Depending on the part of the country you are from, we think that you will usually find that the fees at campgrounds or RV parks are going to be significantly less than your rent. But that is not always the case!
Where we are originally from in California, the campgrounds are usually $50+, sometimes up to $150 per night! This would add up quickly living on the road!
Luckily there are ways to mitigate even the most expensive campground fees to make your overall “rent” expense a much more manageable expense.
The best, and cheapest option, is boondocking! “What is boondocking?” you ask… Boondocking simply means that you are self contained and camping without being plugged in to electricity, water, or sewer. The term is more often used when referring to camping out in the wilderness, away from campgrounds, cities, and anything resembling civiliation.
There are more than 200 million acres of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) in the country. This is public land that can be used by every citizen living here, for FREE! There are many sites and apps that can help you find these spots. The limit for most of them is 14 days, but still… two free weeks of rent! And if you want, you can simply move from one piece of land to another and live rent free forever! That being said, since these are free, there is a lot less services, usually NONE. Which means you need to be respectful of the land, of your neighbors, and you need to leave no trace!
The less sexy version of this is parking lots. Yes, we mean Walmart, Cabela’s, Bass Pro, Casinos, etc. These are great for those long drives where you just need a place to sleep that you can be moderately confident that you wont get a knock on your door in the middle of the night. These businesses are allowing free parking in hopes that you patronize them. Its not a requirement, but what you should consider a bare minimum is to stay with respect and make sure you are a considerate neighbor. Always call ahead and make sure its ok before you make the drive.
Moving on to paid options, our favorite is Harvest Hosts! (Get 15% off using this link) Harvest Hosts is a membership that costs less than $100 per year and gives you access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, distilleries, etc across the country that will let you stay the night (sometimes two) for free! There is a suggested $20 minimum purchase at the place you stay as your way of saying thank you.
When you need to stay at a real campground or RV park, whether its for location or the need for full hookups, we like to take advantage of our Passport America membership and also our Good Sam discount.
Passport America is another membership site that costs less than $100 per year. By becoming a member you will get to save 50% OFF campsites nation wide in their network!! There are always restrictions and limitations but for less than $100 per year, it pays for itself the first place you end up using it.
Good Sam is also a membership and is accepted almost everywhere! It gives you 10% off your stay. The membership is less than $50 so it also pays for itself VERY quickly.
What tricks or tips do you have to save money while on the road?