When you’re planning your campervan road trip from state to state or around the country, probably the first thing you would be considering is the budget that you would have to work with. You have to consider the average costs of an American road trip and conclude the duration of your road trip based on your budget. Obvious to state, the more you want to see the more you would have to spend.
Research and planning are probably going to be what makes or breaks your road trip. If you have a good plan in place, you are sure to have a good time. Not just that, but the better of a plan you have, the more likely you are to stay within your budget. This is why planning is so important when you are trying to road trip, especially when on a budget.
There are various things that you would have to consider when planning a campervan road trip. Firstly, you would have to map out the locations you would like to visit. Once you know how long the duration of your road trip will be, the easier it will become for you to consider the costs involved. You then have to work out the details of getting a hold of the campervan that is going to take you around the country. You have to consider whether to buy a campervan, which could be a rather big investment or simply rent it, which is more affordable and practical. Once you have considered the duration of the trip and the actual campervan, the next thing to think about is the daily costs involved, so you have a rough idea of what to expect by way of costs.
Though planning a campervan road trip may become daunting for some, it is truly an enjoyable activity. In fact, you are likely to enjoy the planning stage of your trip as much as the actual trip. It is where you make all the detailed picks about the trip such as the choice of destinations and of course, the choosing of the ideal campervan.
Costs of a campervan road trip will vary based on where you are looking to travel. However, we will work to provide you with the average costs of a trip; what you should expect to budget and explain where you would be looking to spend money.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Campervan?
When you consider renting a campervan, there are various things that you have to consider besides the level of comfort it offers. Campervans are a type of RV (Recreational Vehicle). To better understand the costs of renting a campervan, we will compare it to the costs of renting a Class A RV.
A campervan will cost you anything between $75 to $150 a night. This only included the cost of renting the campervan and doesn’t include anything else. Hence if you are planning a 10-day road trip, you should budget around $750 to $1,500 for the cost of renting the campervan itself.
This is rather affordable when you compare the cost of renting a campervan to a Class A RV. A Class A RV will cost you anything between $175 to $275 a night. That being the case, a Class A RV usually offers a greater level of comfort. There is more space in the vehicle and is better suited for bigger families. Hence, though this article is limited by definition to campervans, we do recommend RVs as a viable option, since both are more or less the same thing.
That being the case, the cost of renting a campervan depends on where you are renting it from. For instance, if you stick to a normal rental company like Cruise America, the prices go much higher at about $250 a night. Hence it is important that you do your research and find the best deal on the campervan.
We’ve provided you with an excellent source for budget campervan rentals, which you will find in the later stages of this article.
There are a few things worth remembering when you are renting your campervan. Firstly the mileage limit. Though it’s easy to find a rental that offers unlimited mileage, you may come across a deal that has a restricted number of miles. If this is the case, you would find yourself being charged extra for the additional miles driven. This is why planning is so important, because if you are on a restricted plan as such, you have to ensure that you are only covering a certain number of miles on your trip, otherwise you are looking to pay anywhere between $0.25 to $0.75 per miles over the allowance.
Then there is the hidden cost for cleanup. Normally, if you clean your campervan yourself before you return it to the rental, you won’t really be charged for this. However, if you do return a dirty, unwashed campervan, the rental could charge you anywhere between $150 to $200 for the cleaning services involved. You also have to make sure that the campervan’s gas tank is filled up. Most rentals expect a full tank when the campervan is being returned and would charge you for the filling costs. Not just that, they’ll add on another $20 to $50 for the costs of driving to the filling station to fill the campervan. Hence, be sure to sidestep these hidden costs when you are renting your motorhome.
Coupled with a refundable security deposit of about $500 which is refunded at the end of your trip, you may also be inclined to purchase rental insurance to cover your trip, including roadside assistance. This way, if something breaks on your trip, the insurance will cover the damages involved. In general, rental insurance can cost you between $15 to $30 a day.
How Much Does a Campervan Road Trip Cost?
If you are looking to cover some major ground and road trip the entire year in a campervan or RV, then you would be looking to spend around $24,000 for the entire year; this does not include the cost of renting or owning a vehicle. This breaks down to roughly about $2,000 a month shared between two people.
The major costs involved when planning a road trip in a campervan is the cost of gas, which can amount to around $7,000 a year depending on where you want to go. That roughly amounts to about $585 for gas per month.
The added costs of groceries are also something that you have to consider when working out an average cost. On average, a couple could see themselves spending around $250 a month on groceries. However, if you are travelling as a family, the cost of groceries would be slightly higher. I’m sure you have a rough idea as to what to expect with regards to the costs of groceries when the numbers multiply.
Coupled with this, there will be eating out opportunities, which will amount to very little, about $50 per month since you aren’t really looking to fine dine during your road trip. A heavier weight on the other hand would be the campground costs, which would amount to roughly $250 a month. This again depends on where you are looking to set camp. There are plenty of free camping spots that you can find, and ‘Campendium’ has a great article on ‘How to Find Free RV Camping in the United States.‘ Have a read!
Daily Costs of Vanlife
Despite the fact that we covered some of the general costs of a campervan road trip, we thought it would be beneficial for you to have a list of daily costs, so you have a better idea with regards to how much you would be looking to spend per day, especially if you are looking to rent a vehicle. The costs quoted are for a couple.
|Rent of Campervan
|Gas and Maintenance
|Water, Ice and Propane
|Shower and WiFi
How Much Cheaper is a Campervan to a Hotel?
