RV Snowbirding: 10 Tips for Driving South This Winter

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best RV snowbirding tips for the drive South plus helpful resources

Are you preparing to drive south for the winter? Here are RV snowbirding tips to help you get there safely.

Like birds, RVers across northern North America prepare to head south for the winter. These snowbirds leave their northern homes for a few weeks or the entire winter to escape the cold winter months for a warmer climate. 

If you’re joining the flock this year, I have some helpful snowbirding tips for the drive down. And some of these tips can help experienced snowbirds as well!

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best tips for a snowbird road trip plus helpful resources.

I have lots of articles on the RV snowbird lifestyle including the most popular snowbird destinations and other great places to stay. But in this article, I’ll cover the most important things to consider for your drive down.

The following RV travel tips will help during all road trips but especially during the snowbird season. Since you’re heading out for long periods of time you want to make sure you’re prepared and comfortable.

Carefully inspect your tires and check air pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Carefully inspect your tires

Before setting off on your winter adventure, it’s crucial to inspect your RV tires. Better yet, take them to a trusted tire shop because the back of the tires is difficult to properly inspect at home.

Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure so make sure they are properly inflated. Additionally, check for any signs of wear and tear or damage.

Don’t forget to pack a spare tire, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable air compressor.

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to read the following articles as they can save you from ending up on the side of the road or even save your life:

Make your RV comfy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Get comfy accessories for the road trip

Long drives can take a toll on your comfort. Making your RV as cozy as possible for the driver and passengers is essential. Invest in soft pillows, warm blankets, and supportive seat cushions.

I suggest reading How to Stay Safe When RVing. And for nervous passengers, I recommend reading RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm.

3. Prep your roadside emergency kit

No matter how cautious you are, emergencies can happen. Prepare a roadside emergency kit containing essential items like a first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, extra batteries, roadside flares, and a basic toolkit.

It’s also a good idea to have spare fuses, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable jump starter. Be prepared and feel confident on the road.

In addition to a roadside emergency kit, I recommend carrying RV roadside assistance coverage. Here are some helpful resources:

Make sure your insurance is in order © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Make sure your RV insurance is in order

Before heading south, double-check your RV insurance coverage. Ensure that your policy includes comprehensive coverage for both accidents and natural disasters related to your destination.

Confirm that your policy extends to the full duration of your trip and that you have coverage for any additional drivers.

5. Make sure your health insurance and prescriptions are in order

Your health is of utmost importance and you don’t want to wait until something goes wrong or your prescriptions run out to find a solution. The farther you get from your doctor and pharmacy the trickier things can become—unless you’re prepared!

I have a helpful resource regarding managing your healthcare while traveling:

Stop for roadside attractions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Follow the 330 Rule

The 330 Rule is you stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon. The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles. 

You can learn more about the many benefits of the 330 Rule by clicking here.

7. Have podcasts or audiobooks queued up

Long stretches of road can get monotonous and lead to drowsiness or irritability. To make the journey more enjoyable have a collection of your favorite podcasts or audiobooks ready to keep you entertained.

You can learn something new or dive into exciting stories while cruising down the highway making the hours fly by.

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Embrace serendipity travel

While planning your route is important don’t be afraid to embrace the spontaneous side of RV travel. Allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the itinerary and explore unexpected attractions or beautiful camping spots along the way.

Serendipity travel can lead to unforgettable experiences and hidden gems you might have missed otherwise.

You can see some of the amazing places and experiences we’ve enjoyed because of serendipity:

9. Use fuel discounts

Whether your RV runs on diesel or gas, fuel costs are a big part of your travel budget. RV fuel discount cards and programs help you stretch those dollars farther.

The benefits range from discounted gas prices to multiple ways to save at specific locations. Plan your fuel stops accordingly to take advantage of these discounts helping you save money while enjoying your snowbird journey.

Here’s a great article on How to Save on Gas and Diesel: RV Fuel Discount Cards and More RV (for gas and diesel!).

