Tips for Frugal Camping

Road tripping in an RV is surely one of the best ways to travel, allowing travelers to vacation with everything they need on them at all times. This includes their personal belongings, a small vacation home, a vehicle, a full kitchen, a full bathroom, bedroom, living room, and so much more. All of these things are with an RVer at any time while they are camping with their RV, and many feel that this makes traveling so much more convenient. 

In addition to added convenience, traveling in an RV can be very affordable, as it allows one to forgo the cost of a hotel room and stay overnight in their RV instead. However, between campground costs, restaurant meals, gas for far drives, and other associated costs, traveling in an RV can also be fairly pricey at times. Nonetheless, it is very possible to cut costs while RVing and travel in a more frugal fashion. Cooking meals in your RV, camping for free, driving shorter distances, joining membership clubs, splitting the cost of trips with family, and more can all contribute to make RV travel much cheaper. Follow along for the best tips and tricks to save money while RVing.

Camping for free can save your lots of money while RVing.

1. Cook your own meals

Eating out at restaurants and sampling local fares is one of the most enjoyable parts of traveling. However, limiting these meals out and cooking meals in your RV kitchen can be a great way to save money while RV camping. Instead of eating out three meals per day, try to eat out only once a day, or even less if you feel so inclined. When you do eat out, choosing less expensive restaurants and limiting alcoholic beverages can also help cut costs. 

Again, for many, restaurant meals can really add to a vacation. Simply cutting back on the number of meals out can save hundreds of dollars. In addition, camp meals can really be quite enjoyable, and nothing beats dinner outside or around the fire. Check out our summer cooking post for RV camping recipes and meal ideas.

Cooking camp ,meals in your RV can save lots of money while camping.

2. Camp for free

RV parks and campgrounds can really add to the fun of a vacation. However, there are many excellent camping options that you can enjoy at no cost to you. One such option is boondocking, which allows campers to stay on public lands for free for up to fourteen days. Often, these campsites are more scenic, more private, and much quieter than those you would find at a campground.

In addition to camping on public lands, there are a number of membership clubs that may also allow you to camp for free. One such club is Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts is a membership program that allows those with self-contained RVs to enjoy free overnight camping at __ different locations across the country for one low yearly price. These locations include farms, vineyards, museums, breweries, and so much more. 

Finally, there are many businesses that allow quiet and polite RVers to stay in their parking lots for a night or two at no charge. These include Walmarts, Home Depots, some casinos, Cracker Barrels, Cabela’s, rest stops, and more. Check out our extensive free camping guide for more tips on free camping your way across North America.

Beautiful Harvest Hosts locations such as this one require dry camping!

3. Join membership clubs

If you do decide to stay in a campground instead of camping for free, there are a number of membership clubs you can join to further save costs. These include Passport America, Thousand Trails, Good Sam Club, Escapees RV Club, Happy Camper, and FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association). These each have an upfront price but allow campers to save a percentage of the cost of overnight campground accommodations, among other benefits. Passport America in particular allows campers to save fifty percent of the campsite costs in some cases. Be sure to do your own research to decide which of these clubs is best for you and your budget, and then camp mostly at those destinations to save money on your RV vacations.

Good Sam Club is an excellent RV membership club RVers can join.

4. Enjoy free activities at your campground

Enjoying local activities, such as museums, amusement parks, national parks, and more, is all part of the RVing fun. However, if you are staying at a campground, you can also enjoy a number of campground activities for free, saving lots of money in the long run. These activities range from swimming to game rooms, game nights, movie nights, and more. When checking into your campground, be sure to request an activities schedule if one is not provided.

Membership clubs can save you lots of money on campgrounds.

5. Drive shorter distances

One of the appeals of purchasing an RV is the ability to take it anywhere with you. However, this ability comes at a cost. RVs are generally known for their poor gas mileage, and with the price of gas, traveling from your home to your intended destination can be quite pricey. Choosing vacation destinations closer to your home can lower this potential cost. Instead of traveling far away, try to choose a location within four to six hours of your home. This will allow you to travel there and back in about two tanks of gas (or less, for more efficient RVs), saving hundreds of dollars. Traveling far distances certainly has its time and place, but for those looking to save money, shorter trips is the way to go.

Consider traveling shorter distances to save money while RVing.

6. Split costs with friends and family

Traveling in an RV is even more fun when you bring friends and family along. Even friends and family that do not have their own RVs could help you cut costs while vacationing together. Simply invite your chosen guests along, and plan ahead to split costs with them. This includes food, gas, campgrounds, and anything else that you must spend on while RVing. This benefits both you and your guests, as it allows the both of you to enjoy an excellent vacation at a significantly lower price.

Splitting camping costs with family can make your trip much more affordable.

7. Bring your pets along

One of the many benefits of RVing is the ability to bring your pets along for the ride. This can make the vacation much more fun for both you and your pets, and it can also help you to save money. Pet sitting can be rather expensive, and being able to travel with your pets and forgo the cost of pet care can cut vacation costs significantly. For tips on traveling with pets, see our previous posts on bring along your dog or cat.

Bring your pets camping to save money on pet care costs.

RV camping is one of the most enjoyable ways to vacation, adding both convenience and enjoyment for all RV campers. Utilizing the seven tips above can also allow campers to save quite a bit of money on vacation. Saving on vacations can allow you to plan more vacations, enjoying even more beautiful places throughout the year. Start following these tips today to plan cost effective vacations that you and your entire family will remember for years to come.

Camping for free can save your lots of money while RVing.

How do you cut costs while vacationing in your RV? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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