Here’s how to pay for full-time RVing
As online work is becoming more and more available, and as romantic stories of full time RV living circulate the internet and spark curiosity and interest, we are seeing more people of all ages hit the road in search of adventure. Believe it or not, not all of these individuals are wealthy. In fact, the vast majority of them are living pretty simply. There is absolutely no reason you can’t do the same.
Anyone Can Try Full Time RV Living (on a budget)
If you’re looking into full time RV living but aren’t sure how you’ll afford it, this is the article for you. Check out our top tips below for living and traveling in an RV on a budget.
How to save on camping fees
One of the things that can eat up a budget quickly when full time RV living is camping fees. Some campgrounds cost as much as $50–$100 a night!
Clearly, this isn’t affordable to the vast majority of people. Fortunately, there are other options. Here’s how you can save on camping fees.
1. Invest in Membership Camping and Discount Cards
First, we highly recommend investing in at least one camping membership such as Thousand Trails. By spending the majority of time in the campgrounds included with your membership, you can save big.
A discount card such as Passport America—or other memberships such as Boondockers Welcome—can also come in handy to use between stays at your membership campgrounds.
2. Find free campsites
Free overnight RV parking is also an option. Boondocking on government-owned lands (such as BLM and Forest Service land) is completely free. Additionally, many city parks offer free campgrounds, sometimes even with hookups. Use the RV LIFE App or RV LIFE Trip Wizard to look up free and cheap camping options.
3. Stay months at a time
Paying campground fees monthly is almost always cheaper than paying nightly. By picking a place to stay for a month or more, you can save a whole lot of dough.
Save on fuel
Fuel is another big expense when full time RV living. Luckily, there are ways to cut back on fuel usage and ensure you pay as little as possible for what you do use. Check out the tips below to do just that.
4. Join a discount club
Discount club members receive a variety of benefits. Among these is a discount on gasoline purchased at select locations. If used regularly, this is an excellent deal.
5. Download GasBuddy
GasBuddy is easily one of the best free apps out there for travelers. This app allows you to find the cheapest gas in a given area, sometimes saving you quite a bit. You may also want to download Fuelly to keep track of all your fuel-ups.
6. Look into TSD Logistics
If you drive a diesel truck or motorhome, TSD Logistics could be helpful. This program gives users discounts on diesel fuel at stations all across the country.
7. Gas up at Costco
Costco almost always offers the cheapest gas in any given city. If you have a Costco card and will pass a Costco, stop and gas up!
- Full time RV living means you will want to maximize your savings on fuel. Photo via Shutterstock Standard License
8. Pack light
A heavy rig will always use more fuel to get from point A to point B. For this reason, it literally pays to pack light and purge things often.
9. Check your tires
Tires that are low on air will make it harder for your RV to move, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency. Be sure to check your tire pressure before every trip.
10. Cut down on propane usage
Most of these tips are for saving money on fuel for your vehicles. However, propane is another type of fuel RVers have to pay for, and cutting down on propane usage can also save money.
Do this by:
- Using your electric water heater instead of gas.
- Using electric space heaters instead of the furnace.
- Choosing to cook with electric appliances.
Check out this Do It Yourself RV article for more ways to save on propane while camping.
Save money on sightseeing
Obviously, you will want to see and do things as you experience full time RV living. However, this doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. Instead of spending thousands on admission fees, use the following ideas to save money while still seeing neat things.
11. Stock up on reciprocal memberships
Reciprocal memberships can be an incredible money saver. The “America the Beautiful” national parks pass is one of our favorites, as it gives you free admission to all of the NPS sites. Others include AZA which gives you admission to zoos and aquariums, ASTC which is for science museums, and NARM which offers admission to art museums and more. A few theme park chains also offer reciprocal programs.
12. Find free things to do
Free fun can almost always be found. Look for hiking trails and city parks. Events such as outdoor yoga, festivals, and concerts in the park tend to be free and fun. Additionally, many towns have free museums, some even have free zoos, and some attractions offer a free day once a month.
13. Look for discounts
If you somehow can’t find free fun, a discount is the next best thing. Keep an eye out for homeschool, senior, or military discounts if any of those apply to you. Many attractions will also offer discount days, so look for those. You may also be eligible for AAA discounts if you’re a member.
Save money on food
Food is obviously a need. That said, food doesn’t have to eat up your full time RV living budget. There are a couple of tricks that can help you save on food costs as you travel.
14. Get a Slow Cooker
When you’re out and about seeing the sights, it can be incredibly tempting to finish off the outing by going out to eat. Investing in a slow cooker means you can have dinner cooking at home and waiting for you when you arrive, removing the temptation to eat out just because you’re too tired to cook.
15. Pack lunches
Another trick for avoiding expensive restaurants is to pack a lunch each time you leave the house. Buying easy-to-pack foods makes this super simple, and you’ll save a lot of money by throwing a lunch bag together before you head out the door. If you need inspiration, try some of these simple lunch ideas!
As you can see, there are tons of great ways to save money while RVing full-time. If you’ve been longing to try RV living but are afraid of the cost, trust us when we say you can definitely make this lifestyle affordable without cutting out the excitement!
For more tips, check out this video from Lyf Uninterrupted:
How do you save money while RVing full-time? Share your tips with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or with the community on iRV2 Forums.
Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.
Do your own maintenance and repairs UTube will show how to do just about anything
Mike Sherman says
Take on a job as camp host. Volunteer or paid, you’ll save the biggest RV expense….camping fees.
For gasoline, like Costco, Sam’s Club is usually about the cheapest you’ll find. I find the advice to use electric heaters and cooking appliances a bit odd. If you are boondocking or staying somewhere free you will not have shore power and running the genset will be more expensive than using propane. The slow cooker idea, if plugged in, is a good idea, but not leaving the genny running while you are gone .
Dan Fiorini says
Virtually every article I read talks about tire pressure. What is NEVER said, is BALANCING your trailer tires. Most are not and the hauling vibration can lead to blow outs, refrigeration and hot water heater failures, not to mention the strain vibration puts on wheel bearings and axles.
Dawn Mundt says
We are workampers and saving a lot of money!
michael a hinde says
TSD RV Fuel card application not avail on website!