manager.
Johns has been in Pelham for about 10 years and is used to seeing license plates from far away states during the hot months.
This year, many of those people are altering plans.
“A lot of them they booked both ways. They booked an overnight reservation going down to their destination and then to return but they’re canceling those and the number 1 reason for canceling is gas prices,” said Johns.
Despite the cancellations, the park remains very busy. Johns said she’s seen an influx in guests from Alabama and other neighboring states who are looking for more budget-friendly trips.
“Alabama’s got a lot to offer geographically so you are just having a lot of people camping like back in the old days where they went just 50 miles from home,” said Johns.
It remains to be seen how much fuel prices will affect tourism and travel plans through Alabama.
Families like the Randles say without any relief in sight, the challenges are likely to impact their destinations.
“At this time we are pretty much confining our travel to 8 southeastern states. North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, inside that arc and assuming, hoping and planning on fuel prices becoming more sane somewhere in the near future then we will start working our way around the western part of the country,” said Randle.
Nationally, RV sales jumped during the pandemic. Johns said she still sees plenty of people making good use of their purchase but adds that travelers appear less likely to go as far away.