Updated for 2020! Finding ways to save money while RVing is important to most of us who travel this way. Most people who travel are RVing on a budget. Many of us still work full-time or have to supplement passive income. These 10 ways to save money RVing becomes an important component of your lifestyle if you want to continue to live and experience everything full-time travel has to offer. Try some of these ideas in your own lifestyle.
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10 Ways to Save Money RVing
Eat at home
Eating at home is one of the easiest and most important ways to save money RVing. Often, we can treat our RV lifestyle as a vacation, eating out all the time. When we travel to new places it's hard to not try all the new restaurants and recommended places to eat. Seeing local sites lends itself to eating out for most meals while you are seeing an area. Trying to 'vacation' all the time quickly robs your RV lifestyle budget. You can spend way too much eating out without even thinking about it.
Having a food budget is important so we don't have this happen to us. We decided to try to only eat out once a week. We will research the area and pick someplace that is unique and highly recommended. We really want to experience the culture of the area and try to find the place that encompasses it.
We also try to shop smart at grocery stores. If there is an Aldi around, we shop there. We have found that this store saves us a bunch of money. I have an app on my phone that helps me locate Aldi stores. This helps us stay on our food budget. We will even do a day trip to go to an Aldi to stock up on things that will save us money on our food budget.
Having a meal plan can keep you within your food budget. We have used two different types of meal planning software to keep us focused while saving money and eating healthy.
Having a meal plan can ensure that you eat all of your groceries before they go bad. Check out this post about Cooking for Two In Your RV for some great meal planning resources. Meals that are planned can be coordinated so that you use up your groceries without wasting them. So that definitely saves money! Many RV refrigerators are small and storage is limited so shopping just for the week and consuming them is a great thing.
Use Campground Memberships
The following is a list of RVing and camping memberships that provide discounts and member benefits. Each one is unique and could be an easy way to save money RVing. Using their apps and online tools you can find places to camp and enjoy your travels.
- Passport America – The Original 50% off Camping Membership
- Thousand Trails – Pay for a section of the country and camp for free at their member parks. Or upgrade to an elite membership to camp all over the country forever (contact Campground Membership Outlet for deals on membership resales that save you tons of money!
- Harvest Hosts – Boondock for FREE at local farms, wineries, breweries, museums, golf courses and more! Our favorite!
- FMCA – Great member benefits.
- Escapees – Stay at Escapee parks and enjoy members-only benefits and pricing
- KOA – Kid friendly and 10% off every stay with membership
- Boondockers Welcome - Free overnight parking on private property. Hosts who love to share let you stay a night or two for free!
- Good Sam – Discounts on camping and members pricing at Camping World
- Full-time Families - This is a great resource for families who live with their children on the road full-time. Many discounts, information and member benefits.
“Saving money on the costs related to RVing gives you more money
to keep enjoying the journey.”
- Where the Streets Wander -
Visit Welcome Centers & Chambers of Commerce
Every state we cross into we make sure to stop at the state welcome center. Each welcome center usually has the state park guides and great maps of the state. These welcome centers often showcase what the state is famous for. You can use these as a jumping-off point to make a plan.
When you get to regional places in the state, be sure to check out the visitor centers or Chambers of Commerce for those areas. They offer additional, more local ideas and attractions. The staff is usually very nice and informative. Be sure to ask about the FREE things available. There are often a bunch of great free things to do, and this is the best place to find out about them. The great thing to also gather here are the coupon books. They often offer great coupons for restaurants and attractions. This could save you a bunch of money.
Ask for Discounts or Negotiate
Wherever you go, make sure to ask for a discount. We once took a Dave Ramsey financial class, and he taught to always ask for a discount. Don’t be shy. I do it all the time and 50% of the time I get some reduction in price or a promotional add-on. I have often been shopping at a store (usually a store in the mall) and asked if they happen to have a coupon to give me a discount on my purchase. You would be astonished at how many times they have reached under the counter and scanned a coupon for me.
