Exploring great destinations like Alaska, Canada, Mexico, or even Europe by RV can feel intimidating if you’ve never done it. Some of that uncertainty is removed by going RV touring with groups. However you might be wondering: is touring with RV caravans worth it? The answers RVers give may surprise you.
RV caravan companies arrange group tours all over the globe. You’ll find caravans anywhere from Canada to Mexico. You can even join RV tours in Australia. Companies leading these excursions invest heavily in pre-trip research before they ever sell spaces to customers. Their goal is to cover popular destinations and uncover new ones to make RV touring with groups exciting and adventurous.
Using a combination of on-site research and locals on the ground, tour operators pinpoint the best roads, campgrounds, day trips and towns for RVers to experience. They hire experienced RV “wagon masters” to accompany group participants along the way. Wagon masters are invaluable if a mishap occurs.
“I wagon master on Mexican caravans,” says iRV2 member Paul Beddows. “They are not for everyone, but they do enable you to see a lot more stuff than on your own, In the case of Mexico it is also the fear factor and getting through the paperwork that make caravans not a bad idea.”
The pros of organized RV tours
- Know what to expect along the way. Guides ensure you won’t hit a low bridge on a backgroad, or get stuck in sand. Stress disappears almost entirely when someone safely guides you through an area.
- Get more for your money. The buying power of RV caravan companies outweighs what solo travelers can get for the same activities. Traveling with an organized group saves money on things like admission fees, campground rates, and even pre-booked meals.
- Meet interesting new people and strike up friendships. Travel with other RVers and you will share a few things in common. From a love of the outdoors to a fondness for new adventures, you’ll inevitably bring new friends into your life.
“We met a lot of good people who were enjoying the trip as much as we did. There are usually a number of free days that allow you to go exploring on your own or sign up for optional side trips.” – iRV2 Forums Member hikerdogs
The cons of organized RV tours
RV touring with groups has inevitable downsides. Sometimes personalities clash. Beddows says tours are great for outgoing personalities.
“You need to be somebody who’s reasonably social,” he said. “We have potlucks, happy hours, things like this. We have some that are more sociable than others. You don’t want people that are complaining all the time because it rubs off.”
Aside from getting a bad apple in the bunch, the other biggest disadvantage is abiding by pre-determined schedules.
“When you’re on a tour, you are on someone else’s timetable. You have to leave on their timetable, eat on their timetable, stop on their timetable, and on and on,” says iRV2 member Rusty Years.
If you ask others who have tried RV touring with groups, you’ll discover that most RVers who traveled with a group had a good time.
Some say they would do it again, others prefer to opt out. The only way for a person to know if it’s right for them is by giving it a try.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Vicki Sherouse says
We did a caravan for 35 days through 4 countries in Southern Africa last fall it was fabulous and not something we felt we could do on our own. We highly recommend Worldwude Motorhome Adventures which is an affiliate of the Canping and Caravanning Club of Great Britain.
Chuck. Procopio says
How much money do we save by doing these tours?
Warren Anderson says
You don’t save any money as they are pretty expensive as far as I can tell.
Scott Traxler says
It actually depends on what’s included. My wife and I planned then WagonMastered a 9-week caravan to Alaska. 9 WEEKS!!! The fare included all camping fees, an included tour at each of our major destinations, admission to cultural sites and museums, guided fishing for those who wanted it, and several group meals each week (plus all the spontaneous pot-lucks that the caravaners planned and hosted on their own). This was a non-profit group, and at the end of the tours when all the bills were paid, each rig received a refund of about $600, making the 73-day excursion less than $50 per day (this was in 2007, so things are vastly different now). The commercial operators run faster/shorter itineraries, have much higher overhead, but can still add value to your travel plans. At the time we put this tour together, I estimated the on-your-own price would be at least double. Remember, no tour operator will include your fuel/operating expenses, which will certainly have an effect on your plans
Warren Anderson says
I have never heard of anyone getting a refund….tours to Alaska that I have looked at were in the neighborhood of 10,500 to 11,000 dollars for like 60 to 64 days.
Johanne Cardinal says
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to $10K-$20K for your average grand caravan to say Alaska or Mexico (or further afield), go for it as it must be amazing. As retirees on a fixed income, this is a lot of money. We looked at a Yucatan Caravan trip in 2020 organized by Paul’s organization, which costs in the region of $10-$12K for I think 5 weeks (I could be wrong on the timeline). What I didn’t like is the $2k+ non-refundable required deposit. Paul did a good job explaining why this is required, but this was a deal breaker for us. However, since these tours are fully booked more than 2 years in advance, I guess there are a lot of people who partake! Cost equivalent of a sea cruise for 2 people, I guess.
Warren Anderson says
I think it is just too much to spend 10 to 12 thousand for a trip like this. We are gone for 5 months in the winter and spend at least 6 weeks actually on the road. We do a lot of going here and there and don’t spend that much including fuel.