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RV Money Saving Tips with Happy Trails Family


Full-time RV travel can be expensive, but with a little planning and preparation, you can save money and still have fun! Here are our top money-saving tips as a full-time RV Family. 

Slow it Down and Plan

Many campgrounds offer discounted rates for extended stays, providing significant savings compared to nightly rates. By planning your route with longer stays in mind, you can take advantage of these discounts and reduce your overall accommodation expenses. Additionally, planning your route strategically can help minimize fuel costs and optimize travel efficiency. Mapping out your journey in advance allows you to identify the most direct and fuel-efficient routes, avoiding unnecessary detours and backtracking. By combining weekly or even monthly campground stays with thoughtful route planning, you can stretch your travel budget further and make the most of your RV adventures.

Invest in Solar Panels For Boondocking

Reduce campground fees by harnessing solar power for your RV’s electricity needs. Having a solar set up for your RV will allow you the option to camp for free or at low-cost campsites, such as national forests or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, harvest host locations, and other boondocking locations. Boondocking isn’t for everyone but, if you are set up to go off-grid it will save you big bucks in the long run. Investing in solar now will help you save hundreds of, if not thousands on ever-increasing campground costs. We really love our EcoFlow solar panels and solar generator! With sunny skies, we can go days, if not weeks without needing to plug in or turn on our gas-powered generator!

solar panels installed on travel trailer roof
Installing EcoFlow solar panels on our RV roof.

Cook Meals in Advance and Limit Dining Out

Preparing meals in advance and limiting dining out can significantly impact your RV travel budget. While indulging in local cuisine is part of the adventure, moderation is key to keeping costs down. Planning and cooking meals ahead of time not only saves money but also ensures you have nutritious options readily available, particularly on travel days when time and water may be limited. Find that perfect balance of occasional dining out and choosing home-cooked meals, and you’ll find you can enjoy both the culinary delights of new places and financial savings along the journey. 

Park Passes

Investing in national park passes and state park passes is a savvy strategy for saving money while RVing. These passes typically offer access to multiple parks for a fixed fee, providing significant savings for frequent visitors. National park passes, such as the America the Beautiful Pass, grant entry to all National Parks and federal recreation sites for a year, allowing RVers to explore iconic landscapes and historical sites without individual entrance fees adding up. Additionally, military members, seniors, and others may qualify for free or reduced-price passes, further enhancing affordability. Similarly, if you know you will be in one state for a while, state park passes provide access to state parks within a specific state, often including amenities like camping and parking. By purchasing these passes, RVers can enjoy endless outdoor adventures at a fraction of the cost, making the most of their travels while saving money.

Roadside Assistance Memberships

Having an RV roadside assistance membership is a smart move for any RVer looking to save money and ensure peace of mind on the road. These memberships provide invaluable services like towing, tire changes, fuel delivery, and locksmith assistance, all of which can be costly if needed unexpectedly. When choosing a roadside assistance provider, compare coverage options, response times, and member benefits to find the best value for your needs. Different types of memberships, such as those offered by Good Sam, AAA, and FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association), each provide their own set of services and perks. Good Sam offers discounts on campgrounds, fuel, and RV accessories, in addition to providing roadside assistance and insurance options. FMCA members enjoy exclusive campground discounts, insurance savings, roadside assistance, and access to a supportive community of fellow RV enthusiasts. Many memberships also offer additional benefits such as travel discounts, trip interruption coverage, and technical assistance hotlines. By having reliable roadside assistance coverage tailored to your RVing needs, you can avoid hefty out-of-pocket expenses and travel with confidence knowing help is just a phone call away.

Campground Memberships and Discounts Programs

Let’s be real, campgrounds are getting expensive! To save on campground fees while RVing, consider joining discount programs such as Thousand Trails, KOAs, and Passport America. By utilizing these campground memberships and discount programs, RVers can enjoy quality accommodations at discounted rates, allowing them to save money and make the most of their travels. Thousand Trails, our personal favorite, offers access to multiple campgrounds across the country for a fixed annual fee, providing cost-effective stays for members. KOA provides quality amenities and discounts for members, along with rewards programs for frequent visitors. Passport America offers significant discounts up to 50% off on nightly campground fees at participating locations, making it ideal for budget-conscious travelers.

Fuel Your Way to Savings

To save on fuel costs during your RV adventures, take advantage of loyalty programs and fuel rewards cards offered by most gas stations. Use a fuel discount card or app like GasBuddy to earn points that accumulate towards cheaper gas per gallon or even free snacks for your long drives. By adopting these strategies, you can stretch your fuel budget further and make the most of your travels.

RV and Truck Maintenance

Keeping your RV and truck well-maintained is crucial for both safety and saving money on the road. Regular inspections and preventive maintenance can catch small issues before they escalate into costly repairs. Simple tasks like checking tire pressure, changing oil and filters, and inspecting brakes can improve fuel efficiency and extend the lifespan of your vehicles. Similarly, staying on top of RV maintenance, such as roof inspections and plumbing upkeep, can prevent expensive water damage and other issues. Consider learning basic repair skills and attempting DIY fixes when possible, as this can further reduce maintenance costs. While maintenance requires an initial investment of time and money, it ultimately saves you from larger repair bills and potential breakdowns during your travels, ensuring a smooth and worry-free RV experience.

RV Insurance

Shop around for quotes from various providers to find competitive rates tailored specifically for RVs. Consider factors such as coverage limits, deductibles, and available discounts. Bundling your RV insurance with other policies like auto or homeowners insurance can lead to significant savings. Maintaining a clean driving record and completing safe driving courses may qualify you for additional discounts. For instance, USAA offers an app that monitors your phone handling during your drives for a discount. Be sure to regularly review your policy to ensure you’re not overpaying for unnecessary coverage, and adjust your coverage levels as needed based on your RV usage. By staying proactive and informed, you can lower your RV insurance costs without compromising essential coverage.

Flexible Travel Dates

Flexible travel dates can be a game-changer for saving money while RVing. By avoiding peak travel seasons and holidays, you can often secure lower rates on campgrounds, attractions, and even fuel. Keep an eye on campground pricing calendars and be willing to adjust your itinerary to take advantage of off-peak rates. Additionally, flexible travel dates allow you to capitalize on last-minute deals and discounts, whether it’s for campground reservations or entertainment activities. Embracing flexibility with your travel dates not only helps stretch your budget but also opens up opportunities for spontaneous adventures and unexpected discoveries along the way!

Free Boondocking at State Park in TX

Exploring On A Budget

When traveling in your RV, prioritize enjoyable and budget-friendly activities. Explore nearby hiking trails, parks, and scenic areas for outdoor adventures without spending a dime. Seek out free community events like concerts and farmers’ markets to experience local culture. Consider investing in reciprocal memberships like the ASTC Passport Program or zoo memberships, offering access to science centers, museums, and zoos at low or no cost. Check out our previous article to learn all about the ASTC Passport Program. By focusing on experiences that don’t rely on pricey tickets or memberships, you can fully enjoy your RV adventures without overspending.

In conclusion, full-time RV travel can be expensive, but with strategic planning, it’s possible to save money while still enjoying the journey. From careful route planning and cooking meals in advance to taking advantage of park passes and campground discounts, there are ways to stretch your budget without sacrificing experiences. By staying proactive and flexible, you can embark on memorable RV adventures while keeping costs in check.

Learn more from Happy Trails Family:

Adventure in Big Bend for a family

Road-Schooling as a full-time family

Junior Range program information



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