Fulltime RV travel with kids can be a very rewarding lifestyle. You get to spend a lot of quality, family time together, probably more so than you would while living a traditional lifestyle.
And, you get to see places and have experiences that you might not ever get the chance to do unless you were traveling fulltime. While exploring new places with the kids is a highlight of this lifestyle, it can be pricey if you let it.
With trips to National Parks, excursions to local tourist attractions, and meals out, the “fun” budget can get eaten up very quickly. But, don’t let the fear of spending too much money keep you and your family from enjoying life on the road. There are several ways to save a buck or two. Here are ten budget-friendly tips for RVing fulltime with kids.
1. National & State Parks Passes
National and State Parks can be pricey. One day at one National Park can cost you up to $50! If you plan on visiting even two National Parks in a year, spend $80 for the America the Beautiful Pass. This pass gives you access to more than 2,00 federal recreation sites nationwide!
It gives you free admission to National Parks, National Forests, BLM land, and more. Going to be in one state for an extended period of time? Get the annual state park pass vs. the one-day use ticket to save money while in that state!
Visiting National Parks with the kids. All photos by Boundless Bakers
Visiting libraries while you travel is a great way to spend the day without breaking the bank. If you have younger children, participate in the library’s storytime for learning and fun. If your older children are homeschooled, the library makes for a fun, educational field trip. If you are interested in taking books back to your rig, many libraries offer a visitor’s library card for as little as $5!
Take the kids to the library while you’re traveling
3. ASTC Travel Passport Program
If your family enjoys going to museums while traveling fulltime, this passport program can help you save hundreds of dollars each year. The next time you are at a museum, see if they are a member of the Association of Science Technologies Centers. If so, buy a membership there, and you get free or discounted access to all participating museums!
There are more than 350 museums across the country that participate. From the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, you could visit them all for free after becoming a Passport Program member!
Checking out local parks is a wonderful way to see the heart of an area. They usually provide a playground for the kids, an open field for playing ball, and a quiet place for relaxing. The whole family can spend time enjoying a park while spending no money whatsoever!
Playing at the park
5. Plan ahead
If you know there is a place you’d like to visit while traveling, look ahead to see if they offer any discounts. Many times, attractions will offer discounted admission if you enter before or after a certain time of day. Or they may offer a free day once a month that just so happens to be when you are in town!
When you visit a destination during its busy time of year, expect to pay top dollar. On the other hand, if you visit during the slow season, expect to get the most for your money.
For example, tickets to Disneyland will be cheaper in the fall. Off-season also means there will be less congestion. When most kids head back to school during fall weekdays, lines will be much shorter.
7. Groceries & gas
It’s no surprise that buying groceries is cheaper than eating out. So, when heading out on an adventure with the family, make sure to stock up with plenty of snacks and pack a lunch. There is no reason to spend $15 (per person) on a sandwich at the food court when you can bring your own meal and eat it right there!
So, you know buying groceries can save you money on food, but did you know it can also save you money on gas? Sign up for reward cards at grocery stores that work with gas stations and offer full points. Every dollar you spend can turn into cents off the gallon next time you fill up!
8. Thrift stores
Fulltime RVing kids can be rough on clothes. Spending a lot of time outside means dirty and ripped up shirts and pants. Save money on clothing by shopping at thrift stores as you travel.
Many times, you can find gently used, high-quality items at a fraction of the price you’d pay for new. There is no sense in paying for brand new clothes that kids are going beat up or grow out of before you know it.
9. RV park memberships
If you plan on staying at RV parks even a little vs. boondocking 365 nights out of the year, an RV park membership can save you a ton of money in the long run. Especially in more expensive areas such as California, where parks can close to $100/night, even a few days or weeks can pay for the park membership. A Thousand Trail’s Zone Pass would be ideal for more expensive areas of the country.
Boondocking with kids