Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Did you know its possible to RV on the cheap? As a true penny pincher, I work hard to save as much money as possible. It’s how we are able to fly for almost free and stay at hotels for nothing, and it’s how we were able to quit our jobs and buy an RV.
If not for using these methods to save money we wouldn't be full time traveling RVers.
By saving on common RV expenses we are able to experience cheap RV living and we have 3been able to travel to 38 states and 29 National Parks in the last four years on about $1,400 a month. Plus we go overseas like to our trip to Morocco.
So what are common RV expenses and how do we RV on the cheap? I count the big three as gas, food and camping.
RV GAS Expenses
It is our number one RVing expense. This is most likely because we travel and don't stay stationary in one place so we use lots of gas. Even if you don’t travel lots I am sure you don’t get the best gas mileage in your RV so learning to save on gas can really help your RVing budget.
We save the most money using apps. We both have them downloaded onto our phones and use whoever's is handy. The two apps are TruNow and GetUpside.
Use the TruNow App. This app gives you 1% back on your entire gas station purchase including gas and any snacks or drinks or whatever it is that you may have bought. The best part is this app works at any gas station and you can use the same receipt that you scan into TruNow into the GetUpside App saving you even more on gas for your RV. So scan any gas receipt into TruNow and earn 1% back.
Use GetUPside This easy to use app uses your location to show you discounts being offered at area gas stations. The discounts start at least 3 cents a gallon off and I have since discounts as high as 25 cents off per gallon. Once you find a discount you like simply claim the offer on the app and drive to the gas station and fill up. Once done you scan your receipt into the GetUPside app and are reimbursed the advertised discount amount. As RVers we usually try to fill up to the 50 gallon maximum for reimbursement, saving us money every time we are getting gas.
* When deals aren’t available, we will still use an app like GasBuddy to search for the best prices around.
There are many other ways you can save on RV fuel costs. I share eight ways here.
RV FOOD Expenses
Our next biggest budget item in our RV Budget is food. I have figured out lots of ways to save on groceries and not one of them has you cutting coupons! In order to save money we cook almost all of our food. But when we do eat out I try to mystery shop. By mystery shopping I can earn us a FREE meal PLUS make a little money.
I again use apps on our phones to save on groceries while we RV. Some require you to buy certain products while others you can just scan ANY grocery receipt.
Ibotta is a great app to help you save! You can save on groceries, toiletries, pet food and even alcohol! In addition, they offer rebates when shopping online to department stores, Amazon and even for travel!!! Simply load offers, shop, and scan in your receipt. Cash out directly to Paypal or choose gift cards. Earn $10 to try it out! Sign up here
This is another easy app to help you save on groceries! You can save on groceries, toiletries, and over the counter medicine. It is the new age of coupons. Just load an offer from the app, shop, and scan your receipt. You can cash out directly to Paypal. Earn $5 to try it out! Sign up here
I love Shopkicks! You can get money back for buying certain products PLUS you can earn for walking into a store, scanning products, and shopping online. I have earned hundreds of dollars that I cash out for gift cards and money I have transferred to Paypal to use for cheap and free travel. Sign up now and get a $1 bonus when you walk into your first store within a week of adding the app.
Save even more on groceries with FETCH! Simply scan any receipt from a place that sells food and earn. I have even gotten points for purchasing gas and meds at chain pharmacies. Buy certain products and earn more! You can cash out for a wide variety of gift cards. The current sign up bonus is $2 for scanning your first receipt if you enter code RU3XM here.
Scan ANY receipt and earn money back!!! It doesn't matter what you bought, where it came from or how much it costs. Just scan it into Coinout and start earning. They also have offers for online merchants. This is one of the easiest apps to earn money. Sign up today and they will give you a $1 to scan your first receipt.
FREE RV CAMPING
For many RVers this is their number one expense but not for us. Last year we spent just $11 on camping fees and this year we have spent only $8 so far. How you may ask? Boondocking, dispersed camping, mouchdocking, or lotdocking whatever you want to call it we don’t pay to camp! And this helps us enjoy cheap RV living.
We mostly boondock or as the federal government calls it, dispersed camping. This is when you dry camp in BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or national and state forests. Lotdocking for us is when we stay for free at Walmarts, Cracker Barrels or a Casino (some casinos even have hook ups!). Mouchdocking is when you stay at a friend or family members driveway or yard for free. There are even city parks with hookups that you can camp for free at! And yes it's safe!
We think free RV camping is the greatest thing ever but it is not for everyone. You won’t be able to watch cable TV boondocking but you will be camping at some of the most beautiful places with tons of space for free. Most boondockers have a setup that allows them to be off grid for an extended stay that includes solar panels or a generator. We prefer solar as its quieter and we don’t have to keep buying fuel.
But you can start out with just a few simple things if your rig is set up for it. If your RV has a propane stove and refrigerator you will be set for meals. So all you really need are some solar lights and a battery pack or two for your phone. With these simple things you should be able to stay a night or two. After that and you may find your phone, computers and battery packs dead. When we were without solar panels we would start the RV to charge our devices. It was desperate times but you could do it if need be.
Our goal is to inspire others to get out there and live the RV life on a budget so we share some of our best free camping sites here and on Facebook.
As you can see there are lots of ways you can save on common RV expenses to RV on the cheap. We also use apps to earn money and you can learn more about that here. It can be overwhelming to try all of these at once, I get it. But maybe download a gas and grocery app and start there, adding more as you get the hang of it. Or, if you are like me, jump in and download them all and start saving!!!
Penny Pinching Globetrotters