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Get a reciprocal membership

RVers can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships that give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos, and more.

A reciprocal membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that extends benefits to members of participating institutions. If you have a reciprocal membership with one museum you’ll get benefits from all other museums in that network. 

Benefits may include free or discounted admission, merchandise discounts, special newsletters, and other great deals. It’s a great way to save while doing fun things along your drive. Learn more by reading Plan an RV Trip to a Museum: How to Save with Reciprocal Memberships.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, Snowbird:

Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow

How to Save on Gas and Diesel: RV Fuel Discount Cards and More

With gas prices higher than ever, every discount helps! These RV fuel discount cards and programs can save you money on diesel and gas.

Whether your RV runs on diesel or gas, fuel costs are a major part of your travel budget. RV fuel discount cards and programs help you stretch those dollars farther.

In this article, I will explore the best RV fuel discount cards, considering both gas and diesel options along with other memberships and programs that offer fuel discounts.

The benefits range from discounted gas prices to multiple ways to save at specific locations. Plus, I highlight a few apps to help you find the cheapest fuel prices wherever you travel.

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

Before you get a fuel discount card

Before diving into my top picks, it’s essential to consider a few factors when choosing a fuel discount card for your RV travels.

You want to be sure to choose a fuel discount card that:

  • Aligns with your RV’s fuel needs
  • Offers savings on a wide range of participating fuel stations
  • Provides significant discounts
  • Keeps any associated costs or fees in mind

Availability of participating fuel stations

It’s crucial to check if the fuel discount card is accepted at fuel stations along your planned route. Ensure that participating stations are conveniently located along your journey so that you can take full advantage of the discounts offered.

Type of fuel required

Some fuel discount cards cater specifically to diesel fuel while others cover both gas and diesel. Make sure to select a card that aligns with your RV’s fuel requirements.

Annual fees or membership requirements

Some cards may require an upfront fee or annual membership fee while others may be free to join. Evaluate the potential savings and benefits offered by the card to assess if the cost or fees justify the benefits you would receive.

Overall savings potential

Compare the discounts provided by different cards and assess how much money you can save over time. Keep in mind that some cards offer fixed discounts per gallon while others may provide a percentage-based discount. Consider factors such as the average price of fuel in your area and how frequently you fill up your RV to estimate your potential savings accurately.

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

Top 3 gas and diesel RV fuel cards and programs

Two of the following discount programs offer diesel savings while one helps you save on both gas and diesel.

1. TSD Losistics Open Roads (diesel)

TSD Logistics Open Roads s an excellent option for diesel RV owners. This fuel discount card offers significant savings at more than 1,500 participating fuel stations across the United States including Pilot Flying J, TA-Petro, and Speedway.

There are NO sign-up or membership fees, nor long-term contracts. Current members save an average of 30-40 cents per gallon off the pump price.

Instead of charging membership fees, Open Roads makes its money by keeping 10 percent of your savings per gallon. For example, if your fuel card saves you 50 cents per gallon, Open Roads keeps 5 cents and you save 45 cents.

It’s a fair trade-off that still saves you big money. If, for example, you get a 25-cent discount filling up a 100 gallon tank, you save $22.50! That pays for a good lunch!

For all Canadian clients, Open Roads requires a US Bank Account with US Currency. The account will require a US Bank Routing Number (it will be 9 digits). The account must allow for ACH withdrawals from a US based Company. If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you may use your Social Insurance Number. 

Driving the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Gasbuddy (gas and diesel)

GasBuddy is a widely recognized app that not only helps you find the best fuel prices but also offers a Free Forever fuel discount card. This free membership card provides up to 25 cents off per gallon depending on the participating station and the fuel type (gas or diesel).

The GasBuddy card can be used at over 150,000 fuel stations nationwide making it a convenient choice for RV travelers. Plus, you can earn GasBack (free gas) through shopping and dining deals.

This discount card doesn’t require a credit check but does require info to verify your identity. Plus, it links to your debit card.

