How to RV on a Budget

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An rv parked in a open lot with hills in the background. Anyone can RV on a budget with these money saving tips!

You can do RVing on any budget. It’s true! RVers can find savings, whether you’re part-time or full-time, as long as you know how to RV on a budget. 

Using the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can take to RVing if your heart desires.  Whether your budget is $5,000 a month or $1,000, we’ve got you covered!

A hand types on a calculator to figure out a budget for RVing.

The Key to Learning How to RV on a Budget: Planning and Preparation

Planning and preparation are the keys to being successful at most things, and RVing on a budget is no exception. 

The following sections will teach you about different organizations, apps, and techniques to help you save while RVing. But don’t rely on just one! The best way to RV on a budget is to use a combination of techniques and tools for planning your trips, organizing meals, and more. 

Join Discount Camping Clubs

You can save a lot while RVing if you utilize any of the awesome discount camping clubs available to RVers. 

Passport America is a discount camping club that offers 50% off nightly rates at thousands of participating campgrounds in the US. If you’re interested in learning more, we have a guide to Passport America here. 

Thousand Trails operates a network of beautiful RV parks all over the US and is a great way to save money! Depending on the membership option you choose, you can camp for free or cheap in many different regions. We also have more information about Thousand Trails in our post here. 

Boondockers Welcome is a camping membership where you pay one yearly fee to access boondocking hosts around the country. The boondocking hosts open their private property for free camping to RVers passing through. With this membership, you can stay in places inaccessible by those outside the club without additional cost! Check out our guide to Boondockers Welcome here. 

Harvest Hosts is similar to boondockers welcome, but with a twist. Harvest Hosts is a membership that grants RVers opportunities to stay overnight at unique places like wineries, farms, museums, and much more. It’s one yearly fee, and your stays are free, but there’s an unspoken expectation that you patronize the business. Here’s our guide to Harvest Hosts.

Other RV clubs that include discount camping benefits include Escapees RV Club, Good Sam, and more. 

A sign says next exit membership. Memberships can help save a lot of money on the road RVing.

Use GasBuddy to Save on Fuel

Gas or diesel is among the highest costs as an RVer. Our RVs and tow vehicles are fuel guzzlers! So, we must be mindful of where we’re getting it. 

The GasBuddy app shows you all the gas stations near you or along your route so that you can choose the lowest-priced gas every time. 

Travel Slower

A huge part of RVing on a budget is how quickly you travel. And we don’t mean how many miles per hour; we mean how many places per month! 

Traveling slower not only means less gas, but it also means discounts that you wouldn’t usually get otherwise. 

Many campgrounds and RV parks offer discounted rates for weekly stays and even more discounted monthly rates. 

Plus, staying in one place for extended periods gives you the chance to experience new locations like a local. Slow travel is the best way to go!

A couple travels slowly in their RV to save money and make the most of their RV budget.

Boondocking Is the Best Way to RV on a Budget

Without a doubt, boondocking is the best way to RV on a budget. It’s almost always totally free! 

The general definition of boondocking is camping for free on public lands. 

Yes, it’s completely legal, and in most cases, it costs you nothing. 

To boondock successfully, you’ll need to be self-sufficient. It’s camping without hookups for water, sewer, or electricity, so it might require some practice. And to boondock for extended periods, you must invest in some equipment like a solar system and battery bank or purchase a self-sufficient RV from the start. 

But the investment will pay for itself over and over again, so it’s worth it!

Prepare Your Own Meals

One thing we don’t think a lot about is how much we spend on food. Eating out is always more expensive than preparing your meals, and it can add up quickly! 

Budget-conscious RVers plan and prepare all their meals to stretch their dollars and put healthier food on the table. 

A woman cooks dinner on her own in her RV to save money and make the most of her RV budget.

Little-Known Hack to Save Money While RVing: Travel During the Off-Season

If possible, plan your RV travels to popular destinations during their off-seasons. Almost everything will be cheaper. RV parks, gas, and sometimes even experiences will be more affordable when there aren’t as many tourists around. 

There may indeed be fewer amenities during this time. There may be some campgrounds closed, shortened attraction hours, and other limitations. However, it’s a simple hack to save while still enjoying the destinations on your bucket list! 

DIY RV Repairs and Maintenance

RV repairs and maintenance are costly. Even the costs of minor repairs and maintenance add up rapidly. Luckily, you can do many RV maintenance tasks yourself for much less than hiring an RV tech or taking it into a shop. 

YouTube is a wealth of information for all things RVing. If you need to learn repair or maintenance tasks, search YouTube and Google before shelling out your hard-earned cash. 

A man makes repairs on his RV to save some money and make the most of his RV budget.

Workamp or Volunteer for Free Campsites

You can offset the costs of campsites by workamping or volunteering. Workamping is work + camping, typically at campgrounds and RV parks. As a workamper, you exchange a time doing campground tasks in exchange for a free campsite, laundry, and sometimes even monetary compensation. 

Tasks might include hosting the campground, performing minor maintenance tasks, arranging repairs, and cleaning. You can work out the hours and compensation with the owner, but keep in mind that workamping can be competitive, particularly during peak tourist season. 

Anyone Can RV on a Budget

Using a combination of the techniques outlined in this article can save you loads of cash as an RVer, even if you’re just RVing part-time. 

And, many of the budget items on this list are so simple and worth doing even if you don’t have budget concerns. For example, a Passport America membership pays for itself in just two uses. Other items on the list pay off immediately in savings! 

Overall, successfully RVing on a budget requires planning and preparation, but now that you’re in the know, it should be a breeze!

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