5 Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage With Your RV

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Man's hand holding three hundred US dollars and gas nozzle while pumping gas into parked vehicle

It’s no secret to anyone with a vehicle that gas costs more than it did even a few weeks ago. And no one notices it more immediately than RVers and other frequent or full-time travelers, whose vehicles guzzle gas in incredible volume. 

But while you can’t do much about the energy markets that set the price at the pump, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies to get better gas mileage and save money!

A fuel pump showing someone spent $125.00 and got 25 gallons of gas

Gas Prices Are Rising in the U.S. 

American Automobile Association finds that the average gallon of gas nationwide costs $3.45. The change is dramatic from March 2021, when gas averaged just $2.86 per gallon. 

This is due to various issues, from increasing demand post-pandemic and inflation to the energy market’s geopolitical troubles. Many experts expect gas prices to continue to rise or remain at this high level for the near future. 

Tips for Saving Money During Your Travels

Gas is expensive — but it isn’t your only cost while traveling. You can make room for recent price increases by cutting your budget in other areas instead. Here are some of the best.

Choose Boondocking Over RV Parks

If gas is taking up a growing portion of your travel budget, consider saving some money by altering where you stay. RVers can find plentiful free or cheap boondocking on Bureau of Land Management land or other federal, state, and local parks. 

Sure, you’ll need to sacrifice some amenities and often have to go without hookups. But boondocking can provide other benefits beyond price, like getting closer to nature and helping travelers disconnect. 

RVs boondocking on the beach with cloudy skies

Camp Closer to Home 

You may have planned a cross-country journey to that famed national park, beach, or other attraction. But if gas prices make this less feasible, you may find an alternative closer to home.

Try to think creatively or alter the type of trip you want to plan. But with a bit of looking, the amazing places you’ll find in your own backyard may surprise you. 

Sign Up for Fuel Programs 

You have to get gas, so why not make the most of your purchase with some rewards? Many gas station chains offer deals or bonus points for buyers who sign up for their programs. Depending on the program, you may even receive other benefits like fuel or maintenance discounts. 

One of the best rewards for those who use diesel is the TSD Logistics Fuel Card, which works only at commercial truck stop pumps. Still, RVers who sign up can see discounts of as much as a dollar per gallon. Imagine the money you can put back in your pocket at every fill-up.

A truck towing a fifth wheel parked at a truck stop using their TSD fuel card

Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage

At the end of the day, the best way to save money on gas (other than simply driving less) is to take steps to get better mileage. Most of these don’t require much behavioral change from you and your fellow travelers. Let’s take a closer look. 

1. Unload Unnecessary Weight 

Now is a great time for spring cleaning. It’ll result in a nice, decluttered RV for trips, and you may also significantly reduce your weight.

You could remove unused camping equipment, clothing, or anything else that’s simply weighing your rig down without providing any benefits.

\While each item may seem small, it can give an overall boost to your gas mileage that you’ll notice at the pump.

2. Ease Off the Gas Pedal 

When you press the accelerator, your engine receives a flood of fuel to speed up your vehicle. However, your RV or truck will make the most of that fuel when you slowly and steadily introduce it to the engine versus in abrupt bursts.

You can regulate the amount you push the pedal by using cruise control when road and traffic conditions allow it. This can dramatically improve your gas mileage, along with taking some stress out of your drive.

3. Don’t Speed

Did you know your fuel economy usually tops out at just 50 miles per hour? It’s true — and every five miles per hour faster is the equivalent of paying nearly 20 cents per gallon more.

Higher speeds in the 60s or 70s might get you to your destination a little faster. Driving slower can save you significantly, especially over long-distance trips. 

A person driving an RV down the road going 80 miles an hour

4. Install Wind Deflectors 

Wind deflectors can be particularly valuable for those towing a trailer or fifth wheel. These devices attach to the top of your tow vehicle and provide a more aerodynamic surface for the air to flow over as you drive. 

Wind deflectors reduce drag and correspondingly increase mileage by sometimes significant levels. Beyond mileage improvements, many users also find that these devices improve their handling at higher speeds. 

This RV owner said he noticed a difference after installing his wind deflectors in the rear.

5. Ensure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated

Underinflated tires are more than just a safety issue — they also reduce your gas mileage.

Ensuring your tires have the proper pressure can improve mileage by more than half percent on average and several percent in some cases.

This is another minor adjustment that can make a big difference over time, along with altering driving habits and other behavioral changes. 

A man checking his RV tire pressure

Worst Case Scenario: Postpone Your Trip

It’s not something most RVers or other travelers ever like to do. But with gas prices soaring, the simple reality may be that those trying to hit the road on a small budget may no longer be able to do so.

Even financially secure travelers may find gas prices forcing them to squeeze other parts of their budget in ways they weren’t expecting.

Due to various economic trends and geopolitical issues, some RVers feel waiting out these recent spikes may be the best plan, whether for a few months or a few years.

If this is you, it may feel like a crushing blow. But don’t worry too much; the road will still be there when it fits your budget.

Pro Tip: You can save money away from the pump too. Read our Practical Ways To Save Money On Activities to learn some other tips to save your wallet this year.

Don’t Let High Fuel Prices Ruin Your Trip

We’d all prefer to spend more having fun and less on gas while traveling. But the unfortunate reality is that gas prices have continued to increase and may continue.

While some RVers may be undaunted, it may force others to change or postpone their trip altogether. What about you? Will the price at the pump alter your spring and summer adventures?

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