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How To Save Money While Exploring Texas

Over the summer, my family spent a lot of time exploring the enormous state of Texas. We had a great time checking out all the state has to offer, and we learned a lot while doing so.

One unexpected thing we learned was just how affordable this state is. In fact, our Texas travels were some of the most budget-friendly we’ve ever had. For this reason, I highly recommend a trip to Texas for anyone looking to save some money while on the road.

Wondering how you can see Texas on a budget? This is the article for you! Below I’ve compiled a list of all the awesome ways we found to save money during our Texas travels. Knowing these things, you should be able to explore for weeks on end with very little damage to your pocketbook.

Where to stay in Texas

Obviously, you’re going to need places to park your rig while spending time in the Lone Star State. Fortunately, there are plenty of great options all over Texas. Not only that, but many of these options are also very budget-friendly, helping to make your goal to travel on a dime totally feasible.

Head over to CampgroundReviews.com and search the area you’ll be visiting to find reviews and information on all of the RV parks and campgrounds nearby. You can also easily find campgrounds on your route using RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App With GPS.

Here are three ways we saved a small fortune on lodging while in Texas:

Camping in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo via The Wandering RVer on CampgroundReviews.com
1. Boondocking

Boondocking is an amazing way to save money while camping. Since almost all boondocking locations are completely free, you won’t be spending anything on your lodging, leaving you more money for sightseeing.

There are a number of great boondocking opportunities in Texas. Our article on Texas boondocking tells you everything you need to know about these boondocking locations, which are run by Texas Wildlife Management. As long as you are prepared to camp off-the-grid, this is by far the best way to camp on the cheap if you happen to be near one of these Texas Wildlife Management Areas.

2. State Parks Pass

Of course, you won’t always be near a Texas Wildlife Management Area, and in some cases, you might just need hookups for a night or two. This is where Texas state parks come into play. These parks are wonderfully maintained and offer great outdoor activities. Additionally, there are dozens of these parks all over the state (including in some big cities), meaning there is almost always one nearby.

As is the case in most states, Texas state park camping is relatively inexpensive. That said, if you plan to stay in these parks often, you will definitely want to invest in a state park pass, which will save you quite a lot.

3. Thousand Trails Pass

Finally, there is the option of a Thousand Trails Camping Pass. This pass gives you access to all the Thousand Trails parks in a certain area, meaning you could purchase the Southwest zone and have access to all of their parks across Texas. As a Pass Holder, you will be able to camp for free at any of the parks in your zone for up to 14 nights at a time.

Bastrop State Park, Texas. Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikipedia Creative Commons

What to see

Of course, while you’re in Texas, you’re going to want to find things to see and do, and the state certainly does offer a lot of options. That said, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you’ll have to do a little bit of planning beforehand, taking the time to find the freebies and investing in the right memberships and passes.

Here are our top tips for saving on attractions and sightseeing while in Texas:

Freebies

Texas cities offer some of the very best freebies we’ve found. Full-fledged musical productions can be seen free-of-charge in a park in Houston; free musical performances happen often in Austin; free tours of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are available in Fort Worth; and finally, most of the Texas beaches offer free admission.

Seek out these kinds of freebies and take advantage of them. A simple internet search should help you find out what kinds of free events you can enjoy in the areas you’ll be visiting.  

Six Flags Parks

Texas is home to not one, not two, but three awesome Six Flags Parks. This is excellent because it means you can take full advantage of the Six Flags membership option.

Six Flags memberships give you admission to all of the Six Flags theme parks, as well as a number of other perks based on the membership you select. If you plan on traveling near the three Texas-based parks, this membership will easily pay for itself in no time at all.

National Parks

Finally, there are the Texas national parks. Texas has several NPS sites, with the two most notable being Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. By purchasing an “America the Beautiful” pass you can save on admission to both of these parks, as well as the other NPS sites in this state and across the country.

Texas
Big Bend National Park. Photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons
ASTC and NARM Museums

Another awesome membership you will want to purchase is a museum membership that includes both the ASTC and NARM reciprocal programs. There are a number of awesome ASTC and NARM museums in Texas, and with a membership that includes the benefits of these programs, you will receive free admission to all ASTC and NARM museums.

Some of our favorite ASTC museums in Texas include the Houston Children’s Museum, The DoSeum, and Thinkery. As far as NARM museums go, we love Holocaust Museum Houston and the McDonald Observatory.

Saving on fuel

As mentioned before, Texas is a huge state. This means it takes a good amount of fuel to get from point A to point B, especially when pulling a trailer or driving a motorhome. Luckily, gas in Texas tends to be reasonably priced, meaning you should be able to make your fuel budget stretch a little further than it might in other locations.

If you’re looking to make your money go even further, keep an eye out for Buc-ee’s gas stations. We’ve discovered that these enormous fuel stops are far cheaper than others, making them well worth seeking out. They’re also a fun place to stop, giving you an opportunity to shop, grab all sorts of snacks and treats, and stretch your legs.

If there isn’t a Buc-ee’s around, GasBuddy is a very helpful tool. Use it to find the most affordable fuel in your area. You may also want to track and compare your fuel-ups using Fuelly.


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