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The Best 8 Ways to Make RVing More Affordable

Updated on June 5, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

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

RV travel has become expensive, but there are eight simple methods you can use to make it more cost effective.

Every item discussed in this article will save you money, so you should seriously consider using all of them.

All you have to do is

  1. plan travel routes carefully,
  2. find ways to reduce fuel and gasoline costs,
  3. drive shorter distances,
  4. search for cheaper camping deals,
  5. vacation in places that cost less to visit,
  6. stay longer,
  7. find less expensive ways to dine and
  8. travel off season.

These things may seem like simple common sense when you first look at them, but the truth is that people tend to ignore their value and, as a result, pay much more than is necessary for their RV trips.

  1. I can't count the times when I've watched people pull their rigs into gas stations that are charging five cents per gallon more than one that is located right across the street.
  2. Five cents may not seem like much, but when filling a 100 gallon tank, it adds up to $5.00. Multiply that amount for ten fills, and it becomes $50.00.

That's quite a price to pay for the very same item just because you didn't feel like pulling across the road!

A list of 8 proven methods that can save RV travelers hundreds of dollars every time they vacation.
A list of 8 proven methods that can save RV travelers hundreds of dollars every time they vacation. | Source

Plan Travel Routes Carefully

Most RVers don't "get" that you can save money traveling from one destination to another simply by taking the time to plan routes that cost less.

This would be a trip that allows you to go from point A to point B using the shortest, best, least expensive and most efficient route.

You do this by using trip planners that estimate mileage for you so that you can compare options, but you need to pay attention to more than mileage.

For example,

  1. a shorter route might be slower due to traffic patterns, weather, construction, mountains and other things that might slow you down, which means that gasoline might cost more.
  2. Also, shorter routes may include toll roads. These may or not be money savers depending on how many gas dollars they might save.

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.

Plan RV Travel Routes Carefully If You Want to Save Money

Drive shorter distances and save more money.
Drive shorter distances and save more money. | Source

Find Ways to Reduce Fuel Costs

There are many methods people can use to reduce their costs for fuel or gasoline in addition to careful route planning.

One is to route trips through states that have lower gas taxes so that you can benefit from the reduced prices.

Internet sites such as USA keep track of gasoline prices nationwide and update the information regularly, so it's a good idea to use them when traveling.

  • For example, at this writing, gas in California is averaging $2.85 per gallon, whereas gas in Mississippi is averaging $1.96.
  • Even though these figures fluctuate, you can pretty much figure that you'll be saving $.89 per gallon (or $8.90 per 100 gallons).

So, if you're taking a 3,000 mile round trip and get 10 mpg, you can save $267 simply by purchasing as much of your gas as possible in Mississippi and other low fuel tax states rather than in places such as Nevada and California.

Another money saving technique is to top of your tank in more expensive states and fill up where prices are lower.

As mentioned earlier, you can also save by paying attention to prices in local gas stations and buying from those that charge less.

Vacation Closer to Home

Don't assume that you have to drive thousands of miles in order to have an enjoyable RV trip.

Every state has campgrounds, parks, museums, shopping areas, hiking trails, fishing areas and other amenities.

These spots often have a great deal to offer, but people rarely visit them because going long distances seems to be more exciting.

However, you can have just as much fun close to home as you can traveling across the country, and the good news is that doing so can save you a bundle!

Search for Cheaper 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.

How to Save a Small Fortune on Your Camping Costs and Reviews of the Most Popular RV Camping Clubs will show you what you need to do, but here is just one example.

  1. Most campgrounds in Biloxi, MS charge upwards of $35 per night to camp, but my husband and I always stay just across the bridge at a National Seashore campground for $11 per night.
  2. Over 30 day period we save $720 and get to stay in a beautiful park with a marina, hiking trails and beautiful woods. Since we are less than five minutes away from beaches, casinos, hospitals and shopping, why would we want to stay anyplace else?

Finding deals like this is easier than you think, but they do require that you do some research when planning your vacations.

One of the best ways to do this is to invest in the book I show below. Don Wright has done all of your research for you, and if you use this book every time you travel, you will be able to save hundreds of dollars, just as we have done over our many years of RVing.

Amazingly, many of the parks discussed have full hookups and are well located. My husband and I never travel or make our plans without it.

Camping America's Guide to Free and Low-Cost Campgrounds: Includes Campgrounds $12 and Under in the United States (Don Wright's Guide to Free Campgrounds)
Camping America's Guide to Free and Low-Cost Campgrounds: Includes Campgrounds $12 and Under in the United States (Don Wright's Guide to Free Campgrounds)

My husband and I have used this book for years, and it has more than paid for itself. Why pay $40 to camp when you can pay $12 or even camp for free.


Vacation Where Things Cost Less

There are many places you can visit where things cost less.

Travelers who stay near big cities will always pay more for everything than those who content themselves with camping in or near smaller towns.

Most are beautiful, serene and clean, offer lower camping costs and offer many activities big cities cannot match.

Littlefield, TX, for example, has a nice, free, full hookup campground that was donated to the town by Waylon Jennings to thank them for helping him with his career.

By staying at Waylon Jennings Park you get to meet people who knew him and hear all of the interesting stories about him.

Situations like this create great travel memories and cost absolutely nothing! Try finding them in big cities!

Dine for Less

Eating in restaurants is the second biggest expense for people on vacations, 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!

Eating most meals in your coach saves a great deal of money.
Eating most meals in your coach saves a great deal of money. | Source

Stay Longer

The most interesting thing about taking RV trips is that the longer you stay put in one spot, the less you pay!

This is because campgrounds give significant discounts to people who are willing to stay in their parks for a week or longer. Staying in one spot for a month can actually cut your camping costs in half.

I just spoke to a park owner of a park in Hermosa, SD 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!

FYI: Hermosa is a very small town that sits 17 miles outside of Rapid City and is located at the entrance to Custer State Park!

Travel Off Season

Traveling during low season costs significantly less than going during busy tourist times, so, if possible, you should try to do so.

  1. Years ago my husband and I were in Dodge city at the end of October. The famous cowboy cemetery and town known as Boot Hill was open but unattended, so we got to stroll through it and see everything.
  2. A few years later during the travel season, we thought we'd stop there again, but the prices were so high that we changed our minds.

Time your trips so that you can take advantage of off season costs and you can save big!

Travel off season and save a bundle.
Travel off season and save a bundle. | Source

The More You Save, the More You Can Travel!

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 this simply is not true.

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

Do you think these tips will cut the costs of your RV vacations?

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