Money Saving Tips: Extending Your RV Travel Dollars

The latest Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners conducted by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) revealed that 53% intend to use their RV more this spring and summer despite higher fuel prices, while 38% plan to use theirs the same amount and just 9% say they’ll use their RVs less. Of the respondents who plan to use their RVs more often, 65% said one of the reasons is to take more mini-vacations.

A recent study indicates 53% intend to use their RV more this spring and summer despite higher fuel prices. Motorhome parked at Sliding Rock Overlook, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV owning families plan to take shorter but more frequent trips in their RVs. Sixty-three percent plan to spend five or more weekends in their RVs this spring/summer; 19% will reserve a seasonal site at a campground this summer and visit it on weekends.

According to the report, 68% said they expect fuel prices to affect their spring/summer travel plans. Of those respondents, 61% said they’ll travel closer to home, 42% will travel fewer miles and 37% will stay longer in one place.

These figures indicate that people are looking for inexpensive vacation options, and RVing leads the pack. RV owners love the RV lifestyle and rising gas prices won’t stop them from getting away.

RV family vacations are, on average, 27% to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations, according to a study by international travel and tourism experts Collier’s PKF Consulting USA.

Considering the RV lifestyle? Try renting before laying down the cash. Camping in a rental unit at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Not only do RV parks offer much cheaper rates than hotels and motels but you won’t have to worry about lost reservations or room downgrades by incompetent clerks. Food becomes a bargain as well because you won’t be dependent on eating out at pricey restaurants every night or relying on unhealthy fast food.

We all know that times are tough. The economic downturn has touched everyone. Many are facing unemployment and dwindling home values. Nobody knows when the economy will pick back up, or when Americans will begin to spend their hard-earned money again. When the economy tanks, we look for savings—and that true for everyone, including RVers.

But I don’t need to tell you that! I’m preaching to the converted. Right? If you’re reading Vogel Talks RVing you already own an RV or are a RV wanna-be!

Saving money on unnecessary spending frees up bucks for other things. While an RV is one of the biggest investments we can make, the ways we can save when camping with our RVs, are almost limitless.

Cut campground costs by joining a camping discount club such as Passport America. Camped at Riverbend RV Park, a Passport America park in Luling, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following are some tips that will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom, and flexibility that RVing has to offer:

  • When planning your trip, check out the Chamber of Commerce websites for areas you plan to visit. Call or email to request an information packet by mail. Not only will these info packets have plenty of brochures and information on various local attractions, they often include discount coupons. If you’re on the road just stop in.
  • If you belong to the AAA, ask about discounts on restaurants, museums, theme parks, fairs, and special events.
  • Cut campground costs. Camp closer to home. Remember, you’re always on vacation at the campsite, even if it’s only an hour drive from home.
  • Cut campground costs. When camping with your RV, commercial campgrounds can take a big bite out of your wallet. You can often find better deals at public campgrounds operated by small towns or counties.
  • Cut campground costs. Join a membership campground system such as Thousand Trails, or Western Horizon.
  • Cut campground costs. Join a camping discount club such as Passport America or Happy Camper.
  • Cut campground costs. Consider staying for free or nearly free on nearby federal BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.
  • Cut campground costs. Many Casinos allow free overnight RV parking. A few Casinos require that you be a customer in order to park. There are some Casinos that allow no overnight parking, or require that you park at their adjoining RV campground at their customary nightly rates. You will also find a few Casinos that offer free RV dump stations, and even a few that offer RV hookups on site. For a listing of RV friendly casinos check out
  • Cut campground costs. Stay longer in one place. Many RV parks are vacation destinations in their own right, offering something for everyone—swimming pools, playgrounds, game rooms, boating, fishing, nature trails, planned activities and more!
  • Having a written budget is essential to getting your finances under control. If you do not have a written budget it is hard to know if you are living within your means and saving enough money for your long term goals like purchasing a recreational vehicle.

Worth Pondering…

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, 1849

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