A couple planning their trip with a map while camped out with their RV.

Frugal RV Travel Tips to Save Money on the Road

Tightwad, penny pincher, miser…the world has plenty of names for someone who looks for ways to save money. But just because you aren’t a spendthrift or squanderer doesn’t mean you’re a Scrooge. Being frugal means you are spending wisely and looking for the most economical options. Frugal RV travel is just that – being economical about your RV traveling.

When it comes to traveling, spending time on the road doesn’t have to be expensive. Whether you are planning a summer vacation or looking for ways to enjoy retirement, there are some things you can do to reduce your expenses – or even make money – while RVing.

Plan Longer Trips

At first it may sound counter-intuitive, but planning longer trips can actually save you money. Rather than planning two one-week trips, taking a two-week trip can let you take advantage of long-stay discounts at many camps. You can choose a location that is near several different attractions that interest you. By selecting a campground or city as your home base or “central hub,” your frugal RV travel can let you experience a lot of fun for a lot less money. If you stay in an area with a lot to do, you spend a lot less time and money on gas and travel.

Look for Travel & Camping Clubs

There are plenty of other “road warriors” out there. If you purchased your RV to enjoy the road, take advantage of like-minded groups.  Be assured, you are not the only one who is looking for frugal RV travel opportunities. Traveling and camping clubs, such as Passport America, can help you find great fun and discounts. Often, they work with camps for free or discounted passes. These groups tend to have entry-fees, but the discounts, tips and help they offer are invaluable.


Seasonal camping can not only be less expensive than short trips, it could even be profitable if you are open to workamping. Workamping is a portmanteau of work and camping. The workamping life is something quite familiar to full-time RVers. Workamping provides the opportunity to make enough money by doing volunteer work or temporary jobs in and around campgrounds that you can enjoy life on the road without depleting your savings.

Some campgrounds may even offer free camping, or a camping allowance, for volunteers. How is that for frugal RV travel? Positions vary greatly from grounds keeping and maintenance to front desk and hosting or restaurant work. You could even be a character at an amusement park – “Say ‘hello’ to the new Sheriff in town.”

There are plenty of resources out there to find workamping opportunities. RVing groups may also be a good source for jobs that aren’t accessible by the public at large. Researching the various online resources and gleaning tips from seasoned workampers will help you determine if it is right for you and, if so, where the available opportunities exist.

Learn How to Maintain Your RV

Every vehicle requires maintenance. While maintaining any vehicle has a cost, ignoring maintenance can compound expenses and result in very costly, unplanned repairs.

Just like proper upkeep of your vehicle, properly maintaining your RV extends its life, keeps its resale value higher and keeps you safer on the road. Creating a regular maintenance schedule can help you plan and budget for the necessary upkeep. Remember, maintaining an RV isn’t much different from maintaining a truck or other large vehicle, so things like regular oil changes and servicing your generator should be top priority.

Simple things like regularly checking tire pressure, checking your battery, and properly storing your battery during the winter months are maintenance tasks you can easily do yourself. You can also prevent costly wastewater issues simply by using biodegradable RV toilet paper. Regular roof inspections can prevent costly water damage. If you have a rubber roof, it should be inspected twice a year and treated yearly.

If you can learn how to perform maintenance on your own, it’s an even bigger money saver. However, you should only do maintenance yourself if you’re confident in your abilities. You may learn to change the oil, but leave features that impact safety – like working on your breaks – to the professionals. Unless you’re a trained mechanic, those tasks are not something you want to take upon yourself just to save a few dollars.

Remember, frugal RV travel doesn’t mean being cheap or foolish. A little research and planning can save you time and money while opening the door to meeting new people, giving you the opportunity to explore much more of some of your favorite areas than you could in just a short trip, or discovering new destinations that you may not have considered before.

Opt for Less Popular Destinations

You might be tempted to head straight for the famous national parks or well-known tourist areas, but often these come with premium campground fees and are crowded. Instead, research lesser-known but equally beautiful locations. Not only will you save money on campground costs, but you’ll also likely enjoy a more peaceful experience. Plus, these hidden gems often offer similar activities to their more popular counterparts, whether it’s hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying nature, but without the crowds and elevated costs.

Travel During Off-Peak Times

Timing is everything when it comes to frugal RV travel. If your schedule is flexible, consider going during the shoulder seasons—just before or after peak tourist times. During these periods, you’ll find that campgrounds are less crowded and many even offer reduced rates. Plus, the weather is often still pleasant enough for outdoor activities.

Cook Your Own Meals

One of the best parts about RVing is that you have your own kitchen with you wherever you go. Dining out can eat into your budget quickly, especially in touristy areas. Plan your meals ahead of time and make use of your RV’s kitchen facilities. Cooking in bulk and freezing meals can also save you both time and money during your trip. Invest in some quality storage containers and a portable grill, and you’ll be all set for cost-effective meals on the road.

Limit Driving to Save on Fuel

Gasoline can be one of the most significant expenses of your trip, especially if you’re driving a large, fuel-guzzling RV. To cut costs, plan your route efficiently to minimize driving distance. Also, consider spending multiple days at each destination to cut down on daily travel. Apps that help you locate the cheapest gas in your vicinity can also be beneficial.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

Another perk of RV travel is the abundance of free activities available. From hiking and swimming to beachcombing and bird-watching, there are countless ways to enjoy nature without spending a dime. Take some time before your trip to research local free attractions, scenic drives, or hiking trails. You’ll not only save money but also discover some unique spots that aren’t on every tourist’s radar.

Conserve Energy and Water

RV campgrounds often charge for utilities like electricity and water. Being mindful of your consumption can save you money as well as be more environmentally friendly. Turn off lights when not in use, consider solar chargers for small devices, and be conscious of water usage when showering or doing dishes. Every little bit helps, both for the planet and your wallet.

Plan and Stick to a Budget

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and splurge on unnecessary items or activities. To avoid this, create a detailed budget for your trip and track all expenses, no matter how trivial they seem at the moment. There are various apps designed to help you manage your travel budget, making it easier to stick to your financial plan.

Shop Smart

Preparation is key when it comes to saving money on the road. Stock up on non-perishable supplies like canned goods, pasta, and snacks before you leave, taking advantage of bulk buys, sales, or coupons. As for souvenirs, consider capturing memories with photos or collecting natural keepsakes like shells or pinecones. These are not only free but often make for more meaningful mementos.

We Can Help You Find the Right RV – Contact Us Today!

The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (419) 786-1126

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