10 Ways RVers Can Save Money On A Tight Budget
Budgeting is essential for every RVer because you need to ensure you have enough money for your everyday needs (plus some extra for unforeseen problems). Factors like a fixed income, monthly RV payments, maintenance fees, and other costs can lead to a very tight budget.
But even if you have limited funds, you can still enjoy the RV lifestyle. You just need to understand how to save money while you’re on the road! Making a few trade-offs and thrifty decisions can help you stay within your budget. Maybe you won’t be able to stay in luxury resorts or eat out every night, but you can still have plenty of fun on your trips.
If you need to make every penny count, these budget RV hacks are for you. We’ve compiled some of the top RV hacks for camping on a tight budget. Some of this advice may seem obvious, while other points may surprise you! Carefully read each tip to see if it will align with your life on the road. Let’s get started!
1. Try boondocking or parking lot camping
One recurring problem for RVers is finding a place to camp for the night. There are plenty of RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds across the country. But they always come with a cost! Sometimes the fees are quite low, but you could end up paying over $100 for a single night if you’re in an area with luxury resorts.
So if you want to cut costs for overnight parking, you could always try boondocking (also known as dry camping). This is a practice where you can park for free on publicly managed land. You won’t have access to hookups, so you’ll have to rely on your own battery and water storage systems. But it’s an easy way to keep money in your pockets!
Another option is to stay in a parking lot overnight. You won’t be able to set up a full campsite, but there are several business chains that will let you stay in their lots for a night or two. Places like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabelas are often willing to host RVers. Use a trip planner like RV LIFE Trip Wizard to easily find these locations along your route.
2. Join an RV club
RV clubs give you access to a variety of discounts and benefits. You may have to pay small monthly or yearly fees in order to join, but it’s pretty easy to get your money’s worth in return.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are affordable membership tiers that are available to you. Some clubs can help you find cheap or even free campsites for the night! Others will give you discounts on gas and other RV necessities. Explore your options and see which one is the best fit for you.
RV clubs like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome can lead to significant savings for travelers. In addition to cutting costs, they also offer access to unique, scenic spots, turning ordinary trips into unforgettable adventures.
3. Improve your gas mileage
Gas can be a major drain on your wallet. No matter where you travel, you’ll always need fuel to get around. But if you can extend the time between your pit stops, you can save money! With that in mind, it’s important to improve your fuel efficiency as much as possible.
One way to do this is to use cruise control. This setting lets you keep a steady speed without wasting fuel on constant braking and acceleration.
You should also keep your tires at the correct pressure. Tires that are too full or too empty can slow you down. Check your pressure regularly and adjust your tires as needed. Air pumps are usually free (or close to it).
4. Use GasBuddy to find cheap fuel prices
Speaking of gas mileage, let’s talk about where you should fill up. Fuel prices vary widely across the country, and even fluctuations of a few cents per gallon can make a huge difference. Most RVs require a lot of gas each time you stop, so the cost can add up quickly.
If you’re on a tight budget and need to save money on gas, try installing the GasBuddy app. This will help you compare the nearby options and find the best deal. You can even quality for special deals and discounts to help you earn additional gas money.
5. Enjoy free activities
Traveling in an RV is a lot of fun. You have the opportunity to explore new cities and states. There are lots of attractions that you’ll want to visit, but a lot of them cost money. If you just do things without looking at the cost, you can easily go over your budget.
That’s why you should prioritize free activities first. There are lots of fantastic options like tours, public beaches, libraries, parks, art exhibits, splash parks, and more. That way, you can save your money for a few really special paid experiences!
6. Travel during the off-season
Camping costs money, no matter when you go. But some regions of the country have off-seasons where it’s cheaper to travel. For instance, many northern states will be cheaper to visit during the winter because fewer people want to brave the snow and chilly winds.
Check the seasonal rates of the campgrounds you want to visit. You may notice that there are some periods where they’re significantly cheaper. In addition, you should try to avoid camping during weekends and major holidays. The parks will be crowded, and you may have to pay higher fees.
7. Rent out your RV
If you need to make some extra cash to supplement your budget, you can always rent out your RV while you’re not using it! Plenty of people want to experience the RV lifestyle.
You could rent it as a travel vehicle through sites like RVShare or Outdoorsy, or keep it parked and use it as a cheap Airbnb. If you have a vintage RV or one that is particularly well-decorated, you can attract more visitors! Of course, this course of action requires extra work and stress for you, so it’s not always practical. But keep it in mind if you need some extra cash!
8. Stay at campgrounds for longer
One of the best budget RV hacks is to simply stay at each campground for longer. Most campgrounds have different rates depending on the length of your stay. There are nightly rates, weekly rates, and maybe even longer ones like monthly or seasonal passes.
If you find a campground that has decent prices and amenities, you can save money by extending your stay. The weekly rates have a discount that often equates to a free night at the park! You will also have more time to relax and enjoy the area. Plus, you can save gas money if you stay in one spot for a while.
9. Use a bicycle for transportation
When it comes to gas money, consider using alternative transportation upon arrival. Bicycles are an excellent means to discover unfamiliar cities. They are conveniently stowable in an RV, lightweight, and incur no operating cost. Investing in an electric bicycle or scooter can further maximize their utility.
Bikes don’t require fuel, so they’re the perfect form of travel for people on a tight budget. You can also take them for sightseeing trips, trail rides, and much more.
10. Try cheap or DIY alternatives to RV accessories
Finally, try not to spend too much money while you decorate and outfit your RV. There are countless products, gadgets, and decorations that you can buy, but you can usually find more budget-friendly alternatives. Check secondhand sources like thrift stores, garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.
You can also try to make your own decorations and use cheap materials for RV hacks. If you need simple storage solutions and decorations, your local dollar store might surprise you! Otherwise, you can do cute DIY projects to add some personality to your living space. You don’t need to pay for designer brands to make your RV look nice!
Find more RV hacks and tips
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV hacks, and more.
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