Saving money is crucial when it comes to RVing, as it can provide additional funds for travel adventures or unexpected but inevitable RV repairs. One expense that can quickly spiral out of control is the cost of campgrounds and resorts. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize this expense, including:
One of the ways you can save money on RV sites is by signing up for and regularly using RV camping memberships.
As a member of these organizations, you can take advantage of discounts on nightly and weekly rates, among other benefits. Depending on how often they are used, you can quickly recoup the cost of your membership after just a few nights at an RV park. After that, you’re saving each time it is used.
Examples of Camping Memberships
The following list includes some of the more popular camping membership programs available to RVers. Aside from discounted RV sites, members can also enjoy a slew of other benefits.
Good Sam Club: Travelers can save 10% on over 2000 Good Sam Parks and campgrounds.
Escapees RV Club: Members enjoy 15- 50% off at Escapees RV Parks, member commercial parks, and SKP Co-Op RV Parks.
Passport America: With an annual fee of $44, members can enjoy 50% off over 1,200 campgrounds across the country. The membership practically pays for itself on the first stay.
KOA: Camp from one KOA to the next with this membership that offers discounts on nightly and weekly stays.
FMCA: Folks can enjoy discounts with parks affiliated with the organization. FMCA also offers deals when purchasing other camping memberships.
Thousand Trails: In a nutshell, Thousand Trails is an RV campground membership that allows members to camp for free at their locations all over the United States. There are a variety of membership “levels” and add-ons that increase the number of campgrounds you have access to and the length of time/frequency you can stay.
Boondockers Welcome: Boondockers Welcome is a program that allows members to spend a few nights dry camping on a host’s property. Travelers with self-contained RVs can search the website by location, rig length, and amenities and choose a host from their findings.
Harvest Hosts: Similar to Boondockers Welcome, this membership program invites self-contained RVers to have unique overnight stays at places like wineries, breweries, distilleries, farms, and attractions.
Book Weekly or Monthly
According to a recent article in Camper Report, the average price for an RV campsite in 2022 costs “between $60 and $100 per night” at a luxury resort, and “the average price for a mid-range RV campsite is $30-$50 per night.”
By comparison, weekly and monthly rates are typically the most heavily discounted. When you extend your stay at an RV park, you and your traveling crew can experience all that is offered on-site and take time to explore the area nearby. Plus, less traveling in the RV means you save on fuel costs! The RV LIFE article, The Benefits Of Paying RV Park Rates Monthly, details even more reasons to embrace monthly stays as a way to save money on RV sites.
Stay During the Off-Season
Most, if not all, RV resorts and campgrounds include a “Peak Season” and “Off-Season,” indicating the busy versus slower months, respectively. Parks raise the rates during the most popular times of the year, which means savvy travelers who RV in the off-season can save a bundle!
What draws RVers to certain parks during particular times of the year? Excellent weather, convenient time for families to travel, and special annual events in the area are huge draws. In general, RV travelers will flock to campgrounds in the South during the winter months and then to the North during the summer. But if you’re up for RVing in chilly or warmer than usual temps and have a flexible schedule, consider taking advantage of an area’s lapse in tourism and lower rates!
For folks new to RVing, particularly RVing in hot or cold temps, consider the following tidbits from fellow RVers in the clips below. Learn about setting up your rig for winter camping with Marc and Tricia Leach of Keep Your Daydream.
On the flip side, keep your RV cool in the heat with these nifty know-hows from Master Tech Instructor Todd Henson from the National RV Training Academy in Athens, Texas.
Save Money on RV Sites Work Camping
Work + camping = work camping
When you RV and have a full-time or part-time job (whether it’s on location or remote), you are considered by many in the RV community to be a work camper. This term also reaches those who tent camp and those who volunteer. As part of their compensation, work campers may receive pay, a free or reduced-rate RV site, and other nifty incentives. Work campers are a combination of retired folks and solo travelers, couples, and families seeking income on the road.
Whether it’s for pleasure, monetary needs, or both, there are a number of organizations dedicated to matching RVers with short and long-term jobs. You can start your search on the websites listed below:
They advertise all kinds of jobs, from seasonal positions like working as a campground host during the summer months or helping out at a piling station during the sugar beet harvest to volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary or giving tours at a lighthouse. 6 Things You Should Know About RV Work Camping Jobs, dives into the world of work camping in more detail and includes even more resources regarding where to find available job listings.
When you break this fun RVer term down, boondocking is basically camping in your RV without water, sewer, or electrical connections in any location this practice is permitted. There is an ongoing debate among the RV community on where actual boondocking takes place. Some strongly believe true boondocking is solely dispersed camping on public lands like national forests. While others see any form of dry camping without hookups, from Walmarts to BLM land, as a form of boondocking.
However, everyone agrees that conserving your resources is the key to a successful boondocking stay! There are many ways you can prepare your RV for boondocking. Boondocking Checklist: 10 Essential Items Needed For Off-Grid Camping offers a rundown of the basics.
But don’t feel like you have to run out and buy every new gadget out there to outfit your rig for a boondocking adventure. RV influencers Jason and Abigail of RV Miles explain that boondocking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Their video below breaks down the concept of boondocking and how you can start your own adventure with what you have now.
Save Money on RV Sites by Moochdocking
Another fun RVing term, “moochdocking,” is essentially camping for free on your friends’ or family’s property, most often their driveway. The added bonus is getting to visit loved ones along your travels.
Of course, with any type of camping scenario, there are cons. Moochdocking does come with some risks, but a good way to avoid any hiccups is to research the area and keep the lines of communication open with your hosts.
