An Expert Guide on how to RV on a Budget

There are a number of wonderful things about RV travel. We love that RVing allows you to adventure off the beaten path, that you can be spontaneous and adventurous in your travels, and that you can stay in total comfort no matter where you roam. That said, the very best thing about traveling in a motorhome or trailer is the fact that you can have an “RV Budget” mindset.

Sure, it’s possible to spend a lot of money while out adventuring in your rig. That said, it’s also totally possible to have some amazing trips without spending much at all. If you’re looking for a way to get out and explore the world without breaking the bank, budget RV travel is for you.

Wondering how to go set up an RV budget? Here are our top tips for saving money on the road while still having a great time seeing our beautiful country! 

Buy Your RV Used:

First, we highly recommend buying your RV used rather than new. Brand new RVs lose a lot of their value when driven off the lot. Besides, there are plenty of amazing used rigs out there just waiting for someone like you to take them out adventuring. Buying used will mean you can pay cash or have a smaller monthly payment, leaving more money for exploring and adventuring. 

Not sure where to buy a used RV? We can help with that!

Budget your RV Destinations:

If you’re really strapped for cash, it can be extremely helpful to travel close to home. It’s no secret that RVs and the large trucks used to tow trailers are gas guzzlers. Reducing the number of miles you drive on any given trip is going to help cut back on the amount of fuel you use, which will save you some money. 

Traveling long term? Consider staying in each place for longer and traveling only short distances between destinations to save on your monthly fuel budget. 

Budget RV

Here at National Vehicle, we have a great selection of RV’s if you’re on a budget!

Leave room for Camping Memberships in the RV Budget:

Campground costs are another thing to consider. Unfortunately, camping fees have gone up across the board in recent years, making camping less affordable than it once was. The good news? There are ways to reduce these costs by a lot. 

One option is to invest in camping memberships. The Thousand Trails campground system is a wonderful option for those who A) plan to RV full time, or B) camp very regularly in a place where there are Thousand Trails parks.

Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome are good for those looking for quick overnight stays here and there. Passport America can also be a good investment for some, and there are some state parks that offer discounted camping to those who hold state park passes.

Learn to Dry Camp:

Another way to save money on camping fees is to learn to dry camp. Free boondocking is available in many places across the country, and by figuring out how to camp without hookups, you give yourself the freedom to explore all of these amazing spots. 

Our tips for getting started in the world of dry camping? Invest in some solar panels and a generator to keep your RV battery bank charged up, fill your fresh water tank, do your best to conserve water, and then get out there and try it for a few days. You’ll find your groove soon enough, and then you’ll be able to pinpoint which boondocking upgrades might be best for you.

Not sure where to find free boondocking? Try using Campendium, RV Life Campgrounds, and Free Campsites to locate BLM land, National Forest Service land, and other government-owned pieces of land that allow dispersed camping. 

Budget RV

Taking a nature hike is a great form of free fun, and exercise!

Find Free Fun:

Of course, there is also the option of finding free fun wherever you roam. It’s always exciting to check out hiking trails in a new place, and exploring cute historic downtown areas can be a good time as well. Libraries often host free classes and events, and many festivals offer free admission. On top of all that, there are actually a handful of free museums and zoos scattered across the country. 

Do some research ahead of time. Then, head to a local library or coffee shop each time you get to a new place and check out the community boards there to see what kind of free fun options you can find!

RV Budget Hack: Reciprocal Memberships:

Obviously, you will want to get out and explore the places you visit. This is where reciprocal memberships come into play. There are a number of different reciprocal memberships out there, and each one will give you free or discounted admission to dozens (or even hundreds) of attractions. 

Some of the best reciprocal memberships include the “America the Beautiful” national parks pass, the ASTC science museum reciprocal program, the AZA zoo and aquarium reciprocal program, the NARM museum reciprocal program, and the reciprocal benefits offered to some seasonal and annual pass holders at LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, and Six Flags parks. 

Decide which reciprocal programs might be best for you and pick them up before your next trip!

Use Your RV Kitchen: 

Another one of the benefits of traveling in an RV is the fact that you have a kitchen with you no matter where you end up parking. This can be an excellent money-saver, as it means you can cook your own delicious meals and avoid spending money at restaurants.

Don’t want to cook on vacation? In many cases, it’s actually totally possible to do all of your meal planning and meal prep before you hit the road, so you only have to throw everything into the Instant Pot or slow cooker once you arrive. This is actually easier than loading up to drive to the closest restaurant, and you’ll be able to enjoy your meal from the comfort of your home-on-wheels.

As you can see, there are many ways you can save money while RVing without sacrificing any of the fun or adventures you would normally have on an RVing trip. Ready to try your hand at setting up a RV budget? Why not start planning your next getaway today?

Looking to start your RV journey with a used RV?

Let us help!

Visit National Vehicle now and take a look at our expansive used RV inventory!

About Chelsea Gonzales

Chelsea Gonzales has been living in an RV and traveling with her family for 7 years now. She road schools her two children, using various travel experiences as lessons in history, science, geography, and more. During their time on the road, the Gonzales family has had the pleasure of touring the 48 contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada. They have learned a lot along the way and Chelsea is happy to share some of that knowledge through her writing.