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RVing on a Budget: Tips and Tricks to Save you Cash!

The day you decide to become an RVer, a funny thing happens: You become acutely aware of the many unexpected costs associated with this amazing lifestyle. Whether you are a full-timer or a weekend warrior, you'll quickly become familiar with seasonal rate inflation, surprise replacement fuses, propane exchanges (did we already drain that whole tank!?), and other costs.  Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeve that you can use to help you minimize the cost and maximize the family fun on your next RV trip! 

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The day you leave the lot with your RV, your mailbox will start to fill up with offers from many national RV organizations that offer a variety of discounts, benefits, and savings included in their memberships. Before we even signed the papers on our RV, we had already joined six different membership organizations. Overall, I'd say the one we've actually used has been Good Sam.  This membership card earns us five cents off per gallon at Pilot/Flying J stations, (eight cents off if you require diesel fuel,) and discounts on certain campgrounds, retail items, etc. We also joined three other memberships that ended up being a bust because they really didn't align with the way we travel. Our suggestion would be to really think about the way you want to use your RV and select which memberships make sense for your family.  If you prefer boondocking off the grid, a park system membership wouldn't be worth your investment. Likewise, if you love the amenities associated with luxury RV resorts, a membership that connects you to one-night stays boondocking on a farm, homestead, or winery property would likely not be up your alley.  Learn from our lesson-- the shotgun approach of becoming a member of everything right away does not necessarily equate to overall savings. Also-- fun fact-- most of these memberships auto-renew, so even if it's an organization you haven't thought about for 12 months..... surprise! They remember you, and your credit card information, so keep the list pruned to the essential memberships you love. 

Lean on Technology

You don't have to figure out which park has the lowest nightly rate or which gas stations have the least expensive fuel--- there are apps for that! 

GasBuddy is a great app that allows you to see which gas stations near you will provide the least expensive fill-up. You can check a list or map view of gas prices, as well as log your gas consumption rates and costs within the app. Combine these savings with some of the other memberships above to get maximum fuel savings. 

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Spot2Nite is an RV site booking app that allows you to type in the location you need, the dates you want, and then compare the photos, amenities, and cost of parks all over the country. When you've selected the exact spot you love on the interactive map, you can book directly and securely from the app. You can save cash by sorting by price or by scoping out different costs of spot types within a park. This also saves time instead of cruising each one of the park's websites or calling the office. Two thumbs up! 


Learn Your Amenenites

Many times in the course of our travels, we have driven out to a laundromat, found a dog groomer, and exchanged an empty propane tank at the local gas station only to come back to the campground and realize we could have done all three tasks for major savings right at the campground! Check with your RV park to see what you're working with before you arrive, (or better yet, check the amenities list in the Spot2Nite app!) Laundry on site is typically more affordable than a larger laundry facility in our experience, not to mention the hours saved away from home waiting for your jeans to tumble dry.

Modern-laundry-room-with-Speed-Queen-commercial-laundry-equipmentWhile we love to find a Pet Supermarket store that offers $10 self-service dog wash stations for our pup, often times when we're traveling we are paying a much higher rate for a professional to hose down our dirty dog. (Let's face it.... that wet dog smell is only tolerable in a tiny space for so long.) There are many parks, including Sunshine Village in Webster, Florida where we are currently parked, that boast a dog washing station right on site. Usually near the dog park, these dog washing stations will provide all the supplies you need to give your pets a proper bath even when space is tight in the RV. 


Most RV parks will also allow you to fill your propane tanks on property instead of driving out to a supermarket or gas station to exchange your tanks. Not only will you pay about $1.75 per gallon average less for propane, you'll have more information about the weight and amount of propane you're working with. Many exchange cylinders will have far less than the posted volume of fuel inside, and unless you're weighing each cylinder, this equals more trips out to exchange your tanks at a higher cost. You may want to consider larger propane tanks in general to cut back on refilling and maximize value.



Research Mobile Solutions

When you need to be connected on the road for working, gaming, or streaming entertainment, reliable internet connectivity is very important! First-time RVers can get lost in the sheer volume of internet solutions available, many of which are very pricey and include long-term contracts. Hold up, happy campers!  Before signing into a long-term contract for internet service, we would urge you to try a few of these highly affordable solutions first to see if they fit the needs of your family! (This advice is coming from someone who just made the last payment on a long-term contract for sub-par service we used three times ever.) Cellular connectivity is the most mobile and the most affordable, with hot spots as your conduit to the World Wide Web. We use Visible, which is a low-cost Verizon carrier that is our go-to hot spot for only $25 per month including taxes and fees for unlimited data.  Yep, you read that right. Unlimited data.  (This is unheard of..... most plans limit you to a certain number of gigs and then throttle your connection speeds to a halt.)


There are a few catches, however.  Each one of our two Visible hot spots can provide internet service to one device only.  Also, although the data is unlimited and not ever throttled, Visible expects members on their Verizon 4G LTE network to experience typical download speeds of 5-12 Mbps. (There have been times we have experienced 100+ Mbps.) Upload speeds are typically 2-5 Mbps. Although this isn't market-leading speed, these hot spots allow us to complete video Zoom calls, stream movies on Netflix, and buy enough junk on Amazon to fill our pass-through storage area several times over.

 Living full time or vacationing in an RV is a rewarding adventure, and it doesn't have to break the bank! How do you save money while seeing this beautiful country? Are there any penny-saving tricks you'd like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!  Please consider subscribing in the green box below so you never miss a post!

Happy travels!



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