The RV lifestyle can offer the ultimate sense of freedom: just you and the open road. Visions of campgrounds, national parks, and relaxing in your rig can have you itching to hit the road, but there are a few things to consider before you do. Freedom doesn’t necessarily mean free, and depending on your travel preferences, RVing can be a pricey way of life. The good news is that we’re here to save you a few bucks with our top RV Budget Tips!
1) Discount and Free RV Camping Opportunities
One of the biggest expenses you’ll face as an RVer is the cost of overnight parking. Depending on your preferences, where to stay can range from free, to prices similar to a fancy hotel.
If you’re the type of camper who likes to have access to communal facilities, water and electricity hook-ups, you’ll be looking to stay in the many RV campgrounds dotted across the country. While some of these can be very expensive, there are several discount clubs which offer special rates on thousands of campground options. Look into discounts offered by the Escapees RV Club, as well as the very popular Passport America for the best rates on campground stays.
There are also several smaller discount groups which offer unique spots to spend the night at lower rates. We recommend checking out Harvest Hosts, which provides its members with access to camping at farms, wineries, and even some museums and attractions.
Last but not least, there is always the option to camp for free. Yep, we said free! Boondocking is a form of RVing in remote locations where you will not have access to water or electricity. Most RVers boondock in areas designated for free camping, such as US National Forests, or BLM-managed lands.
2) Join an RV Club for Community & Group Discounts
As mentioned above, joining RV clubs or organizations can be a great way to save money on the traveling lifestyle. Being a member of groups like the Escapees RV Club and Family Motor Coach Association can provide you access to a variety of different discounts including tire savings programs, mail forwarding services, trip planning services, RV rally events and more. The bonus? You’ll have access to a great community of fellow travelers who love this lifestyle as much as you do!
3) Buy a Used RV
It’s easy to fall in love with the shiny new, modern RVs at the dealership lot, but it might not be your best value. RV values depreciate rather quickly, so jumping into a brand new rig might not be the best decision right off the bat. A well-maintained used unit often has a lot of life left in it—for a much lower price tag.
Nervous about investing in a new-to-you RV? That’s understandable. We recommend that every person buying a used RV from a private party or even a dealership invests in a comprehensive mechanical inspection through a third party. An RV inspection will give you a realistic idea of the conditions of the RV you’re buying. If there are any pre-existing issues with the RV, you can request the seller take care of them before you buy, or you can run for the hills and continue your search for the perfect home-on-wheels. For more information on RV inspections, check out Premier RV Inspections.
4) Eat In
Traveling in your RV might feel like a vacation, but indulging in local restaurants too often could eat up your RV budget pretty quickly. Plus, they call it a home-on-wheels for a reason—you have all of the comforts of home with you, including a fully functional kitchen! Plan your meals ahead and travel prepared to avoid the temptation of spending money on food. And don’t be intimidated by the lack of space, with a few tricks you’ll be ready to cook everything from sandwiches to a holiday feast in your RV kitchen. Check out this blog on RV Cooking for more details!
5) Plan Your Budget & Stick to It
As with most facets of the RV lifestyle, saving money requires forward thinking. Before you hit the road, especially if you’re looking to go full-time, put together a realistic budget, and try to incorporate all potential costs you might face. Meals, campground, and gasoline are only a small part of the overall cost of living you’ll experience.
Not sure where to start? Follow in the footsteps of an expert! Many full-time RVers share their personal budgets on their public blogs, allowing you to take a peek at real-life costs.
6) Protect Your Rig & Your Wallet with RV Protection
Now that you have your RV budget in place, you’ll want to look at protecting it from unexpected costs. Life on the road requires good RV insurance, coverage for RV repair bills through an RV Extended Warranty, health insurance for you and your travel partners, and 24/7 roadside assistance for emergencies. While these investments come with an upfront cost, they can save you BIG down the road. Learn more about the average costs of RV repairs and how you can protect your travel budget here.
There you have it, 6 ways to save money while enjoying the RV lifestyle. Are you ready to hit the road now? Share you best RV budget tips in the comments section below!