The ULTIMATE GUIDE to Saving Money on Travel in 2024

The biggest travel trend in 2024? Doing more for less! Way, way less!

There are plenty of hot travel trends for 2024—gig tripping, set-jetting, slow travel, and sleep vacations. As the travel demand continues to stay high, the niche pockets of how you can do it also grow in popularity.

But no matter how popular traveling to see the setting of your favorite TV show gets there will always be one popular travel trend: saving money.

While 96 percent of Americans are worried about the economy, a new Harris Poll survey commissioned by Intrepid Travel found that only 17 percent of Americans plan to travel less this year even as money is tighter. Instead, a lot of people simply plan on traveling cheaper.

But what does that mean beyond keeping your eye out for travel deals and hoping you stumble on cheap flights to the exact destination you hope to visit?

One of the top ways people are looking to save money on trips is by seeking out all-inclusive options. Super.com, a savings app, reports that 70 percent of Americans are interested in all-inclusive packages in 2024. All-inclusive packages have a lot of appeal for people who have set budgets for trips—you can determine how much you’ll spend going in and often get good deals for group and family travel.

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Intrepid Travel reports that 48 percent of travelers plan on taking a beach vacation in 2024 and all-inclusive resorts are typically beachside destinations.

But booking a cheap beach vacation isn’t the only way to save money on 2024 travel. Here is the top tip for finding the best prices and getting the most for your money on your big adventures: Skip the airport!

One of the best travel hacks if you’re looking to save money? Don’t fly. If you have the time or are flexible about your destination consider taking a trip that doesn’t require going through airport security.

Here are some articles to help:

According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), recreational vehicle vacations are cheaper than other types of vacation travel. Specifically, savings range from 21 percent to 64 percent for a four-person trip whereas two-person trips can be 8 percent to 53 percent cheaper.

But expenses can rack up quickly whether you’re taking a short RV trip with your family or enjoying the full-time RV lifestyle. Fuel expenses, campground fees, and rental costs alone can put your trip over budget if you aren’t careful.

If you want to save money on your RV trip, several travel tips can cut costs while letting you travel comfortably and do plenty of sightseeing.

Here are eight simple but genius ways to save money while traveling in your RV.

Mobile © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Choose the right destination

It’s a simple fact of life: New York City costs more than Mobile, Alabama whether you’re there to visit or to stay.

Of course, if your dream destination happens to be expensive, you should still go; it’s unlikely that an alternative trip will satisfy your craving for that particular experience.

But if you’re at all flexible or still figuring out your route, take each potential destination’s general overall costs into consideration. You can look up area campground fees ahead of time and also check out the cost of grocery staples and everyday purchases and activities on sites like Expatistan and Numbeo.

In general, you’d do well to stay away from big cities and coastal areas though there are some exceptions to the rule and when you go does matter. And National Parks can get pricey in the crowded summertime so make sure you know what you’re getting into. Even if your trip sounds affordable on paper it may be hard to stick to your travel budget.

Which leads me to my second piece of advice…

But first, here are some amazing RV road trips and places to visit:

Lassen Volcanic National Park in November © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Take advantage of shoulder season

Shoulder season, if you’re unfamiliar, is a given area’s off-season or the time when it draws the fewest number of tourists which means prices are lower for almost everything and you’ll deal with fewer and smaller crowds. Total win, right?

Of course, these seasons generally are when they are for a reason; perhaps the weather isn’t at its best or it isn’t a convenient time of year for most families to travel. But if you’re not afraid of a little rain, have wiggle room in your itinerary, and aren’t governed by your children’s school schedule, consider taking advantage of an area’s lapse in tourism and letting your dollars stimulate its dormant economy. They’ll thank you by not asking for quite so many of them!

Here are some helpful resources when it comes to offseason RV travel:

Diesel fuel for less at Q-T in Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

 3. When it comes to fuel, you’d better shop around

You might roll your eyes at driving an extra ten miles to save a cent or two per gallon when you’re tooling around town in your sedan.

But even the smallest and most efficient RVs are gas-guzzling beasts compared to what you probably usually drive and big Class A motorhomes sometimes get as little as six miles per gallon. Oh, and did I mention the gas tanks hold up to 150 gallons of fuel?

Trust me, when it comes to a fill-up like that you’ll want to save every cent you can. When the tank’s getting low use an app like GasBuddy to see which station in your area is offering the most affordable fuel but make sure to give yourself a couple of good options. Not every station is set up for a big RV to get into and out of easily and you don’t want to get stuck. Hopefully, this tip will help you honor your travel budget!

Also be aware that independent truck stops and local fuel companies (such as Q-T in Arizona and Maverik in Utah) often sell diesel fuel 30 to 50 cents per gallon cheaper than major truck stops (including Pilot/Flying J and Love’s).

Here are some articles to help:

Using an RV kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. You brought a kitchen… so use it

Just like at home, it’s always cheaper to make meals from scratch than it is to eat out in restaurants. Yes, even cheap ones. No matter what you make you’ll almost certainly have leftovers to eat at another meal. Plus, you have full control over exactly what goes into your food allowing you to eat more healthfully.

Besides, I can’t think of even one other form of travel that lets you bring the kitchen sink along for the ride. The convenience of having a kitchen on your road trip is part of the reason many people are drawn to RVing in the first place. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Read more:

5. Plan ahead: Make a travel budget

Yes, spontaneity is probably one of the things that attracted you to the road.

