‘The costs are just extreme’: Campers staying closer to home amid soaring fuel costs

Using a trailer or an RV is an easy way for people to get out of the city and into the outdoors, but with soaring gas prices, the cost of driving with one has gone up drastically.

Wanting to enjoy a nice summer weekend, Slawec Gusniowski decided to take his trailer to Birds Hill Park.

It’s only about a 15-minute drive from his home, a lot closer than his usual campsites in the Whiteshell.

“That’d probably be now about $200 where it used to be about $100 to pull the trailer there and back, so you could definitely see it,” said Gusniowski. “Even Birds Hill Park, I mean, by the time I come back, the costs are just extreme.”

With gas prices above two dollars a litre, it’s a common theme for campers inside the park.

“Absolutely, I mean pulling the camper, you get less fuel mileage, and now with the prices of gas, it just costs that much more,” explained Dwayne Ammeter, who also brought his trailer to Birds Hill Park.

According to GNR Camping World, RV sales are not down, but consumer trends are shifting.

“People are downsizing out of big full-size trucks going into smaller mid-size SUVs to pull, if they are still going to pull around, and there’s a ton of trailers that have really tailored themselves to that niche market as well,” said Trevor Olynyk, a sales manager at GNR Camping World.

Another rising RV trend is seasonal spots where trailers stay year-round.

Olynyk said many customers are now buying campers and getting the company to haul them to a permanent spot.

At Poplar Forrest Lodge and Campground near Selkirk, the rise in seasonal camping has changed their business model.

“We used to have tenting sites there and transient sites, and those are becoming seasonal now. We’ve got three in there, and there’s only three left,” said Peter Tomko, the owner of the campground.

Tomko said with seasonal camping, people can build patios for their trailers and also enjoy a tight-knit community.

As for those still hauling their trailers, there’s no getting around the extra price of gas.

“Lot of adjustments, but we still want to make sure we have fun during the summer,” said Gusniowski. “So probably less trips than last summer, so that’s, you know, that’s one thing that we do.”

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