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Stretching The RV Budget

Updated on October 18, 2011

Deciding to live full time in a motorhome commonly known as a recreational vehicle (RV) was a major lifestyle change for my dog Charlie and me.  Recreation had little to do with the decision.  Until I win the lottery (which I may start playing), my budget is very limited.  Therefore, income producing opportunities on the road are always welcome.  Reduced or free RV parking sites help stretch the dollar, as well and a few examples are herewith included.

Workamping opportunities are advertised on many of the camping forums found on the Internet.  Many RV parks look for qualified people to work 20 to 30 hours weekly as camp hosts or for light maintenance in exchange for their site which often includes full hookups…water, sewer and electric, etc… Additionally, some offer some sort of stipend, as well whether it be monetary or additional amenities. 

Desert Haven Animal Refuge in Williamsburg, NM offers a free site plus utility allowance in exchange for 20 hours per week per person or 30 hours per couple.  They are a no kill animal refuge facility and duties include light maintenance and helping to feed and care for the animals rescued by the facility.

Another way to stretch the budget is free or reduced camping rates.  Boondocking or free camping can be anything from pitching a tent in the wilderness to an overnight stay at a roadside rest area.  Some businesses like Walmart will allow RVers to spend a night in a remote area of their often large parking lots.  In appreciation of their good will and in hopes more businesses follow suit, common etiquette dictates RVers staying on the property refrain from extending slides, setting up chairs and tables and grilling outside their RVs. 

There are many long-term boondocking opportunities as well.  Slab city near Niland, CA is the former site of Camp Dunlap.  Parking is free however there are no facilities.  RVs with a generator are recommended.  There are a couple of places in town to refresh water supplies and to empty black water tanks.  Other long-term opportunities can be found on the Internet.

Like time-share programs once popular where visitors stayed in condominiums free after listening to a sale’s pitch, there are similar places now catering to RVers.  In exchange for participation in their sales pitch, RVers can stay a few nights for free or for reduced rates which usually includes full hook ups.

Charlie (my dog) and I are currently visiting Red Shoes RV Park at Coushatta Casino and Resort which is a first-class park.  They have extended our stay for three days for the total sum of $FREE!  The well-manicured grounds and facilities are some of the nicest we’ve experienced since hitting the road.  Cable television with over 70 channels, Wi-Fi and all utilities are included and the cement sites are very level and big-rig friendly.  Access is a breeze as is check-in. 

Many casino resorts throughout the country offer RV parks on or near their property.  Most are “big-rig” friendly and have large, pull-thru sites.  Regular rates are very competitive and will often “comp” players with free or reduced rates as an incentive to participate in their gaming facilities.

With a little research and planning, there are many more opportunities to be found along the way to stretch the RVing lifestyle budget.  There are many associations that cater to RVing that offer publications or online resources.  RV forums and Internet sites like merit a mention as well.

Sometime our paths will cross, see you then.


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