But getting caught short without a place to stay, enough food for dinner, or enough fuel in your tank can make for some expensive scrambling.

Do enough planning to avoid having to make an unexpected and pricey purchase whether it’s for the top-of-the-line RV resort that happens to be the only one with a spot available or an impromptu delivery dinner when you could have cooked your own. This will allow you to maintain a healthy travel budget.

If you need ideas, check out:

Replacing a water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Get handy

The only sure things in life are death and taxes (and RV repairs).

And the only sure thing in RVing is that something is going to break. And it’s probably not going to be convenient or cheap to have professional repairs done during your road trip.

So take this opportunity to develop some basic handy skills. You can start with simple things like replacing a water filter or patching a roof leak. Even complicated-sounding tasks like replacing your sewer vent aren’t as difficult as they might seem and you’ll save a ton of money that would have gone into a mechanic’s pocket.

That’s why I wrote these four articles:

7. Join the club

If you’re just starting out in the world of RVing you might be shocked to learn exactly how many discount clubs and memberships you can join. Once you’re in an RV it goes way beyond AAA.

Check out Good Sam and Escapees which offer both discounts and extended support and social networks. There are also memberships that grant you access to cheap and unique camping experiences like Passport America and Harvest Hosts which matches its members up with vineyards and farms that will allow you to spend a night or two on their property. Sure, you may end up buying a bottle… but it’s a much tastier way to spend that $50 than sinking it into hookup fees at an RV park.

Check this out to learn more:

Boondocking at Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Be adventurous—and try boondocking

Even though camping fees might seem paltry compared to hotel costs even $30 per night can add up more quickly and easily than you think. But what are you gonna do? You have to have somewhere to park, right?

Well, yes, you do… but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Or much of anything!

Dry camping, dispersed camping, boondocking—no matter what you call it is camping on public lands without hookups. Sure, it’s a little bit more rugged than hanging out at the resort campground that comes complete with a swimming pool and rec room… but I mean, you do still have a mattress so it’s not exactly roughing it!

Boondocking is an art in itself from finding camping spots to learning how to maximize your time by conserving power and water. But with sites that allow you to camp for up to 14 days for a minimal fee (or even for free in some cases), it’s a surefire way to save money on the road.

Read more: UNWRITTEN Rules for Overnight RV Parking at Walmart

Conclusion

These are just a few easy money-saving tips for RVers but there are many other ways to save cash while you travel! That’s why you’ll want to read 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next RV Road Trip.

Frugality works on the road just as it does in every other part of life. It might not be easy to stick to your travel budget but it’s simple: Keep track of your finances and don’t spend more than you can afford.

Worth Pondering…

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

—Miriam Beard

Should I Weigh My RV?

What’s my RV weight? Should I weigh my RV? Let’s explore this topic.

There are many weights: dry weight, curb weight, axle weight, vehicle weight, towing capacity, trailer weight, and total combined weight.

How does one know what each weight category means? Beyond that, how does one determine the weight of their RV combination? Let’s just answer one question at a time.

Should you drive into a truck weigh station that’s located along the interstate to weigh your RV? No! They would probably be rather upset if you did. Those weigh stations are intended for commercial trucking only. They also are not likely to be able to provide you with a printed weigh ticket containing the information.

Driving a Class A motorhome on Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

CAT scales

CAT scales are located at numerous truck stops. Their website has a listing of all facilities.

Recently the fee to weigh was $12.50 plus $3 if you need to do a re-weigh. The process is fairly simple but you could always park first and go inside to ask about the procedure at the service desk.

CAT scales are intended for truckers who need to know the separate weights of the front axle (or steer axle), the drive axle(s), and the trailer axle(s), plus the total weight. For this reason, the scale consists of three platforms.

Due to the dimensions of the various RV combinations, it might be difficult to get the right axles positioned on the right platforms. You might have to move during the weighing process.

Some trucks that are over-length or that have a spread-axle trailer need to do this. That is another reason to park, look at the scale first, and then go inside to chat with the weighmaster.

But ideally, you want your front axle on the first platform, your rear axle(s) on the second platform, and anything you are towing on the third platform.

If the lengths just don’t work out, the weighmaster will give you instructions and have you move during the weighing process to position the axles on the platforms as needed. How-to weigh instructions can be found on their website.

When approaching the scale, make sure you have enough distance available to allow your vehicle combination to straighten out before reaching the scale.

Then, pull onto the platforms slowly and smoothly. Be sure to brake gently. It’s not good for the platforms to shake them by applying the brakes too suddenly.

Use your mirrors to check the position of your axles on the platforms and follow the instructions given by the weighmaster.

There is an intercom like those at a fast-food drive-through. He may ask for a truck number for your weigh ticket. You might just be able to say “RV” or give a few digits of your license plate number.

After weighing, park your rig and then go inside to get the weigh ticket.

Don’t block the scale by going inside while your rig is sitting there in the way.

CAT Scale offers a phone app also which might be an advantage if you plan to weigh very often.

Driving a Class A motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other options to weigh my RV

Another option, rather than using a CAT scale at a busy truck stop, might be to visit a local grain facility to see if they allow weighing but not during the fall harvest season.

If you have a friend who is a farmer with their own scale, you have that as an option, also. This would allow you to disconnect the trailer if you want to know the separate weights of the towing vehicle and the trailer without any of the trailer weight being supported by the towing vehicle.

Some scales rather than having three platforms just have one narrow platform that can weigh only one axle at a time.

