If you’re a digital nomad who travels in an RV, you’re one of the lucky ones. You have the freedom to work and travel at the same time, exploring new places and meeting new people. However, traveling in an RV can be expensive, and planning your route and budgeting for expenses is crucial to ensure that you can make the most of your nomadic lifestyle. In this post, we’ll explore some practical tips on how to plan out your travel route and budget for expenses such as gas, campgrounds, food, and other necessities.

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Plan Your Route

Before hitting the road, it’s essential to plan out your route. This will help you estimate how much gas you’ll need and how many times you’ll need to stop for fuel. It’s also important to consider the time of year and weather conditions when planning your route. For example, if you’re traveling in the winter, it’s best to avoid areas with heavy snowfall.

When I am planning a route, I open up tabs for my paid membership sites like Thousand Trails, Harvest Hosts etc. as well as sites that will help me find free overnight or boondocking sites.

Here are some tools that can help you plan your route:

Google Maps: This free tool is one of the best for planning your route. It’s user-friendly and provides real-time traffic updates, which can help you avoid congestion and delays.
RoadTrippers: This is a paid tool specifically designed for RVers. It includes features such as campground reviews, fuel stops, and RV-friendly routes. I personally use this one all the time. Click the link for a $5 off coupon.
AllStays Camp and RV: This app provides information on campgrounds, RV parks, and other RV-friendly locations. It also includes reviews from other RVers.

Budget calculation. Smiling mature couple calculating domestic budget while sitting on couch

Budget for Expenses

Budgeting is crucial when traveling in an RV. It’s important to estimate how much you’ll need to spend on gas, campgrounds, food, and other necessities. Here are some tips to help you budget for your expenses:

Gas/Diesel: Estimating the cost of fuel can be tricky, as it depends on the distance you’ll be traveling, the size of your RV, and the price of fuel. A good rule of thumb is to estimate that you’ll get between 8-10 miles per gallon. Use this information to calculate how much fuel you’ll need for your trip and budget accordingly.

There are several ways to save on fuel. The two that I use almost always are Upside and Gas Buddy. First I look on Gas Buddy for the cheapest fuel near me than I check Upside to see If I can get a better deal by going a few miles.

Upside is an app that finds you discounts on fuel, food and more.  I think they are built around the idea that you will get there , buy your fuel and then also buy snacks etc. I have saved as much as 47 cents per gallon on Diesel using Upside. Usually it is only a few cents, but you never know. This is a free program to join. Use my code and you will get 15 cents a gal off your first use.

Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest fuel near you, or on your route. When the Ukraine war started and fuel went nuts, I used Gas Buddy to plan how far I would drive. I looked up the fuel prices a few hundred miles away, then filled up at the cheapest spot. I still use it in conjunction with Upside.

– Campgrounds: The cost of campgrounds varies, depending on the amenities they offer. A basic campground with no hookups can cost around $30 per night, while a full-service campground with electric, water, and sewer hookups can cost upwards of $60 per night. It’s essential to research campgrounds in the areas you’ll be visiting to get an idea of the cost and make sure they’re within your budget. Watch for my blog where I go into details on campgrounds and trip planning.

– Food: It’s easy to overspend on food when traveling, especially if you’re eating out frequently. To save money, consider cooking your meals in your RV. Stock up on groceries before you hit the road, and plan your meals in advance. This will help you avoid the temptation to eat out and save you money in the long run.

– Other Necessities: Other expenses to consider include RV maintenance, insurance, and emergencies. It’s essential to budget for these expenses and create a contingency fund in case of unexpected costs.

Creating a Budget

Once you have an estimate of your expenses, it’s time to create a budget. A budget will help you stay on track and avoid overspending. Here are some tips on how to create a budget:

– Start with fixed expenses: Start by listing your fixed expenses, such as rent, insurance, and RV payment. These expenses are the same every month and won’t change.

– Estimate variable expenses: Next, estimate your variable expenses, such as gas, campgrounds, and food. These expenses will vary from month to month.

– Create a contingency fund: It’s important to create a contingency fund in case of emergencies or unexpected expenses. Aim to save at least 10% of your budget as a contingency fund.

– Track your expenses: Finally, track your expenses to make sure you’re sticking to your budget. Use an app or spreadsheet to track your expenses and adjust your budget as necessary.

In Conclusion

Traveling in an RV as a digital nomad is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it’s important to plan your route and budget for expenses to ensure that you can make the most of your nomadic lifestyle. By estimating your expenses, creating a budget, and creating a contingency fund, you’ll be able to stay on track and avoid overspending. Remember to have fun, explore new places, and share your tips and experiences in the comments section!