Traveling by motorhome can be a great way to save money. It’s true that you have to buy or rent an RV and pay associated expenses, including camp fees, but in return, you save on hotel and restaurant costs. Here are some resources for finding inexpensive RV campgrounds and parking spots.
Low cost RV camps
Escapees RV Club costs $ 39.95 per year. Escape members can choose from nearly 1,000 RV parks that have agreed to provide at least 15% off their regular rates. The club’s online message boards are extremely informative. As a member, you can join local SKP chapters (“Es-cape-ee”) and attend Escapades, which are five-day events with activities, presentations and entertainment. Escapees also operates 19 trailer parks for full-time residents.
The National Park Service Senior Pass, which costs just $ 20 ($ 30 if purchased online), gives park visitors 62 and older free entry to U.S. national parks and parks. federal recreation lands for one year. A lifetime pass costs $ 80 ($ 90 online). Pass holders can bring up to three guests to sites that charge admission fees per person. Pass holders also get a 50% discount on camping, boat launch and swimming fees within select parks. National park lovers under the age of 62 can purchase annual admission passes for $ 80 per year.
These passes do not include camping discounts.
US military recreational vehicle parks are open to active duty service members, retired military personnel, and their immediate families. Many also accept reservists, members of the National Guard, and civilian employees of the Department of Defense. Nightly rates for RV pads range from $ 20 to $ 50 per day. Many military camps require advance reservations. Facilities vary, but information can be found on the Army’s Paths Across America website. The website lists the details of each campground and provides links to websites for military bases with RV pads.
Since most military camps are on the base, you will need your military identification card, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance to use them.
Passport America is another discounted RV club. A one-year membership costs $ 44. In exchange, members receive 50% discounts at participating campgrounds and RV parks in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Benefits vary by RV park; some offer the discount at any time, while others only offer PA discounts on weekdays or limit members to a discounted stay of one night per month.
The Boondocking option
Boondocking is the practice of dry camping or parking your RV in an unconnected space, usually at a Wal-Mart, casino, or truck stop. It’s free and you can do your shopping at Wal-Mart while you’re there. You are expected to move on after one night. Boondocking is somewhat controversial; Some RV owners, and RV park owners, feel that blocking the land deprives RV parks of much-needed revenue. Others argue that they don’t need hookups and pools for an overnight stay, and that dry camping in a parking lot works well for them at times.
Some cities have banned boondocking entirely.
If you choose to join the ranks of the boondockers, be aware that many Wal-Marts do not allow overnight camping. It is always best to call ahead. Some Wal-Marts (and, obviously, truck stops) allow truckers to park overnight, so your boarding experience could include the noise of diesel engines.
FreeCampgrounds.com offers tips for boondockers. The site does not provide camp listings, but does include links to free resources for RV camping, as well as helpful tips for boondockers. The website also offers a helpful list of Wal-Marts that do not allow overnight RV parking.
Many US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sites will allow “boondocking” for short periods. Be sure to obey signs (especially those that say “no camping overnight”) and stay on established roads. Some sites have been closed for camping because previous campers left trash and destroyed wilderness areas. Do your part and leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.
CasinoCamper.com provides information about transferring in casino parking lots and about dry camp in general. You can search listings by state to find casinos that allow overnight RV parking. RV campers have contributed information to this website and given their personal opinions on every aspect of casino camp, from safety to amenities. You’ll also find information on casino games, just in case.
Boondockers Welcome offers members the opportunity to dry camp for free at other members’ homes. Membership is $ 30 per year, less if you offer to host other RVers on your property.
Harvest Hosts, another membership organization, connects members with vineyard, orchard and farm owners who have free space to share. In return, members are asked to make a small purchase at their host’s gift shop or farm stall. Various membership plans are available; a one-year membership costs $ 49.