Some require the vehicle to be still; others can weigh while the vehicle is moving slowly across the platform. You might have to stop for a bit with each axle on the platform so each axle can be weighed separately before you move up to weigh the next axle.

The scale may be able to add up the weights or it may only provide the separate weights and you’ll have to do the math. The slow-moving scale might be the same: it will provide separate axle weights but it may or may not do the math.

An important point is to approach the scale from the proper direction.

Some scales are located so that an approach from only one direction is possible or feasible. Others are in the middle of the lot and could be approached from either direction.

Look for the word, ENTER on the overhead sign. Clearance? Well, all vehicles are limited to 13 feet 6 inches in height except for oversized loads and the sign has room to spare for a semi so there should be room to spare for your RV to fit.

Note that the option of an agricultural scale above may require you to both unhitch and reposition even to get the separate front and rear axle weights of the towing vehicle.

The agricultural facilities are not usually concerned with the individual axle weights. They are concerned with two weights: a full-grain truck and the same truck when it is empty. Thus, they often consist of only one long platform and cannot provide individual axle weights.

Driving a Class A motorhome on U.S. Highway 89 in northern Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is four-corner weight?

It is important to note that truck stop scales can only weigh an entire axle. They cannot weigh the left side and right side separately. For this, you will have to find an RV dealer that has the equipment to weigh each tire separately.

The cost is higher but pales in comparison to the cost of a blowout if the axle is too heavy on one side even though it is within its weight rating limit.

Total axle weight is important but side-to-side balance is also important to avoid overloading one side of the axle.

Even though four-corner weight as it’s called is important, total axle weight is still important to know when four-corner weight cannot be determined.

Four-corner weight is also known as wheel position weight—the weight of each wheel on the vehicle.

If you are a member of Escapees RV Club (one of the RV memberships I recommend) you can use SmartWeigh to get this four-corner weight. According to Escapees, the SmartWeigh program provides critical RV weight safety and load management information in a highly accurate and usable format.

If you are involved in an accident, having the weigh ticket as proof of being within limits can be an important document to have. Be aware, though, of weight creep.

You know, you add this to a compartment, you add that, you modify, and before long, you no longer weigh what you weighed the last time you visited a scale.

Driving a motor coach on Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight definitions

For those of you who really want to dig into this topic the generally accepted weight definitions are as follows:

  • Dry weight: Weight of the empty vehicle with no fluids or contents.
  • Curb weight: Weight of the vehicle parked at the curb ready to be driven usually including coolant, oil, and a full fuel tank.
  • GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating is the maximum amount of weight one individual axle can carry. In the case of a true tandem axle, sometimes each individual axle is given its own rating and sometimes the entire two-axle assembly is given a rating. RVs seldom have a true tandem axle (two axles connected to a single assembly which is in turn connected to the chassis). A trailer with two axles has two individual axles not a tandem axle assembly. A tag axle on a longer Class A is not the same as a tandem axle.
  • GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum amount that the entire vehicle can weigh. This might be less than the sum of the GAWR values. A vehicle maker might have to specify a larger capacity axle for one reason or another (e.g., larger brakes) but perhaps the drive train is not meant for this much weight. Thus, the GVWR might be less than the sum of the individual GAWRs.
  • Towing capacity: Weight that a vehicle can tow. A tow vehicle might be able to TOW 10,000 pounds but perhaps it can CARRY only 500 of those pounds—the tongue weight—on its hitch assembly. The tongue weight must factor into the GVWR and will also affect the GAWR of the rear axle.
  • GCWR: Gross Combined Weight Rating is the total weight of the entire combination vehicle: the tow vehicle, the vehicle being towed, all fuel and water, all persons and luggage and equipment in the tow vehicle, and all water and possessions and camping gear in the towed vehicle. With a Class A, B, or C, this is the weight of the RV plus the weight of the towed car (and maybe a dolly or trailer) or boat or whatever else might be back there.
Driving a Class C motorhome in Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now that we have that squared away—where are you going to go? Here are a few suggestions:

Worth Pondering…

I’m still learning.

—Michelangelo

Best RV Roadside Assistance Plans for Peace of Mind

There are RV roadside assistance programs with just about every level of coverage throughout a wide price range. Yet which RV roadside assistance program is best?

Whether you live your life on the road and your travel coach is your home or you’re a weekend warrior using your RV for short trips with the family, a roadside assistance plan is an absolute must and it’s important to have the best RV roadside assistance plan possible. We’ve never been without one… and we wouldn’t be without it, despite the fact that as we step into our 26th year of RVing, we’ve only very rarely used it.

Roadside assistance plans are like a type of insurance, though they’re not insurance. So just what is a roadside assistance plan, who needs one, and what are the best RV roadside assistance plans available to us?

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There’s RV insurance and then there’s an RV roadside assistance plan. The two are not the same, they don’t provide the same type of coverage and they exist independently of one another even if they’re offered by the same company.

Let’s take a look…

Perhaps your RV insurance policy’s collision coverage protects your RV if it’s damaged in an accident and liability coverage addresses damages and injuries on the road and when your rig is parked. Medical bills and vehicle repairs may be covered here and comprehensive insurance covers your rig in case of theft, vandalism, fire, weather-related incidents, collisions with animals, etc.

That’s very different from what roadside assistance offers. The so-called insurance offered by roadside assistance is a sense of peace of mind should your RV be disabled due to a mechanical failure or if your rig runs out of fuel or has a flat tire or a dead battery.

