Money-saving Tips: Extending Your RV Travel Dollars

Summer 2011 CSANews Issue 79  |  Posted date : Jul 08, 2011.Back to list

The latest Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners conducted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) revealed that 53% intend to use their RV more this summer, despite higher fuel prices, while 38% plan to use theirs the same amount and just 9% say that they'll use their RVs less. Of the respondents who plan to use their RVs more often, 65% said that one of the reasons is to take more mini-vacations.

Many RV-owning families plan to take shorter, but more frequent trips in their RVs. Sixty-three per cent plan to spend five or more weekends in their RVs this summer; 19% will reserve a seasonal site at a campground this summer and visit it on weekends.

According to the report, 68% said that they expect fuel prices to affect their summer travel plans. Of those respondents, 61% said that they'll travel closer to home, 42% will travel fewer miles and 37% will stay longer in one place.
These figures indicate that people are looking for inexpensive vacation options, and RVing leads the pack. RV owners love the RV lifestyle and rising gas prices won't stop them from getting away. 

RV family vacations are, on average, 27% to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations, according to a study by international travel and tourism experts Collier's PKF Consulting USA.

While a recreational vehicle is one of the biggest investments we can make, the ways in which we can save when camping with our RVs are almost limitless. 

Cutting Your RV Travel Expenses 

The following tips will help you save money while still enjoying all the fun, freedom and flexibility that RVing has to offer:

• Buy a local newspaper when arriving at a campground or RV park and check it for local events, concerts in the parks, coupons, bargains and savings.

• Don't buy all of your groceries at supermarkets. Buy food and other necessities at thrift bakeries, discount stores, dollar stores, church and charity bazaars, flea markets, roadside fruit and veggie stands and u-pick orchards.

• Shop at a local farmer's market and chat with the folks selling the fruits and veggies. Pick up something "new to you" and ask them how to prepare it - then go back to your RV and try it.

• When in a campground, connect to "shore power" and use THEIR electricity, not YOUR propane, to heat your water and run your refrigerator. Water heaters in particular consume considerable amounts of propane. 

• When eating out, look for 2-for-1 coupons and early-bird specials. 

• Eat out for lunch instead of dinner.

• Attend festivals, fairs and parades. Tourism offices and RV magazines offer calendars of events.

• Take free tours of provincial legislative buildings.

• Visit museums on their free days - many have at least one a month.

• Take a factory tour - sometimes, they'll include bonus samples.

• Try local wineries for wine-tasting and tours. 

• Check out cheese factories, breweries and farms that offer tasting tours.

• Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon at a local park relaxing, eating, talking, reading, exploring, daydreaming...did I mention relaxing?

• Check out the travel section at local bookstores for guidebooks on historical, cultural and scenic travels.

• Take up bird watching while exploring public parks and gardens.

• Explore the beauty of the outdoors by taking a walk along a river or lake, or hiking into the wilderness - breathe deep, walk softly and observe your surroundings.

Easy Ways to Save Fuel and Money

Most motorists share one common goal - to get the best mileage possible. A desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are ways in which you can reduce fuel and related costs, while enjoying travelling in your recreational vehicle. 

The following tips will help you save fuel:

• Slow down and maintain even pressure on the throttle.

• Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration.

• Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

• Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to.

• Minimize excessive engine workload by using the vehicle's kinetic forward motion to climb hills.

• Use downhill momentum, rather than applying accelerator, to build speed back up.

• Go cruising. Your cruise control button isn't just convenient; it can be a fuel-saver. When driving long stretches of open road, cruise control can be a very valuable asset, maintaining your speed within the least fuel-guzzling gear, plus eliminating your chances of accidental speeding (and of getting pulled over and ticketed). 

• However, cruise control can take a bite out of your fuel mileage potential on hills, where it tends to coast up the hill that it is losing speed and quickly attempting to compensate by pushing the throttle, increasing your speed and your fuel use.

• Weather considerations. Winds have a substantial effect on increasing or reducing the vehicle's moving resistance.

• Avoid excessive engine idling. Shut the engine off when the RV sits for more than a few minutes.

• Follow the recommended service and maintenance schedules; keeping an RV tuned up and in top running condition saves fuel. A poorly tuned engine can reduce fuel economy by 10 to 20 per cent.

• A clean air filter keeps impurities from damaging your engine and can significantly improve fuel economy.

• Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving). Proper inflation reduces the incidence of tire failure and improves fuel consumption.

• Control your weight. Many motorhomes have total holding tank capacities of 380 litres or more, which means that they can contain more than 400 kilograms of waste water when full. Fresh-water tanks may hold 230 litres of water (or almost 230 kilograms) when full. The combined carrying capacity of the three holding tanks can total 630 kilograms or more and requires burning expensive fuel to carry it around.

• Control your weight. Check each coach storage compartment and exterior bays; remove items which you will not be using while on the road. Every pound of unnecessary weight that you carry decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

• Control your weight. Keep in mind that everything you put into your RV has weight. The average couple carries more than 900 kilograms of "stuff," and many full-timing couples carry as much as 1,360 kilograms. When possible, travel with empty grey and black holding tanks and keep the fresh-water tank no more than 1/4 full.

Now Let's Go RVing!

Worth Pondering…
The mint makes it first, it is up to you to make it last.
– Evan Esar (1899 - 1995)

Until next time!

I'm looking forward to seeing you again in the next issue. Until then, check out my website for more on snowbirding and the RV lifestyle: Vogel Talks RVing -

Feel free to e-mail me at with your comments, issues and topics that you'd like to see addressed on this page.