How to Save Money on Your Next RV Vacation
Are you ready to hit the road and experience the ultimate freedom of an RV vacation? Well, buckle up and get ready to save some money too!
RV vacations offer a unique way to travel, allowing you to explore new destinations while having all the comforts of home. But let’s be honest, they can also get pretty expensive if you’re not careful.
It’s a good idea to set a budget for your trip and stick to it. To make this easier, consider all the expenses you’ll encounter such as fuel, campground fees, food, and entertainment.
Did you know that bringing your own food and cooking your own meals can save you a ton of money compared to eating out every day?
If you need some inspiration, we made a cookbook featuring a few of our favorite recipes you can cook using the equipment in the RV. (We also highly recommend bringing or renting a BBQ and an outdoor table to cook outside).
Our RVs come equipped with a fully stocked kitchen, be sure to check out what’s included here before packing up your whole kitchen unnecessarily.
Finding the Right RV:
When it comes to choosing an RV, there are a few things to consider.
You can rent one (hopefully from us), buy one, or borrow one from a friend. Renting is a great option if you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to owning one, (or don’t want to commit to regularly paying for storage, maintenance, insurance, repairs, etc. (we can go on). If you are considering purchasing one, we have a blog post of pros and cons of ownership vs renting here. (It's mostly accurate, with some slight bias towards renting, but the bias is because of our genuine opinion on the matter).
Of course, if all else fails, there’s always the option of begging, borrowing, or stealing an RV from a friend. (Just kidding, please don’t steal an RV).
Be sure to do your research on which RV you want to travel in regarding the size, class, fuel efficiency etc. and research which company you want to rent from. Read the online reviews carefully. We have a few different options, most of which can accommodate up to 6 guests.
Fuel costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling long distances. To save money on fuel, choose a fuel-efficient RV. A smaller RV will be more fuel-efficient than a larger one, so keep that in mind when choosing the right RV for you. All of our RVs run on a powerful Diesel engine and get 16-22 mpg. That’s a big saving opportunity compared to lots of other RVs that are offered on the market. For comparison, a comparable size Cruise America RV gets 6-10 MPG and uses gas. Use a trip planner to help you figure out about how many miles you’ll drive round trip, then add a few more miles to be safe and then do a rough calculation of how much fuel will cost you. (We share a really great road trip planner tool in this blog post here).
Campground fees can add up quickly, especially if you are traveling during peak season and prefer to stay at the most popular, full hook up campgrounds. (Malibu RV Park has charged as much as $200 per night during the summer for their premium sites).
One way to save money on campground fees is to stay in a national forest. National forests often offer free or low-cost camping options, allowing you to spend more money on other activities during your trip.
Boondocking, or camping without hookups, is another option to consider. This type of camping allows you to save money on campground fees, but it does require you to be more self-sufficient and bring along all of the necessary gear like camping chairs and table. This is also not a good option if you are traveling during extreme weather conditions. If it’s going to be very hot or very cold, you will need a campground with an electric hook up. (Check out our blog post explaining how power in the RV works). But if you are smart and plan ahead, you can travel during mild weather and save tons of money with this option.
Another way to save money on campground fees is to book your campsite in advance. By doing so, you can take advantage of any discounts or special deals that may be available.
Pro-tip is to choose a campsite that is closer to the activities you want to participate in, saving you time and money in the long run.
Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost activities you can do while camping in an RV to keep everyone entertained.
One of the simplest and most cost-effective activities is playing card/board games. Whether you're a seasoned player or a beginner, card games are a fun way to pass the time and challenge your skills. From classic games like Poker and Rummy to modern games like Settlers of Catan, the possibilities are endless. We have a few RVs packed into the RV already but if you want to, check out a few nature specific games we love like National Park Monopoly and Uno.
Another great option is to read a book (remember those?). Whether you prefer to read alone or as a group, reading is a great way to relax and escape from reality. Bring along a few of your favorite books or check out a library's e-book collection for free access to a wide variety of reading materials.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, hiking is a great way to get out and explore the surrounding area. Many campgrounds offer scenic hiking trails, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of the area without breaking the bank. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and brings LOTS of water.
You can also go on a picnic, which is a fun and affordable way to spend time with your family or friends while enjoying the beauty of nature.
If you're looking for a more hands-on activity, consider trying your hand at photography. Whether you have a professional camera or just a smartphone, taking photos is a great way to capture memories and create keepsakes. You can also explore the campground or surrounding area and try to capture the essence of the place in your photos. (Tag us on Facebook or Instagram - @chillrv ).
Finally, if you're looking for a more relaxed activity, consider doing yoga or meditation. Whether you're an experienced practitioner or a beginner, these activities are great for improving your mental and physical well-being. Some campgrounds even offer free classes, so be sure to check out their activities calendar.
But our biggest tip to save money, is to travel during the off-season. You will get a better rate on your RV rental, a better rate and availability on your campground spaces and usually, you’ll have better weather too. Plus you’ll avoid all the hustle and bustle of the busy season and the endless crowds. Usually busy season for RV travel is April – August. June – August are the busiest and August is absolutely non-stop.
If you read this far, you deserve one final industry secret. Ask the RV rental company if there are any discounts available, or if they can throw in a few freebies/upgrades for you. Chances are, they’ll agree. (Coming from personal experience).
In conclusion, camping can be a fun and an affordable vacation option if you're mindful of your budget. By considering options like national forests/ state campgrounds and boondocking, booking in advance, and participating in low-cost activities, you can save money on campground fees and have a memorable trip. So, pack your gear, grab your family and friends, and hit the road for an adventure-filled camping trip.