A roadside assistance plan may send a tow truck out to tow your rig to the nearest repair facility (depending on your plan’s details) or to change a tire right where you’re stranded. It may send a truck out with enough fuel to get you to the nearest fueling station.

Roadside assistance plans exist to help you if you’re stranded by something that renders your rig incapable of moving to a location where you can obtain the assistance to get back on the road.

You may opt for roadside assistance coverage through the same company that provides your RV insurance (or through an independent company) but they’re different plans and provide different types of reassurance. While an RV insurance plan provides insurance coverage, a roadside assistance plan provides assistance—at the roadside.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What should I look for in an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

There are a few factors you’ll want to look into prior to settling on a roadside assistance plan. Let’s review those briefly and then I’ll take a look at some of the best RV roadside assistance plans available.

Does the plan cover your RV?

You’ll first want to be sure that the type of RV you have is covered by the roadside assistance plan you’re considering. There are plans that will cover any type of RV but there are also plans that will only cover non-motorized RVs. If you have a travel trailer, that plan might work. If you’ve got a Class A diesel pusher as we do you’d need to find another plan.

You’ll also want to make sure the plan includes coverage for any other vehicle type you’re RVing with. We tow an SUV, for example. Perhaps you carry a motorcycle or other type of vehicle. Details are important here, so before signing on with any RV roadside assistance plan, make sure the plan applies to your particular situation and will cover the vehicles with which you regularly travel.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Allowable towing distance

This can be very important and sometimes it’s hidden in the fine details of a plan. You’ll want to sort out the towing details in advance of committing to any roadside assistance plan. It’s great to do something like this via email so that you have responses in writing to fall back on if necessary.

Some roadside assistance programs will take you to the nearest service station regardless of whether they’re capable of working on the type of rig you have. You may wish to have the ability to choose where your rig will be towed to and you may want to sort out other details such as whether they’ll provide a flatbed (if that applies to your rig) or whether they’re capable of towing a motorhome that weighs 18 tons, like ours.

Check out the fine details of the plan in advance, rather than being disappointed to learn that your needs aren’t covered at the time when you find yourself stranded. Not all plans are created equal.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Specific provisions

If you’re interested in a plan that offers emergency fuel delivery, you’ll need to make sure that’s in the plan you’re considering. How about assistance in the case of a lockout or a plan that provides for tire changes on the side of the road? How about a jump for a dead battery or even delivery of a new battery if you’re stranded on the side of the road?

Might you one day need the services of a professional who can use a winch to pull your rig out of a ditch? Is it conceivable that you could get stuck in sand or mud?

You need to be absolutely certain that the roadside assistance plan you choose will be able to provide what you need to pull your rig out of an unexpected situation.

The services provided by roadside assistance plans are all in the details and you’ve gotta sort out those details in advance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cost

A good RV roadside assistance plan needs to be reasonably priced. This isn’t something you’ll use every day, after all. Or even every week. In fact, you may never use it in the course of a year but peace of mind is valuable (priceless, even) and these plans are very important for helping ease concerns of getting stranded.

That said, the cost shouldn’t be excessive, nor does it need to be. Some plans do cost more than others but in general, it’s because they offer more. So, when you’re evaluating roadside assistance plans take cost into consideration while paying very close attention to the features offered by the plan.

What are the best RV Roadside Assistance Plans?

Let’s take a look at the best RV roadside assistance plans for your peace of mind. These are plans you’ll buy, hoping you’ll never need to use them. They’re also plans you’ll be grateful to have if you DO find yourself in need of roadside assistance.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coach-Net

Coach-Net has been providing assistance to owners of towable RVs and motorhomes for more than three decades and their reputation is excellent. Coach-Net is the roadside assistance plan I know best… because it’s the plan we use.

Coach-Net offers a couple of different plans—one for drivable RVs like ours at a cost of $249/year and a plan for towable RVs at a cost of $179/year. The features of the plan are excellent and coverage includes your entire family of drivers (including your dependent children ages 24 and under). Coverage extends to your RV and all other personal vehicles owned, rented, borrowed, or leased. This means that even if you’re not driving your RV you’ll be covered by Coach-Net in whatever vehicle you’re driving.

We haven’t had to use our Coach-Net plan very often in the past 26 years but I can say that when we needed the plan it was put into action quickly, carried out professionally and effectively, and we were extremely grateful to have it. We feel its well worth $249/year for the peace of mind and the service provided.

Now to the details of that service…

Coach-Net’s Premier Motorized Plan ($249/yr) offers 24/7 roadside assistance that includes towing your disabled vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility with no out-of-pocket expense to you and no mileage or dollar amount limits. It also includes unlimited tire assistance such as changing a flat tire or delivery of a comparable tire for towing your vehicle to a repair facility (which may be necessary if they are unable to source an exact replacement for your existing tire but need to get it moved until they can).

This plan also includes delivery of fuel and emergency fluids to your disabled vehicle, unlimited battery boosts, and lockout assistance that includes locksmith services or assistance in unlocking your vehicle or obtaining a replacement key.

Coach-Net provides a concierge-like service that will assist you in obtaining the first available appointment at the closest qualified repair facility and they’ll provide winch out or extraction services up to 100 feet off a maintained road or in a commercial campground equipped for camping vehicles.

You’ll also receive up to $2,000 reimbursement for vehicle rental, food, and lodging made necessary by the disablement of your RV due to a collision that occurs more than 100 miles from your home.

