In an effort to “social distance” this summer, my family and I decided to cancel our vacation plans to destinations that required flights. While I was searching for nearby, fun alternatives, a friend recommended we rent an RV. I was pleasantly surprised to discover RV rental could be more cost-effective than our usual summer trips. Here are my five tips for saving money on your RV vacation:
1. RV Rental Can Cost Less than Airfare, Hotel Rooms and Dining Out
The average American family of four spends around $4,500 on airfare, hotels, food, and activities costs on a week-long vacation. This works out to about $640 a day. A standard size RV rental varies according to dates and can be anywhere between $50 and $300 a night. To save money, book your rental well in advance and be flexible on your days. Check out the Cruise America Rental Deal page for current offers.
2. Create Your Own Free Activities
You don’t need to purchase expensive museum or amusement park tickets when you can explore the great outdoors for free. Research local hiking trails, bring your bikes, or plan a scavenger hunt for the kids at your campsite. Or choose a destination with a lake or river and pack or tow your own water toys.
3. Look for “Free” Entrance at National Parks
If you have a fourth-grader, the “Every kid Outdoors” program grants fourth graders and their families free entrance into select national parks in the United States. The program was created so families could discover our nation’s wildlife, resources, and history. Check out the everykidoutdoors.gov page for more information. Additionally, more than 400 national parks have several free entrance days available to everyone. See their website for this year’s dates.
4. Bring your dog
Not all hotels allow pets and overnight kennels can cost $35 a day. When you travel in an RV, you can bring Fido for free. Our pets benefit from exercise, fresh air, and sunshine just like us humans. Just remember to pack extra water for your dog too!
5. Prepare Gourmet Meals for Less
There is no need to stick to hamburgers and hot dogs when you’re camping in an RV. While most families spend $130 a day on meals while on vacation, my family spent $50 per day. You can fill up your RV refrigerator and freezer with the ingredients for meals and prep ingredients like pasta and breakfast burritos at home before you hit the road. A Dutch oven over campfire coals makes some amazing meals. On our last trip, we made a tasty North African Chicken Thighs recipe.
North African Chicken Thighs in a Dutch Oven
3 lbs chicken thighs (about 8) 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder, if desired 5 minced garlic cloves
1 cup black olives
1 cup diced fresh mint leaves 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups chicken stock
Heat oil and butter in the Dutch oven. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown them in the dutch oven. Remove chicken thighs.
Add all of the remaining ingredients (except mint) and mix together. Simmer low and add back in the chicken. Add half of the mint. Cover and simmer for about an hour until thighs are throughly cooked. Serve in a pita or on rice. Garnish with the remaining mint.
To find more travel inspiration from Cruise, visit us on Instagram, or if have your Cruise Story you want to share, tag your photos with #BeThereNow for a chance to be featured on our social channels.
Check out more of Nancy McLaughlin’s adventures and travel deals on https://www.facebook.com/groups/165549693482435/ and the travel blog www.GoToTravelgal.com. Nancy departed from Denver, Colorado in our Standard RV.