Living full time on the road can save you a lot of money. You can also spend quite a bit if you are not careful. So let’s dive into how to stay frugal while living on the road, shall we?
Preparing your own food and making batch meals is a great way to stay frugal and save money.
The Frugal Foodie
Quite a bit of money can be spent on food. That could be on restaurants, convenience store trips or splurging on special items. Much of this cost can be kept down with a few tweaks to your spending habits. Here are some examples:
- Look for sales, clearance racks or marked down items.
- Keep restaurant and splurge items down to a bare minimum. If you feel like you can cut out the restaurants and fast food all together, go for it!
- When you put gas in your RV or vehicle don’t buy that caffeinated drink and snack cake you didn’t need in the first place.
A frugal way to keep the food costs down is to cook your own food. Make batch meals. A batch meal is a dish made in abundance to last for at least a few days. Batch meals also save money on electric or propane costs.
Also preparing your food in advance helps you to stay frugal on the road. Instead of running into a truck stop for a quick snack or drink you already have them prepped in a cooler. Instead of going to your favorite fast food joint for dinner you already have a batch meal prepared.
Buying in bulk is another way to save money. Dry items like oats or rice are great because they keep in the cupboard for a long time. Same goes for canned goods, peanut butter or even frozen items. You can also apply this to non food items if you have the space.
Boondocking is another way to be frugal on the road.
The Frugal Camper
Another way your money can go down the drain is where you park your RV or camper van. Yes KOA’s, National Parks and campgrounds with amenities are nice, but they can add the cost up quickly. Here are some tips for camping for free or cheap:
- Look into the National Forest. It’s basically free for most of these areas. You will be boondocking so there are no amenities like electric or sewer.
- Don’t forget about BLM land. This stands for Bureau of Land Management. It’s like the National Forest but found mainly on the west side of the United States. Again you will be boondocking, so no perks. Well there’s one frugal perk….. It’s free!
- Check in at the Ranger Station or with Locals. There are some areas in certain states that allow you to camp in their town park. It could be anywhere from a day to 2 weeks.
- Look into National Park/State Passes. The Adventure Pass is one example for your National Parks. This enables you to pay one fee and you can get into all the National Parks for free. Other amenities may not be included. It lasts for a year. Also check with each state you are going to for State Park passes.
Being a tourist can be fun but you may pay a pretty penny if you are not mindful of your spending habits in town.
Next Stop…..Town Day …Frugal Style
After 2 weeks of boondocking on BLM, I am sure you are ready to enjoy your town day. There is the potential to spend quite a bit on these days as well. So let us put our frugal minds into high gear.
Yes, it’s fun doing the tourist thing. Having a tight budget on the road can make it tricky for you to enjoy it to the fullest. Well have no fear because I have some tricks up my sleeve for you:
- Set a budget and stick with it. Stick to the attractions you want to experience the most.
- Stay clear of restaurants, tourist traps and high tourist prices.
- Get to know the town’s parks and other outdoor attractions. An example would be hiking trails in the area.
- THINK FREE. Ask yourself(and maybe the locals) what are the free of cost things to do in the area. There are many attractions such as museums open to the public for you to enjoy. You just have to do a little research beforehand.
Rest Areas are a good overnight sleep spot when you want to keep costs on the road down.
No Need For A Hotel In Between Destinations
You are thinking to yourself while on the road, “Where should I stop for the night?” A hotel, a campground, but those options aren’t really frugal now are they? Here are some ideas for your next road trip to save money:
- Rest Areas. These are on your interstates and main highways. They are perfect for needing to pull over for the night to rest. Then you can get back on the road with a fresh start. Be sure to check with each state and rest area in advance. Some states have more stricter rules and some rest areas may be closed for maintenance.
- Walmart. Another good overnight option. Plus you can do a resupply there if you need to. Key word is need not want. Just make sure to check if whatever walmart you are at allows it. Even check in with management to see if they will allow it for one night.
- Truck Stops. Like the rest areas, it’s a go to for truckers and other travellers. It’s a good stop if it is already late at night and you plan to leave early in the morning. If you are unsure then check with management.
- Casinos. There are many casinos across the US that allow overnight parking. Just make sure not to gamble.
With all these options you want to follow a certain etiquette:
- Don’t pull out your slides.
- Don’t be loud or disturb others.
- Don’t trash the area.
- Don’t overstay your welcome.
These aren’t campsites so don’t treat them as so. That way we can still enjoy these frugal conveniences in the future.
Traveling less will help keep your gas costs down as well as wear and tear on your vehicle or RV.
Travelling Less Equals More Money In Your Pocket
This is a pretty simple concept. The more you travel, the more you will spend. The less you travel, the more you will save in gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, or on last minute buys you don’t need.
So stick to boondocking for 2 weeks at a time if you want to save money on the road.
When you buy products with a long lasting quality you don’t have to keep rebuying a poor quality product.
Buying Quality Helps With Long Term Savings
You may spend more money in the beginning but you will save more in the end. How? Well you don’t have to keep rebuying a poor quality product. Here are some examples that you may want a better quality of:
- Dishware/Cookware-Stick with more natural material for dishware such as wood or glass. When it comes to cookware something made out of cast iron will last you awhile.
- Hiking/Campgear-Whether that be hiking shoes, a tent, or a backpack you want to stick with a good quality brand.
- Clothing/Shoes-When it comes to clothing stick with strong materials such as cotton, denim, flannel or linen. For shoes stick with good reputable brands.
- Tools-Buying a good brand for tools, like Dewalt and Milwaukee, will make a difference in how long it lasts.
Of course, there may be other items you have in mind for quality. Another way for your belongings to last for a long time is to take care of them properly.
Preventative maintenance on your vehicle or RV will save you money in the long run.
Think Preventative Maintenance
I know it can be hard spending all that money on the boring stuff, but better safe than sorry. By keeping up with the maintenance of your vehicle or RV you will lessen your chances of expensive mishaps in the future. Better yet if you have knowledge or skills in this field, do the work yourself. Now that’s the frugal spirit.
Going a more minimalist route can help keep costs down and give you more space.
Other Ideas To Consider……
- Battery Packs-They are not only good for jumpstarting your car but charging devices like tablets, phones, etc. Gooloo Jump Starter Battery Pack has been a good brand for me.
- Solar Panel-This will save you money when it comes to not using electricity at campsites or propane when boondocking. This option is best for people who spend a lot of time where it’s mainly sunny. The Goal Zero Nomad brand has been very reliable for me. If you want something bigger, I would talk to a professional for installment.
- Hand Wash Clothing-If you got the time and don’t mind, this will save you money. The cost of a laundry mat does add up. It doesn’t just take your money but your time as well. A storage bin, some rope and sunshine is all you need. Don’t forget the soap and water.
- Learn How To Sew-That way you can fix your own clothing and other items. Making things last will help save you money.
- Thrift Stores-These places are another way to save money on clothes and other items.
- Go The Minimalist Route-Basically, just have and buy only what you need when you are on the road. This helps save money and space.
See, being frugal is not that hard. You are still able to enjoy your favorite things on the road. By being frugal, you allow yourself to save money. This in return can help you better invest in the stability of your future. It also takes the stress off knowing you have some extra cash for emergencies. So get out there and embrace your frugal side.