Discounts on tires, RV products, hotels, motels, and camping are also offered as are a number of other features and coverage can be obtained for trailers, tow dollies, boat trailers, and utility trailers.

Coach-Net offers a number of other services, all of which you can check out on their website.

While we’re most familiar with Coach-Net’s services, there are four other RV roadside assistance plans that are highly reputed for excellent service. Below we’ll provide a brief description of services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AAA Plus RV

One of the most popular RV roadside assistance plans is AAA Plus RV. Many drivers already have AAA for their personal vehicles and adding AAA Plus RV is a natural inclusion. Additionally, in order to buy AAA’s RV roadside assistance plan, you must already have a AAA membership.

AAA offers a couple of different RV-specific plans. The first is the AAA Plus RV plan and the second is their Premier plan. In general, the Plus plan will run you somewhere around $140 annually while the Premier plan will cost around $210/year. These prices include AAA coverage for your car or truck but you’ll need to obtain additional coverage for each driver in your household.

Unfortunately, cost varies from state to state (and province to province) and there may even be coverage differences from state to state. This makes the services somewhat cumbersome to navigate for a general post like this one but typing in your zip code on their website will bring you to some information pertinent to your state and making a phone call may be even more helpful.

AAA Plus RV does offer towing to a service station (your choice) though this may not be available to you if you camp in very remote locations so this is something you’d want to check directly with AAA in your state.

RV coverage also includes fuel delivery, flat tire and battery services, locksmith, and winching services.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Progressive Roadside Assistance

Progressive’s 24/7 roadside assistance is extra coverage that you have the option to add to your existing RV insurance coverage through them.

Towing services are limited to anywhere within a 15-mile radius, however, if there isn’t a repair shop within 15 miles, they’ll tow you to the nearest qualified repair shop. You can choose to have your vehicle towed to another shop (other than the closest one) but you’ll have to pay for the additional mileage.

Winching services are provided within 100 feet of a road or highway—they’ll pull your rig out with a motor-powered cable or chain.

They also provide the typical battery jump-start, fuel delivery (delivery and service are free, you pay for the fuel), locksmith services, flat tire change (as long as you can provide the spare), and up to one hour of on-scene labor if your car is disabled.

Progressive notes that there may be a limit to the number of roadside events a policy covers and in some states (i.e. North Carolina and Virginia) roadside assistance coverage is subject to limits noted in your insurance policy.

I can’t offer you a precise cost of Progressive Roadside Assistance due to its integration with your motor vehicle insurance policy.

But, you’re probably starting to see the importance of reading the fine print… and then reading the finer print. It’s very important that you understand the coverage you’re buying before you need to use your roadside assistance plan.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Escapees Roadside Assistance

If you’re already a member or plan to become a member of Escapees RV Club, you’ll be entitled to purchase an Escapees Roadside Assistance plan for your RV for $109/year. This gives you unlimited access to all of the features/services provided by the plan.

Escapees offers unlimited roadside assistance coverage that includes towing of your disabled RV to the nearest repair facility suited to your needs, a mobile mechanic (you’re responsible for the cost of any needed parts and labor), tire change service (even if you don’t have a spare in which case a similar tire will be mounted for towing to the nearest repair facility), fuel delivery, lockout services, battery jump-starts, winching, trip interruption, and a variety of other features.

Escapees Roadside Assistance even offers technical assistance (24/7) from RVIA/RVDA and ASE Certified Technicians who’ll have a conversation with you to try and troubleshoot the issue(s) you’re having. Should they be unable to troubleshoot the issue successfully in this communication, emergency roadside service will be sent to your location.

The roadside assistance program will cost you $109 annually. This is in addition to your Escapees RV Club membership which is $39.95 for residents of the United States and $49.95 for residents of Canada and Mexico.

Escapees RV Club offers a number of amazing features and is well worth your time to check out.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam Roadside Assistance

Good Sam offers three roadside assistance RV plans: Standard ($129.95), Platinum ($159.95), and Platinum Complete ($239.95).

These plans vary widely, so I won’t post all of the details here.

While we’re sure Good Sam offers very good roadside assistance in many situations, their website notes that they’ll get you the right tow truck for the size of your rig. That may be true, but I feel I should note (particularly for folks with larger diesel RVs) that I’ve heard stories about tow trucks arriving on scene that were too small to handle a large Class A or diesel pusher. This issue may have been remedied but I suggest that if you have a large Class A motorhome and you’re interested in Good Sam’s roadside assistance program, you confirm your precise expectations with them ahead of time and ask if they’d be able to assist you appropriately.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) Roadside Assistance Plan

FMCA is another terrific RV club with a multitude of great benefits including the ability to opt into their roadside assistance plan. You’ll pay $159 annually for a driveable RV and $129 for a towable rig.

The general FMCA membership is $60 for the first year and $50 per year thereafter so if you’re not already an FMCA member you’ll want to figure that into your annual cost as well.

FMCA’s roadside assistance covers your RV, your tow car or other vehicles, and your spouse and children age 25 and under. They offer towing to the nearest qualified service shop no matter the distance. You can opt for the services of an on-scene mobile mechanic.

In the case of a mechanical issue that leaves you stranded, FMCA’s plan will allow you up to $300 a day for five days as trip interruption compensation. And as with all of the other plans, you’ll be entitled to tire and battery services, fuel delivery, lockout services, and winching.

FMCA’s general membership is worth checking out and if you’re interested in that, then the roadside assistance program might interest you as well.

