Please note: This is a guest post by Gaby Cuda. 1/2 of the Catch the Cudas traveling duo. We were thrilled to have her share her knowledge on RVing, money-saving tips, and so much more. Now, let’s move on to the real inspiration!
5 Ways to Save Money When Traveling by RV
One of the coolest things about traveling is that sense of adventure that comes along with it. Whether you’re flying across the world or driving a few hours away from home, the journey into the unknown is often just as fun as wherever you end up.
Traveling by RV is one of the most adventurous experiences you can have. Not only are you always embracing the unknown each time you hit the road, you can travel on your own schedule. That means you can go exactly where you want when you want. You can stay longer in the places you fall in love with. You can bail on the places that, well, didn’t turn out to be that exciting. Plus, you get to skip the task of renting many hotel rooms. Sheesh — we’re already tired just thinking about it.
While hitting the road for weeks or months at a time may sound expensive, an RV adventure is far more affordable than you may think. In fact, you don’t even need your own RV to enjoy an RV vacation. All you need is a little preliminary planning, which, of course, we’re happy to help you out with.
Here are five ways to save money when traveling by RV.
1. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)
One of the downsides to staying at hotels during a multi-city trip is that hotel rooms don’t often have kitchens. This means you’re forced to eat at restaurants, which, depending on how long you’ll be traveling, can end up costing you a small fortune. When you travel by RV, you can take advantage of stocking up on groceries while you’re out on the road. Not only will this help save money you can use on other aspects of your trip, it’s also a much healthier option. Win-Win!
Here are just a few things you’ll want to stock up on to make the most of your RV trip:
- Frozen, canned and dried food.
- Items like cereal, beans, rice and frozen pizzas don’t go bad quickly, so they’re great options to have during any long stretch without grocery stores nearby.
- Sandwiches are easy to prepare and even easier pack, sandwiches are truly an RVer’s BFF.
- Inexpensive meats like chicken, pork and turkey. Be sure to freeze anything you don’t plan to eat within a couple of days of buying.
- Local fruits and veggies. Buying from local farmer’s markets is a great way to get fresh produce at a great price.
2. Be Frugal With Fuel
Besides the RV itself, fuel is often the next biggest expense for RV travelers, especially those who plan on being on the road for a long time. You can save big on fuel expenses simply by staying in one spot longer. Instead of driving every single day of your trip, plan to stay at certain campgrounds for a day, two or even longer. Fewer miles driven means less gassing up, which, over a longer trip can add up to major savings.
Staying put also allows you the opportunity to really take in a destination. Take hikes, go on bike rides, jump in a canoe and see the sights from another vantage point. Or, just sit down, take a deep breath, and take in everything around you for a little while. After all, isn’t that what travel is all about?
Another way to save fuel is to map out a route and use a GPS to help you stay on track. Driving around aimlessly isn’t only frustrating, it’s the easiest way to run out of gas and have you dropping unnecessary cash on a tow truck. Not fun. Not fun at all.
3. Invest in a National Park Pass
If you plan on exploring any of the country’s plethora of magnificent national parks (and we certainly recommend you do), you’ll want to invest in America the Beautiful passes from the National Park Service.
Priced at $80 per year, this pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 national parks and national wildlife reserves across the U.S. A single pass covers park entrance and standard amenity fees up to four adults (children under 15 are free). The savings are huge, considering some of the famous national parks like Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks each have a $25 entrance fee (that’s already $75!). With all the breathtaking scenery and amazing wildlife to be seen, this pass is definitely worth the investment.
4. Be Strategic About Parking
If you’re new to RV travel, it’s easy to overlook one important aspect of the trip planning process — parking. While an RV vacation does offer you far more flexibility than renting hotel rooms along the way, you’ll want to factor in parking costs, as most of the time, you’ll be paying to park your camper overnight somewhere.
A good way to save money on parking? Do your research to find free spots. For example, truck stops, schools, and local supermarkets, including Wal-Mart (a long time favorite for RVers) often allow RVers to park for free (though you’ll certainly want to ask for permission). Some travelers have complained about noise when going this route, but if you’re a heavy sleeper, or you don’t mind sleeping somewhere that might not have the tightest security, then this could be a very cost-effective option.
An even better idea? Check out the Bureau of Land Management as they offer tons of information on camping on public lands for cheap or free!
5. Shop Around For RV Rentals
Renting an RV may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re a first-timer. The good news is that RV rental doesn’t have to be a complicated and costly process. Websites like RVshare.com make it easy for you to search through thousands of RVs, many available for less than $100/day.
Simply select your desired pick-up city and search by features and RV type to make sure you’ll find just what you’re looking for. Then, choose your travel dates and make your reservation online. You’ll also be able to communicate directly with the RV owner to iron out all the details of your trip. He or she will make sure you get familiarized with the RV when you pick it up. Then, you’ll be ready to hit the open road.
Catch the Cudas