5 Things to Do That Can Save You Money When RVing

Updated on November 13, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

Anybody who travels in an RV knows that prices for doing so have been steadily rising for the past few years.

However, there are many ways to reduce these costs, some of which are very easy to do.

Never assume that you must pay what is requested, because this is not always true.

The truth is that many Rvers pay far more than is required because they think this is just how things are when you're on the road.

How much you spend is a choice you make, so if you pay attention to what you are doing, you'll find that you can save hundreds of dollars every time you travel just by doing the things I suggest in this article.

Travelers should always bear in mind that no matter where you camp, your living quarters will be the same.

So, unless you have very exotic tastes or must have every luxury, you can find that you'll be just as comfortable paying $15 per night as you will paying $60.

For example, my husband and I just returned from a two month RV trip.

Our basic costs for gasoline, dining out and camping totaled less than $25 per day.

  • If you follow the advice I provide here, you can do the same.
  • If not, you’ll be paying much more, but you won’t be having any more fun!

Tips that will help RVers to save hundreds of dollars on every vacation they take.
Tips that will help RVers to save hundreds of dollars on every vacation they take. | Source

The Key to Saving Is Good Planning

If you start planning your vacation several months before your leave date you'll find that you have the time you need to t

  1. forecast trip costs,
  2. find the best deals on campsites,
  3. arrange for the least expensive travel routes,
  4. time your trip and
  5. reduce your gas and food costs.

Doing this research takes time, but the amount of money you will save as a result will be well worth your time and effort.

Estimate Your Travel Costs

Good planning includes doing some realistic travel cost forecasting.

How to Estimate the Cost of Your Next RV Trip shows you how to do this.

  • If you want to save money, this is one of the best ways of doing so because forecasting allows you to get a true picture of travel costs.
  • If you don't like what you see, you can go back and adjust your travel plan until you are happy with what you will have to pay for your vacation.

If you analyze costs in advance and do so correctly, you'll get a fairly clear picture of what you'll be spending.

This will protect you from having any financial surprises once you're on the road!

Find the Best Camping Deals

There are a number of methods you can use to greatly reduce what you pay to camp. You would be amazed to learn how easy this is to do and how much fun you can have doing it.

One of the best is to join a good discount camping club. The one my husband and I use, Passport America, allows us to save up to 50% (sometimes more) and has 1900 affiliate parks.

Some of them do have limits on the days when you can use the discounts, but if you plan carefully, you can get the full financial benefit of staying in them.

The membership is very inexpensive, $44 per year, and quickly pays for itself, so it’s worth the investment.

How to Save a Small Fortune on Your Camping Costs and Live Free in Your RV both give you more tips about saving on campsites, so you should take the time to read them.

You can save even more by

  1. making use of national park discount passes and
  2. taking advantage of the many free and inexpensive privately owned parks that have hookups.

Finally, you can use your negotiating skills to obtain discounted prices for many campsites.

For example, the trip I mentioned earlier was inexpensive because my husband and I found a campground owner who worked a deal with us to stay in his park for $14.50 per night if we would guarantee him a month.

He was located close to a big tourist area and offered full hookup, 50 amp service with free cable and WIFI. In addition, he gave us free coffee and snacks twice each day!

So while other people were paying $45 per night to camp right in the middle of all the action, we were saving $30 per night and were still close enough to enjoy the local entertainment venues! Staying there saved us $900!

We found this park because it was listed in our Passport America camping guide.

If you want to know where the free and inexpensive campgrounds with hookups are located, you need only buy a copy of the Guide to Free and Low Cost Campgrounds by Don Wright. It's the best book of its type that I have found because the information is accurate and the listed prices are what Mr. Wright says they are. No surprises here!

We have used this excellent guide for years, and have spent many happy hours camping for practically nothing in beautiful parks with hookups all around the US.

You can find additional information by searching "free campgrounds" on the internet. There are literally hundreds of them, but not all have hookups so read the details carefully.

Finding deals like the ones I discuss here is easier than you may think, but doing so does require that you do some research before ever leaving home.

The bottom line is that you can save a small fortune on camping simply by

  • investing in a good camping club,
  • buying a book or two,
  • checking the internet and
  • making a few phone calls to verify information.

