Tips For Cutting Costs (Without Cutting Fun) On An RV Vacation

Josh SchukmanJune 27, 2022

Tips For Cutting Costs (Without Cutting Fun) On An RV Vacation

With gas prices the way they are these days, you might be tempted to think twice before jumping on an RV vacation, but the reality is RVing can be one of the most affordable and fun ways to enjoy a vacation — even during times of high inflation. 

That’s because RVs have many built-in cost-saving advantages such as kitchens, onboard bathrooms, etc. that’ll make for a less costly vacay than most other sorts of travel. 

If you combine an RVs built-in cost-saving functions with some savvy trip planning, you can take a camping trip for an unforgettable and very affordable vacation. Let’s dig into why RVing can be so affordable and then chat about ways to save money on your next RV vacation. 

How Is RVing One Of The Most Affordable Vacation Options?

80% of American adults are saying they’ll take a road trip this year with good reason — you usually save dramatically over the cost of multiple plane tickets, you get to see the spaces in between, and, if you travel by RV, you bring a bunch of amenities with you that you’d otherwise be paying for. 

It’s also important to note that RVing is not a gas-guzzling vacation. That’s because RVers usually put in the most mileage on the first and last days of their vacation. The median mileage we see for a 7-day trip on our platform is 665 miles. For a 7-day trip for a family, the average fuel cost is $275 — and that’s with $5/gallon gas at around 10MPG. Not bad when you consider a typical airline ticket for just one person costs $260 on average!

Additionally, over 75% of our owners offer a delivery option with their RVs, meaning you can simply arrive at camp with an RV all set up for you — no gas required. 

Lastly, nearcations are a popular vacation option these days that RVs fit right in with. Why not take this time to explore a camping destination near you that you’ve always been dying to discover? You’ll save money over a cross-country trip and maybe find a gem right in your backyard. 

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

Why RVing Beats Inflation

The travel industry can be highly susceptible to inflation. The prices of airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and more all spiked up this past year. The nightly prices of RV rentals on Outdoorsy’s platform — on the other hand — are nearly the same as they were last year. 

Here are some other reasons that an RVing vacation is an inflation buster:

  • You can stay at campgrounds where nightly rates are much cheaper than hotels.
  • Pets can come along with you in an RV, saving on boarding costs, pet fees, etc — just be sure to filter for a pet-friendly RV rental. 
  • A 7-day RV vacation for 4 people all-in comes out to $2,400 on average and here’s a way you can do it for less than $2,000 — that’s compared to $8,000 for the average cruise vacation and $9,000 for the average theme park vacation. Here’s how we calculated that figure:
    • RV Rental: $1,370 (includes insurance and fees + add-ons like bike racks)
    • Campsites: $270 (at an average cost of $45/night)
    • Gas: $275 (550 miles at 10 mpg and $5/gallon)
    • Food: $342 (USDA Food Spending Four, spending liberally – $1370/month)
    • Activities: $160 (e.g. $30-50 kayak rental for 4 people)
    • National Park Pass: $80 
  • You can access affordable and spectacular adventures at places like national parks.
  • You have your own kitchen and can eat out less.
Airstream under a night sky

Fuel Saving Tips For Your RV Vacation

RVing is already one of the most affordable ways to go on vacation and you can save even more by sticking with these fuel-savings tips:

  1. Have your RV delivered to you — Over 75% of our owners offer a delivery option on their RV rentals. While there is generally an extra fee for this, it’ll save you on gas because you won’t have to tug the camper to your campsite.

