The freedom of the road isn’t always as “free” as you might hope. Campsites have costs, gasoline prices are all over the place and restaurants get more expensive every year. The cost of RV travel can be a roadblock for frugal adventurers – but it doesn’t have to be. RV traveling on a budget is possible, it just requires skillful planning. Read on to find out how you can hit the road without needing to smash open your piggy bank.
Start Every Trip with a Plan
Spontaneity is a great part of adventuring with your RV, but not for budget traveling. Getting lost on winding roads and having to find last-minute places to stop can send your expenses off the rails. The best way to stick to your budget is to get an idea of all your expected costs before you set one wheel on the road. There are a few ways to do that:
#1. Research Your Campsites & Call Ahead
The most easily planned expense you’ll have on any trip is your cost for accommodation. Most notable campgrounds have public websites that feature their costs and let you reserve your spot ahead of time. You should never get blindsided by these fees as long as you do your research.
One thing that is important to note is that it’s possible a website or listing is outdated. Always call before you go. There may be an emergency, their fees may have changed or the campgrounds could be full. The last thing you want is to show up to a site only to find that it’s not available or will surprise you with additional costs.
Online RV communities are great resources for researching potential destinations. Not only can you find out information about popular areas, you may be able to ask questions to travelers who have already been there!
#2. Estimate Your Gas Mileage
You know you’ll need gas, so you can plan for that too. With tools like Google Maps, it’s much easier today to see how far your trip will take you. Use them and calculate your gas mileage to get an idea of how much you should budget for gas.
Keep in mind that as you move around the state or the country, gas prices could shift dramatically. Additionally, detours or missed exits can add a few dollars to your fuel’s bottom line. It’s always best to overestimate your gas costs!
#3. Decide on Activities First
Knowing where you’ll go is only half the battle. What you do when you get there can become a bulk of your costs if you wing it. Going to areas that are popular with tourists will increase your chances of getting nickel-and-dimed for any entertainment. Things that would be free elsewhere might cost you a few dollars per person. Fee-based fun will be at a premium.
If you want to visit the sights or take in any guided experiences, look for websites or information that detail their costs.
#4. Set Aside a Slush Fund
There will be unexpected costs – it’s unavoidable. Sometimes it’s a few extra dollars for water when you’re dying of thirst. In other cases, it could be a major expense. Your best bet to manage these typical costs of RV travel is to keep a variety of slush funds available.
Every individual trip should have some extra money set aside for extra food, gas or entertainment in case you come across a surprise event that you just can’t pass up. But on top of that, it’s a good idea to create a “safety net” fund for bigger costs. Roadside repairs, minor injuries and other surprises always pop up. If you’re ready for them, they won’t leave you shell-shocked after the bills come in.
Remember: Free is King
While there are costs you can’t avoid, there are plenty that you can. When you assemble your travel plans, consider looking for ways to avoid spending altogether:
Free Campsites – If you’re not opposed to boondocking, you can find plenty of national campgrounds that allow free dry camping. You can find out more about these sites from organizations like the Bureau of Land Management or if you’re heading west you can check out PublicLands.org.
Free Entertainment – There are countless roadside attractions for you to find on your travels. Many of these are offered completely free of charge. Likewise, most parks will have a variety of tours and trails that let you enjoy the wilderness at no additional cost.
Free Travel – Pack your hiking boots or your bicycle and make use of them! The fewer miles you drive, the more money stays in your wallet. Parks and tourist locations can be best experienced when you take your time and wander around, so leave the RV parked until you’re ready to rest and relax.
Travel During the Off-Season
National parks and campgrounds have hot seasons during the warmer months. When fall or winter roll around, they go into the off-season. With the dramatic decrease in visitors, many of them reduce or eliminate fees for entry!
If you’re not worried about driving through snowy weather or keeping yourself warm during the chilly months of the year, this can be a huge benefit to your travel budget. As an added bonus, the campgrounds are typically much quieter, so you can really relax and get away from it all.
Reduce Your Meal Costs
Road trips can make it appealing to stop at the first restaurant you see the moment your stomach grumbles. Of all the costs of RV travel, food can easily be the most expensive. Sit-in or fast food may leave you full, but at the cost of entertainment and experiences.
It’s advice that you hear all the time, but it still rings true: pack your own food! Even small RVs have ample space for food, both dry and refrigerated. You can make some delicious recipes at the campsite or in your RV, so don’t shy away from RV cooking.
Want to RV without breaking the bank? The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for your budget! Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (855) 629 3326.
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