Obviously the first concern is the price of fuel. While there is not much one can do at the pump to lower the price per gallon, there are a few things.
First, make sure your motor home or pull vehicle is in the best possible mechanical condition. This includes clean air filter, properly inflated tires and good spark plugs among other things. Don't overload your rig, or hang items on the front or side that can increase the amount of wind resistance.
Plan your trip ahead of time, and use the Internet. There are several sites online that post current fuel prices. While on your trip, you can usually access the Internet for free in most public libraries for updated prices.
Avoid gassing up on the interstate, as you usually pay for the convenience of staying close to the highway. Often, if you drive just a block into town, fuel is several cents a gallon cheaper. Some states have higher fuel taxes. Be aware of who they are and fuel up before you cross over the state line. Be open to getting your fuel at truck stops which often offer a discount if you pay in cash. Some gas stations offer a discount if you use their gas credit card at the pump. Check out all these options BEFORE you leave home.
Also, check into joining a camping club before you leave home. Clubs such as the Good Sam club give you discounts when you park and stay in their campgrounds. You also receive a large book from them that lists and rates campgrounds all throughout the USA. Many also offer senior citizen discounts. Some also lower their camping rates during the "off season" or on weekdays.
If you belong to an auto club, use their trip route before hand. Many also offer an RV trip route, which lists things that could cause you trouble and to avoid; such as tunnels that are too low to drive through, or towns that have only 1 gas station with an awing you can't drive under. They will also list which mountain roads to take and which ones to avoid, as well as listing travel stops that have free dump stations.
Plan out your route several months in advance, then look up your destinations and write to them. Most states will send you a free state map (cheaper than an atlas). Call the chamber at towns you will be driving through and many will suggest or send you an area guide and coupons. Look for festivals and free activities. When staying in the same place for several nights get a local paper to see what else may be going on that you can attend.
While planning your route, take note of any toll roads. Most toll roads charge by the axle. This includes axles on your motor home or if in a trailer on both the pull vehicle and the trailer. Be sure to either route your trip to avoid toll roads or take along several rolls of quarters and change. Do not speed while on toll roads. Your incoming ticket is stamped with your entry time. When you exit, you may be ticketed if you went too fast.
National Parks have a free ranger club for kids. Kids take a free class while at the park and learn from it. Parents also get to attend free. A newspaper comes with the class, geared for kids.
Many state and national parks offer a program where you can camp for free in exchange for volunteer hours at the park. This is something you would want to check into probably a year in advance. Just call the park for more information and to see if they participate.
Take your food items with you, including your snack items. This helps you to avoid pulling into fast food stops along the road. Instead, pull into a park, rest stop or even a Wal-Mart parking lot or truck stop and eat. I like to take several empty plastic jugs, and just one with water. I take the powered drink mix and make our drinks, as we are ready to drink them. Having one jug of water ensures me that if we stop where there is no water, I have some. Providing there is water, we get it there; most parks have a hydrant. Using dehydrated foods and powered drink mixes helps keep the weight down and save fuel.
I also take along a crock-pot. This allows me to slow cook a meal while we are out sightseeing during the day or to cook on a rainy day when we can't cook outside, and reduces the high cost of eating out. If you are a coffee drinker, take your coffee maker to avoid buying coffee every morning.
Don't over pack your clothes. Usually it is just as easy to do a load of laundry while on the road. Remember to take a small container of laundry soap with you.
Remember to take your basics, so you don't have to buy them while on the road. This includes cell phone charger, flashlights and extra batteries, film, camera batteries and memory cards (or take your laptop with you so you can download your photos onto a CD as you go along). I happened to note the prices of batteries, film and memory cards while at Yellowstone National Park, and they were 3 times higher than at Wal-Mart.
Also don't forget rain poncho, umbrellas, extra shoe or boot laces, swimsuits, first aid kit, patch kit for bike tires if you take your bikes, and rainy day activities-such as deck of cards, board games or books. Take along water bottles you can refill that have a carry strap.
Suggested packing list for family with children:
If you don't have an RV, check out the rentals. Sometimes you can even find private individuals who rent theirs out, just be sure you know who is responsible for what, and have proper insurance.
If you can't afford the fuel for a long distance trip, try out the state parks in your own state, or the next state over. Last of all, have fun!
By April from NW Missouri
Great information, thanks for taking the time to leave such a detailed list.
This is a wonderful, comprehensive, informative "how to" list. Thanks. Is that your RV in the picture, if so what make is it? Looks like it has a "bump out" on the side, right?
