We should all travel a little more, right?
Do you want to take a four-week vacation across the United States but are worried about how to pay for it?
This past month my husband and I traveled more than 4,000 miles over the course of four weeks, all for less than $4,000.
Not bad considering an average week of vacation can cost about this amount.
Let me be completely honest here. Here are my financial records for my first month of full-time RV travel.
Expenses for Our 1 Month RV Vacation
The phone bill is pretty high because it was our first month on a new married phone plan and we had accidentally gone a bit over our data limit. 🙁
But you live and you learn from your mistakes!
Here’s how we managed to keep our total for all expenses under $4,000.
Limit the Amount You Eat Out
We limited eating out. This goes without saying, but our budget would be drastically different if we ate at every restaurant we liked. We only spent $333.10 on groceries for four weeks of travel.
This is food for two people, and even with me eating completely gluten free.
Eating out on the road is an unnecessary expense if you’re trying to keep a budget.
Plus you’re in an RV! Your kitchen is always with you.
We didn’t stick to microwave meals or cheap snacks either. We ate turkey bacon (half the price of pork bacon, a third of the calories, and almost just as delicious) and eggs nearly every morning.
Don’t Pay Full Price for RV Parking
As far as lodging goes, we saved hundreds of dollars with Passport America. From Austin, Texas to Washington, we found a Passport America site each night.
We did stay at California State Parks on the drive up the entire Pacific Coast Highway though.
The average cost for a stay at a Passport America location is just $15-$20, half of the amount you typically pay for an RV nightly stay.
Our nightly average payment for lodging for the entire month was only $17.16.
Use the Gasbuddy App
Gas is going to be your largest expense.
We did our best to only fill up at grocery store gas pumps since they tend to be the cheapest.
Plus, with a Kroger Plus Card or Randall’s Rewards (Texas grocery chains), we can get gas and grocery rewards at stores like Fred Meyer and Safeway on the west coast.
You can download an app like Gasbuddy for your iPhone or Android to help find the cheapest gas in your area.
QUICK TIP: don’t fill up at the pumps closest to the exit. Drive a mile or so down the road and pay ten cents less.
Save Money With a National Gym Chain Membership
Maybe you don’t exercise while you’re on the road or maybe you don’t think it’s a necessary expense.
But trust me, it’s worth it.
I showered in our motor home once in our first month (and probably for the last time).
To make sure we always have a nice shower, we invested in finding a national gym just in case we spend too many days dry camping at parks or if the RV park showers aren’t up to par.
We joined Planet Fitness because they have the most locations across the US.
A membership costs $20 a month to visit any of their nearly a thousand locations. So even if you don’t exercise or don’t mind quick RV showers, know this: they have free massages chairs and hydro beds (another type of massage) which will change your life.
The stress of driving all day will melt away and you can walk away feeling pampered without spending $75 on a real massage. (They don’t pay me to promote them, the massages are just that great.)
Keep a Close Eye on Entertainment Expenses
Lastly, what is a vacation without some entertainment?
We splurged on buying a national parks pass that gives us free access for the next year at all national parks.
It’s already paid for itself. It’s $80 for the year, and most parks offer cheap camping inside the park.
The sound of the Pacific Ocean gentle hitting the shore rocked me to sleep one peaceful June evening in California.
We also bought tickets to visit Hearst Castle, an absolute must-see along the California coast.
We did end up renting a car to navigate LA traffic, though.
Also, this $4,000 budget includes a $600 unexpected maintenance charge when our fuel pump gave out just south of the Grand Canyon.
This is part of traveling and it’s smart to keep a small amount set aside just in case this happens to you too!
You Don’t Have to be Rich to Take a Month-Long RV Vacation
Money stresses me out. Can I get an amen?
Finances make travel difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker.
I don’t have a lot of money (what twenty three year old does?), but I found a way around it.
I hope this recap of my experience helped you learn some ways to save money on the road so your next RV vacation can be less costly and more fun!