We know many RVers aren’t comfortable with providing personal info and linking cards. If that’s you, don’t worry; the free GasBuddy app can save you money by itself. The app is still great for finding the cheapest fuel in the area.

Plus a nifty tool for your travel budget!

The GasBuddy website also has this really nifty tool to help make your travel budget! The Trip Cost Calculator estimates your fuel cost based on your route and vehicle information.

3. Mudflap (diesel)

The Mudflap App is designed for truckers but diesel RV owners can benefit from it, too. You can get discounted fuel rates at over 1,500 truck stops nationwide.

Their network of participating locations is relatively small compared to other discount cards. However, you’ll save about $0.40 per gallon! Plus, it’s completely free to you. Mudflap makes its money through its partnerships.

Mudflap does not require a credit card or any fees to join. Unlike Open Roads, you do not have to wait for a physical card to arrive in the mail. Instead, you simply use the app to purchase the fuel.

The app links to your credit card (not your bank account) and requires you to go to the cashier inside to authorize fueling.

Driving Bush Highway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other RV fuel discount programs and memberships

There are a few other fuel discount programs and memberships worth mentioning. The following may not offer the most fuel savings but do offer additional benefits that make them worth it.

4. Pilot Flying J MyRewards

Pilot Flying J is a popular truck stop chain with a FREE loyalty program called myRewards. As an RV traveler, enrolling in myRewards grants you access to fuel discounts, free shower benefits, and exclusive discounts on seleted merchandise.

You save $0.10 on every gallon of gas or diesel for your RV. Plus, gain access to even more offers through their myRewards Plus App. (Military also saves 10 percent off food and drinks when verified by ID.me through the app.)

This program is an excellent choice for those who frequent Pilot Flying J locations. Their network consists of over 800 retail and fueling locations in 44 states.

5. Good Sam Club

Good Sam Club is not just an RV membership organization; it also offers fuel discounts. With the Good Sam Club membership, RVers save $0.05 cents per gallon on gas and $0.10 per gallon on diesel at Pilot Flying J.

This membership also provides other benefits like campground discounts and access to roadside assistance services. So, though the fuel savings is similar to Pilot J’s myRewards, you can get more types of savings with Good Sam.

Good Sam membership starts at $29 for 1 year which can easily pay for itself if you take advantage of all the discounts.

6. Costco

While not exclusive to RV owners, a Costco membership can be a valuable addition to your fuel savings strategy. By purchasing fuel at Costco gas stations, you can enjoy consistently low prices which are often significantly cheaper than regular gas stations.

On average, you can expect gas prices that are 20-30 cents cheaper than nearby gas stations. Most Costco locations only have gas but some select locations sell diesel.

Like Good Sam, Costco offers lots of opportunities to save on more than just fuel. As you know, you can save on food, clothes, tires, and various products. But you can also save a lot on theme park tickets, cruises, discounted restaurant gift cards, and more.

Driving in the Davis Mountains, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other ways to find cheap RV fuel

All of the above cards, memberships, and programs offer fuel savings whenever you sign up. But you can still save fuel money WITHOUT signing up for anything by using the following apps to locate the cheapest fuel prices in your area. These free apps are highly rated, easy to use, and will help you save money wherever you travel.

7. Gas Guru

Gas Guru is a smartphone app that helps you locate the cheapest fuel prices in your area. Using your location, Gas Guru displays nearby gas stations and their current fuel prices.

This app helps RV travelers to find the best deals on the go. It’s available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

8. IExit Interstate Exit Guide

The IExit Interstate Exit Guide provides information on upcoming exits and shows fuel prices at the next available exits. This app lets you strategically plan your refueling stops for maximum savings.

It is available for free in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Any of the above RV fuel discount cards, memberships, and programs will save you money. But you shouldn’t stop there!

You can significantly improve your gas mileage with several clever tricks and tips. I’ve written an entire article on it: Tips on How to Get Better Fuel Mileage in Your RV.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!