BEING FRUGAL aboard your RV does not mean a RVing lifestyle for the poor!

You may decide to practice frugal living aboard your RV in order to prolong your RVing adventure, give yourself access to earlier retirement or simply make it possible to be on the road.

This does not mean that you do nothing to enjoy yourself! It is just that you want to be this thoughtful RVer who finds ways to save money.

FRUGAL Living while Fulltime RVing

These ways of saving money will allow you to do more with less.

1) Do not buy a recreational vehicle bigger that you need.

Buy the best quality you can afford that will last. This applies to the RV purchase as well as everything you will buy for RVing.

Find the smallest rig, offering you the best comfort and floorplan that will meet all your needs, nothing less, nothing more.

Make sure there is sufficient space that if there is more than one person rv living, each one has access to reasonable personal space to withdraw.

Do not forget that a smaller RV will be easier on fuel, normally less expensive to purchase, cheaper to put on a ferry if needed and allowing dry camping in more remote locations.

2) Purchase a used RV from a private seller debt free.

Buying used is the best way to save money.

There are many RVs which are excellent deals with fairly low mileage, with all the bugs out and often with a fair amount of optional accessories installed over the years by the previous owner.

Compared to a new unit, you will save thousands of dollars. If you decide that you do not like it, you can resell it with a good chance of loosing very little money,

Try to buy your used RV without financing from a private owner from whom you will get a better deal and more truthful answers to your questions.

You do not want to borrow a big chunk of money that will create stress while you should be relaxing. 'Buy and pay later' can be very stressful sometimes.

You may decide to use financing to give you access to your project but always be careful. It is highly recommended that the up-front costs of your project should be paid in full without financing.

3) Invest in solar panels

Installed on the RV roof, they will provide all the power energy that you need for years to come without extra cost after installation.

Make sure to have a sufficient number of rv batteries in your battery bank to make you self sufficient wherever you are.

The set up cost may be substantial but if you plan to keep your RV for a long time, it will be among the best ways to save money in campground costs.

4) Camp free or less to nothing: boondocking

You do not have to go to the expensive campground every night. You can take advantage of free campsites all over the continent.

If you selected the right size of RV, you will have many more possibilities to camp at very low cost in a natural setting on public land or in the country.

Ask permission to people to camp free on their land. A lot of farmers are very friendly and will not mind to allow you to park on their land for one night.

In cities, take advantage of the hospitality of such establishments as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and the Casinos who among others allow night stays on their parking lot.

In National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands, if you are over the age of 62, take advantage of an America the Beautiful lifetime pass costing $10 that gives you access to the sites.

Check these websites that identify places where RVers are allowed to stay one night for free or at low cost :

Overnight RV parking or Free campgrounds

5) In a campground, pay for partial services using solar panels.

Be frugal by selecting a site with no electrical hookup offered at lower rate.

6) To go RVing off-season is being frugal.

Take advantage of pre (spring) or post (fall) season discounts in campground fees.

7) Going south in winter, north in summer is frugality.

There will be no need for air conditioning or heating, the weather being temperate at all time.

8) Stay with friends and family.

You may have to change family and/or friends if they charge you to park in their driveway.

Some fellow members of different RV clubs may invite you at their places as well.

9) Consider to become a member of a RV club

A club will provide you with all kind of ways to save money while RVing. This is an easy way to be frugal by having a club membership.

All the RV Clubs are slightly different of course. They offer varied services as road side assistance, mail forwarding, e-mail accounts, RV products, a Club magazine.

Being a member will give you discounts on fuel, insurance and in many campsite locations around the country (up to 50%) (Canada and US).

They organize rallies, seminars and social events . They may have care centers for periods of medical recuperation. These are all good saving ideas.

It is too long here to enumerate what are all their particularities. Some are targeting at specific groups of RVers as well.

Check that info, compare annual fees, talk to RVers, and see how beneficial it would be to join one or many.

You can also buy a membership at a camping network which will give you access to an exclusive chain of campgrounds for members only.

They are membership parks called resorts or Preserves for the richer crowd of full-timers who want to save some money staying at these places for longer stays and more private posh vacations.

10) Offer your services in exchange for a free camping site.

You may stay a week or two in one location, feeling useful giving some of your time, making friends, visiting around in a very stimulating environment.

You can stay in various locations while traveling and doing volunteer work

11) Do not carry anything superfluous that you do not need.

Keep just the best in quality to meet all your needs. Learn being frugal by stopping to buy what you do not need. There is not much storage space in your RV anyway.

Create your own gifts instead of buying. A scrapbook or photo album of your trip for friends and family may be very well appreciated.

12) Keep fuel costs down, being frugal enough to check prices.

As we said, buy the smallest RV that fulfills all your needs. A huge RV will be very costly on fuel.

Keeping your engine well tuned will give you maximum efficiency and best fuel economy. Replacing fuel and air filters as required by the vehicle manufacturer's is mandatory. Switching to synthetic oil would help reducing friction, wear, extend the engine's longevity and help fuel consumption as well.

If you are towing a car, limit its size. Between a large dinghy and a small one, it makes a substantial difference. A motorcycle (or scooter) on a bumper hitch is an excellent alternative if you are a rider.

Inflating your tires at their proper pressure is a simple money saving tip to save on fuel. Inadequate pressure will also damage the tires prematurely causing uneven wear having for consequence to replace tires more frequently.

Reducing your speed will save you money in improving the mileage per gallon you are getting and also eliminating speeding tickets. Slow down your pace since the whole idea of traveling is to relax and enjoy life without constantly rushing.

Maintaining a constant speed on the road, avoiding rapid acceleration and not jamming on your brakes are all tips to improve your gas mileage.

Take advantage of some internet sites to check in advance fuel prices around your location to take advantage of lower prices.

For example, you can wait to cross to another province or state before fueling if you are going to get a better deal.

Check fuel prices near your RVing location:

- Do not move the RV everyday, drive shorter distances and stay longer in one location to also benefit from weekly or even monthly reduced campground fees.

- If you have a cruise control, use it as much as possible reducing your fuel expense up to 15 percent.

- Pack light and intelligently. Example : According to the US Department of Energy, a loaded roof rack on a car decreases fuel economy by approximately 5 per cent. Also, every 100 pounds (45kgs) you carry reduces (* in a car not necessarily in an RV) its fuel economy by 1 to 2 per cent.

- Do not idle your vehicle for more than 30 seconds. With newer engines, every two minutes a vehicle idles, it can waste as much fuel as it takes to travel an entire mile (1.6km)

- Use the credit card of a gas station company that will give you a discount on fuel every time you fill up and don't forget to pay the balance in total every month.

- Carry a small vehicle with better gas mileage to tour around and do your errands. (bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, small car, or the tow vehicle)

- Plan well your trip knowing where you are going with proper directions. Checking directories or internet is always a good idea. This will help you to be aware of the availability of campgrounds and activities, their regulations and prices. A reservation on internet or a phone call in advance is highly recommended in high season.


  1. Trailer Life's RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory
  2. Woodall's North American Campground Directory
  3. Kampground of America's directory (KOA)

13) Enjoy fitness, entertainment and activities that cost very little.

Quite a lot of activities are available for free.

Walk, run, hike, backpack, swim. bike, go canoeing or kayaking. For fitness on the road, you may have to bring some light equipment. Carrying a bicycle is an excellent idea, exercising and giving a mean of transportation at the same time.

Having small camping gear (tent, backpack, small dishes etc...) to backpack is also great to take a two day or longer trip in the mountains along the way.

For canoeing and kayaking, rent or bring a portable boat: SeaEagle

Hobbies : Photography, video, writing , reading, scrapbook , meditating, bird watching, identifying plants and mushrooms, fishing, collecting objects, playing an instrument, listening to music, watching movies, learning a language listening to tapes etc...

Free (or almost free) travel activities: Nature interpretation activities organized in Parks, local historical museums, churches, city halls, heritage buildings, interpretation centers, enjoying a vineyard, artist studio or farm tour, going to flee markets, browsing in bookstores and libraries, going to concerts and attending festivals.

Discover in advance where these festivals are with the Festival portal

Free socializing by making friends with locals who will invite you to places.

And a lot more...

14) Buy at discount and dollar stores, flea markets, roadside stands.

When you go grocery shopping, take the time (since there is no more rush) to grab the store's paper and take advantage of discounts on merchandise using their coupons.

15) Be frugal by no being shy to buy clothes at a used clothing store.

There is nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of smart people with money buy there.

Just give clothes a good wash and it is yours for 1/10 of the price. ($2 a shirt) Do not exaggerate, limit your clothes, minimizing what you carry.

16) Do your maintenance and repairs yourself on your vehicles.

If you initially do not know how to do it, make the effort to learn asking other RVers.

17) Being frugal, shop for vehicle insurance and medical coverage.

Being a member of a RV Club may give you a substantial discount.

18) Be more frugal by limiting restaurants and coffees at Starbucks.

Organize a 'potluck' where everyone brings something to share. You will think you are at the restaurant with all this new food to taste saving money being frugal.

19) Earn income while traveling.

You may be able to be frugal in deducting some of your expenses of RVing and depreciation of the vehicle for business purposes. Consult an accountant for more precision.

20) Be frugal by checking the discount coupons.

When you arrive in one area and you want to do sightseeing, check in the local paper if there are some. Check at the touristic information office or the Chamber of commerce.

21) Be frugal by saving on some laundry mat, washing by hand.

This may seem excessive but it is not a bad idea to consider such thing. Knowing that most of the cleaning is done leaving the clothes soak, just use a five-gallon bucket with water and detergent, put the clothes in, the lid on and drive.

This is a good example of being frugal.

The motion will provide the agitation of a washing machine. Use the bathtub or a small inflatable pool outside. Soak, swish and rinse. You may use an old fashion washboard as well.

Select the proper clothes with proper material that will dry quickly on a temporary line outside.

You may think of other frugal tips yourself.

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