With fuel prices reaching record heights, I am hearing from a lot of RVers who are wondering if they can continue to travel, or who are cutting back on their travels until prices level out. Well, believe it or not, there’s good news, and there’s more good news!
The first bit of good news is that the market cannot sustain the current inflated prices for long. After climbing steadily for weeks now, we may be seeing some relief. Yesterday, oil prices were down slightly, in the wake of a warning to investors by the International Energy Agency that recent high prices have hurt global demand for energy. Worried that they might get caught holding the bag for their greed, speculators may be going into a conservative mode, which would lead to reductions in oil prices.
While we cannot control oil prices, the second bit of good news is that there are plenty of ways for RVers to cut expenses and offset higher costs at the pump. One of the easiest ways is to reduce our nightly camping costs. Here are ten ways you can save money on your overnight camping fees, and put those dollars into your fuel tank.
1. Free Campgrounds – There are hundreds of free campgrounds from coast to coast, and border to border. These include small town city parks and county parks. There are also many that only charge $5 to $10 a night. You can find these listed in resources such as Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds (East and West Coast editions), the Days End directory available through the Escapees RV Club, websites such as FreeCampgrounds.com and Free Campsites, and our own Guide To Free Campgrounds and Overnight Parking Spots, available for $8.95 from our Gypsy Journal RV Bookstore.
2. Fairgrounds Camping – Fairgrounds in large cities and small towns offer many low cost camping opportunities. Many have full hookup RV sites, dump stations, and other amenities. We publish the RVers Guide to Fairgrounds Camping, available for $7.50 from our Gypsy Journal RV Bookstore.
3. Discount Camping Clubs – Organizations such as Passport America, Recreation USA, and Camp Club USA offer many low cost camping options. Passport America is the oldest and largest, and we have been members since before we became fulltime RVers.
4. Casinos – Many casinos offer RVers free overnight parking, others have low cost RV parks, and some offer both. We have spent many nights in casinos over the years, and saved a bundle. Two good resources are our RVers Guide To Casino Camping, available for $6.95 from our Gypsy Journal RV Bookstore, and the excellent Casino Camper website.
5. Elks, Moose, VFW – If you belong to any of these fine organizations, you will find overnight parking available at lodges and posts across the nation.
6. Corps of Engineers Campgrounds – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates some beautiful campgrounds on rivers and other bodies of water, with very affordable camping fees.
7. National Parks Passes – If you are over age 62, or have a medically determined handicap, you can get a free or low cost lifetime pass from the National Park Service that will get you discounts on camping and access to National Parks, Historic Sites and other properties administered by the National Park Service.
8. Used Campground Memberships – While a new membership to one of the big nationwide membership campground plans can cost thousands of dollars, there are many people who want to get out from under their annual dues, and will sell their membership for pennies on the dollar, or even give it away. We got our nationwide Thousand Trails/Naco membership for free, and our $500 annual dues entitles us to 50 nights of camping annually. Any nights over 50 cost us $5/night.
9. RV Friendly Businesses – RV friendly companies such as WalMart, Cracker Barrel, and Flying J allow RVers to park free overnight at locations nationwide. Staying in a parking lot just a night or two a week while on the road can more than make up for increased prices at the RV fuel island.
10. Boondocking – There are millions of acres of publicly owned land nationwide, much of it administered by the Bureau of Land Management. We have spent many nights boondocking on BLM and state lands, especially in the West.
So there you have it, ten ways to save $20, $30, or more a night. It only takes a night or two to save enough money to lessen the impact of oil prices on your pocketbook. So quit worrying and get out there and enjoy your travels!
Thought For The Day – Adventure is not the road we travel, it’s the obstacles we overcome.