6 Ways to Save Money on an RV Road Trip

RV travel still comes with some expenses. Here’s how to keep them in check.

One of the great pleasures in life is the road trip.

A road trip can get expensive, though.

RVing on Scenic Byway 12 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Saving money on unnecessary spending frees up bucks for other things. While an RV is one of the biggest investments we can make, the ways we can save when camping with our RVs, are almost limitless.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying life ‘on the road’ in your RV.

RVing at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RVers take measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 or 70 mph and packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV.

Following are six ways to save money on fuel this summer:

RVing in Organ Pipe National Monument in southern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Avoid High Speeds

Decreasing your speed saves money. The greatest improvement in fuel economy is the speed we drive. As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases. Driving faster pushes more air ahead of the RV which creates more resistance to forward movement. Driving 62 mph rather than 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.

RVing on Scenic Byway 12 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard

Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.

RVing at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Anticipate Traffic Flow

Look at the traffic as far ahead as possible in order to avoid unnecessary stopping and starting within the flow of traffic. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.

RVing on Scenic Byway 12 in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to. Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.

When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.

RVing at Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Another fuel saver is to keep tire air pressures at the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure can severely affects fuel economy.

If the tires are low on air, the engine has to push harder to move the RV ahead. It is important to know that tires can look normal when they are seriously under inflated.

RVing at Bartlett Lake in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving).

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency.

Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

RVing at Deadhorse Point State Park in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Reduce Idling Time

Be kind to your RV engine by idling it the proper amount of time at your starts and stops, but never idle for excessive amounts of time. Besides polluting the air and wasting your fuel, this will cause your valves, pistons, and injector to build up with carbon which will hurt your pocketbook in the long run. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations related to your model.

RVing at Badlands National Park in South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Control Your Weight

Added weight significantly decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

  • Water—8.3 pounds/gallon
  • Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon
  • Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon
  • Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon
RVing at Jasper National Park in Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now Let’s Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason