There is a misconception out there that living in an RV automatically means you live a very inexpensive lifestyle and while that is entirely possible, it’s not actually the norm for full-timers. Traveling in a rig can get very expensive very quickly! If you’re like me and live on a tight budget, but also travel quite a bit, this list of money saving tips will come in handy. Not all of these are just for the RV lifestyle either, a lot of these ‘tips’ are something I’ve carried through with me from my home-dwelling days.
Read on to discover some money saving RV tips, and comment with your favorite tip (or if you have another one for me!)
You can also read about my debt-free journey and debt-free living tips here!
Camping is a huge expense! After our RV payment, it’s our biggest monthly expense. I use a lot of tips and tricks to get cheaper campgrounds, and we dry camp when we can, however I’m a fan of having hookups. Here are just a few tricks I’ve found, some you may have heard about, some may be new!
On my gosh do I love HipCamp. It’s like AirBNB but for camping, and it’s magic. People with space for campers list their spaces, some are rustic and beautiful and some are full mini campgrounds! When planning my travel route, I almost always look to see if there are HipCamps available before looking for a typical campground or even a park. I like the personal touch, the safety of being on private land, and typically there is more space to roam which is what RVing is all about for me. The price of overnight stays are very comparable to campgrounds, however in my opinion they are better. Instead of being cramped in a tiny space, you may have an entire field on someones land to spread out, without neighbors and park rules. Of course, like AirBNB, properties range in amenities. I’ve found some that are just a safe and peaceful field, and also found the opposite where someone had an entire paved spot with full hookups, free Wifi and a fenced area for my dog.
Want to give HipCamp a try? (it’s free!!) – use my unique link to get $10 off your first booking. You can thank me later! 😉
If you haven’t already heard the buzz about Harvest Hosts, I’m HONORED to introduce you to this magical service. Harvest Host is a subscription service where you pay one low annual fee and can stay AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT at their hundreds of locations nationwide. From wineries to gulf resorts, museums and farms…Harvest Hosts is my favorite RV discovery ever. I mean…who doesn’t want to spend a free night at a winery? We plan to stay stunning winery in New England where we will work during the day, shut our laptops, walk on over to the winery and have delicious after-work drink and snack. Then sleep for free safely and soundly. I mean it doesn’t get better than that in my opinion. There are alpaca farms, apple orchids, breweries, you name it. It’s great for any age. If you want to try Harvest Host (it pays for itself in 2 visits!) then use my link to get 15% off your annual subscription.
Travel With Seasons In Mind
This is a huge preference, and may not be possible depending on your travel style and location. However, what I mean by this, is travel where the weather is mild. This is what we chose to do which helps with energy savings! For instance, instead of staying at the beach in July where we’d need to constantly run our AC, we stay in warm weather in spring or fall, and the cooler climates (like the mountains!) in the summer. This also sometimes lines up with the off-season and you’ll get better camping rates.
Rakuten (for all those online purchases!)
I am a HUGE lover and support of Rakuten (formerly E-bates). I use it for every online transaction I make, and I get cash back. For instance, we bought over $200 worth of supplies from Lowes for the RV before our shakedown trip, I purchased them online at Lowes, and my Rakuten Chrome extension notified me that I would get 2.5% cash back. When I checked out using my credit card that also gave me cash back, along with Rakuten, I got nearly $10 back. That may sound like not much..but Rakuten sends you their “big fat check” every quarter and mine are always around $100, and I’m not a huge shopper. That check is always a nice surprise, and well worth it. There are no hidden ANYTHING, i’ve been using this service for 6+ years, and will never check out without it. If you try it today, you get $10 off your first online purchase (it’s 100% free, so what do you have to lose?) Try my Rakuten link here!
This isn’t so much an exact way to save money, but I do have a list of the RV essential items, where I bought them and some of my money saving hacks for buying RV stuff – you can check that out on my RV Shopping page.
Get Upside (app)
So I was skeptical of this app at first – I mean another app on my phone? As RVers, we know that there are a million apps for every little thing. I mean I have an app for my batteries, for my leveling system, for my solar…you name it. But this app is one of my favorites. I have a 33′ rig that loves to soak up gasoline if you know what I mean. With gas prices soaring, I search for any way I can to shave a dime off my gasoline spending – that’s where this app saves the day. You simple “check in” at the gas station when you get there, and print the receipt when done pumping. Then you use the app to take a picture of your receipt and that’s it! The app will give you cash back from your gas spending. I get anywhere from 5-cents per gallon back up to 50c per gallon…and when you’re filling up a 50 gallon tank on your rig, you know those savings rack up quickly.
The coolest part is you can refer your friends to the app and when they use it, you get money back too. It’s an endless supply of money back that you can cash in for gift cards (I always get Starbucks gift cards!) or cash to your bank account. This one is a no brainer. Sign up for the GetUpside app here and use my promo code ZM8GQ for $0.15 /g off your next tank! Here is the handy link: https://upside.app.link/ZM8GQ
Living Cost Savings
This isn’t anything revolutionary or groundbreaking – but it it a tip that holds true whether you live in a sticks-and-bricks or an RV. Simply cook your meals at home! I love to cook, so for me, cooking in my RV (or house) is always my first choice. We try to stock up at Costco (as much as we can given our tiny kitchen) when we find a Costco along route, and stick to a strict grocery budget. It of course is fun to try local food and restaurants, but if you do this a lot, as if you’re on vacation, you can blow through your budget pretty quickly.