A roadside assistance plan is an absolute must © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need an RV Roadside Assistance Plan?

The answer to this question really has to be based on your own evaluation of your circumstances. But, for us, an RV roadside assistance plan is a must and we wouldn’t be on the road without it. Again, we’ve rarely used ours but the peace of mind it offers and the services we have at our fingertips should we need them makes our annual fee well worth paying for sure.

Remember that if you break down, depending on where you’re located, what type of tow truck has to be sent to rescue you, and how far it needs to tow your rig, you could very quickly find yourself paying more than an annual fee for any one of these excellent RV roadside assistance plans.

Worth Pondering…

I’m still learning.

—Michelangelo

The Ultimate Guide to RV Membership Parks & Discount Clubs

How to choose RV membership parks and discount clubs

With RVs being sold in record numbers, more people are hitting the road than ever before. This means camping is getting more crowded and expensive. Many RV parks charge over $50 per night for a camping site with full hookups. However, there are a number of RV membership parks and discount clubs that can help lower the cost of RV camping.

Below is a breakdown of RV membership clubs currently available. Read on to decide which RV parks and discount clubs offer the best deal for your RV camping needs.

Flag City RV Resort in Lodi, California is a Passport America Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV membership parks and discount clubs

RV park memberships are groups of RV parks that offer free or discounted camping for members. Most RV park memberships charge an annual fee for all members and a larger, one-time fee for upgraded memberships.

What is the best RV club to join?

Each membership park and discount club has different rules and various benefits. So which one is right for you?

Is it reasonable to become a member of several RV clubs? It depends on your RVing style, wants, and needs. You’ll figure it out what works best for you.

The primary benefit of these camping membership clubs is to camp at a discounted rate. Each has its perks and drawbacks. It’s up to you to figure out which RV parks and discount clubs offer the best deal for your RV camping needs.

Hershey Preserve is a Thousand Trails RV Park near Hershey, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Escapees RV Club

Escapees (SKP) RV club has celebrated over 40 years in business (founded in 1978) and offers much more than campground discounts and is well known as an RV lifestyle club. They offer mail-forwarding services, campground membership and discounts, RVer advocacy, Xscapers club, rallies, meetups, CARE, and educational offerings including a boot camp program.

Escapees members can benefit from their three different types of RV parking:

  • Rainbow Parks
  • Co-op parks
  • Discounts on 800+ commercial parks

They have seven of their own Rainbow parks and 11 co-op parks. Your membership provides a 15-50 percent discount at 800+ other commercial parks.

Lynchburg Preserve is a Thousand Trails RV Park near Lynchburg, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rainbow parks

The Rainbow Parks offer four types of parking: short-term, long-term, leases, and deeded lots. These parks are also open to non-Escapee members but Escapee members receive a substantial discount.

SKP Co-op parks

The co-op parks are owned and operated by the co-op members (separate and independent non-profit corporations). Memberships are only available for purchase by Escapees members. These are lots that can be leased and used only by the lessee. Lessees must maintain their Escapee’s membership for their lease term. Lessees may choose to rent out their lot while they are away on trips but they may ONLY rent to other Escapee’s members. The lease continues as long as the member wants. Then it is sold back to the co-op (or another Escapee) when no longer wanted or needed. If you want to own without some of the hassles of ownership and you want a home base but also want to travel and not lose your spot, a SKP co-op lot may be good for you.

>> Read Next: Plan an RV Trip to a Museum: How to Save with Reciprocal Memberships

Commercial RV park discounts

Escapees have partnered with over 800 commercial RV parks to offer discounts ranging from 15 to 50 percent. Each park has its own rules and limitations as to how many nights you can stay and the discount you will receive.

Who should join Escapees?

This is a MUST-HAVE membership if you are looking for a travel club with an active community, fellowship, and camaraderie. Especially if you are a full-timer, the people you meet may become like family. However, for getting the best deal for as many camping sites as possible, there are better choices.

Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of Escapees

  • Multiple membership benefits plus discounts
  • Affordable SKP parks and co-op parks
  • 15-50 percent off at over 800 participating RV parks
  • Great sense of community

Cons of Escapees

  • Not the primo membership for discounted camping
Sunshine Valley RV Park north of Hope, British Columbia is a Passport America Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Passport America

Passport America is one of the best deals available for discounted camping (50 percent off). For most RV campers, it’s a no-brainer. Remember that discount camping sites aren’t always the most desirable ones to stay in (this goes for most memberships). 

Campsite Discount Percentage, Stay Duration, Rules

The typical discount for using your Passport America membership is 50 percent. But some deals are not that good. The duration of your discounted stay is almost always limited. Some RV parks only offer deals seasonally or during certain days of the week. Each RV park varies with its rules regarding discounts. You must read the rules of the particular place you would like to stay.

The Passport America app and website make it easy to know what each partner offers. Passport America uses icons to identify the available amenities. However, there are no campground reviews or ratings on their app or website.

Passport America has over 1,450 participating campgrounds in its network.

Rio Bend RV and Golf Resort in El Centro, California is a Passport America Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of Passport America

  • Great discounts
  • Large number of available campgrounds
  • Pays for itself easily with one or two stays
  • Website and app easy to use

Cons of Passport America

  • Some parks are less than desirable
  • Stays can be limited by number of days/season/day of week
Colorado River is a Thousand Trails RV park near Columbus, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails offers multiple plans each with different options and discounts. Knowing if this membership club would benefit you depends on how you camp and where you want to stay (there are five zones to choose from). Understanding the variety of options can be challenging. The basic membership, also known as a zone pass, includes free camping within a specific region of the country.

