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Inflation is soaring! How to stretch your camping dollars

As inflation is currently impacting all of us, knowing how to stretch your camping dollars can come in handy. Summer RV trip planning may begin to look a little different.

We had skipped a planned trip to Washington, D.C., during the worst of COVID and are now raring to go but… gas prices, grocery prices, and campground costs are cutting into those plans again. I can’t even hit the multiply miles by miles-per-gallon button on my calculator.

As inflation soars, how can we stretch those camping dollars and still have a great time? Here are a few suggestions.

Stretch your camping dollars

  • Camp close to home.
  • Plan your route with the shortest distance from point A to point B rather than meandering.
  • Use your tow vehicle instead of your RV when possible.
  • Keep tires properly inflated to increase gas mileage. More on saving on gas here.
  • Find free tours. Try Free Tours by Foot and other self-guided tours.
  • Try Groupon for deep discounts at local attractions.
  • Remember to ask for any available discounts, not just senior ones.
  • Stay in one place longer and take advantage of weekly or monthly camping rates.
  • Alternate between boondocking and campgrounds with hookups.
  • Going for a day trip? Pack a lunch rather than eat out. Sharing a sandwich at the top of a mountain can be much more rewarding than a drive-through.
  • Prepare meals in the RV and eat in. Make enough for leftovers the next day.
  • Work camp and volunteer in exchange for a campsite.
  • Need camping equipment? Don’t buy new! Check out Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.
  • Check out low-cost camping memberships like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome.
  • Reduce propane use. Use an electric slow cooker or instant pot when electricity is included. A portable electric heater can also save on propane costs.

We would love to hear your ideas, too. Please leave a comment and tell us how you plan to save money during your upcoming RV travels.

##RVDT1822

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Darla VanAlphen
6 months ago

I have an electric hot plate and skillet that I use when electric is included. Buy a North American Reciprocal museum pass from your local museum. Costs $120 a year but gets you and a guest into over 4000 museums free.

Drew
6 months ago

Go to the same rv park all the time- 3 miles from where you store it.

CeeCee
6 months ago

Good ideas. We took up “saling” a few years ago (much cheaper than sailing), and estate sales in affluent neighborhoods are wonderful places to find camping equipment, often brand new in box. They are usually interesting as well. Also garage sales, sometimes. We use our thermal cooker to save propane when Boondocking.

Spike
6 months ago

Nanci, that is a good list.

Most of those things are what my wife and I have done for a long time….call us cheap…or is it just a little extra planning, research, and self reliance!

We have become a service-addicted nation willing to pay lots of money to others to do what we could do for ourselves. A good example is having a company prepackage all one’s meals delivered to our doorsteps instead of planning one’s own meals for the week and then stopping by the store to get groceries. Not only the service cost but also all the waste of small, prepackaged meal shipments all over vs efficient bulk shipping to stores that many are driving past anyway.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

“Use your tow vehicle instead of your RV when possible.”

Not sure I understand this one.

Spike
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Hi Tommy.

We use this one in conjunction with “stay longer in one place. ” Of course it’s only applicable to motorhomes with a toad.

We used to always want the motorhome very near the things we wanted to see. Consequently we were changing campgrounds almost daily. For a number of years now we have gone to choosing a campground where we can get a good weekly rate and it’s centralized within a 75 to as far as 100 mile radius of what we want to see. Of course many of those attractions are much closer in. Saves on campground costs, is less hassle moving the RV, and (at least in concept) reduces fuel costs by using a more fuel efficient toad vs more miles on the MH.

Joel L.
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Some folks with Motorhomes tow a vehicle, sometimes referred to as a TOAD, to use to get around when there RV is parked. Cheaper to operate and easier to park than a large motorhome.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago
Reply to  Joel L.

Ok, I guess the term “toad” (or towed) is what it was meant to say. I was picturing using my pickup instead of driving around in my travel trailer. Tongue firmly in cheek here. 🙂

Drew
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Boy, and to think I was constantly disconnecting my rv to go grocery shopping!

dale rose
6 months ago

There is a nice
campground between D.C. and Baltimore that is very nice. The local bus picks you up in the cg and you ride to the U of Virginia, and take the subway into D.C. Then, you use the D.C. subway system to go to all of the sites. You can spend several days there without having to drive.

Kaleen
6 months ago
Reply to  dale rose

Name of campground?

SUSAN M
6 months ago
Reply to  Kaleen

Not sure which CG Dale is referring to, but Greenbelt Campground (affiliated with our national park system) is just north of downtown DC. It is ~1 1/2 miles from a Metro station. We camphosted there in 2014-15 and found it to be a wonderful homebase for popping into DC.

Diane Mc
6 months ago
Reply to  Kaleen

Probably Cherry Hill Park in College Park MD. We stayed there many yrs ago. Nice park & bus ride to Metro. Very convenient & less stress. Amazing coming up from underground into DC.

Maureen
6 months ago
Reply to  Kaleen

Misty Mountain is just west of Charlottesville and UVA.
My favorite, outside DC, in Towson, MD, is Cherry Hill Campground.
Can be pricey, but it has local bus service to the Metro station and that drops you into DC!
Metro pass purchase, w/the ability to reload cash, is the best!
The campground will take your cards, W/unused balance, and donates to vets coming to the area….

Maureen
6 months ago
Reply to  dale rose

Yes, that’s Misty Mountain! I lived near there and retired recently from UVA!

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