We’ve all wasted money on things we don’t need. Whether it’s the allure of a late night infomercial or irresistible fashion accessories like the Snuggie, it’s nearly impossible to avoid regrettable purchases. That’s especially true for RVers. Traveling in an RV can leave even the biggest penny pinchers low on funds. Costs add up quickly on road trips, so it’s important to cut corners when traveling inside your home on wheels. Unfortunately, far too many RVers waste their hard-earned cash on unnecessary expenses. Be sure to avoid the following money wasters on your next RV road trip.
1. Eating Fast Food
Who hasn’t fallen prey to the almighty dollar menu? After all, how can you pass on a $1 spicy McChicken or Jack in the Box tacos?
Okay, value menu items won’t do any serious damage to your wallet (your digestive system, however, is another story). But fast food costs add up quickly. The average cost of a fast food meal is anywhere from $5-$7 compared to just $1.50 to $3.00 at home. That’s not even mentioning the high costs of dining out at a sit down restaurant.
RVers have the benefit of bringing their kitchen on the road, so don’t shy away from making some home cooked meals. By doing some preemptive shopping and a little meal-prepping, you can end up saving big money on your daily meals. Skip that trip to the Golden Arches and make some homemade food instead.
2. Filling Up At Any Gas Station
If you thought gas was expensive in your car, just wait until you see the bill after filling up your RV at the gas pump. RVs are notorious gas guzzlers, with even the most eco-friendly options only averaging 10-20 miles per gallon. Plus, their extra large gas tanks often hold up to 150 gallons of fuel.
Rising gas prices may be unavoidable, but wasting money isn’t. You can find affordable gas stations with the help of mobile-friendly apps like GasBuddy or Waze. These trusty apps will let you analyze nearby gas prices so you can save money at the pump. They even let you plan ahead by mapping out gas stations along your route. This way, you can enjoy your cross-country road trip without riding home on fumes.
3. Spending on Camp Fees
Let’s face it: camping fees are nothing compared to hotel fees. That’s why plenty of RVers are happy to shell out nightly fees without ever giving it a second thought. But did you know that the average cost of a nightly stay in a private RV park is $38.50 compared to $22.50 for a public campground? By simply opting for a weeklong stay in a private park instead of a campground, you’re looking at an additional $112 in expenses.
You can save on lodging by choosing a public campground or, better yet, boondocking. Boondocking lets you go off the grid and camp without any hookups on free public lands. You can also use Boondockers Welcome to stay for free at private residences. Plus, you can get discounts on camping fees all over the country by joining an RV community like Good Sam or Escapees.
4. Not Preparing for Repairs
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. RVs are like any other vehicle in that they require maintenance to stay on the road. But you’ll also have to pay regular attention to things like your generators and your water tank if you want to avoid extra repairs.
Still, inexperienced RVers often forget about maintenance and are left with hefty repair bills as a result. You can save up by getting a tune up before your trip and by packing a tool box, jumper cables, motor oil, tire pressure gauge, and engine coolant. Of course, the best way to avoid big repair bills is to get a AAA card. Members get free roadside assistance and support services.
5. Buying Day Passes
Warning: beware of national parks. Okay, there’s no shame in visiting some of America’s most beautiful and beloved outdoor attractions. After all, that’s what RVing is all about!
Still, many RVers end up spending excessive amounts of money on day passes to their favorite parks. Day passes to national parks cost between $20-$30. However, they can climb to as much as $70 during peak season at popular parks like Arches, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and more. Meanwhile, an annual America the Beautiful Pass grants you unlimited access to over 2,000 federal recreation areas for just $80.
6. Packing Too Much Water
There’s no denying the importance of fresh water while camping. But there’s a difference between bringing a full water tank and stocking up with enough supplies to wait out the zombie apocalypse.
You don’t need to fill your RV with extra water tanks or plastic water bottles. In addition to costing money, they also weigh down your RV enough to affect your gas mileage. Filling your fresh water tank should be sufficient for a quick dry camping trip. Most campgrounds also offer free water hookups that allow you to connect your rig to their water supply. This way, you can get safe drinking water without overspending.
7. Visiting Tourist Traps
America is chock-full of tourist traps just waiting to take your money. From famous attractions to random shops in the middle of nowhere, you’re bound to encounter your fair share of tourist traps on your next road trip.
Here’s the thing: you can spend your time doing free activities instead. The best part of RVing is it allows you to see unique parts of the country without breaking the bank. There’s no shortage of epic hiking trails and scenic overlooks just begging to be explored. If you do insist on making a pit stop at a tourist trap, make sure to plan ahead. Many attractions offer discounts during non-peak seasons and hours. By exploring the outdoors and planning your adventures in advance, you can experience the world without going over your budget.