Thank you for putting the list together. We usually go to campgrounds and stay in the rental trailers. Having your list will be a big help. I am going to laminate it so I can reuse it again and again!
there's similar sites to this one
just google : free camping
We just bought our first Motor home. We have had lots of good advice from wonderful people who have been RVing for awhile. The best advice we received was from a car racer he told us to use 40 cc of acetone to 100 liters of gas when we fill it should give us better mileage. The previous owner told us we would have to use premium fuel. But with the additive we haven't had a ping in our engine and we are getting great mileage. NOTE ( acetone can be bought from any hardware store where they sell paint.) It keeps the engine parts clean and oil stays cleaner too. It makes regular gas premium at a cheaper cost. We use it for all our vehicles now ( gas ones only)
You can tell you have camped a lot! Great list. My camper complies with your list. One thought on crockpot cooking - either do it inside the camper, or secure the lid well. One year we had an entire crockpot of chicken to disappear on us - racoons filched it all!
Another idea...get the lifetime senior pass for National Parks. The camping fee is much cheaper with that pass. When we do long distance traveling in our motorhome, we stay in WalMart parking lots until we reach our distination. I downloaded an app which tells me the WalMarts that most likely will allow overnite stops.
Great list! As a long-time RV-er (in the past, sadly), I can verify it covers the ground. The previous comments are spot-on, too. It was mentioned, but I wish to emphasize that one should always ascertain any gas station overhang/tunnel ceiling is high enough to pass/stop under. This list and its comments should be included in all newly purchased RVs! Cay from FL
If you own an RV or travel a lot, you know it's a constant battle to keep things secure so they don't fall or tip over in the process. If you are not using it yet, try sticky tack (also known as poster putty). It's the best invention. It is pliable putty that usually comes in a package of 2-4 strips. I have seen it in white, blue, and yellow. It is often found in the office or school supply sections in stores and is inexpensive. My favorite brand comes from a dollar store. It is repositionable and restickable. You can use it over and over, so one package lasts a long time.
RVer's can hang things on walls with sticky tack, keep cutting boards and bowls still, put it under a vase of flowers and on and on. Works great under pet bowls also.
I have found so many uses for sticky tack in my home. I use it when doing crafts and in our truck while traveling. Just grab a hunk, place it under the object you want to secure and give it a little "smoosh".
Give it a try, you'll love it and the ideas for using it are endless!
By Mary from Palm Coast, FL
This is a great idea and sounds like the perfect solution to a problem I have! My cat is forever turning over his food dishes, then turning over the dogs' dishes too. I've tried putting velcro under the dishes and it works great, till I go to wash the dishes. Then the velcro comes off in the water.
Hopefully this will work better!
As a perpetual user of poster putty/sticky tack I offer this hint for best adhesion. Knead, pull and pull the putty as you would taffy. It will become stickier and stickier (and warmer!). You only need a very small amount in each glob for posters, a little bit more for chunkier objects. Poster putty sticks to the painted concrete block walls in my classroom. Duct tape comes off after a while!
That was a really good Tip going to post it on our website!!! check it out www.ddrv.com
We took a long trip out west for 4 and 1/2 months. We'd never been out west before. We always said, when we retired we were going to do it, and we did! We were awed by all the things we saw and did.
These pictures are at Grants Point in Utah! I could stay in Utah for a month and never run out of stuff to do and see! We may move there after we RV all over the country for a while! We loved Utah!
We traveled from Georgia to the Pacific coast. In L.A., we were at the premiere of "Toy Story 3" in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, as Hank and Tim got out of their limo. Then up to Washington state through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, etc. and back home. We went through 23 states! I'm 62 and he's 65, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Ya all look for us. We'll be like "Where are the Ellington's" as opposed to "Where's Waldo!"
Happy Trails (as they say out West).
Source: Our 23 Tapes of video we took! LOL
Absolutely amazing photos! They are just stunning. Got more? I live in Washington State and I also have a ton of pics of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I should probably post some one of these days.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I'm so glad you came to Utah! I'm a Utahn myself! :) Yes, there are tons of things to do and see here! I've been to some of those places in your pictures! Thanks for sharing them, they're beautiful!
Linda, I can't see pics with my physical eyes, but loved hearing of your RV adventure. Reminded me of my friend Eleanore. She and her hubby, Ernie, even drove up into Alaska in their RV! She's now 88, he's 89. I'm trying to get her to write or record some stories for a book.
