How to keep your on-the-road RV expenses under control

If you don’t want the current lousy economy to keep you from following the blue highways this summer, try some of the following cost-cutting measures to reduce your overhead while not constricting your lifestyle.

Most are just changing your old habits for new, more efficient ones.

Drive 55. Lower speeds means more miles-per-gallon, and you will enjoy the scenery more and have less stress at lower speeds.

  • Avoid jack-rabbit starts and quick stops. It’s all about torque and kinetic energy.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. It can save up to 3% on fuel mileage.
  • Stay longer at campgrounds or boondocking sites.
  • Check out campground weekly rates, sometimes significantly less expensive than the daily rate.
  • Install CFL or LED interior lights. These bulbs not only last much longer but use less energy.
  • Boondock more often. Save campground fees, and losses at the weekly rec. room poker games.
  • Install a solar or wind turbine system. Provides renewable free power to enable camping longer off the power grid.
  • If traveling and staying only one night in a campground, pay less by choosing a non-hook-up site (sometimes called a tent site) or stay at lower-priced regional or state parks, or at stores that welcome over-nighters like Walmart, Kmart, and Cracker Barrel Restaurants.
  • Eat out less. Save on food costs by preparing your own meals in your RV kitchen. You don’t really have to send the waiter’s daughter to college.
  • Reduce food costs by bypassing the middle man. Buy from farmers markets, roadside farm stands, U-Pick farms and orchards, and other local food producers and ranchers.
  • Reduce cost of food packaging. Buy in bulk from stores that offer this option.
  • Eat right and get plenty of exercise (at least ½ hour per day) and you might be able to cut down on meds and doctor visits–and you’ll feel better.
  • Volunteer or become a camp host, which usually comes with a free campsite, and gives you something constructive to do.
  • Take a caretaking position. Look at the Caretaker’s Gazette for opportunities to trade out for free rent.
  • Shop for quality-label–but slightly used–outdoor wear at St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, or other charity stores—and you will be helping worthy charitable institutions while at the same time buying quality labels at far below retail prices.
  • Start a book exchange at your favorite campground, or encourage the camp host at RV parks to set one up to cut down on the cost of your reading pleasures.
  • Some libraries have used magazine exchanges where you can get current or one month old magazines for free–you might be able to cancel your current magazine subscriptions and save money having them re-shipped to you on the road.
  • Visit and shop Quartzsite for all kinds of bargains offered by RVers cleaning out their lockers, hard-core flea market sellers, and other interesting folk.

Be creative. As RVers we are in a unique position to find ways to cut our road expenses. And you’ll save enough money to put a down payment on your next rig.

Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands(now available in a Kindle version), Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.


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