5 ideas for frugal RV living
Tuesday, January 02, 2018
No one wants to waste money, but frugal living should not mean living cheap and uncomfortably. The amount of money you save depends on your goals.
Here are some ways to save money while RVing.
The least expensive sites are the free boondocking ones. In general, this includes Walmart, casinos, Cabela's, Cracker Barrel and rest areas.
Watch for signs if overnight camping is forbidden. Remember to be polite. In general, keep your head down by not setting out chairs and grills or putting out your awning. At Walmarts, we don't put out our slides until dark. However, it can be a party at some casinos with full setups by campers.
Many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas allow free camping. National forests and Corp of Engineers areas are inexpensive. There are websites such as FreeCampsites.net that list other free or low-cost campsites. You can alternate low-cost camping with higher-cost stays with full hook-ups and laundries to save money while still having amenities much of the time.
Memberships are not free, but can save you money with camping and other purchases. The best is the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass. Unfortunately, this one recently (August 2017) increased from $10 to $80, but it is still worth it because it lasts forever. By the way, the $10 ones are still valid.
Other memberships that are easily cost-justified are Passport America and Good Sam for camping, and there are others that may work well for you. State passes for camping can be good if you are camping in the state parks several times during a year. The pass for Texas parks is normally cost justified with just one stay of a few days.
Membership using the website Boondockers Welcome allows you to camp for free at other RVers' homes. AAA and AARP members also save money at some RV parks, along with other discounts.
I enjoy the free and low-cost types of sightseeing. Hiking trails, cemeteries, small local museums, capitol buildings, plant tours (Factory Tours USA), nature centers and churches are some of the places that are free or low-cost. Bizarre stops like the balls of twine in both Kansas and Minnesota also tend to be free or low-cost (see RoadsideAmerica.com).
Spend money for the big tourist spots when it makes sense, but keep in mind that hiking and local spots are enjoyable and can be more relaxing. Instead of expensive souvenirs, pictures are more memorable. Plus, there's no space for all those knick-knacks in the RV.
When we first started full-time RVing, we traveled a lot. We were moving on every one to three days. We weren't sure how long we were full-timing and wanted to see as much as possible. We saw a lot, but we were tired from all the traveling and spent a lot for gasoline.
Now, we extend the stay. Normally, we are staying at least a week. If we find a central place to camp, we can use our toad to travel to the sights. The car's 30-plus mpg is much better than the 10 mpg (or less) with the RV.
Other ideas include using WiFi at McDonald's or the local library instead of purchasing GBs of data. There are plenty of free books online (Project Gutenberg and Bookbub) to read on a Kindle or other platform. Cook in your RV instead of going to restaurants (can be healthier, too).
You can still travel and enjoy yourself while saving money. How do you save money while RVing?
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