- Map out the route to get to the location to find the most RV-friendly directions.
- Research the city/county laws on RV parking along the street if that is the only option for parking availability.
- Ask questions about the length of the driveway/property and specifics on the “campsite”. Ensure your RV fits, there are no overhanging obstructions, and the RV won’t end up stuck in soft ground.
- As a moochdocker, be courteous and don’t abuse your privilege. Offer some money (especially if you are hooking up to their power) or offer to make dinner or help with a project.
In the clip below, RV influencers Kyle and Olivia Brady of Drivin’ and Vibin’ discuss the benefits and concerns of free camping in a driveway and some of the best practices for moochdocking.
Save Money on RV Sites and Find RV-Friendly Routes To Get To Each Location
Along with these clever strategies to save money on RV sites, you can make life on the road even more straightforward with this helpful, user-friendly online routing program. Mapping out your route to get to your next money-saving RV site doesn’t have to be stressful. RV LIFE Trip Wizard helps you plan the perfect trip and its accompanying RV LIFE RV Safe GPS app turns your phone into an RV GPS to get you to each location safely! Check out why you need RV LIFE Trip Wizard for your next frugal RV resort or campground stay!
Natalie Henley is a freelance writer and has also been full-time RVing with her husband and pets since 2015. She covers a wide range of topics from RV lifestyle, RVing tips, DIY projects, RV news, and more.
11 thoughts on “6 Ways To Save Money On RV Sites”
Washington state offers an off-season, seniors pass for $75, which allows free camping at state parks without services, or $10/night for sites with services. The off-season is 10/1 thru 3/31, and weekdays in April. I imagine this type of deal is available in other states also…
One key thing (very very important) is boondocking is PACK IT IN PACK IT OUT that mean no trash left behind also leave it cleaner then you found it. Never never drive over an old fire pit area people burn pallets and never pickup the nails. Easy was to pickup nail go to harbor freight get a magnet bar for $4 put a rope from end to end and drag it through you site or firepit and see all the nails left behind!!! Seen to many people get flat tires!!
We are former Back-Country Tent Campers….Age/ Aches and such preclude us doing this anymore.
My wife and I have camped in Campgrounds that may be considered “Resorts” due to the amenities. We have camped at Campgrounds with minimal amenities… We have “Boondocked in National Forest and such….real boondocking….. We have “Wally-Docked” (Walmart) and “Cracker-Docked” Cracker Barrel)..those are “OK”…. The price is “good”….be certain to buy something in those stores. Also look for any “No Overnight Parking” signs….some will have them….
The best time was when we “Moochdocked” at our Granddaughter’s In-Law’s driveway….. what a great time….we had real fun and got to really know her GREAT In-Laws….Plus saw the area like no tourist…. Sent hem a Thank Yo Letter….saved us a week of camping fees…plus there is a FREE RV Dump close to them…. Because of them we are setting up our driveway (300 Ft Long) for close friends to “Mooch-Dock”…
Passport-America is our favorite discount program. Only a few of the RV Parks were Not-So-Great….They were overrun by permanent types that did not take care of their RV and had junk/ trash laying around….. However the vast majority of PPA Campgrounds were really great with SUPER Hosts….they had the “Perms” taking care of their RVs an did not allow JUNK or Trash …..
We us RVLife to locate campground and read their reviews….not a discount program….just a resource.,,,,
Look for a discount program that works for YOU…Be sure to read their Refund Policy…..one of the discount programs was a No-Go for us…..Asked for and received the refund quickly…..
Harvest Hosts as well as other agencies may only let you stay one night.
We don’t boondock because we like a outhouse, but that’s all we need. I guess you would say we dry camp in state & national forest campgrounds. Last year we camped for about a month, all free. Even when we stay in pay campgrounds, I don’t remember a trip that averaged more than $10/night.
Another way to save is to ask yourself what hookups you really need for each stop. We are fulltimers who used to default to 50A full-hookup sites. But we can get by with 30A by managing our electrical load carefully – especially if it’s not hot. And if we’re only staying somewhere for a few nights, we don’t need sewer. So we can save $5, $10 or more per night by thinking through what we really need in any given park.
Another route to saving money, that we just started exorong on this spring’s trip, is the use of city parks. I can’t speak for the whole country, yet, but out west (Texas, NM, AZ) a lot of small towns offer RV parking for free or very inexpensive, many even have hookups. Get off the interstate and take some US, State, or even county highways. You’d be surprised at how many gems you stumble across that would be missed if you just drive the interstates.
Such good information
* Tennessee state parks offer a senior discount
* Benefits of a National Park Service Senior Pass
Annual and lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:
National Park Service
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
US Forest Service
US Army Corps of Engineers
The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees.
Traveling companions can also enter for free. The Senior Passes admit pass owner/s and passengers in a noncommercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas and pass owner plus three adults, not to exceed four adults, where per-person fees are charged. (Children under 16 are always admitted free.) Also, at many sites, the Senior Passes provide the pass owner (only) a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours).
I had good luck using Recreation. Gov
I just booked reservations for a month-long June motorhome trip from Colorado to the Deep South for an average of $15/night, with hookups every night (AC a necessity in summer in those states!). And the only nights that were more than $12/night were in an Alabama state park. With that single, 4-night exception, all my other reservations were at Corps of Engineers campgrounds in 6 states. Some campsites are E/W, some E only, and none FHU, but all utilized our Lifetime Senior Pass to get 50% camping discounts. Incidentally, I had no difficulty finding open, tree-shaded, lakeside campsites in my first-choice campgrounds despite starting our trip in less than 6 weeks!
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