An RV trip can be an economical way to go camping or just get out of town and enjoy the road. A recent study commissioned by two major RV industry groups found that two people can save up to 53 percent on an RV vacation compared to other types of travel.
But, you have to know how to hold down your fuel costs and other expenses. Planning ahead, picking the best time of year, and seeking out the right destinations all can help you the cost of an RV adventure. Your cheapest gas prices are in the Southeastern states with Alabama prices at the pump the best bargain in the country.
Here are eight budget-minded tips for planning a camping trip or RV vacation.
Stay close to home
While you might like the idea of venturing as far from home as possible in your RV, there might be plenty of fantastic camping options nearby that your family has never tried. The great thing about local trips is they can cut down on costs such as fuel, RV maintenance, and the other incidentals that come with being on the road for long periods of time.
Spend more time at your destination and less time on the road to save money on your next trip.
Travel during the offseason
If you can avoid travel during the summer months and major holidays, you can save on camping costs and other trip-related expenses.
You can find offseason deals advertised months in advance, since campgrounds will be hoping to keep their parks full year-round.
Your trip can be a lower key during less-traveled months, with fewer tourists on the road and at featured destinations, especially at the popular national parks including Zion and Arches.
Try to save on fuel
Class A gas motorhomes are notorious gas guzzlers. The big ones get just a few miles to the gallon. Diesel motorhomes offer considerably better fuel economy along with increased torque for climbing hills.
Keep an eye on fuel prices and do what you can to find a bargain along the way. Independent truck stops offer considerably better prices than the big chains like Pilot Flying J and Love’s.
Book early and look for deals
One great thing about planning ahead when it comes to RV and camping trips is you can shape your travels around deals you find. If you go online or call around to destinations you’re hoping to visit, you might discover offseason discounts or bundled bargains with local attractions.
Bring along supplies
“Hey, did anybody pack sunscreen and insect repellent?”
The more items you remember to bring along, the less likely that you’ll be taken advantage of at your destination. On-site campground stores or local markets rely on tourists, and inflate prices due to convenience. Be sure to pack enough of the essentials such as snacks, water, and paper products.
Take it slow on the road
If you do decide to put a lot of miles on your RV during your next trip, one trick for saving on fuel is to simply slow down on the road. Go slow and enjoy the ride. This will help with gas mileage, and your gas budget will get you much further in the long run.
Take advantage of travel memberships
On top of discounts that parks and locations might offer on their own, you may find organizational discounts you can apply for before hitting the road.
Auto clubs, travel programs, and RV-related groups often offer discounts. These are opportunities you can take advantage of as a driver, frequent traveler, RV owner.
If you can join a club and save some money, do it! But make sure your potential savings will more than make up for any membership fee you have to pay.
Consider off-the-beaten-path locations
Traveling to a popular national park on the outskirts of a major city will add to your expenses. Gas-burning traffic jams, more expensive RV parks and higher overall prices all are found near major cities.
The great part of RV travel in more remote areas is you still have the comforts of home. State and regional parks further away from major tourist destinations often offer great bargain amid scenic locations in more far-flung locations.
Striking the right balance between saving money and keeping an RV trip fun for everyone just takes a little planning and smart decision-making along the way.
We often live for those unusual landmarks and off-the-beaten-path places that make RVing so extraordinary. And we all know that sometimes getting there is all the fun.