RVliving and traveling can be expensive if you let it or it can be the most inexpensive way to live and travel. Here are my 5 top ways I keep it cheap!!
Accommodations is probably the biggest expense you can have when you travel. Of course with an RV we have our own but where to park it. Campsites and RV parks can cost you anywhere from $35/ night for a non-electrical or $50-$60/night if you want power. I have seen RV parks and private campgrounds up over a $100/ night! Wow! I know right! Even at $50/night thats a lot of money! Those costs can add up quick and may even prevent you from doing other things.
How do I keep those costs down?
Boondocking! Parking for free where you can! There are so many places although you are not guaranteed a nice spot by the river, it could be a spot in a Walmart parking lot or in the US a Cracker Barrel, but it’s not $50/night! There are Enroutes along our major highways as well as Truck stops and even the odd roadside picnic area that allows overnight parking! I am sitting in one now writing this blog! Nice little spot and its free!! Casinos are also a great resource and some will have hydro hookups for RV’s. They are free as well and I usually find they have a great dinner menu at a pretty good price for an out to eat treat.
Crown land or BLM land is also a great place for boondocking. In Ontario you can stay on federally owned land for up to 21 days in a calander year. Most federal land is way up north and they do not make it easy to find but most times its the river you were looking for!
How do I find these places? Google maps with their satellite and street view comes in handy. I will look for parking lots on the satellite and streetview to see if there are any no overnight parking signs. There are also Apps that will help you find places. Free Campsites, RVParky and Overnight Parking Finder are a few that I use. Overnightrvparking.com is also a great resource! Its about $30 but well worth it! Give a click and tell them Chipmunk sent you!
I also joined Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. The cost is minimal and if I know at least a day ahead if I will be in an area I know with all the locations they have I can find something!
Harvest Hosts was about $80.00 for the year and has a lot of wineries and farms to stay at. I am not much of a wine drinker but I love the smell of grapes in the fall.
Boondockers Welcome at $65.00 a year is a great buy! They have everything from driveways to beautiful scenery! I really like the variety and know I will be using this website on my retirement journey! It will pay for itself in 2 stays and its comforting that I know I have a safe place to park whether I am here in Canada or in US! Cause you never know where I will end up! Check them out! http://www.boondockerswelcome.com/referrals/40571/
In these times the price of gas can be reasonable to astronomical! Depending on where you are you can pay a good chunk of your travel money out in fuel costs. There are a few ways I make the most of my dollar on fuel.
Doing things like keeping your tires at the proper inflation as well as keeping your speed lower will help your fuel mileage more than you realize. I know if I go over 105 kmph or 65 mph I can watch my gas gauge drop. Keeping it under that gets me a little farther down the road.
There are places that have cheaper gas. Most times Indian reserves are a great resource. I find they have gas at a great price and some pump the gas for you which is a nice treat. They also often have cool little shops that have some interesting things. I also have a Costco membership just for gas. They usually are anywhere from 5-8 cents a litre cheaper than the rest.
There are places that I go that the price of gas will be expensive. For example the farther north you go in Ontario the more expensive the gas. Smaller towns in the middle of nowhere will be higher than the gas stations near civilization. I always make sure to fill up before going into these areas. If I can avoid filling my tank at almost 2x the regular price then thats what I do.
3. Vehicle Maintaince
I know this sounds obvious but it is so important. Keeping your vehicle well maintained prevents so many major breakdowns. Breakdowns are expensive and not being near a mechanic you trust can be even more expensive. Being a solo women many a garage has tried to tell me things were wrong that were not. Luckily my Dad thought if I am going to drive the car I better know how to fix it. It has come in handy many times.
Now breakdowns happen it is inevitable! I have CAA or AAA in the US for tows. Yes it is kind of expensive but even if you call them once you have probably spent less then the cost of the tow. They also come when you lock your keys in the van!! Haha! Oh ya thats me!
Knowing the sound of your vehicle is extremely helpful in preventing major breaks. Does it always make that ticking sound on start up, does the engine hum as I am driving down the road? Brakes are a perfect example of the sounds you can hear to prevent major damage. The squeal of the marker on the brake pads if left unattended can lead to damaged rotors or drums which adds tremendously to the cost of the repair.
Regular maintaince, checking your fluids and knowing the sound of your vehicle are great tools to keep you running down the road in a cost effective way!
Want to know a secret, ok maybe its not a big secret, I hate cooking! Really! It is so easy for me to just stop and grab something rather than cook but wow that can get expensive, not to mention not good for you!
Eating out can get costly. Sitting down at a restaurant like Montanas or Kelsey’s will set you back $30-$40 just for one person! Then you have a couple of drinks and it begins to add up. Fast food is cheaper but that stuff is not cheap either and in my humble opinion will kill you if you eat to much of it!!
Having a Kitchen in your RV is a great resource for saving money on food costs. Even tho I do not like to cook I do. I do love eggs, and one of my favorite meals is Tomoto soup and grilled cheese. Easy, cheap and good! I do not have a generator but I do have a toaster oven for when I have power. There are many types of meals you can make!
Having fresh fruits and vegetables in the van is a great snack source but I find with the change in temperatures inside, cold in the winter and hot in the summer, they will go bad quickly. I make sure to only by enough that I can eat. Then stop along the way to get more when that is done. If not I end up throwing a lot of it away which can be costly! I really do not like to waste good food that way!
4. Tourist Attractions
Everyone loves Tourist Attractions! I recently went on a trip to Flower Pot Island in Tobermory Ontario. For a Glass Bottom boat tour for the shipwrecks, a National Park pass and Drop off and pick up to the Island is about $60.00 for 1 adult. It is about a 3 to 4 hour cruise. It was a nice treat but I would not want to do that everyday as it would get expensive.
There are so many places that equally cool and cost nothing to see! Bruce Caves was a sign I spotted along the road. What an interesting place and a nice walk and it was free. Hiking the trails or going to lookout spots as well as touring a small town does not cost you anything. Whether I am in my Roadtrek or in my 69 Econoline I find the most spectacular views are usually free.
Sometimes you see something on the map where you thought you wanted to go and now you want to go there. Looking for a ghost town I did not find but noticed there was a Stargate to an Alternative Universe! Ohhhh I so needed one of those because this one is a little messed up!! Lol!
When you travel do not just look at the obvious destination look at the abstract destination and find the real jewels of the area and it will not cost you a dime!!
A dollar does not go very far these days but if you pay attention you can make it stretch a little farther down the road! These are just some of the ways I save while making the most of my RVlife! Hope it helps you roll a little farther!
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure!
See you next time!