7 Tips to Save Money While RVing

Does that headline seem familiar? It may be. Coach-Net recently published a post entitled “7 Tips For Saving Money While RVing.” I decided that before opening and reading their post, I would change the title a bit and write my own version . And then compare the two. That’s my idea of fun.

Here’s my list:

1. Accommodations

Old Highway 86 COE Campground

Our first choice is to stay at Corps of Engineer Campgrounds. We have been very pleased with these campgrounds, and when you add in – or deduct, however you want to look at it, our National Parks Senior Pass 50% discount, these campgrounds are a sweet deal. It’s almost worth getting older! Now, I don’t quite qualify for this pass, but Dan sure does. Ha ha. The days are counting down on this one though. Now, as long as I am in the same vehicle as him, I get to enjoy the benefits, also. So, I better not brag too much about being younger than him!

2. Gas

How on earth can you save money when you buy gas for an RV? Well . . . we buy gas with the Costco Citibank Cash back card. We’re members of Costco, and so we always fill up there whenever we can. However, when we’re out on the road, we’ve yet to find a Costco, but we do use our Costco Citibank Cash back card wherever we buy gas. We use this credit card for all our purchases, pay our balance every month and we never pay interest. We get 4% back on gas, up to $7,000, and we have cards in each of our names. For 2020, we got back $494. That’s a lot of nights at COE campgrounds.

3. Food

For convenience and for economy, we pack our camper with food before we leave home. Food we bought at Aldi’s and Costco, including bottled water. While we eat most of our meals in our camper, we do probably eat out about once a week while traveling. So, limiting meals out could be considered Tip #3b.

4. Entertainment

We greatly enjoy walking and bike riding, so these are regular activities when we travel. I also use Trip Advisor to search for free or low cost activities in the areas we are visiting. In addition, I’ll search Groupon for deals when visiting certain cities, like when we visited Branson. I plan to check Groupon when we go to the Smokey Mountains.

We also brings our games, including Scrabble and Farkle, along on the road. We often take a walk or hike in a park, and then find an area to play Scrabble and have a snack. It’s a great way to enjoy an area a bit longer or spend some time outside when at our campsite.

5. Internet on the Road

To access the internet, we’ll use campground wifi. Sometimes the signal is weak, but fortunately, our 23FBKS has a wifi booster. If the campground does not have wifi, we’ll use our hotspot on a limited basis, as needed. For those times without internet, we’ll bring DVDs to watch in the evening or watch over the air local TV. Bottom line, if wifi is not available, we just do without. Kind of like when we were kids.

Our library has mobile hotspots that can be checked out, so I am going to look into this for our next trip. Of course, if we do use public wifi, we do not access anything which needs to be secure, such as financial accounts.

6. Propane

Somebody doesn’t like the cold!

Our camper has two propane tanks. But even with two tanks, we have our dealer top off our propane tank at the start of each camping season. By doing that we haven’t had to buy propane while out on the road. My guess is the cost of propane is higher if you have to buy it at a campground.

I have heard of campers bringing along a small electric heater to use when it is chilly or cold as a way to reduce propane costs. We have not done this, but it sounds like a good idea. We do use the heated mattress in our Micro Lite on chilly nights, and we love it!

7. Souvenirs

We don’t need or want to accumulate more stuff. So, our purchases of “souvenirs” is very limited. I consider this blog to be my “souvenir” for our trips. I have looked back at previous posts countless times – to recall one kind of detail or another. Plus, writing each post is a way to “reign in” the number of photos I have taken. I choose the best of the best photos, selecting not too many and not too few. Then, when my post is written, I delete many, though not all, of the remaining photos.

We do purchase local specialties, such as the jelly at Johnson Shut-ins state park. It was pricey, but we are happy to support the parks. Plus, it was so delicious; we bought the last three jars!

The last time my daughter visited, she asked how old the sweatshirt was that I was wearing. She said she remembered it from her childhood. Now, I love sweatshirts, but I guess, some of them might need to be retired. So, going forward over the next couple of years, I will purchase some new sweatshirts. This will be a good way to support the parks, have a nice souvenir, and update my sweatshirt supply. Then my daughter can simply say, “Nice sweatshirt!”

Those are my tips. So, at this point, I am going to go read the other “7 Tips For Saving Money While RVing.” I’ll be back with a short comparison report.

