Saving Money On an RV Road Trip

Knowing where to cut costs, save money, and be more efficient in your travels is the key to staying within your travel budget.

Fleetwood Providence Diesel Pusher parked at a Canyon de Chelly National Park (Arizona) view point  © Rex Vogel, all rights

Fleetwood Providence Diesel Pusher parked at a Canyon de Chelly National Park (Arizona) view point © 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:

Before You Go

Check tire pressure regularly; improperly inflated tires means more money for fuel. Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency. Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

Preventative measures and maintenance will reduce the risk of problems. Preparatory activities should occupy your to-do list prior to any RV trip. It’s important to make sure that all of “the little things” are in place and working properly. While it does take time, it’s far better to be prepared than face an unanticipated malfunction that sabotages your road trip.

Inspect all the belts and hoses for cracking. Check your headlights, turn signals, and tires. Take a look at all your hitch and towing equipment. Check fire extinguisherssmoke alarm, and carbon monoxide detector. Taking a few precautionary measure before you hit the road could help to avoid a mechanical breakdown.

Check the weight on your loaded RV. Keeping the rig to the recommended weight will save on both maintenance costs and fuel.

Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park.

Anyone who has listened to John Denver sing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains can easily imagine the transcendent beauty of Shenandoah National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buy your groceries and supplies at a regular store in your town and use coupons whenever possible. Purchasing items at a camp store or convenience store is crazy expensive. You pay a premium for convenience.

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.

Reduce 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.

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.

Join a membership campground system such as Thousand Trails.

A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Join a camping discount club such as Passport America or Happy Camper.

Consider staying for free or nearly free on federal BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.

Take advantage of free overnight parking, offered by Wal-Mart, Sam’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kmart, and some Flying J Truck Stops. It’s also a good idea to know the state towing laws to avoid tickets or towing.

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.

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.

A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A block east of Santa Fe Plaza is St. Francis Cathedral, named for Santa Fe’s patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

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 new 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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