There are five Thousand Trails zones: Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast. Each zone includes between eight and 23 campgrounds. New members can opt to include additional zones in their membership.

A Thousand Trails membership gives you 14 days max to stay in-network at a spot in whatever zone you bought into. If you stay four nights or more in a campground, you must wait seven days before camping at another Thousand Trails park.

Members can also add the Trails Collection which adds more than 100 affiliated campgrounds across the country to your plan. These are Encore Campgrounds which are also open to the general public (non-members). Additional upgrades include Thousand Trails Elite and Elite Connections.

Once again, knowing if this RV membership club would benefit you depends on how you camp and where you want to stay.

Chesapeake Bay is a Thousand Trails RV Park near Gloucester, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of a Thousand Trails membership

  • Multiple parks to choose from
  • Add on zones
  • Can use a broker to potentially make membership selection easier and cheaper

Cons of a Thousand Trails membership

  • Lots of confusing information out there about memberships
  • No availability in the middle of the country
  • You have to move at least every 14 days to an out-of-network campground
Quail Ridge RV Resort in an RPI park in Huachuca City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Resort Parks International (RPI)

Resort Parks International (RPI) is an RV camping membership purchased through one of several affiliated resorts. The resort where the membership is purchased is known as your home resort. The RPI membership is an add-on to the home resort membership. The RPI membership is similar to the Coast to Coast (see below).

The major expense associated with an RPI membership is the home resort membership and annual maintenance fees. These fees vary for each home resort but the one-time enrollment fee ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

The RPI network includes more than 200 membership RV resorts, 400 privately-owned RV parks, and hundreds of condominiums and cabins across North America. RPI members can camp at all membership RV parks for a nominal fee. Affiliated public campgrounds offer RPI members discounted rates (typically 50 percent). Cabins and condominiums are available for discounted rates that vary by location.

RPI has an online portal that allows you to make camping reservations online.

RPI offers three different membership levels: RPI Plus, RPI Preferred, and RPI Gold.

There are three ways to purchase an RPI RV membership:

  • Thousand Trails: RPI Preferred Gold membership is included with the elite Thousand Trails membership
  • Affiliated resort: The most common way to purchase an RPI membership is through an affiliated member resorts. When a camper purchases a resort membership at the home park, a RPI membership can be added on.
  • Used memberships: Since some RPI memberships allow for transfer, it is possible to purchase one from the original owner. Online brokers also help RVers locate available used memberships.
The Barnyard RV Park is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of RPI

  • Multiple parks to choose from
  • Substantial discount on camping costs

Cons of RPI

  • You must first purchase a home resort
  • You have to move every 7 days
  • A substantial up-front cost
Wind Casino RV Park is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Good Sam

Good Sam is easily the most popular and well-known of the clubs. Good Sam offers much more than just campground discounts. However, the discount on Good Sam-approved parks is nothing to write home about—you only get 10 percent off the 2,100+ campgrounds in their network.

However, this membership is still a good value. Good Sam also offers discounts on RV-related items. They discount propane at Camping World, free dump at select Camping World stores, discount on gasoline and diesel at Flying J stores, and discounts on Camping World purchases.

>> Read Next: Good Sam Releases 2023 Top Rated Parks

Also, they boast over 1.8 million members and the membership fee is very reasonable $25 at the time of writing.

Depending on your style of RVing and how often you take to the road, this camping membership can easily pay for itself quickly.

Frog City RV Park in Duson, Louisiana is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of Good Sam

  • Multiple benefits other than just campground discounts
  • Very affordable
  • 10 percent off 2,100+ campgrounds

Cons of Good Sam

  • 10 percent off is a small saving
Rain Spirit RV Resort in Clarkdale, Arizona is a Coast to Coast park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast is a network of RV parks located in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Coast to Coast is part of a larger company that also owns Good Sam, Camping World, Gander Outdoors, and Overton’s.

The Coast to Coast membership is similar to the RPI membership (see above).

Coast to Coast has hundreds of RV parks where members camp for a discounted rate. New memberships cannot be purchased online. Instead, campers must purchase a membership through one of the RV parks in the club’s network. The prices will be different depending on where you purchase the membership.

Jamaica Beach RV Resort on Galveston Island is a Coast to Coast park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The major expense associated with a Coast to Coast membership is the home resort membership and annual maintenance fees. These fees vary for each home resort but the one-time enrollment fee ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

They also offer a free 3 day/2 night stay for RVers who are interested in purchasing a membership. You will be required to attend a tour of the park and a membership orientation. Take advantage of this offer if you are genuinely interested in purchasing a membership. 

When selecting a home resort for your Coast to Coast membership, it is important to understand their 125-mile rule. Members are not allowed to book reservations at any Coast to Coast resorts that are within a 125 drive from their home resort.

Coast to Coast Deluxe memberships are available as an upgrade and provide additional benefits to members including staying up to 14 consecutive nights in a member park (standard memberships allow seven consecutive nights).

Coast to Coast memberships can also be purchased on the re-sale market. Used memberships can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the home resort and the included benefits.

The member parks are inspected and rated annually in terms of facilities, amenities, and cleanliness.

