So, you’ve decided to go on a camping road trip around the USA? Epic! Unfortunately the Australian dollar isn’t as strong against the US dollar as it was two years ago, but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t have a cheap trip.
What is more certain than the fluctuating Australian dollar is that you will have an amazing time driving around the US. Each state is different, with its own landscapes and sites to see. Whether you spend three weeks or three months on your road trip journey, you’re bound to be amazed by what you see.
To make you campervan trip as cheap as you can, so you can save some extra cash to spend at Disneyland or in a bar in Nashville, here are some tips.
Six tips to save you money on your campervan road trip
1. Think out of the box for your campervan hire
If you’re going to be driving around the USA for a few months or more, you might consider buying a van. You can get a people mover vehicle for around $2,500 and take out the seats to lay down your blow up mattress. Hey presto, you have a campervan!
This is certainly a better option than paying $100 or more a day for campervan hire – which can quickly add up and blow out your budget.
If your road trip is going to be too short to justify buying a van, you can think out of the box a little and use a car transfer company. These services, like Transfer Cars US, rent you an RV for as low as $5 a day, as long as you move the RV for them from one point to another. If you are flexible about where you go on your road trip then this might be the option for you.
Another option for transport is to get ride shares around the US. Simply take your swag with you and camp en route.
These ride shares can be organised through Craigslist or other travel forums, but make sure you travel with a friend for safety and turn down any lifts if you don’t feel comfortable.
2. Save money on food
The great thing about travelling around the US in a campervan or an RV is that you can take your kitchen with you. Camping stoves are easy and inexpensive to purchase from places like Walmart, and if you pick up a foldable table and some chairs with it, you can whip up a meal wherever you go.
Some tips for organising your food in the camper is to store spices and dried herbs in old tic-tac containers. This helps reduce the weight of heavy glass bottles and also keeps them tidy.
Purchase a cooler to ensure your food doesn’t get too warm and then fill it up in the ice trays from motels every time you decide to spend the night in accommodation that isn’t your van.
3. Be clever with your campfires
The stereotypical American camping scene involves singing songs around a campfire and if you want to do this frequently on your road trip, the expense can quickly add up thanks to the cost of wood and firelighters.
We’re not sure how you can save money on the wood, but there is a way to cut costs with your firelighters! To save money on these, collect the dryer lint every time you wash your clothes at a laundry mat. Dryer lint is the perfect firelighter, as it burns easily, plus it’s free!
4. Use apps to your advantage
There’s no doubt that the biggest cost for your road trip will be petrol. Although fuel is a lot cheaper in the US than it is in Australia, it will still add up when you’re driving around the country for an extended period of time.
But download some apps and they can help you to cut fuel costs. For example, Gas Buddy will let you know where the cheapest petrol station is in your vicinity, simply by giving the app your postcode.
The app will also help you to predict your fuel costs by giving you the price of how much the fuel will cost you for your planned journey.
You can also track all your expenses so you stay on top of all your holiday spending by downloading an app like Trail Wallet. You simply enter in your monthly budget and input your spending in to the app. It’ll convert it into Australian dollars for you and let you know if you go over budget.
5. Purchase a National Parks pass
If you are visiting the USA’s national parks on your road trip – and you should, because it’ll allow you to see the natural wonders of America – then you should seriously consider getting a National Parks pass.
The pass costs just $80 and allows your car, and its occupants, unlimited entry in to any of the national parks across the USA for a whole year.
Considering that parks cost around $10 – $25 to enter, you only have to visit four or five and you have already saved on your entries.
6. Consider other cheap accommodation options
There might be might be times where you don’t feel like camping – like if you get to the Grand Canyon and there’s an out-of-nowhere snow storm.
If this happens to you, don’t fret, there are still a number of cheap accommodation options out there that you can use.
Couchsurfing and Airbnb are just two options where you can find either a free or cheap place to spend the night. Make sure you read the reviews online to ensure they are good places to stay before you book.
Ready to get on the road!
That’s a rundown of six hot tips to ensure you save money on your USA road trip. We hope you’ve found them useful.
We wish you a happy and safe journey and please feel free to let us know if you have any great tips of your own!