One of the primary motivations for purchasing an RV or motorhome is the ability to take long, leisurely trips in our vast and scenic country. However, for a number of reasons, traveling by RV/motorhome can put a severe strain on your budget. Fortunately, you have lots of options for trimming your potential expenses and getting the most from your travel time. Here are a few money-saving tips to keep in mind before your next great road adventure.
1) Keep Your Vehicle’s Tires Properly Inflated – All vehicle tires are designed to provide their best performance when kept at a certain pressure level. A key aspect of this performance is fuel consumption. When your tires are significantly below their PSI (pounds per square inch) rating, your mileage will decline and your fuel costs will rise. In fact, tires underinflated by just 15% will add about 1.2% to your gas/diesel expenditures. When you factor in the amount of fuel it takes to fill your vehicle and how far you travel on your trip, tire underinflation can potentially add big bucks to your total costs. Fortunately, you can easily take pressure readings with a relatively inexpensive tire gauge. Both traditional models and modern digital models are available at any well-stocked auto parts store.
2) Keep Your Vehicle’s Air Filter Clean – Air filters are another possible source of declining gas/diesel mileage — and rising costs — on your upcoming RV or motorhome trip. After roughly 5,000 miles of travel, a brand-new filter can clog up enough to siphon away roughly 7% of your fuel efficiency. If your large RV gets 13 mpg under optimum conditions, this 7% hit will reduce your mileage by nearly 1 mpg. Over the course of any lengthy journey, such a level of fuel wastage is clearly substantial. Depending on the engine layout of your vehicle, you may find it difficult to access the air filter. However, the savings you receive will almost surely outweigh any temporary inconveniences. If you run into any problems, you can always turn to your local RV maintenance professionals.
3) Calculate Fuel Use Into Your Trip Plans – No matter what you do, your RV fuel costs will add up to a substantial portion of your overall trip expenses. Turn this potential drawback into an asset by calculating fuel use directly into your trip plans. With tools available online, you can easily figure out how much gas/diesel it will take to travel a given route. You can also use online tools to search for relatively cheap fuel sources along your intended path. By integrating these factors into your planning from the very beginning, you greatly reduce the odds that you’ll exceed your budget or make unwise road decisions based on unexpected fuel costs.
4) Know the Condition of Your Vehicle – Before you contemplate any significant travel in your RV/motorhome, you should have a clear picture of your vehicle’s current operating condition. In a worst-case scenario, possession of this knowledge can prevent you from taking a trip that overtaxes your vehicle’s performance capabilities and leads to major repair bills. And even if you generally keep your RV in good condition, it makes sense to get a thorough checkup before you go. Otherwise, you might end up overlooking a critical factor that leads to unexpected (and expensive) incidents out on the road. RV maintenance and repair experts in your area should be able to provide you with a comprehensive review that won’t end up breaking your budget.
5) Pay Special Attention to Your Tires – Even if you hold a membership in a roadside assistance group, blown tires on a long-range RV trip can end up costing you a lot of money. Before you contemplate taking this kind of trip, review the condition of your tires carefully. Be aware that tires suitable for short-range or in-town trips might not hold up to the rigors of the road. If you have any doubts about the suitability of the tires you currently have installed, consult your local maintenance expert. Even if you need to buy a replacement (or multiple replacements), you’ll have much greater chances of limiting your expenses if you take proactive steps while still in the secure confines of your home environment.
6) Save on Parking Expenses – Among their many benefits, RV clubs often offer sizable parking discounts to their members. Besides joining this type of club, there are other steps you can take to shrink the size of your parking bill during your next trip. They include:
- Planning your trip for non-peak times of the year when campgrounds may offer parking discounts
- Parking on public lands (e.g., national forests or parks) whenever possible, and
- Parking at rest areas or certain retail parking lots (including many Walmart stores)