Arizona Oases RV Resort in Ehrenburg, Arizona is a Coast to Coast park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of Coast to Coast

  • Multiple parks to choose from
  • Substantial discount on camping costs

Cons of Coast to Coast

  • You have to move every 7 days
  • A substantial up-front cost
Tucson/Lazydays KOA in Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kampgrounds of America (KOA)

Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is the largest system of privately held campgrounds with more than 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Their huge number of parks means that most RVers will stay at a KOA at some point in their travels.

KOA has its own rewards program and does not participate in other RV discount clubs. The KOA Value Kard membership offers a 10 percent discount off your rate at all KOA campgrounds. Members also earn rewards points which can be redeemed for free nights at KOA RV membership parks.

Since KOA parks do not accept other RV membership discounts such as Good Sam or Passport America, KOA Rewards is the only way to obtain a reduced rate at their campgrounds.

Contrary to other campground memberships such as Thousand Trails, there are no membership levels. All KOA Rewards members pay the same price and receive the same benefits.

Terre Haute KOA in Terre Haute, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of KOA

  • Multiple parks to choose from

Cons of KOA

  • 10 percent off is a small savings
  • The campgrounds tend on the expensive side
FMCA Rally in Perry, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association)

FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) benefits include a monthly magazine, RV rallies, tire discounts, discounts on camping, a temperature measuring device for pets, mobile Internet, roadside assistance, mail forwarding services, and many more. Several years ago, FMCA opened its membership to towable RV owners (travel trailers, fifth wheels, and campers) as opposed to only people with a motorized RV (motorhomes and camper vans).

FMCA Rally in Indio, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of a FMCA membership

  • Multiple camping discounts
  • Benefits other than JUST camping discounts
  • Well-known and respected organization
  • Excellent RV magazine published monthly
  • Low membership fee

Cons of a FMCA membership

  • Low savings on camping
  • Limited number of campgrounds that offer a FMCA discount
Orange Groove RV Park in Bakersfield, California is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Harvest Hosts

Harvest Hosts is the best RV membership for experiencing, well, experiences! They offer up unique places to park for the night—primarily dry camping stays at wineries, farms, breweries, museums, and golf courses. In exchange, it is implied that you patronize the place you visit, if applicable. However, the bonus is that you get a fun and unique experience and a camping spot for the night. Harvest Hosts has over 3,300 locations you can experience. The program also provides an opportunity to support local businesses and meet the people who run them.

>> Read Next: Good Sam Releases 2022 Top Rated Parks

Harvest Moon RV Park in Adairsville, Georgia is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pros of Harvest Hosts

  • Unique camping experience
  • Save money on RV parks
  • Camp in places you couldn’t otherwise
  • If you have a winery, farm, or attraction, you can become a host
  • Over 3,300 hosts

Cons of Harvest Hosts

  • Your rig must be self-contained
Creek Fire RV Resort in Savannah, Georgia is a Good Sam park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boondockers Welcome

Boondockers Welcome is another unique RV membership club that connects members with free RV parking on private property. Boondockers Welcome is pretty much like it sounds. It’s an RV club offering places to temporarily dry camp on people’s private property.

Host Benefits

  • Homeowners (hosts) who are RV friendly and are sometimes RVers themselves can, for free, offer up their spot for a very limited time
  • Half off a boondockers subscription
  • They also get a few months free added to their membership when they host someone
  • Homeowners get to meet new people

Member Benefits

  • You have many places to stay for free
  • Meet new people
  • Stay in places where there are no RV parks

Pros of Boondockers Welcome

  • Super cheap for the entire year
  • If you’re people-oriented, you can make lots of new friends
  • Great way to see cities on the cheap

Cons of Boondockers Welcome

  • The number of days you can stay is limited
Spartanburg Northeast/Gaffney KOA in Gaffney, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hipcamp

Discover and book tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping. Hipcamp is the Airbnb of RVing. Founded in 2013, it has grown to include over 432,000 properties including public parks, private campgrounds, and private land. It works just like Airbnb. You search for properties to park your RV (or tent) instead of searching for houses and rooms to rent.

There is no cost to join Hipcamp but you must register to book. Hipcamp gets its money from service fees which are a variable percentage of the amount that you book. The site is good at describing amenities on the property; photos of each property are the owner’s responsibility to fill out.

Pros of Hipcamp

  • Very easy to navigate website
  • Huge variety of places to camp
  • Over 430,000 properties to choose from, the most of any club
  • Easily filter your results
  • No membership fees, just a percentage fee of purchase price

Cons of Hipcamp

  • Doesn’t seem to be any
Clinton/Knoxville North KOA in Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

Have you figured out the best camping club to join? There may be more than one. There are many RV discount clubs and membership organizations to consider.

I hope this article helps to clear up some things about the crazy world of RV discount clubs and membership camping. It’s about figuring out which RV camping organizations are best for you. Just get out there and start doing it. You will figure out which RV associations are correct for you as you go.

RV memberships and camping clubs are a great way to save money but all membership options should be thoroughly investigated before signing up. To determine whether a membership is worthwhile for your family, calculate how many nights per year you would need to stay at discounted RV parks to break even on your investment. Also, consider the annual dues and whether or not the membership can be resold if you are not using it.

We personally chose to purchase Good Sam, Passport America, Thousand Trails, RPI, and Coast to Coast memberships. Over the years our camping needs have changed and we’ve let our Coast to Coast membership and RPI membership lapse. Currently we make extensive use of Good Sam and Passport America.

Camp on!

Worth Pondering…

Whether you stay six weeks, six months, or six years, always leave it better than you found it.

—Jim Rohn Enhance