After nine months of fulltime RV traveling we decided to begin a Q&A series. We’ll answer one frequently asked question a week via blog post & YouTube video. This week we looked for questions in Heath Padgett’s “Make Money and RV” Facebook group and ended up with:
How do you keep costs down while traveling fulltime?
Let’s start with our income… We operate a vintage Etsy shop from the road. Our shop is two and a half years old and we’ve built a solid clientele. But, true to the retail world, earnings fluctuate month to month.
We’ve had to learn ways to cut costs to make sure we break even every month. In this article we’ll break it down into four categories of savings.
If you have a self contained RV that’s able to produce its own power, it can be very easy to save money on camping fees.
Our favorite type of camping is free camping and there’s lot of it out there! BLM Land, National Forests, and overnight parking at truck stops are just a few ways to camp without paying.
There are also membership programs that provide free camping across the nation. We found Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome are very reliable options.
Don’t forget to look for city & county parks. They are often small and outdated, perhaps on a fairground, but they usually cost only $10-15 a night.
Lastly, Passport America has really helped us save money. They have a nation wide database of campgrounds & resorts that offer members a 50% discount. We’ve used the membership in every state we’ve travelled through.
Gas can be a huge money pit. Our rig gets about 14mpg when towing, and we’re quite happy with it. But, driving more than 300 miles a week can quickly deplete our travel budget.
We’ve learned that slowing down our pace saves us money and enriches our experiences. On an ideal travel day we’ll drive between 50-100 miles, camping at each location for a minimum of three days, and up to three weeks.
We track local gas prices on GasBuddy.com. Its proven to be a great savings tool.
There’s one simple way to save money on food; cook it yourself! We love to eat out, but only indulge once or twice a month.
For every grocery shopping trip, we use a list and a budget. We don’t like buying “cheap processed food”, but we do buy store brand products and take advantage of clearance items. Our plant-based diet consists of items like beans, rice, quinoa, vegetables, fruits, bread, and eggs.
In some cities we’ve found clearance grocery stores selling only damaged, discontinued and soon-to-be expired products. These stores are awesome. We stocked up on a three month supply of our favorite bouillon paste at a 75% savings.
When we’re not working (which is often), we love partaking in free activities. Hiking beautiful trails and roaming the streets of a new town are some of our favorites. Every town has a story and we’ve found it fun to learn.
Most towns & cities have a Facebook page listing out free daily activities. We’ve found these Facebook pages easier to navigate than most cities’ underfunded tourism websites. In a recent search we found “Historic Story Telling at the Library”, “Meet & Greet Summer Olympians”, and a biking demo event – and these are all in a small village in northern Michigan!
Most Importantly, Be Flexible
Being flexible and adaptable are cornerstones to keeping costs down. Its easy to be a consumer in this society, but once we were able to strictly moderate our consumer habits, we began saving lots of money.
Let us know your tips for keeping costs down, and if you have a question you want answers – ask it in the comment box below!
Thanks for reading our blog. Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or shopping Amazon through our link.