I’m back. The post by Coach-Net was better than I thought it would be. I thought it might be full of affiliate links or what I would call “shallow thinking.” But it really wasn’t. The post included some tips we follow, but I had forgotten to mention, such as using the Gas Buddy app, a slow cooker, and the electric option (rather than propane) for the water heater. The article also suggested purchasing Roadside Assistance, which we also have done.

Another good suggestion from the Coach-Net post was to use reciprocal memberships for institutions such as museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. We haven’t done this, but it could be a great idea.

The Coach-Net post also recommended “investing in at least one camping membership or pass.” This we haven’t done, and we are not likely to in the future. Maybe something like this works well for full timers, but we have found we are good using the COE campgrounds, state parks and the occasional KOA.

We also will not follow their advice to take advantage of free camping or boondocking. I know many enjoy these options and sometimes I envy the beautiful and uncrowded scenery they enjoy. But this is not for me. I have one extra bone in my skeleton, and that is the chicken bone.

So, what are your thoughts? What are your favorite “saving money while RVing tips?” Please share, as camping season is almost here, and the more we save, the more we camp!

12 comments

  1. That’s a great blog and I like when I can learn something from them. I use the Amazon card for gas but I will use my Costco Citi bank also to mix it up. Anytime you get cash back is good.
    I always boondock and I hate snow too! Give me those sunsets and warmth! Happy trails.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Some thoughts. #1 Agree, COE Escapees parks, plus state parks. When we have to stay at private parks we pick carefully based on reviews as well as price. We do have a membership to Harvest Host and use it when we only need an overnight stop #2 We have a discount card for diesel and use it frequently. #3 Yup, that is why we have the six containers down underneath for food. We try to fill them before we get on the road. In the process of doing that right now. #4 Sure thing TripAdvisor and Groupon as well as Mexican Train. #5 Internet supplied by the park we are in or a Verizon Hot Spot. We do have Dish for TV since this is our home. #6 Propane, 32 gallons will usually last me a full year, unless we are somewhere it is bit on the cold side, then occasionally we will use the furnace. But that is rare. Being that we can’t remove our tank convivence is usually more important than price – can we get to the refill station without a big hassle. If we are in a park where electric is part of the price we always use electric for our hot water. #7 souvenirs, from the beginning I’ve always purchased a Tshirt at most of the places we have visited – you should see my closed! My other half will get postcards to send to members of the family. That’s it for us. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It looks like we agree! We had Boondockers Welcome for the first 2 years. I really liked the idea of that and Harvest Host. But we only used it 3 nights in those 2 years. We let it go when it expired. Enjoy your Saturday!

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  3. The pandemic has forced us to save money on food when traveling. We would carry simple meal items (frozen ravioli, etc.) and eat dinner out more often than not. Once the pandemic hit, eating out was no longer an option. Now that I have been doing more cooking in our travel trailer, I’ve spent a bit of time reorganizing our kitchen and replacing a few items that just weren’t working. (The search for the “perfect” skillet has been difficult. I’m hoping I have now found the right solution. I guess I’ll find out on the next trip!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • We definitely ate out a lot more before the pandemic, and I’m talking about when we were at home. We’ve noticed the difference financially, too. I’ve actually started to enjoy eating at home and have had fun trying new recipes. I do hope this change last post pandemic – for a number of reasons. One being that it is healthier. I hope you have found the “perfect” skillet. Good luck!

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  4. Great post. Thank you for the tips on saving money!
    I agree that it saves money to load up the food before you hit the road. Buying snacks at gas stations or groceries in remote or tourist locations can get pricey!
    The kids make smooshed pennies for souvenirs (just 51 cents each!). My husband and I sometimes get a t-shirt to support the National Parks. 😊
    Happy Trails!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! I remember making smooshed pennies as a kid. We’d put pennies on the railroad tracks and wait for the train to pass.
      Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. 🙂 I bet you could write a great post about activities for kids when camping. I hope you all are doing well. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great! We are going to Colorado this summer, too. However, we aren’t taking our travel trailer. My son, Michael, will be getting married.
      We do have 8 travel trailer trips planned though. Hopefully, we could all meet for lunch and catch up! Enjoy the spring!

      Like

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