RVing on a Budget
by Steven Fletcher
Question: Our RV lifestyle will be a combination of boondocking and getting near to some larger cities. We also would like to spend anywhere from a couple of days to a month at each stop. Our question is what is the most economical way to do this?
Answer: The best way for RV traveling on a budget is to boondock. There are lots of places to boondock even for extended stays. The ones that I'm most familiar with are BLM lands in western Arizona around Quartzsite and Yuma, and southern California at Slab City near Niland. But there are others around the country.
A Google.com search for 'free boondocking areas' will find more places and information for you. Also you may want to find places to dry camp. Easy on the budget overnights can be found in parking lots, relative's driveways and some RV parks or campgrounds that have dry camp areas. These are usually very low cost or free.
Rent varies a lot from RV park to RV park, from region to region and from season to season. RV 'parks' are also referred to as RV 'resorts' and 'campgrounds'. Resorts tend to have more activites for tenants and are more expensive and campgrounds have less and cost less. Those called 'RV parks' will be in the middle somehwere, no doubt. Although these terms are not official this may give you some idea of which one will fit your RV budget.
Amenities in these places can include water, sewer, electric, TV cable, WiFi, and additional recreational activities such as swimming pool, horseshoe court, golf course, and more. Basic overnight or weekly charges usually cover the first five amenities listed above, but that can vary. Additional activities may be free or have a usage charge.
The best way to save money at RV parks is to stay at least a week. Weekly rates are usually less than the total of 7 overnights. A lot of places we've stayed charge for six nights, for the weekly rate and you get the seventh free. If you are not staying more than six nights and you belong to the Good Sam Club and the park is a Good Sam Park you will get a discount usually only good for the first six nights and sometimes for cash customers only.
Monthly rates (usually 28 days) will likely be plus electric, but are more reasonable than four weekly rates.
Many parks offer seasonal or yearly rates that are quite reasonable even if you don't stay a whole 12 month year. Budget minded Snowbirds love these RV Parks.
There are RV parks with full hookups and amenities that charge as little as $800 per year for a site. Again, the ones we're most familiar with are in western Arizona. While there are people who do stay year round, as far as we're concerned Arizona is no place to be in summer so it's really a seasonal fee. But still, even if you stay six months that's pretty cheap living when you are RVing on a budget.
Generally you get what you pay for but not always. When planning a stop in an unfamiliar area ask other RVers for their park recommendations. Also use the internet to find information about RV Parks in the area. Check out parks on the internet and choose one that looks to suit your wishes. Then if you arrive and it looks questionable just sign up for a day or two. If you don't like that park it will give you a chance to find another. You certainly don't want to stay a couple weeks or a month in an RV park you don't like.