25 Money-Saving Tips

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November 4, 2008

To help our readers in these troubled economic times, all of us were asked to blog about saving money on the road. Here are 25 tips.

Boondocking in the DesertSAVE ON MAINTENANCE

1.     Weigh your RV regularly to make sure it isn’t overloaded and that the load is balanced evenly. Save your transmission and tires. For trailer owners, make sure your tow vehicle Is rated for the load you are towing.

2.     Check the water level in your battery regularly and add more as needed.

3.     Cover your tires when parked in one spot for several days. This protects tires from UV damage. Most RV tires get more wear and damage from sun than driving.

4.     Do preventative maintenance on vehicles as directed in your manual. Keep an accurate calendar with notations for due dates. Save in the long run.

5.     Clean air filter as directed.

6.     Take class in repair so you can do your own. For those jobs you can’t do yourself, you will at least have an idea of what needs to be done (or not done).

7.     Use a checklist when unhitching and hitching up. Many are available. You can customize it for yourselves. Avoid damage to your rig and unnecessary repairs.

8.     Use a surge protector for your computer and appliances. Replacing them or buying critical parts is expensive.

9.     Use an AC voltage monitor that checks polarity. Check your utility pole and keep the monitor in view, particularly when running the AC or microwave. Avoid damage from low or high voltage.


10.   Turn on your gas water heater first thing in the morning and shut it off when the water is hot. Turn it on again only to shower since you should have hot water for the rest of the day.

11.   Turn off the propane at the tank when traveling. Your refrigerator will be fine for at least four hours. At lunch, either turn it back on while you eat to cool things back down, or run your generator as an alternative. You not only save propane, but this is safer too.

12.   Install a catalytic or ceramic heater. (Be sure to have this done professionally to avoid fire danger. This is a critical expense.) It is much more efficient and will use less propane plus it doesn’t run down your battery. Be sure to have a window or vent slightly cracked when you are operating your small heater.

13.   When you are plugged into shore power, use a small electric heater rather than your furnace.

14.   Close off the bedroom during the day and use your electric or catalytic heater to heat only the area you are in.


15.   For motorhome owners who travel with a partner: save fuel by disconnecting your toad and have the other person drive it when ascending long, very steep grades.

16.   Drive at 55 mph. You get better mileage at the lower speed.

17.   Stay in one place longer. This is a good time to consider workamping or volunteering.

18.   Use tow or toad vehicle with better mileage to sightsee


19.   Boondock or camp without hookups now and then. More if you are comfortable.

20.   Work or volunteer. Often you receive a free or reduced-rate RV site when you work in an RV park. You might also be able to do an exchange with an employer: so many hours for a site.

21.   Buy reduced rate camping through a camping club or a membership campground.

22.   Outfit rig with solar panels, batteries and inverter to boondock for longer periods. After your initial investment, you can camp free or inexpensively on many public lands, particularly in the West.

Using a solar oven23.   Stay in Wal-Marts and other blacktop sites for overnight travel. Remember that when you do take advantage of these sites, you are not camping. Do not put out your chairs or barbecues. Always ask permission and buy a little something as a thank-you if you can. Ask them where you can park. It’s usually in an out-of-the-way spot. And never, never dump your gray or black tank.

24.   Rely on less power – Use a percolator to make coffee, use a top-of-the-stove toaster. (Purchase at an RV or Camping store.) Extend your boondocking stay. Turn off the TV and read or write in your journal.

25.   Cook in a solar oven. Take advantage of solar power and use no propane or electricity at all.

These tips are adapted from the free handout, “Tip of the Week: 52 Ways To Save Money Living the RV Lifestyle,” that Jaimie Hall Bruzenak and I wrote as a gift to people who subscribe to our free online newsletter “RV Lifestyles.” Sign up at our Web site to subscribe to the newsletter.

Safe travels,

Alice Zyetz

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