People are drawn to the full-time RV lifestyle for different reasons. Many of the younger generations on the road today are there because they want to get back to a simple way of living. Others want to travel full-time. Still, even more people do it because it’s much more affordable than a traditional “sticks and bricks” lifestyle. For most RVers, it’s a combination of the three. No matter the reason, everyone could use a little extra cash on the road, right?
Campgrounds tend to be a runaway expense. At the end of a long day of driving, the last thing you want to do is search around for a cheap campsite. So, what do you do? You pull over at the nearest one and let your wallet take the hit. If you do this too often, it’s going to start impacting your budget – significantly. So, we’ve put together this article to help you find affordable campsites before you call it a day.
A Quick Note About Finding Cheap RVs
We know that a lot of our followers are people who are exploring the full-time lifestyle and might be in the early stages of planning. You might want to know what life is really like in an RV before you commit, or maybe RVing is a dream of yours that you hope to achieve someday. It’s a big commitment, both financially and mentally, so it’s important that you try it out before you make the leap.
For this reason, renting an RV through a peer-to-peer site like RVshare is an excellent starting point. It’s also a good option if you want to test different types and models of RV before you buy one. Either way, you’ll find some of the most affordable rental rates around. Plus, you’ll get to work directly with the owner of the RV, which is great if you have lots of questions or want to hear their RV stories.
Cheap Campgrounds – You Know They Exist, but How Do You Find Them?
Affordable campgrounds are getting fewer and farther between these days (thanks, inflation!). If you’re new to the RV life, finding a nearby campground for an affordable rate might seem like a hassle or even an impossibility. Luckily, there are still a few remaining strongholds for cheap camping in the U.S.:
- Depending on location, some National Parks and State Parks still offer low rates for dispersed camping sites. Of course, popular parks and those in high-traffic locations are going to cost more. It might be worth it to you, though, if you want to wake up to beautiful views in one of the country’s most cherished places. On average, you can expect camping costs to range from $10 per night to $40 per night, depending on location. Allstays is a database of more than 29,000 campgrounds throughout the United States, including National and State Parks.
- Boondocking is a wonderful way to camp cheaply or even for free! Technically, you could pull over just about anywhere and stay for the night for free, but that’s not exactly the safest way to go about it. Instead, look for places where boondocking is common, or places that are designated for boondockers. Boondockers Welcome is a website with a map of hosted drycamping spots throughout the U.S. and Canada. You’ll need to pay a fee to join, but at $25 for the year, it pays for itself in just one night of camping!
- You can also find free or cheap camping on public lands throughout the country. These areas are owned by entities like the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Fish and Wildlife Management, which vary by state. The geniuses over at Technomadia made an app that includes a map and contact information for public lands in the United States. Once you find a spot, you’ll need to call the agency that owns it to find out fees, rules, and other pertinent information.
- Finally, you might want to consider signing up for a discounted camping service, like Passport America or Good Sam Club. You’ll get discounts on qualifying campsites – in some cases, up to 50% off the normal rate! Good Sam Club offers additional perks, like discounts on gas and camping gear.
A Few More Tips for Saving Money While Camping
There are a lot of fluctuating expenses that come with living in (or renting) an RV. It seems like no matter how much you plan your budget; something will always pop up that you didn’t anticipate. Therefore, it’s important to leave some extra wiggle room in your budget. By following these tips, you might be able to free up some extra funds:
- The second biggest expense aside from campgrounds is gas! Now, while you can’t do much about the cumulative cost of gas, you can save a few pennies here and there by going to the cheapest gas stations. GasBuddy helps you find the lowest gas prices in any given area – just enter your location and viola!
- Another way to cut back on gas costs is by planning your route using an app like Roadtrippers. It’ll show you the best routes to your destination, along with some interesting places to stop on the way. It also estimates mileage and gas costs so you can make sure you stay on track.
- Food, of course, is another major expense when you’re on the road. People find that they tend to eat how they would at home, whether you like to dine out a lot or cook at home. Keep in mind that cooking meals yourself and prepping food ahead of time can save you money on food, electricity, and propane. So, you might want to check out these camper-friendly meal ideas.
Stop Spending and Start Traveling!
Saving money is important to every family, whether you live in an RV or a house. And while living in an RV can cut costs of living almost in half, it too can get expensive if you don’t plan out your budget correctly. Hopefully, we’ve given you a strong foundation of resources to help you find cheap campsites and save money while traveling. If we’ve missed any hot tips or ideas, please share them in the comments!