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

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Next RV Road Trip

A helpful guide for planning an affordable RV trip including budgeting techniques, free places to camp, and useful travel discounts

Going on an RV trip doesn’t have to mean big spending or months of saving. With a little bit of research, careful planning, and some simple techniques, you’ll quickly realize just how affordable an RV trip can be.

Rental RVs at Jasper National Park, Alberta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Advice for non-RV owners

For many non-RV owners, the cost associated with renting an RV for a trip might seem sky high. And while it’s true that renting an RV can sometimes be more expensive than booking a hotel room, there are actually more opportunities to save with an RV.

You have the ability to cook all meals which greatly reduces the amount of money you have to spend on food. You can pack extra gear (bikes, kayaks, canoes, surfboards) and eliminate the need to rent these items elsewhere.

If you’re traveling with a family or large group, it might be tough to squeeze everyone into one hotel room (most standard hotel rooms can accommodate four people). And some hotels don’t even allow pets or charge an extra pet fee. But with a wide variety of RV sizes and layouts to choose from you’re likely to find one that fits your whole crew—dog included—without having to pay double.

Class A motorhome and toad at a rest area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Before you hit the road

While most people think of food, fuel, and campground costs when putting together a travel budget, one factor that is often forgotten—but is still extremely important—is maintenance. Taking good care of your RV goes a long way in preventing major, costly repairs.

Just like a car, your RV’s oil should be changed regularly and the tires inspected daily. If something in your rig needs fixing, do it sooner rather than later. Letting a problem sit for too long can end up costing you more in the long run.

Double-check that your insurance and roadside assistance plans cover not only your tow vehicle/toad but also your RV. There’s nothing worse than breaking down and finding out that your insurance won’t pay to tow your rig to a repair facility.

Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Plan around peak travel times

When considering prospective destinations, take note of the peak travel seasons and accessibility—for example, fall foliage in New England or holiday weekends at national parks. Peak seasons will not only impact reservations and campgrounds rates but fuel and grocery prices as well which can vary based on demand and time of year. Tours and entry fees may also fluctuate by season, day of week, or even time of day.

To help save money, when possible travel during shoulder seasons (commonly early spring and late fall) and visit the most popular destinations on weekdays or during slower hours. If you’re thinking about taking a longer trip—a few weeks or even a few months—consider staying in one place for more than a few days. Most RV parks and campgrounds offer weekly and monthly rates which will reduce your per night cost. Minimizing your driving time and staying put can help keep the cost of fuel down as well.

Newfound Gap Road, an RV-friendly route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Be mindful of fuel prices

When deciding which route to take, try to use an online fuel calculator to help budget. 

Once your RV-friendly route is set, search for fuel stations along the way and compare prices. Even if the difference is only a few cents per gallon, the cost can add up quickly when you’re averaging 8 to 10 miles per gallon. Try to fill up well in advance of national parks and other popular tourist destinations, top off your tank before you hit a stretch of road with limited fuel stations (these have a tendency to be more expensive), and keep any border crossings in mind. Fuel prices vary by state based on taxes, types of fuel, and other variables like real estate.

Boondocking along Utah Scenic Byway 24 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Venture off the beaten path

Humans are programmed to do what is familiar and popular, including visiting well-known tourist destinations. However, with a little extra research you can often find a similar view, a little-visited roadside attraction, a self-guided tour, or an alternative hike without the added crowds or cost.

Also, keep in mind is that not every night has to be spent at a five-star luxury RV resort. While you may want to budget for one or two nights at a more upscale place, your other nights could be budget camping or boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. 

To prevent trespassing or illegal overnight stays, always read posted signs and generally don’t stay longer than 14 days. 

6. Pack for various situations

Always check the forecast before you leave including average temperatures and storm seasons. Being prepared for various weather conditions will prevent unnecessary shopping trips for warmer clothes, rain gear, or alternative footwear. Travel with an umbrella, a rain jacket, waterproof pants, and warm layers just in case. Other essentials include a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and extra batteries as these tend to be more expensive at travel plazas and RV parks.

Driving Dead Horse Mesa Scenic Byway, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Plan inexpensive driving routes

You’re always going to spend money on a road trip but the route you take heavily influences how much you spend on things like fuel and overnight stays. For example, the highest fuel prices are in Washington and California. You still want to find pleasant campsites with electrical, sewage, and water access, if possible, but compare prices to locate the cheapest campsite in each area.

Other considerations you should have when planning an RV route include:

  • Points of interest along the route
  • Cheap gas station/truck stops availability
  • Avoiding areas of congestion and toll roads

When researching your route and destinations, look into various pass options for state and national parks. Figure out how often you will visit to determine whether paying for each entry is cheaper or purchasing a multi-visit pass, such as America the Beautiful.

8. Cook in the RV

An RV is a home on wheels which means you can limit the cost associated with restaurants by cooking your own food. However, if you do want to eat at a local restaurant, consider eating there for lunch instead of dinner—lunch menus allow you to experience the regional food without paying the premium pricing.

Include some healthy road trip snacks and beverages. This will prevent you from pulling over to buy higher-priced, less-nutritious gas station treats. Additionally, food prices will vary by location. Produce, meat, and dairy are almost always more expensive in remote areas and can be harder to find, so stock up before you go.

Make use of campground grills and enjoy the ever-changing scenery with home-cooked meals. A small crockpot or slow cooker can be another great time and money saver when it comes to food on the go.

Not a good way to care for your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Keep your tires properly inflated

It may not be something that you associate with saving money but keeping the tires on your RV properly inflated will not only make it easier to drive and handle but it will save you money over the cost of the trip on fuel, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 1-psi drop in tire pressure, you can expect your gas mileage to lower by 0.4 percent. This can certainly add up over a lengthy trip, so take the extra time to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Tucson/Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Consider a membership

There are many different RV clubs and other types of travel memberships including Good Sam and Passport America. One of the biggest benefits of joining is the discounted camping rates. Some other cost-saving perks include promotions at RV retail stores, fuel savings, propane discounts, and free dump station privileges. Other memberships to consider include Thousand Trails, Escapees, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and KOA (Kampgrounds of America).

If you and your family enjoy visiting museums, botanical gardens, plantariums, and science centers, consider a membership. Reciprocal museum memberships allow you to visit other participating museums which grant free or heavily discounted entry to members.

Worth Pondering…

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will—whatever we may think.

—Lawrence Durrell