1. Campground Memberships
We save so much money fulltime RVing with campground memberships and have throughout our time on the road. There are many different memberships including Thousand Trails, RPI, Passport America, Good Sam’s Club, and more! We have had a membership with most of these; however, we mainly use Thousand Trails and it has been a Godsend! If you don’t have one, and would like more information, check out this post to find out more. In the meantime, if you would like to find the cheapest campsites without a membership, use Free Camp Sites to find the cheapest places to stay on your route. Also, if you’d like to boondock for free, check out the app Free RV Campgrounds. You can also check out the Bureau of Land Management website.
2. Science Center and Zoo Memberships
Many people don’t know this; but, if you get a local zoo and science center pass at home, many of them come with reciprocal benefits to other science centers and zoos! The other centers/zoos on the list are either free or have a decent discount to them. We used to get a local membership in our hometown; but, since we weren’t going to the local centers/zoos, we decided to look across the states to find the cheapest one that gave us the most benefits. At the time, it was the science center, The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. We pay $100 annually for a Family Membership which includes 2 adults and up to 6 children under 18 years (this price is accurate as of 5/25/16, please verify after this date). With this membership, we get reciprocal benefits with over 300 other museums, zoos, science centers, along with some aquariums across the country!!! I’m including links to the current reciprocal benefits for zoos (AZA – American Zoo Association) and the science centers (ASTC – Association of Science Technology Centers) below (be aware that these reciprocal benefits change yearly).
(Note: You can check other centers across the United States to see if they are cheaper. Just make sure they have good reciprocal benefits! Something to take into consideration is that it does not include reciprocal membership at any center within 90 miles of your residence – besides the location where you bought it. So, if you plan on being in the area and want to go to the other centers, you may want to take that into consideration. Also, some include free parking so if you plan on going somewhere often, you may want to have your membership there!)
3. Groupon and Living Social
I love finding discounts for things I had already planned on going to anyway! Check out their many deals. Since I look for things to do, that’s what i put in the search, “things to do.” Recently we went on a kayaking/snorkeling tour and the kids surf lessons, discounted thanks to Groupon!
4. Local Deal Sites
5. Bulk Discounts
Get other RVers or homeschoolers together to get a group discount. There have been many times that we wouldn’t have been able to go to the many places we like to go or would have had to choose 1 or 2 if it weren’t for these bulk discounts! For example, The San Diego Zoo is $50 a person so, for my family of four, it would cost $200 (without all the extras). I really wanted to go; but, I couldn’t see spending $200 to go to the zoo! A bunch of us full-time RVers/homeschoolers got together and we only had to pay under $20 a person (with the extras included).
6. America the Beautiful Pass
This is an annual pass that gets you into over 2000 federal recreation sites (national parks and other federal locations). It covers entrance fees, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for all passengers in a personal vehicle (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). This pass is free to disabled, $10 for a lifetime pass for seniors, or $80 a year for most people. If you have a child in 4th grade, you can get a year for free right now!
7. Thrift Stores/Local Discount Stores
Don’t discount local thrift stores and other discount stores. We have found some really nice households supplies for our RV at thrift stores. Just last week we found brand new name brand clothes! We also found a wet suit that can easily run $80+ for only $7 and it looked brand new!
8. Nature and Other Free Stuff To Do
We love finding things to do, especially FREE stuff! We look for gems in the rough, places we can go hiking, see the wonderful wildlife, and more. If you have younger kids, you can look up local playgrounds and parks too! You can also find other free entertainment like festivals, exhibits, shows, tours, or take your own tour of old towns and such! Explore!
This is one of our largest expenses! Always make snacks and meals for the cooler before going on a field trip! I think we have all been caught in the situation where we are out and about and get hungry. A few hours later, we are out a lot of money! It’s so much better to have food made up and stuff to snack on when the need arises!
Use Flying J rewards or Sam’s for gas fuel up. Check out Gas Buddy to watch for gas stations on your route that give you rewards! Or, if you want to be completely economical, do what the Ecowomb does and go with veggie gas!
Those are just 10 of our ways we save money being a full-time RVer on the road. How do you save money?