When you purchase an RV, one of the biggest advantages is not having to stay in hotels wherever you go. Hotel stays can get quite expensive, so it is a nice relief to be able to travel without adding those hotel nights to your credit card. However, while it is cheaper to park your RV than it is to check into a hotel, it can still be costly. Depending on where you are going and what kind of facility you choose for the night, your camp spot could still take a chunk out of your budget.
In this article, we are going to offer up some ideas for how you can secure cheap, and even free, camping spots.
Hook It Up or Boondock?
The main question you are going to have to ask yourself when setting up for the night is whether you need full hook ups, or are you willing to ‘boondock’ for the night. Boondocking simply means you will be using your RV without the ability to hook up to power, water, or sewer. Obviously, if you desire hook ups, you will have to pay more than if you boondock it. Many boondocking opportunities will be free, while others will have a small cost.
A Free Night on the Road
If you are looking for truly free places to park, you will generally be limited to places where you can just stop for the night. These aren’t going to be official campgrounds with amenities, as nearly every campground you can find will have some type of fee attached. Instead, these will be parking lots outside of businesses which have decided to allow overnight RV parking. Some of the common opportunities for this type of ‘camping’ include Walmart parking lots, Sam’s Club, Costco, many truck stop chains, and more. Of course, you should always ask for permission before you stop for the night.
Moving from the free category into the cheap category, we will instruct you to look for public lands where RV camping is offered. These locations often come in the form of State Parks, National Parks, State Forests, etc. While you aren’t going to find free camping in these places, you should get a relatively reasonable nightly rate. On the downside, these kinds of spots usually fill up fast, so plan ahead of you want to make sure you have a place to stay.
The Top of the Chain
Staying at a private campground is typically going to offer you the most amenities – and it will also come with the highest price tag. These are businesses, and they need to charge enough to make a profit at the end of the month. In exchange for your money, you will get numerous benefits such as internet access, full hook ups, recreational opportunities, and more. These campgrounds certainly don’t fall into the classification of ‘free or cheap’, but they are worth considering from time to time anyway.
Finding the right place to stop your RV for the night comes down to planning ahead and common sense. Simply sleeping in a parking lot will obviously save you money, but that isn’t much of a camping experience. Think about your budget and goals for a trip and then sketch out an itinerary to match.