After Ryan and I made the decision to go on the road for a month in 2013, I started to think of some ways to save money during the trip. I will add to this list as we come up with new ideas.
- Create (and stick to) a budget for gas, food, accommodations. Since we are not familiar with every single expense of living on the road, this will be a great opportunity to test the waters and see exactly how much money we need to make each month. At the very least, we should be able to budget our food and entertainment budgets.
- No restaurants (unless there is money in the budget). We will prepare and eat all meals at the campground.
- Buy fresh, local food. We are thinking that this trip will happen in the summer. So Farmer’s Markets should be abundant. It’s a cheap way to purchase high quality food (while supporting local farmers).
- Plan meals with ingredients that can be used for more than one meal. Since RV kitchens lack a lot of storage space, it’s going to be important to maximize our food supply. I plan on buying food ingredients that can be used for more than one dish.
- Visit as many National/State Parks as possible. With the “America the Beautiful” National Park and Recreational Land Pass, you can get into over 2,000 federal recreation sites for only $80/yr. A pass covers entrance and standard amenity fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free. More information. Many national parks offer free/cheap educational programs that are perfect for entertaining the family.
- Utilize libraries/book stores. While many libraries may frown upon loaning books to travelers, we should at least be able to go in and read books on site. The same applies to bookstores such as Barnes and Noble. Also, most libraries (and some bookstores) offer free story times or other fun activities for the kids.
- Campground memberships. There are many membership programs out there for discounted extended camping. This is something that I am going to be researching in greater detail, so stay tuned for a separate blog post addressing the differences in membership options.
- Give up unnecessary vanity items. Since we are planning on going from campground to campground, I can’t really think of a reason why I need to travel with makeup (except for the fact that our vacation photos would look much more pleasant if I wore it!) I also plan to leave behind the big, bulky hairdryer and other hair accessories. I will have to make due with a brush and some hair ties.
- Find cheap, long lasting alternatives for every day products. To save money (and space), I plan to trade in my shampoo and conditioner bottles and use a shampoo bar instead. It’s eco-friendly, can be used by the whole family, and has the potential to save money in the long run (depending on our usage). It’s also small and very easy to store. I plan to research a few brands and try it out before we leave.