You can stay in this government park for $11 per night if you have a National Park Pass.
You can stay in this government park for $11 per night if you have a National Park Pass. | Source

Reduce Restaurant Food Costs

Eating in restaurants is the second biggest expense for RV travelers, but you can reduce those costs by

• cooking and eating most of your own meals in your coach,

• eating breakfast or lunch in restaurants (instead of dinner) or

• taking advantage of dining specials.

Many restaurants have certain days or times of the week when you can enjoy some of the meals they serve while paying less for them.

For example, every Thursday one place in Florida gives away free BBQ wings, and on Wednesdays, another gives away free pie!

You can also choose to "double down" on certain deals if you eat a late lunch in place of your dinner.

• For example, a local Gulfport, MS casino runs its mid week buffet lunch until 3:30. The price doubles after that, but the food is mostly the same.

• So, a couple who is seated before the meal service changes can save as much as $25 and virtually eat the same food!

What makes finding such deals possible is research. If you want to cut costs but still enjoy some of the luxuries, you have to find out where the deals are and how they work!

Seek Out InexpensiveTravel Routes

Most RVers don't "get" that they can save money traveling from one destination to another simply by taking the time to seek out routes that allow them to go from point A to point B using the shortest, best, least expensive and most efficient roads and highways.

The best way to do this is to use trip planners that estimate mileage to help you compare options.

It takes some time to come up with the right plan, but once you do, the savings can be huge.

For example:

  • If I am getting 8 miles per gallon and want to drive from Tampa, Florida to Louisville, Kentucky, I can choose routes that take me 878 miles, 912 Miles or 1088 miles. At two dollars per gallon, the first one will cost $220 for gas, the second $228 and the third $272.
  • The difference in dollar between the first and third routes is $52, but if I return home using the same route, I've saved $104. Yet, I've ended up in the same spots!
  • I've also saved myself many hours of driving and have reduced the wear and tear on my equipment.

You should also plan to route yourself through as many states as possible that charge less for fuel because doing this can be a big money saver.

Using the information from internet sites such as Gasbuddy lets you know how much gas and diesel fuel cost nationwide on any given day.

Thus, if you try to pass through the areas that charge less, you can take advantage of their pricing and equalize your fuel costs.

It costs less to use certain roads and highways than others.
It costs less to use certain roads and highways than others. | Source

Time Your Vacations

If you are watching your dollars, one of the best things you can do is to time your vacations carefully.

You will often pay twice as much for camping, food and entertainment if you travel to popular places during their busy seasons. However, if you go to the same places just before or after the season, you'll pay much less.

The same is true when it comes to visiting areas when they are having special events. For example, you can enjoy all of the beauty and excitement of the Black HIls at reasonable prices if you make sure to stay away from that area during the first three weeks of August when the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place.

Also, if you have the time to do so, try to stay for longer periods of time in various campgrounds because doing this will give you big savings. Staying in one spot for as long as a month can even cut your camping costs in half.

I just spoke to a park owner of a park in the Black Hills who charges $28 per night plus tax but was willing to give me a site for one month for $15 per night. I found out about this great price reduction simply by calling and asking what he would do for us if we decided to stay at his park!

This is the same deal I spoke of earlier that was made with a different campground that was located elsewhere, so you can see that making deals like this is fairly common.

Keep More Money In Your Pocket

I can honestly tell you that it really feels good to come home from an RV trip knowing that I had a great time and spent relatively little money to do so.

It does take some time to do the research and set things up, but the payoff is huge.

Campground owners and tourist venues want you to think you have to spend a fortune to travel, but you now know that there are things you can do to avoid always having to pay a lot for your RV trips.

Many good deals are out there just waiting for you if you are willing to use the money saving methods I've shared with you here.

Would you use any of these methods to save money when RVing?

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© 2017 Sondra Rochelle


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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    Sondra Rochelle 4 months ago from USA

    Karen Hellier: Thanks. You might be smarter to copy and paste them into your computer because I'm old and if something should happen to me, they'll probably go offline. I've thought about putting them into a Kindle book but frankly don't have the energy to do it lol!

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 4 months ago from Georgia

    Wow, lots of great tips here to keep in mind when I start traveling with my RV...ha ha, when I get one. Not at that point yet But I need to bookmark your articles because they are all so helpful!