Monday, June 22, 2015

Traveling in a Camper and Saving Money on Vacation

Our cute, adorable little camper!
We like to travel with our little camper, but our budget squeaks and makes us plan out our traveling so we can have maximum time and fun. That means the trip has to be economically solid. We have a few things we like to do that saves us lots of money when we hit the road. Here are some of the things we do that might work for you!

First, we do not overload our camper or our vehicle. In other words, travel light. The heavier your rig, the more gas you burn. Choose clothes, like jeans, that can be worn more than once before you have to wash them. Remember that, along the way, campgrounds have washing machines. Take less clothes.

Consider what your plans are, how much free time you will have and what you want to do during your free time. Take extra things in accordance with your answers. We use to pack tons of junk with us and it, for the most part, remained untouched. We are much wiser now. If you have a reader, like Nook or Kindle, take that and leave your heavy stack of books at home.

Another way that we save weight is through the food we pack. We pack easy meals to help us reach our destination. We do not, however, take along enough food for the entire trip. My husband likes to say, "There are grocery stores everywhere," meaning that we can buy food when we get there.

A second way we save money on food is just that, we shop at local grocery stores for our food way more often than we eat out. It can cost us an easy $20 to eat out. I can feed us four times using that same money. A fun element of this is that I have found new foods that we have never eaten before and, most of the time, they are a great new addition to our regular diet.

Save money by planning ahead. Buy tickets to places you want to go before you get there. They are often cheaper on the Internet, and, unless you travel with a printer or the tickets are phone or tablet friendly, it will be hard to order them once you leave home. It also guarantees that you will get the tickets to see the things you want to see. (We did this when we went to Anaheim and were able to leave the Titanic display and head straight over to the Medieval Times within moments of when we needed to be there because we did not have to wait in line to purchase our tickets.)

Another way to plan ahead is to make a trip map before you leave, with the understanding that it is not carved in stone (unless you have tickets.) Knowing where you are going allows you to check road conditions ahead of time and can also help you create a map to fall back on if your GPS malfunctions. (Or is mine the only one that does that in big cities?)

Fix your vehicle with a device that will charge your camper batteries while you ride down the road. This allows you to spend nights outside of a campground on some nights. I am sure you have already seen some Walmarts that allow overnight camping. (They even publish a map that has the Walmarts listed.) You can also check with churches-especially of your own donomination-to find out if you can sleep in the parking lot or if a member would allow you to spend the night in their driveway for a nominal fee. Farms are another possibility-but always ask first and be courteous. If your batteries are charged, you won't miss the plug-ins for the night.

The best book you can buy for traveling is The Next Exit we discovered this book several years ago and we tell everyone we can about it. It takes you from one side of the states to another on major highways and tells you exactly what is at each exit and if it is N, S, E or W.When you realize you need gas or food or a campground, pull out the book and find out when the next exit that you need is located. It is faster to use than our GPS!                                                                 *

When preparing to go on our latest jaunt, we decided that one way to save money and get great exercise would be to take our bikes along. (Don't you love our fancy rear bike rack?) Taking a bike along allows you to save on both gas and parking lot expenses. In a bigger city, that can be big money! Having your own bike allows you to save money on bike rentals, too! In some bigger cities, like San Antonio and Chicago, you can even take your bike on the city buses.

We have also found that bigger cities are more expensive, so we camp close enough to count but not to close to pay big money. For example, when we wanted to go to San Diego, we stayed in a little town about 15 minutes away. Our costs were almost half of what we would have paid in the city and we still had a great time at the beach.

Groupon actually has a travel site that lists campgrounds as well as other places you might like to visit when you are on vacation. It costs nothing to sign up and who knows how much you may be able to save.

*This is an affiliate link. If you click and buy it, I will make money. Even if you go to Amazon and buy it another way, I hope you will check it out. We are on our fourth copy and always give our old ones away. That is how much we love it-we just can't throw old copies away.

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