We know that travel budgets are hard maintain. With summer in full swing, there’s a chance you’ve already had to pay a little extra here and there while on your RV road trip and it’s not even July. While every road warrior knows the key to a long and fruitful RV lifestyle or road trip is budgeting, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to how quickly everyday purchases add up. Today we’re bringing you ten things you should never pay for while on the road this summer. From bottled water to entertainment, campgrounds and RV maintenance, you’ll save a fortune if you commit to keeping these items free while traveling.
This is a given, always. Instead of paying that pesky $2.50-4 just to get your own money, stop at grocery stores, convenient stores and gas stations that offer a cash back option. If you notice you’re passing your bank, go ahead and get cash out ahead of time even if you don’t need it at the present. Preparation is key when trying to save money on the road. Anticipate the campground cash only sites, cash only restaurants and so on. If you’re in a real bind but your travel partner has cash, you can always download free payment apps Venmo, Cash App and Google pay to reimburse back your buddy without any added fee.
Water is one of our greatest traveling necessities. Instead of buying single use plastic, opt for a hydro flask, canteen or any BPA free reusable water bottle and keep it on you at all times. When you stop for gas, fill up your water (for free!) at the fountain. When you arrive at your campsite or national parks, use the free drinking water stations. When our travel photographer Kristen of Hello America camped around the states for six months, she never once purchased water. So we promise, it can be done!
ENTRY TO NATIONAL PARKS
Skip the $10-45 fee per national park and opt for an annual National Parks Pass. This one is a win-win. You’ll be supporting the National Parks Foundation while enjoying a years worth of entry to all the U.S. National Parks for the price of two visits to the Grand Canyon. Better yet, seniors (62+) can purchase a lifetime national parks pass for $80.
While we highly encourage you to enjoy a good book or two on your summer RV adventures, we suggest getting an online subscription to your local library. That way you can check out and return books electronically without spending a penny and you’re keeping your RV less cluttered in the process. Book Mooch and Book Crossing are excellent online resources for travelers who want to trade online. If you prefer reading from physical pages of a book, you can always find book trades along your destinations.
Use your phone as a hot spot. This is a great option if you’re working from your RV but don’t want to pay for extra wifi or deal with the spotty service. All you have to do is turn on the hotspot option in ‘settings’ on your phone and you’re ready to work. This is a great way to use the internet while driving down the road as well. If you want to relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while working, go to a local coffee shop in the town your passing through and ask for the WIFI password. Most restaurants will share their internet as well! All you need to do is ask. Libraries are also an excellent option for enjoying the internet.
Here’s the joy about travel, the land is your entertainer! If you’re trying to keep expenses down, google ‘free entertainment’ at your destination. Big cities often feature some sort of free concert, movie on the lawn or if you’re on the coast, bringing your friends and family to the beach is an excellent way to stay entertained all day. Check out our round up of 2019 Summer Events and Rallies and if you’re looking for RV events and check out our list of must-read books this summer! Beyond free outdoor activity, you can also opt for indoor RV fun! Bring along board games and cards and start a weekly family game night.
RV ROAD TRIP GUIDES
Though road trip guides are full of beautiful photos and information, most of what you’ll find in those books can be found on the internet, for free. There are numerous resources for travel and local guides to the area you’re exploring, so don’t limit yourself! If you’re looking for RV road trip guides in New Mexico, South Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Southern California, La Mesa RV has you covered! Check out our Road Trips Guide collection on our blog to find everything you need to know about where to camp, eat, travel and more!
RV CAMPSITES (IN SOME INSTANCES)
Ever wanted to RV across the country but have not been able to afford the ever increasing price of campgrounds? We understand the frustration and we’re here to tell you that paid campsites aren’t the only way to RV! We are huge fans of boondocking at La Mesa RV. Instead of paying upwards of $60 for a site, check out the Bureau of Land Management (also known as BLM) to find free campsites in your RV destination area. National Forests are also free and a great, peaceful camping option when boondocking. Check out our informative post featuring Everything you Need to Know About Boondocking to learn more.
SIMPLE RV MAINTENANCE
Even though your home can roll down the street, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your attention. When your house creeks and needs simple maintenance, you adapt, learn and develop skills to fix little odds and ends. We highly suggest you do the same with your RV. There is no need to take your RV in for maintenance every time a bolt comes loose or you need to fix the door. Deep dive into your owners manual and use the internet to trouble shoot small service problems you might have. The more knowledgeable you become on the ins and outs of your rig, the more money you will save over time.
While some dump stations will charge upwards of $10 to dump your RV tanks, there are plenty of visitors centers and some gas stations that offer this service for free. Keep in mind, they might be few and far between so if you’re wanting to save on emptying your tanks, be sure to plan out where the free dump stations are before you start your road trip. Remember – if you stay at an RV campground, the dumping fee is waved.
How did you spend your Father’s Day weekend? If you’re already missing your Pa, check out our recent post This Travel Photographer Remembers Her Dad’s Love for RVing and leave us a comment in the section below telling us where you’ll be headed in your motorhome this summer with your family!