I am about to embark on a new adventure with my husband. We are both retired and have purchased an RV. I don't know how many RVers are on this site but does anyone have any advice for frugal RVing? Or RV tips in general? Thank You, I love the site.
Verna from Orange County.
You'll save lots of money if you cook most of your own meals and avoid eating out. We usually eat breakfast and supper at our campsite and occasionally eat lunch out if we run across a special restuarant. We also find it's cheaper to camp at the national park campsites, parking lots of large stores (Walmart, etc), public land pull offs. It's nice to have a variety of spots to camp. Also, get out the map and plot where all your friends and family live. You can stop by for a visit but not be a nuisance as you're self-contained and can fix your own meals. People will be glad to see you as you'll be a botherfree guest. As gas is so high, try to stay put a few nights or more in each spot. Stop at the Chamber of Commerce right away to find out about area sites. We use public transportation or our bikes whenever possible to avoid gas expenses.
Check into cell phones to keep in touch. Have a wonderful time!
We are 55 and have been RVing for about 26 years. We've never owned a motor home, always trailers. Our best advice is to attend the week-long session of classes put on by Gaylord Maxwell's "Life on Wheels" conference. Check out http://www.lifeonwheels.com" rel="nofollow" target="new">http://www.lifeonwheels.com for more info. and helpful articles.
Two more really good sources of information would be to log on to any of a number of RVing forums through Yahoo! Groups. Lastly, go to your public library and check out all the books you can on camping. That's how we learned everything at the beginning. We attended the Life on Wheels conference after we'd been RVing for over 20 years, and still learned lots.
Other than that, yes, please make use of the cheaper parks, like state parks, join Good Sam Club for 10% discount at their parks, subscribe to "Motorhome" magazine for wonderful ideas, and shop around for best prices on camping stuff like Bi-Mart, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, GI Joes. You will find a huge difference in prices over the stuff in the stores owned by the RV repair places!
Buy cheap toilet paper rather than pay for the expensive RV stuff. Cook all your meals in the RV; don't eat out. You can make dishes ahead and keep in your RV's refrigerator freezer. Ask for senior discounts everywhere. If members of AAA, see if any campgrounds give discounts. Look at a "Trailer Life Campground Directory" at your local library to compare camping fees. It may seem overwhelming at first, but soon you will learn all the tricks.
Plan, plan, plan. Enjoy your new lifestyle!! We do.
I don't RV full time but plan to, but one thing i have that i love is a credit card from Capitol One called Octane. i hope it's still available to get because it gives you 10% off of gasoline purchases (probably covers diesel too, but i never checked into that, i believe it's for "fuel") anyway. with the amount you will spend on fuel, 10% is huge.. check into it!! can't hurt to ask. it does have a $59 annual fee, but with gas prices now, i could make that up in normal driving without including my travel. good luck!! i can't wait till i get to RV full time too!!!! blessings to you!
The state parks are the cheapest, and in my opinion the nicest even though they might not have any hook-ups. This should not be an issue with a motorhome.
If you like outdoor barbequeing, get one of those portable gas grills (about $20) we use ours all the time, even for breakfast using a griddle. We NEVER eat out.
With the internet now available, it should be really easy to plan where you will be going and finding plenty of points of interest in between to visit with nearby campgrounds.
We bought an old pop-up in the 70's to take the kids to Disney World (who, by the way, has a beautiful campground) and did so every year until the mid 80's. That was our first family vacation and we are still camping with the grandkids today.
You will love it!!!
We have always found it cheaper to purchase staples like toilet paper and canned goods for our trip before we leave home. It is more expensive to purchase them at the campground stores or even in grocery stores in tourist cities. Also, if you purchase them at home you can buy ahead and get the items on sale.
Don't fill your water tanks full before you leave home. Most campgrounds have a filling station and always dump your sewage before you leave a campground. You will save a lot in mileage by not carrying the extra weight.
Wasn't sure if you were going full-time rv'ing or lots of trips, but I will mention a few things. Thinking about all the mistakes and things we have learned, makes me smile. First of all, do get a book about rv'ing. Also know that campers are the friendliest people in the world and will be happy to give you advice. Got a problem, ask your neighbor. We have laughed that if you put up the hood of your vehicle, there will be 5 people there to help you with your problem. Love that. Other thing-Army Corp campgrounds are inexpensive and numerous. Lastly, Golden Age/Golden access card. If you are 62 or disabled you can get this card and get in half price at Army Corp and some other places. Full-time rv'ing is the smartest thing we ever did. Good Luck and Enjoy!