If a company can’t give a discount, they often compensate for the ask with something free in addition to your purchase or a coupon for the next visit. Always ask…don’t be afraid to ask. You might not get a discount….but what if you did? You will never know unless you ask!
Stay In One Place Longer
One way to save money while RVing is to stay put longer. You will save on campground costs, as well as fuel. A monthly campground rate is often much less expensive than daily or even weekly rates…it often works out to be like getting a week free!
I know what is running through your mind…you are living this lifestyle to travel. But your mental paradigm shift should be to enjoy and soak in the areas you are traveling to. This isn’t a sprint. If you are full-timing as your goal; you are LIVING this way, not just on vacation. It’s hard to not run to and fro and check off your bucket list when you first begin. I know I feel this way sometimes! Do day trips to experience the surrounding areas instead of moving the RV, and you will save money RVing.
Change Your Domicile
If you are full-timing and haven’t moved your state of residence, you may save money if you do. Everyone has a different life story and financial situation. This is not a one size fits all approach. If you are actively earning money while you travel full-time, you can save money by changing your domicile to an income tax-free state.
You also could potentially save money on other things like auto & RV insurance, property taxes and other ancillary fees some states have and others don’t. In our situation, we moved our domicile to FL to save money on state income tax but ended up paying more (quite a bit more) auto & RV insurance. But in our case, we will still save money by changing.
Please check with your tax accountant for your specific situation and make sure to look at all variables to make this decision a success.
Workcamp or Volunteer
If you workcamp or volunteer, you could save all of your camping costs. Workcamping is an option of trading work hours for camping. Not every situation is the same so carefully weigh your options when deciding to choose this. Check out Workamper News as a resource to find these types of opportunities. Some opportunities offer to pay for hours worked beyond your campsite allowance. You can negotiate just about everything.
Volunteering in state parks or for historic sites is another great way to trade work hours for camping. Research the state parks and recreation website for that state and find out how to see the opportunities available for that state.
In our Full-time RV Framework Program we offer a Make Money and RV Resource Guide to guide you to finding workamping or income to supplement your travels.
Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card
Just to be clear….we are NOT endorsing debt of any kind. We am not telling you this is a good choice for you. Only you can make that decision. We referred to Dave Ramsey above, and he would not agree with what we are saying here, but it works for us just fine.
We have a travel points credit card. The best credit card we have found is the Capital One Venture Card. When we went full-time, we got it to put all of our monthly purchases and auto drafts on it and then pay it off every month. We NEVER carry a balance. We use a budget app to track our expenses so we don’t overspend on our credit card.
This helps us save money in a variety of ways. It makes our banking easier by having all of our expenses land in one place and have one payment every month.
It provides us with travel miles to use on our monthly camping. Several times a year we can use the purchase eraser feature of our credit card to ‘erase’ our campground fees. Our credit card views our campground fees as ‘travel’ and lets us do that without having to pre-book travel through their travel office to use the points.
Saving up our miles, helps us take vacations or trips outside of our RV lifestyle without a burden financially.
Our credit card has no foreign transaction fees when traveling to Canada or Mexico in our RV. This saves money while traveling in countries other than the US.
Again, not advocating debt here…so no hate mail, please. Only you know if you can handle using a credit card in this way. This a great way to save money RVing
Keep Up with RV Maintenance
Doing routine maintenance on your RV will save you a ton of money in the long run. Your RV has manufacturer recommended maintenance for your particular vehicle. By doing the maintenance, you can prolong the life your rig. Doing this maintenance also helps you assess surrounding items & areas in your RV that may be presenting with wear or pose potential problems. If you can see something before it breaks, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and downtime.
While creating a spreadsheet/process for our own rig, we developed a comprehensive RV maintenance checklist that is included in The Complete RV Checklist Bundle.
If you try to use these 10 ways to save money RVing, you will end up leaving money in your pocket for more fun!
Let us know which ideas work for you in the comments below or share your ideas that we haven't thought about!
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