Camping in your Airstream can be one of the most life-changing experiences you can have. It's a lifestyle where each trip makes you want to explore more. But hitting the road comes with the necessity of securing campsites near the places you want to travel – and the requirement to fill your vehicle with the fuel it needs to get you there. After enough journeys, the cost of camping can start to add up.
By planning ahead and having a few tricks up your sleeve, you can save money on gas and campsites. Here are a few tips we've gleaned from Airstreamers across the country about how to stretch your camping budget without missing out on the most epic of adventures.
How To Save Money On Gas While On A Road Trip
Save money on gas during your next Airstream road trip with these tips:
Drive slowly. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Speeding increases fuel consumption and decreases fuel economy as a result of tire rolling resistance and air resistance.” In other words, the higher your speed, the lower your fuel efficiency. Maintaining a lower speed has the added benefit of increased safety and awareness of traffic around you. It's also much more relaxing. Find your perfect speed and let the traffic move around you. You'll find yourself enjoying the trip more – and you'll arrive at your destination more rested and relaxed.
Track gas prices using a gas app. While there are dozens on the market to choose from, Gas Buddy is favored by many of the Airstreamers we spoke with. It's a robust resource that offers gas price tracking on the road, a trip cost calculator, and more.
Consider a travel credit card that offers RV perks to earn points or cash back for your gas and campsite expenses.
How To Save Money On Campsites
There are many creative ways you can save on campsite costs when camping with your Airstream travel trailer or touring coach. Here are a few to help you stretch your budget:
Plan Ahead. Avoid peak season dates when choosing when to camp. Not only will the prices be higher, it will be more crowded.
Join an RV Club. RV Clubs provide discounts by offering a network of campgrounds with free or reduced costs if you are a member. Considering the cost of a nightly campsite, the cost of membership is usually recouped within just a few stays. Here are several well-known RV clubs you might consider:
Utilize Courtesty Parking through the Airstream Club International. The world's longest-running single-branded RV club offers a directory of members who open their property and driveways to other club members who need a quick place to stop for the night. You'll not only get a safe spot to rest for the night, but you'll make new friends and discover the joy inherent in the Airstream community. Keep in mind that new Airstream owners receive a one-year Airstream Club Explorer Membership with the purchase of every new Airstream travel trailer and touring coach.
Look into state park camping passes. For example, New Mexico offers nightly discounts on camping fees with the pass.
Take advantage of multi-night stay discounts. Many campsites offer a discount if you stay more than 2 or 3 nights, with some deeper discounts if you stay a couple of weeks or even a full month.
Where Can I Find Free Campsites?
Boondocking (camping without hookups): If you are OK going without water and electric hookups, this is a great way to camp for free. You can boondock (also called dispersed camping) for free on public land including National Parks, national forests, national monuments, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. While free, some locations do require a backcountry or campfire permit, so be sure to do research ahead of time.
Business and Restaurant Parking Lots: Establishments like WalMart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, and even casinos offer great lighting (and in some cases 24/7 security). RV parking varies from city to city, so it’s always a good idea to call ahead of time to confirm availability.
Truck Stops: Flying J and Pilot are two well-known truck stops that offer RV parking and free dump stations. If you want to pay a small fee, many also have showers, laundry facilities, and electric hookups.
VFW: If you are a veteran, you can contact a local VFW to ask for permission to camp in the parking lot of a VFW for the night.
Churches: Many churches have large parking lots and are willing to let RVs stay for a night. Always ask for permission ahead of time and as with any place you stay, be considerate and respect their property.
One of the best ways to make the most of your Airstream adventures is to join the Airstream Club International. You'll meet new friends, learn valuable tips and tricks, and discover new fun every time you hit the road. Learn more about how new owners receive a one-year Explorer Membership in the club.