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Planning an RV Budget

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Images_of_Money

To get the most out of your RV travels, you’ll want to prepare a budget and try your best to stick to it! Some RVers execute a trip with military precision and others simply follow the wind to the next destination. No matter how you travel, one thing’s for sure: if you run out of money you won’t make it very far.

We’ve outlined some general items to consider when planning your budget for your first few RV trips.

  1. Fuel
    Here is a calculation for estimating fuel cost:

    • Miles x Fuel Cost ÷ MPG = cost in fuel
    • Example: 1000 miles x $4 per gallon ÷ 10 mpg = $400 in fuel

    Many RV companies don’t publish their MPG, so you’ll have to do some searching online to find out an approximate number for your rig. If you can’t find numbers online use these general numbers as a guide:

    • 40’ class A: 6-8 MPG
    • 30’ class A: 9-11 MPG
    • 25’ class C: 11-13 MPG
    • Class B: 12-15 MPG


  2. Camping
    Calculate the number of days you’ll be staying at a campground or RV park. Rates vary by state, proximity to attractions, and quality of the park. Save money by living “off the cord” when possible. Here’s an idea of what you might pay:

    • $0-$10 BLM, national forests, rest areas, or city parks
    • $15-$20 County parks, private parks in the “middle of nowhere”
    • $30-$45 State parks, national parks, or private parks near major cities
    • $50-$100 Luxury resorts, on the beach, or near major attractions
  3. Cleaning your RV
    For each month you’re on the road you should wash your RV. A Truck Wash costs $1-2 per foot. If you prefer the do-it-yourself wash, expect to pay $0.25-0.50 per foot.
  4. Food
    We cook-in most nights and reserve only a couple meals out each week. Cooking is a great way to save money and eat healthier. This is our monthly food and drink budget for two:

    • Eating Out: $375 per month
    • Groceries: $300 per month
  5. Phone and Internet
    Cellular devices cost $100-$150 per month for the whole package (Internet, calls, texting, Wi-Fi). You can’t rely on the Internet at campgrounds–the coverage is spotty and the speeds are painfully slow.
  6. Insurance
    Do your research: call the major companies and get a few quotes before paying the premium. You’ll need a quote for the following and maybe more:

    • RV Insurance
    • Tow Car (if you’re pulling one)
    • Life Insurance
    • Renter’s or Home Owner’s Insurance (to cover your belongings at home/in storage)
    • Jewelry Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Rider or Umbrella Insurance to cover your expensive items not attached to your RV (cameras, laptops, etc)
  7. Good Measure
    When planning a budget you should give yourself some leeway for miscellaneous expenses. Some items to consider: propane, pet expenses, electronics, new clothes, car/RV maintenance, RV supplies, etc. Our rule of thumb: take your budget and add another 30%!

During each trip keep a log of your expenses. A simple way to do this is to put every expense on a specific credit or debit card. Once you’ve taken your first few trips add up your costs from your bank statements. Before you know it, you’ll be in control of your traveling finances–now you just have to figure out your next destination!