Who doesn’t want all the money-saving RV travel tips they can get? The more money you spend on boring expenses like fuel, bad food, and campgrounds the less you get to spend on fun experiences and sightseeing.
We focus on saving money on the necessities of RV life so we can splurge on more expensive activities like renting UTV’s in Moab, UT or taking out some snowmobiles in the high sierra’s of Mammoth Lakes, California. Follow our tips below to see how we save thousands on RV travel necessities.
When you are traveling the country in your RV, you will spend a lot of money on fuel. Whether you just drive on travel days or you want to go explore the area around your campground, the miles quickly add up. We hate spending money on fuel so try and spend as little as possible. See below for our money-saving RV travel tips for fuel.
Sorry gas RV owners, this one is for diesel fuel only. TSD Logistics is a trucking company based in Texarkana, Texas. They came up with the great idea of sharing their commercial fuel program with RVers. This means they sell more fuel and can negotiate lower rates with the truck stops, lowering their fuel cost for their truckers. This program is open to anyone who wants to get diesel fuel from truck stops.
You can save up to $1.00 off each gallon of diesel when fueling up. Since we use around 30 gallons a week, this card saves us between $60 – $120 a month on fuel.
Get more information on how the TSD Logistics fuel card works and how to apply here.
Gas buddy is a free app that lets you price check fuel prices in your area. It has filters so you can find a gas station that is right for you. They also have a Gas Buddy card that can save you up to $0.25 a gallon.
We have been able to save over $0.50 a gallon using the card and choosing a gas station that was two blocks down off the main road with significantly cheaper prices.
Good Sam Club
This RV club offers discounts on a ton of things including fuel. With the Good Sam Club card, you can save $0.05 on gas and $0.08 on diesel from both Flying J and Pilot truck stops. While not the largest savings, we will save every penny on fuel we can.
Food is one of the highest monthly expenses we have. While traveling you are constantly exposed to new delicious restaurants and breweries. The price of eating out all the time adds up on you wallet and you waistline.
We still love eating great food out but hate spending money on crappy food. I’m sure we’ve all grabbed some fast food, gas station hot dogs, or “pizza” from a visitor center cafeteria before. Below are our money-saving RV travel tips for food.
Cook at Home
Cooking at home in your RV is the best way to save money on food. This is true even if you are not a good cook like myself. Quite frankly, I hate cooking. I’ve discovered that if I can get it all done in one or two stressful situations I am much happier every week.
This is where meal prepping comes in handy. I use an app called Meal Prep Pro to plan my week with their delicious recipes. It even creates a shopping list of ingredients so I don’t overbuy when at the store. When I’m hungry, there is no big time commitment or stress, I just pop a meal into the microwave and I’m good to go. While this works for me, it doesn’t work for everybody.
For example, Rae hates meal prepped food. She enjoys the process of cooking and loves freshly cooked food. She saves money on food at home by meal planning. When you know what to buy before heading into the store, you cut down on your time spent in the store and are less likely to buy food that you will end up throwing away.
This system works for us since we tend to eat at different times of the day but we still meal plan meals together (mostly dinners). We recently just purchased a smoker and it has increased the flavor and fun were having while cooking, reducing our need to eat out even more. It even makes wood-fired pizza!
Buy Bulk Staples
Our next money-saving RV travel tip is to purchase bulk staples from Costco. Here is where we get a little creative with the term “staples”. This does include things like black beans, rice, and other things you would normally consider a staple but we also think about things we normally like to eat. For us, this is things like salami and string cheese as a delicious snack, almond milk for breakfast shakes, chips for a road snack, and protein bars for hikes.
Pack your Lunch
We never packed a lunch for the first year on the road. We would go exploring and be starving in the middle of the day. This would always lead to us being “hangry” and eating some not very delicious food at tourist prices.
Then we received a large soft-sided cooler bag as a Christmas gift and started packing lunches. This has helped us save money not only when out exploring but also on travel days. This has also reduced our stress when backing the trailer into a new campground because we have both eaten.
Even with all these tips to save money by cooking at home, we still love to eat out. This is where planning our meals helps because we can be more intentional about where we go and when. We love to go during happy hour and sit in the bar area.
Just changing this one thing will save you hundreds of dollars a month eating out. You will save money on both food and alcohol.
Campgrounds are another of the potentially expensive necessities when traveling in an RV. Since we use our campgrounds as a home base to explore an area and not as the vacation destination itself, we don’t like to pay for extra amenities.
We also like to get as big a discount as we can get. We are members of many different RV clubs and explain them all in our ultimate guide. Here are the money-saving RV travel tips for campgrounds.
We use our Thousand Trails membership to save thousands of dollars every year in campground fees. It comes with an upfront cost but then you pay no night rate for your stays. There are a ton of different membership options and their worthiness varies based on your travel style.
Passport America is a great membership for anyone. It gets you up to 50% off your nightly rate at participating campgrounds. The campgrounds get to dictate their own savings percentages and when they can be used so it can be a little more planning.
Good Sam Club
Good Sam Club can save you on campgrounds, fuel, RV accessories, and more. We like to think of it as the AAA club of the RV world. The savings are small but on everything.
RV Trip Wizard
Once you join a group of RV clubs to save money on campgrounds fees, you run into another problem. How do you make sure that you maximize your savings with them all? We use RV Trip Wizard for our campground planning. It allows you to filter its huge database of campgrounds by the RV clubs in which we have a membership. We are able to quickly see all the campgrounds in an area that provide a discount.
We try and boondock whenever we can including right now! Above is a picture of the amazing free site we found outside Yellowstone National Park. Boondocking is camping for free on public land like the Bureau of Land Management or in US National Forests. You get amazing views and the freedom of not having to make reservations but it can be a little stressful. It took us over a year on the road before our friends were able to coax us out into the desert. If you don’t have friends to show you the ropes as we did, don’t worry! We created a course on RV Masterclass called Boondocking 101 that details everything you need to know and more.
We love having different experiences while on the road. We have taken a hot air ballon over the Sonoran desert in Arizona, snowmobiled in California, rode an airboat in the gator filled swamps of Mississippi, rode a boat to the base of the Niagara Falls, swam with manatees in Florida and more. These are the reason we RV but we still like to minimize the amount we pay for each experience. See below for our money-saving travel tips on experiences!
Groupon is still alive and strong! We use Groupon to find interesting things in an area at rock-bottom prices. We were able to save $20 per person on our Manatee tours in Crystal Springs, Florida because we decided to check Groupon before booking our tour.
If you are exploring a larger city and want to do all the touristy things then you should check out the Go Card. After you purchase the Go Card it allows you free access to the experiences they list. It is usually for a set day so they require a little planning to make sure you can get to all the different places before your time runs out.
America the Beautiful Annual Pass (National Park Pass)
We still love to explore National Parks but the entrance fees can really add up. The national park pass is only $80 and gets you access to all of the US National Parks and many other benefits. This one is a no brainer.
Free museums and local events
We like to see the local culture by going to museums and local events. The only place you can get a potato museum is going to be in Idaho for example. We also learned that Ohio has the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States while Milwaukee, Wisconsin has the world’s largest music festival. We love to check out smaller, free events as well and our favorite tool is the Local app by Facebook. It shows you all the events in your area. We also will grab a local free newspaper if we can find one.
Last update on 2020-07-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API