Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cost Cuttin' on the RV Trail

In our last trip to North Carolina and back we’ve seen a disturbing trend start. In traveling the ‘back roads’, we see more and more RV’s for sale. We always see an RV here and there, but lately they seem to be coming in bunches, 2,3,4, in little groups, in towns, along the roads, in shopping centers. The higher cost of fuel must be spurring some people to give up this wonderful form of travel. What I don't understand is that everyone out there on the road seems to be zippin' along as fast or faster than ever. At every fuel stop, the first topic of conversation, the price of fuel! The last time we, in this country had a fuel problem the feds' reduced all the speed limits to 55MPH and if the states didn't comply they were to cut of their federal highway funding for maintenance and new construction. Now I see the State of Utah talking of raising the speed limit on parts of the interstate to 85MPH, at a way guys, that's how we can cut back on skyrocketin' fuel costs. But alas it seems we don't have a shortage problem this time around, from the White House to the oil fields of the middle East, we have a greed problem. do you know how much it costs to fill an automobile tank in Saudi Arabia? About $8, I think around 70 cents a gallon!! OK maybe they are a leader in oil production and don't have to charge their people what their charging the rest of the world. Do you here of Mexico being a world leader in oil production? Last time I checked was 3-4 weeks ago but Unleaded gas was $2.43 a gallon deep in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Last night I saw Unleaded gas posted for $3.99 at one of the traditionally cheaper convenience store chains here in extra sunny, (this time o' the year), Florida. When will it all stop, when the American public finally says they've had enough. I could go on but I'm gettin' off my soapbox now. If you want to save some on your fuel costs, just try what they been spoutin' fer years, slow down a little.

I have mentioned on occasion that we do belong to Passport America and that is for one reason, “SAVINGS”. In these times of continually rising fuel prices if we can offset our RVing costs somewhere, it makes sense. We have been members of Passport America for over 5 years and just renewed for another 5 years. Our first trip out using Passport America we stayed in a park in Nashville, Tennessee for three days. The nightly rate was $36.50, with Passport America we paid $18.25; we saved $54.75. With our first stop on our trip we saved more than the cost of the entire year’s membership, we were sold.

Passport America is one of many ½ price camping organizations out there, but we feel it offers the most bang for your buck. PA has been around for over 15 years and maintains a campground membership at around 1500 parks across the US, Canada & Mexico. That’s more than Happy Camper and three times as many as Camp Club. It comparably is also quite affordable at $44 a year. PA also offers 2, 3, 5 year and lifetime memberships at good prices. As I mentioned we just renewed our membership for 5 years for $179, which figures out to be $35.80 per year. So for the cost of one nights stay in an RV park, we stay all year, all over the country for 50% of the current rate at each participating park. Your membership includes an annually updated directory, a subscription to RV America magazine, free trip routing and a free email address. If you were to compare the three organizations directories you would see lots of duplication, so why not get the most for your money and go with those that have the most RV Parks.

Another route we take to reduce costs is 'Boondockin', Dry campin', camping without the amenities of an RV park or campground. Campin' like it used to be, sort of. I still have my luxuries with me, my Rv with all it comforts, water, bathroom, kitchen, TV, lights etc. We just adjust not having a unending water and electric source.

Electric is supplied by battery, as much of your RV today is still 12v, for other things we use an inverter to power AC appliances. We have a small, 2000W inverter generator that will recharge the battery in as little as one hour, as it has a built-in battery charger and uses very little fuel to do it. Now I'll admit Florida in the summer is not the time to try out boondockin' cause I like my A/C when it's 94 degrees out and that would mean runnin' that little genny all the time, but there are lots of places here in the east that you can still dry camp in the summer cause their night time temps drop to a comfortable range.

Water is supplied by our on board tank and is normally easy to replenish, but water is still used conservatively, ie: 'Navy Showers'. By being conservative in our water use we don't fill our waste tanks to fast. A practice I use is to use a little 'gray' water at night to drown our fire if we have had one.

As for places to stay, there are National Forests in every state, some have campgrounds, at minimal costs. Most have 'dispersed camping' policies, meaning they have areas in the forest that you can pick you out a spot and park an' camp away from any campground. Just a nice spot out in the forest by a lake where it's just you and yours maybe. Also there are probably state forests that allow camping in your area for little or nothing. Most states have Wildlife Management areas with camping areas that are free. As you migrate towards the midwest, you'll find many small cities have campgrounds for free, some with water, some with electric, some with both, lots o' times fer' free. If you look, you will find.

Just some ways to cut RVin' costs so's you can put it in your fuel tank. Till next time.

Hope to see ya down the road as we're Dancin' on the Wind

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