Exploring the Southwestern deserts on the cheap

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October 28, 2011


By Bob Difley

Thursday’s stock market rally–in fact the whole month of October–have been good for investors. However, for most of us buy-and-hold investors, we still have a long way to go to get even, let alone get ahead. Fortunately, as RVers–especially if you are a fulltimer or long-termer like a snowbird–there are ways we can keep expenses down while waiting for our portfolios to recover.

Here are some ideas for keeping expenses in check heading into snowbird season:

  • If you are heading soon for your winter snowbirding roost, take time to plan your trip so that you are able to spend your travel nights without paying for a campground. Get a list of Walmarts, Kmarts, and other stores that permit overnight stays, or plan to arrive every afternoon in public lands where you can camp free. You could save almost enough in campground fees to pay for your fuel.
  • Once in the desert, plan to camp in central locations, like the hub of a wagon wheel, where you can leave your rig by day and explore out the spokes of the wheel with your tow or toad to save fuel.
  • Buy a couple guide books so you don’t have waste time and gas. Mike and Terie Church’s Southwestern Deserts book is among the most informative. And buy a desert places-to-go-and-things-to-see, wildflowers and plants, and birds and wildlife handbooks as well.
  • Unless you particularly like big cities, avoid them for camping destinations. Yes, they have lots of entertainment options, but so does the natural desert–and the city locations will be a lot more expensive.
  • Entertainment that is either cheap or free includes mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, searching for petroglyphs and Native American ruins, birdwatching, wildflower walks, star gazing, visiting historic mining sites, ghosts towns, and cattle ranches, tracking wildlife, and visiting state and national parks.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Drive 55, accelerate slowly, reduce speed by coasting, keep tires properly inflated, and perfect hypermile driving.

Learn to enjoy the desert for what it is, and not just a place to escape the rain and cold. Like everything else, the desert will be much more interesting the more you learn about it.

Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (or the Kindle version), Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (Kindle version), and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar (Kindle version).

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  11. D. Schlagel

    Their books can be purchased on Amazon.com, Half.com, some Walmart stores etc….

  12. Connie

    Where can you purchase Mike and Terie Church’s Southwestern Deserts book?

  13. D. Schlagel

    Just a note…Most churches allow free travel thru overnight parking (not service days)…But please ask permission…We found we were more than welcome.

    Also most county fair locations will also allow overnight parking (not multi-night unless they had facilities for such stays)…For safety reasons we also asked permission with the local police so they were aware that we were there (never a problem)

  14. D. Schlagel

    Casino’s cost my wife (me) more than any Resort RV Park by far. Avoid playing just use the restaurants…Usually good buffet’s.

  15. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Bob,

    Great article and good info.. Thanx…..

  16. Paul LeSage

    I have generally found that, all things considered, Casino camping usually ends up costing more than a 4-star hotel. Don’t let the free shuttle fool you.

  17. julie rea

    casinos also often have free overnight spots. Some provide free shuttle service to the casino, and have good food.