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When planning an RV trip, two of the most important factors are your budget and schedule. These two key items can limit where you go, how long you stay and what you do while you are there. Fortunately, you can tailor both to fit exactly what you are looking for. To get a grip on how to plan an RV trip relative to your budget and schedule, we will look at each one at a time to see how you can be flexible and get the most out of your trip.
Putting an RV trip schedule together can be a daunting task. Typically, you will have a set amount of time that you can be away, and often it has to fall within specific dates. To set a schedule it is best to break your trip down into two categories: travel days and stationary days.
Travel days are those when you are on the road between destinations. You will want to dedicate the entire day because check-in and checkout times, the amount of time it takes to setup and breakdown, and the need to unwind after traveling will fill up most of the day. When trying to determine the number of travel days, look at the distance you need to travel. RV traveling is typically slower, more cumbersome and prone to more issues then traveling in a car. Take that into account by keeping your
travel days short. 400 miles, or 8 hours, or less is a good rule to follow. At those distances, you can leave in the morning and still arrive at the next stopping point after check-in but before dark.
If your destination is 800 miles away expect 4 travel days total, two days there and two days back. The days in between are the stationary days you will have to do things at your destination.
You can work stops into your travel days or even make the entire trip travel based with short stops mixed in during the day. Doing so can be exhausting so plan on many fewer miles per day and do extra planning ahead to make sure your rig can be parked at your desired stopping points.
To really stay in budget it is best to plan ahead. Take the total amount allotted for the trip and divide it among the areas of your trip that matter. Then stick to that budget. The big four RV trip expenses are food, fuel, campsite fees and entertainment. Depending on where you are headed you may need to consider other factors like road tolls, ferry fees, bridge crossings, etc. Here are some tips in each category to add some flexibility into your budget planning.
The food budget is critical. One of the best parts about traveling by RV is the ability to control the food expense and cook pretty much anything you want on the road. Eating out is a budget killer. Even a cheap restaurant meal will cost at least 2 times more then stocking the fridge and eating in. Limiting the expense of eating out will dramatically lower your food costs.
To save money on what is in the fridge, fill it before you leave. You know the stores in your area and where to get the best deals. That may not be the case where you are headed and stocking up before you leave may prevent the need to shop later. If you do have to shop, ask someone in the park office where the best stores are.
If your plans include visiting remote areas, stock up on food before heading there. You might even want to make some meals and put them in the freezer for easy reheating when you get to your destination. Groceries in remote areas can be significantly more expensive then in larger population
centers, and you may have to drive many miles to find them.
The fuel budget is a little tougher, but there are things you can do to minimize it. Do not over pack; the heavier your rig is the more fuel it will need to reach your destination. Also, slow down, even a 10 mph difference on the highway can mean a 1 – 2 mpg difference. Use Gasbuddy.com or the GasBuddy app to find the best prices. If you know how far you can go on a tank you can also use it to plan ahead. Check prices next door, many times the most expensive station is the one right off the exit. The station down the street, even right next door, may be 20 – 30% cheaper so pay close attention to the signs when you stop. Finally, get your gas from the major retailers. This can save you big in very touristy spot where some stations will take advantage of the tourist traffic with higher prices.
Campground fees are also hard to control. To minimize them consider staying at places with fewer amenities, state parks, city parks, or even boondocking. To keep the costs down on private parks consider joining a club like GoodSam, Passport America, Thousand Trails or getting the KOA
Kampcard. These all have their own rules and restrictions but can save you significant amounts of money. Lastly, when booking a site at a private campground look at the rate structure carefully. You can often save money by staying in the off-season or book a weekly rate instead of a nightly one.
When planning activities always be on the lookout for free or cheap options at your destination, or along the way. It should not be hard to find free activities to fill any RV trip. If you need to cut expenses to meet a budget for your trip, this is often the best place to look. If there are specific things
you would like to do that cost money, look for Groupons or call the place and ask if they have any free or discount times available.
Written by Shelley Trupert from Outdoorsy.com,
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