    Many owners even offer stationary RV delivery — meaning that they’ll drop the camper in the spot where it’ll stay for the whole rental period. This results in much lower insurance and fuel costs for you.
  2. Use a discount fuel app — Apps like GasBuddy or Upside will help you find the cheapest gas prices no matter where you roll.
  3. Don’t travel with full holding tanks — Water is heavy, clocking in at around 8 pounds per gallon. That means a full 50-gallon holding tank is adding 400 pounds to your weight. You can reduce your fuel costs by managing your water use so your holding tanks are empty — or close to it — when you travel.
  4. Stick to the speed limit — When you’re towing, every bit of MPH that you push will eat into your fuel efficiency much more quickly than when driving in your car. Save on gas by sticking at or below the speed limit, it’s the safe thing to do anyway!
  5. Maintain tire pressure — Properly inflated tires are key to improving your fuel economy. Outdoorsy owners are required to check and top up tire pressure regularly, so they’ll have you covered here.
  6. Smooth driving — Rapid acceleration can shave 15-30% off your fuel economy. Go easy on your wallet by going easy on the gas pedal.
  7. Limit AC use — Running your air-conditioner while driving is a fuel suck. We know there are times when it’s clutch, but if you have times you can roll with windows down or in fan-only mode, you’ll save on fuel costs.
  8. Avoid idling — If you’re stopped for more than a minute, shut that engine down. It’s good for the environment and your bank account.
  9. Steer clear of heavy winds — RVs will consume significantly more fuel if the engine is having to push its weight against heavy winds. If possible, travel at times or in areas where low wind speeds are forecast.
  10.  Use an RV trip planner to find the most fuel-efficient route — Apps like Roadtrippers, Good Sam Trip Planner, and RV Trip Wizard all feature trip planners that are designed to save you gas money by finding the best route for your RV.  
Flames in a fire pit

Other Tips For Saving Money On Your RV Vacation

Along with saving money on gas, there are many other tips and tricks for saving money while still having an amazing RV vacation:

  1. Avoid eating out — You generally eat much more healthily and affordably by taking advantage of your RV kitchen. Campfire cooking with something like a dutch oven is another fun way to both save money on food and create wonderful memories for your family.
  2. Join RV clubs for discount campingRV clubs like Good Sam, Escapees, Thousand Trails, Passport America, and others excel at helping you find great campgrounds at great prices. Be sure to travel with one that suits you to save dough on RV sites.
  3. Boondock — Boondocking happens when you camp at free or very low-cost campsites because these sites don’t have power, water, and sewer connections. As a result, you’ll need to be prepared to camp using the onboard tanks and power systems in your RV.

    If you’re set to boondock, you can save a bundle on campsites — especially when you also use apps like Harvest Hosts.
  4. Indoor RV activities in inclement weather — When it rains or snows at home, you might be tempted to take the whole family out to a movie or other costly activity, but with RVing, you can save money and create lasting memories by getting creative with indoor activities like family board games or family craft activities in the rig. 
  5. Filter your search for RVs offering stationary rentals — Stationary rentals happen when an owner delivers the RV to your campsite with the understanding that it won’t be moved. This results in significant insurance savings for you because insurance is much cheaper when the rig won’t be driven.
  6. Off-season travel — Do some digging and figure out when the shoulder seasons are at your chosen vacation spots. Shoulder seasons are those times just before places get busy where prices are lower and the weather is (usually) still where people want it to be for vacation.

    If you book during these times, you’ll save a bundle on things like campsites and excursions. 

Gas prices have gotten scary, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have affordable vacation options. RVing is one of the most cost-effective ways to travel because it’s an all-in-one solution that helps you cut out hotel costs, reduce the costs of eating out, and generally costs less in fuel than most airline tickets. 

To make things even easier on you, Outdoorsy has a partnership with PayPal that enables you to pay for your vacation in 6 or 12 interest-free, 0% APR monthly payments, simply by selecting PayPal Pay Monthly at checkout.
As a bonus: There’s no down payment required and your first monthly payment isn’t due until 30 days after you make your booking. It’s legal, we checked.

RVing is one of the best ways to take a vacation right now. Check out our rigs for rent right here.

Josh and his wife gallivanted all over the country in an '88 Airstream for 4+ years of full-time RVing. They made an unexpected pitstop in Montana in 2020 and haven't left since. That's because they got hooked on the glamping resort they run by Glacier National Park. Fittingly, they keep up their RVing love by renting out vintage Airstreams and other retro RVs to travelers hitting Montana.

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