Go RVing On Any Budget

Budget Tips

Go RVing On Any Budget

Before buying an RV, people want to know just how much their RV vacations will cost. Well, one of the best things about RV travel is that there are options for every single budget. You are in control of so many price points including the type of camper you purchase, how far you travel, and where you stay.

When we bought our first RV, we were teachers with lots of time to travel, but a pretty tight household budget. RV Industry Association estimates that RV vacations cost up to 59% less than other types of vacations. We have found that statistic goes hand in hand with our personal experience. Sure, we love to splurge on RV resorts, special activities, and dinners out when we travel. But if we need to stretch our pennies, RVing lets us control the budget in so many ways.

So, whether you are about to take the trip of a lifetime or you want to plan the most affordable vacation ever, here are five ways you can manage the budget when planning your RV travel.

  • The Cost of the RV

    With new RVs costing anywhere from $6,000 to $300,000, this is the most important place to manage your costs. If you are financing, divide your total yearly payment by how many nights you plan on traveling. In our opinion,this number should be far lower than what we would personally spend on a hotel room or vacation home. However, some people are willing to spend more because of all the benefits of having a home on wheels.
  • The Cost of Maintenance

    There are definitely annual maintenance costs for your RV, and it is important to be comfortable with them before you commit to a purchase. Price out winterizing and de-winterizing, along with basic service prices at your RV dealership. Remember that the cost of maintaining a motorized unit versus a towable will vary greatly so do your research! You’ll also want to price out storage if you can’t keep your RV in your sticks and bricks driveway. That cost will vary greatly depending on where you live.

  • The Cost of a Campground

    This is another amazing way that you get to control your budget for RV travel. National and State Park campgrounds start at around $20 for no hookups. The best resort campgrounds might charge as much as $90 for waterfront, full-hook up sites. The average private campground with basic amenities will cost you around $50. How much do you want to spend? You can find a place to fit that price point. We personally do a combination of public and private campgrounds to control our costs. On average, over the course of a decade, we spend about $55 per camping night. Your numbers might look very different if you choose to only camp in state parks or only stay in resorts.
  • The Cost of Driving

    Your gas bill will definitely be higher if you are towing a travel trailer or driving a motorhome. If gas prices are a significant concern for you, pay close attention to the weight of the rig you are purchasing. Also consider distance in your vacation planning. Staying close to home will significantly reduce this cost. The more you drive, the more you’ll spend, so this is a very easy cost to control when planning your RV trips.

  • The Cost of Food

    This is our absolute favorite way to save money while traveling in an RV. It is so easy to stick to your normal grocery budget, which means you are not spending a dime more on food than you would at home. However,we also like to experience local food culture, so we usually eat out for a lunch and dinner at each vacation stop. Meal plan ahead of time, pick a few special splurges, and you can easily track your spending on food.

You have infinitely more control over how much you spend when traveling by RV than with any other form of travel. Once you figure out a budget for each of the above categories, you can move on to the fun part…taking those trips. If you ask us, an RV vacation is worth every single penny we spend. Every time.

Jeremy Puglisi

The RV Atlas

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the weekly RV Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts and the RV Atlas blog. They are also the authors of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations, and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop-up camper more than 10 years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) over at RV Atlas.