Living in an RV is a GOOD way to save money, but not a GREAT way.
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love living small and eliminating a house payment does free up extra cash. On the flip side, if you are RV living and traveling, there is some cost involved. Cost of fuel, lodging, maintenance, did I mention maintenance? The payoff in return is adventure, freedom, and lots of family memories money can not buy.
With the RV lifestyle, I have always heard the expression you can spend as little or as much as your budget would allow. Just like living in a sticks and brick home, there are many different ranges of investments. It seems to be an eye-opener to fulltime RVers how expensive this lifestyle can be.
Here are 5 tips that may help you save some money as you hit the road:
Eat at Home
Trying authentic and local restaurants is one the best highlights of traveling the country. New York pizza, New Orleans jumbalya, and a Texas hamburger on a donut bun! I know you didn’t expect that last one, but Gordough’s in Austin Texas still remains to be one of our favorite restaurants in almost 2 years of travel. Unbelievably good!
The food can be an amazing perk of living like a local in different parts of the US, but it can also be a budget-breaker. Our first 6 months of travel, we were in the honeymoon phase and went a little overboard trying the new foods.
It was draining our wallets fast.
We then had to reel it back in and pick out a few of our favorite must try foods in the area and say “not now” to some of the other places that would have been nice to try.
While traveling, we are on the road exploring quite a bit and we catch ourselves eating out often. I have since then started packing our lunches more and this has been a huge money saver for our family. Eating out prices can add up fast for a family and leave less money to spend on experiences on your journey.
Learn to Boondock
If you are like me, when I heard the word “boondock” I had to google it. Honestly when I discovered the meaning, it was an experience I did not want to become familiar with. Why would anyone want to camp without hookups? That doesn’t sound fun at all!
It may not have started out fun, but now this experience has really grown on me. Not because I like taking short military style showers or I dislike having electricity at my convenience, but because it can save lots of hard earned money! Who doesn’t like saving money?
As well as saving money, boondocking can offer some beautiful camping locations. Some of the most spectacular camping spots we have encountered has been for the tradeoff for boondocking. The inner minimalists inside us has actually learned to enjoy getting back to nature and enjoying the challenge of this process.
A great tool to find these spots is the All Stays app. You can set up a filter to search for free BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. I have heard of people going a year without paying for a camping site!
Find Free Entertainment
Nothing is free these days right? You will actually be very surprised at the family entertainment you can find for FREE! Some cities offer free museums, zoos, and beautiful parks. One of the best zoos we have visited was the St. Louis Zoo and it was free.
This part can take a little bit of research, but is a fun and budget friendly way to spend time together as a family and enjoy the area in which you are traveling in. Pinterest is a great tool for this in my experience because travel bloggers will write articles on the free or cheap attractions in the area. Just type in the city name and start exploring!
Camping clubs can be confusing and a waste of money at times. The trick is to figure out what clubs fit your style of travel and camping needs and then in return they can be very helpful if used correctly. We are not claiming to be experts in this department, but I can share with you what we have learned along the way.
When it comes to clubs, some are not expensive and maybe worth giving it a try to see if you find it helpful or an experience you would use and benefit from. We have used Good Sam multiple times. We find this club helpful and have saved money without jumping through tons of hoops. Some clubs offer discounts, but in the fine print, the exclusions have not been worth our efforts to use them from our experience.
Some clubs are beneficial as well, because they offer a sense of community. If you are traveling full-time family, Thousand Trails is a good way to connect with other full time families. It’s a bit of an up-front investment, but if it fits your travel style, it can save you money in the long run. RV Love wrote a great article on Thousand Trails if you think it might be your thing.
Keep the Right Mindset
One of the most difficult aspects of RV living is not letting life start to be a vacation instead of a lifestyle. It does sound nice in theory, but living in “vacation mode” comes with consequences. We go on vacation for a reason and that is to take a break, but we can not take a constant “break” from our lives.
We also started to notice we were spending quite a bit of money, because “we were on vacation” or our fitness level declined because “we were on vacation”. Vacation mode can be an expensive and nonproductive LIFESTYLE.
There are many other ways to save money while traveling, but these are some of the biggest changes we made to our lifestyle that we found to be cost effective. What are some ways you’ve saved money while traveling?