We all know that cheap family vacations are hard to come by. However, RVing is the exception to this rule. In fact, RVing is one of the best ways to see the country on a budget, and if there are ways to make it even cheaper, most of us are going to want to know about it.
Fortunately, there are actually a number of ways to make cheap RV travel happen. Once you know these tricks, you can stretch your vacation budget further and squeeze more adventures into your year.
Read on to learn our favorite money saving tips.
Cheap RV Rental
The first thing you’ll have to do when planning your budget getaway is find a suitable RV. If you don’t already own a rig of your own, this will likely mean turning to the RV rental option. Fortunately, cheap RV rentals are out there, and once you know how to find one, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all fitting this expense into your budget.
Begin your search for a cheap RV rental by really narrowing down your must-haves. Obviously, you aren’t going to find a top-of-the-line luxury model that your wallet can handle. You might even need to be willing to sacrifice a few things in order to find a rig in your price range. Try to remain open-minded and ready to compromise.
With your list of must-haves in hand, start your search. We recommend looking at older models, cheap pop-up campers, and cheap travel trailers. These tend to give you the most bang for your buck and will work just as well as the other options out there.
Need a driveable model? Go ahead and search for cheap motorhomes, but know that you may have a more difficult time finding one, and you may have to shell out a bit more cash.
If you’re having trouble finding a cheap RV that suits your needs, try expanding your search location. Look in nearby towns, as well as the place you will be visiting rather than your starting point. Often, it’s possible to rent an RV cheap in one location but not another.
Finding Cheap Vacation Spots
Of course, picking out one of the cheap campers on RVshare is just one part of the planning process. Another important aspect is finding an affordable place—or in some cases places—to camp. There are a few ways to go about this.
Boondocking is a wonderful way to save money. While you won’t have any hookups while boondocking, most locations are completely free of charge. You can find boondocking camping spots on websites such as Campendium and Freecampsites.net.
If you want some RV hookups but still want a rustic and inexpensive camping experience, state parks might be the option for you. While the camping fees will vary from park to park, you can usually count on paying between $15 and $30 a night for an RV site at a state park.
Finally, there is the option of camping clubs. If you camp often, we highly recommend joining a club such as Passport America. Your membership will get you deep discounts at a number of privately owned parks all over the country.
Saving on Last-Minute Vacations
Looking to get away at the last minute? If so, you might find that many campgrounds are full or raise their rates, depending on the season. This can be frustrating but doesn’t have to mean calling off your adventure.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t afford, think outside the box and find what you can afford. Boondocking is often an excellent option for those last-minute trips.
It’s also important to note that where in the country you decide to vacation also makes a difference. Popular vacation destinations are more likely to be expensive; meanwhile, hidden gems and lesser-known destinations can be just as fun without the crowds, full campgrounds, or enormous cost.
Some ideas for cheap trips include lesser-known beaches, destination-worthy state parks, and charming small towns. If you have the ability to travel far enough, visiting an off-season location is another great option.
Just remember that it’s less about where you go and more about your attitude going in. As long as you’re flexible, you’re sure to have a good time—even if you have to adjust your plans a bit.
To-Do While You’re Away: Cheap Vacation Ideas
Cheap RVing doesn’t have to equal boring RVing. There are tons of awesome things you can do for free and cheap while RVing on a budget.
Below are some of our favorite ideas for filling your time and having a blast:
If you’ll be staying in a private park—and even in some state parks—you may find that there is plenty to do right there in your campground. From swimming pools and basketball courts to live entertainment and ranger talks, there are all kinds of activities that may be happening in your RV park.
Even if there isn’t much going on in your campground, there is bound to be some outdoor exploring to do. Hiking trails are nearly always free, and local lakes tend to have low fees. Go bird-watching at a local park, or find a neat playground.
Big cities and small towns alike often have fun local events going on, and many of them are absolutely free. Look for festivals, library events, and live music performances. Usually, information on these things can be found at the local library or coffee shop, or simply by asking around.
Finally, we must mention reciprocal memberships. If you travel often, having a reciprocal membership or two is definitely a good idea. Depending on the membership you have, you could end up with free admission to museums, zoos, and even theme parks all over the US.
More Cheap Travel Tips
If you need to save even more on your next RV getaway, we recommend using the following tips:
- Eat in. Go into your trip with a meal plan and stick to it. Cook in your RV kitchen, pack lunches if you’ll be out, and avoid spending tons of money on fast food.
- Stay close to home. RVs are gas guzzlers. Save on gas money by choosing a vacation destination close to home.
- Set a strict budget. Before you begin planning, decide how much you are allowed to spend and stick to that limit. You may be surprised how far you can make your money stretch.