RV Camping Hacks That Will Save You Money
RV camping has come a long way since its early beginnings with basic tents and no amenities. As interest in the RV lifestyle grows, travelers have found creative ways to camp in RVs while sticking to a budget. From boondocking to stealth camping, budget RVing has opened up nature to those without thousands to spend.
Cindy and Chuck have over 35 years of RV experience, starting with a simple tent and upgrading to a Class B camper over time. Through their website, podcast and community outreach, they share budget RV tips and favorite camping spots with fellow travelers looking to immerse themselves in nature without breaking the bank.
Benefits of Affordable RV Camping
- RV camping on a budget offers these key advantages:
- Financial Savings – Experience nature without draining your wallet. Camp for free with boondocking or use discounts and loyalty rewards.
- Escape into Nature – Immerse yourself in Mother Nature, from deserts to mountains to seashores. RVing brings you closer to the great outdoors.
- Freedom and Flexibility – Travel and explore at your own pace. With an RV, you have the flexibility to change plans to take advantage of weather, events or deals.
- RV Community – Connect with fellow RV enthusiasts also looking to camp affordably. Share experiences and recommendations.
- Minimal Planning – For boondocking and other free camping, there’s less need for reservations and strict scheduling.
How to Camp in an RV on a Budget
Boondocking and Free Camping
Boondocking, or free dispersed camping, is the cornerstone of budget RVing. Boondockers rely on their self-contained RVs for necessities like water, power and waste management without hookups. Popular free camping spots include:
- BLM Public Land
The Bureau of Land Management offers vast areas for free dispersed camping across the U.S.
- National Forests
Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, National Forests provide numerous camping opportunities, including free dispersed camping.
- State Parks and Recreation Areas
Explore camping options in state parks and recreation areas across the country.
- Corps of Engineers Lakes
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages many lakes that offer camping opportunities, some of which are free or low-cost.
- Parking Lots (Cabela’s, Casinos, Walmart)
Many RVers use parking lots of establishments like Cabela’s, casinos, and Walmart for overnight stays. Always check store policies and local regulations
Look into discounts and rewards programs from clubs like Good Sam, KOA Value Kard and Thousand Trails. These can lead to significant savings at participating campgrounds. There are also often special rates for seniors, veterans, and club members.
- Good Sam Club
Join the Good Sam Club for exclusive discounts, savings, and benefits at over 2,400 RV parks and campgrounds.
- KOA Value Kard Rewards
Enroll in KOA’s loyalty program to earn points, get camping discounts, and enjoy exclusive offers.
- Thousand Trails
Experience unlimited camping with a Thousand Trails Camping Pass. Explore their network of campgrounds and take advantage of special member benefits.
Research Camping Options
Use resources like freecampsites.net, Campendium, RV Parky and forums like boondocking.org to research free or low-cost camping spots, read reviews and view photos. Talk to fellow RVers for firsthand recommendations.
Stealth camping, or urban boondocking, involves free overnight parking in cities and towns. The goal is to avoid detection. Look for inconspicuous spots, limit generator noise, cover windows and leave no trace.
Conservation and “Leave No Trace”
When boondocking, adhere to Leave No Trace principles:
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave Sites as Found
- Respect Wildlife
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Avoid Damaging/Removing Vegetation
Use Cost-Saving Resources
Take advantage of deals on budget-friendly rental RVs. Search for used RV supplies and parts online and at discount or thrift stores. Keep up with maintenance to avoid major repairs. Join communities like RV Horizons for money-saving tips.
Top-Rated Budget Camping Destinations
Based on Cindy and Chuck’s extensive experience, here are some highly recommended spots for affordable RV camping:
- BLM Land in Quartzsite, Arizona – Popular free winter camping location for snowbirds with scenic desert surroundings.
- Padre Island National Seashore, Texas – Gorgeous beach camping and coastal drives. Allowed 14 day stay.
- KOA Journey Campgrounds – KOA’s lower-priced chain of campgrounds located near key destinations. – Download a PDF Camping Checklist From KOA
- Harvest Hosts and Passport America – Provide member discounts at wineries, farms, museums and other private campsites.
Recommendations from Fellow RVers
In addition to expert recommendations, fellow RVers are invaluable resources for tried and true budget camping locations. User-generated content on platforms like Campendium reveals real RVers’ firsthand experiences, reviews and tips for free or low-cost overnight RV parking spots and campgrounds nationwide. Sort by price and read details like “Stayed here with our 30′ travel trailer for 2 nights, very quiet and safe boondocking for free in a casino parking lot.”
RV Travel on a Budget is Achievable
RVing is often seen as an expensive undertaking, but with savvy planning, research and creativity, travelers can explore the freedom of the open road while sticking to a budget. Boondocking, stealth camping, membership discounts and online resources open up nature to all by making RVing affordable and accessible. As Cindy and Chuck can attest, with the right approach,RV vacations don’t have to break the bank.
- KOA – Ways to Stay
Discover a variety of camping options, from tents to RVs, and everything in between. KOA offers unique experiences for every type of camper.
- Good Sam – Campgrounds & RV Parks
Explore top-rated campgrounds and RV parks with Good Sam’s trusted directory. Find the best spots to park and play.
- Camping World – RV
Your one-stop-shop for all things RV. From purchasing to maintenance, Camping World has got you covered.
- RV Camping
Dive deep into the world of RV camping with comprehensive guides, tips, and resources for the modern RVer.
Unearth hidden gems and popular camping spots with reviews from the RV community. Campendium is your trusted source for campsite insights.
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