A two week trip for a family of four at a hotel would cost roughly $4,900. In comparison to this, a two-week road trip for a family of four will cost about $2,884. On a campervan road trip, you are looking to save around $2,016.
After noticing the costs involved in living in a campervan, you may come to the conclusion that it’s just easier to stay at a hotel. Well, the primary advantage of going on a road trip in a campervan is, you can travel and sleep in the same vehicle. Sure, unless you go for a Class A RV, you can’t really expect a great deal of luxury, however, it comes with the perks of being an amazing experience varied to simply staying at a hotel.
After looking at our average cost per day, which comes to about $186, you may simply come to the realisation that you could rent a hotel room for $100, pay $30 on food, go out with $40 and still have some money to spare. This is true, going on a road trip in a campervan isn’t as cheap as you may have anticipated at first. In fact, RV road trips can run up quite the bill. However, the difference in costs come into play when you consider the costs of travel. If you are staying in a hotel, you still have to either drive there, pay for gas or you may even have to fly and take a taxi or two. These costs add up quite fast. If you are driving a vehicle, then you would look to spend quite a bit on eating out, which you won’t be spending if you are travelling on a campervan.
Hence when you are comparing the costs of staying at a hotel to a campervan road trip, you can expect to save quite a bit of money.
Budget Tips For the Ideal Campervan Road Trip
There are various things that you can do to save some money during your campervan road trip. Besides finding a suitable campervan for your travels that fits into your budget, there are a few things that you can do to make the trip more budget-friendly. Here is our list of budget tips for an ideal campervan road trip.
1. Find Free or Low-Cost Campgrounds
As mentioned prior, there are some great resources on the internet that can lead you towards free and low-cost camping spots in the US. Campendium.com as mentioned above has some valuable resources that work to help you find cost-friendly campgrounds.
You could find yourself in a small city park or remote federal land, with some of these locations having water and electricity access. Boondocking.org also helps you find free camping areas, but usually do not offer amenities such as water and electricity. However, this is a great way to bring your accommodation costs to zero.
When you are looking for free campgrounds, you have to make sure that the place is meant for that purpose. You don’t want to find yourself being towed at 2 in the morning, because you parked your vehicle in a place not designated for overnight camping. Be sure to check beforehand, if the campsite is suited for overnight camping.
Another great resource for finding free campsites is freecampsites.net. Regardless of where your travels take you, you could find yourself in some lovely campsites, which are not only tranquil and beautiful but are also free. Aren’t the best things in life free?
2. Become a Member of a Savings Club
There are various savings clubs such as GoodSam and Passport America that offers their members great saving opportunities when on the road. With a wide range of cost-saving benefits, these clubs have RV options that can help you save on rental insurance and some great roadside assistance packages.
Though it would require some research to find the savings club that works best for you, you would see yourself spending a lot less as a member of these savings clubs. They offer discounts on fuel, which is a major cost as you may have noted. They also offer some great coupons for various popular attractions.
A savings club can be a great way to save a little money on your travels.
3. Pick the Right Entertainment
When considering entertainment on your road trip, whether it is visiting a museum or a zoo, you want to make sure you are getting the best deal. In fact, some of these places offer free entry based on the time of the year. Hence, do your research beforehand, and find the places you want to visit. Not only do you get a better idea of where you would be looking to spend money, but you would also have a travel plan for your trip.
When choosing RV sites or campgrounds, try to find places with the most to offer; be it nature walks, pools, waterfalls, playgrounds or zip-lines. There are some amazing campgrounds that offer a great number of activities to make your time more enjoyable, hence be sure to do your research and find the best campgrounds for your trip.
4. Fill Up Your Refrigerator
Fill up your refrigerator before you start on your trip. This will prevent you from eating out, spending even more money on the road. Eating out isn’t something that you have to necessarily stay away from. However, the fun in being on the road in a campervan is being able to cook and provide for yourself. Hence make the most out of this and load up your refrigerator whenever necessary.
Depending on where you are travelling, you will find easy access to groceries and food. When you find the chance to stock up, stock up the fridge. If you find yourself going on a remote drive, it is advisable to have plenty of food stocked up. Otherwise, you could be looking to drive hours to the nearest grocery store to buy groceries.
To make things easier, you can even make some freezer meals and stick them in the refrigerator. This way, when you get hungry and you don’t have time to cook, you can heat up a frozen meal and you are good to go.
Make sure to buy in bulk, because you will save a lot more. If you follow this correctly, not only will you be well fed to your location, but you will have everything you need for when you arrive.
5. Enjoy the Drive
You know what they say, speed kills. Hence be careful when you are on the road and make sure to enjoy the drive as opposed to rushing to your destination.
Not only is driving at a slower pace safer but it’s also considered wiser for the pocket. This is because, when you keep your speed down on the campervan or RV, you actually burn less fuel. As you may have noted, fuel is probably one of the biggest costs on your trip. By simply decreasing your speed from 70 km/h to 60 km/h, you stand to increase your mileage by 1 to 2 miles per gallon. This can quickly add up when you are on a long trip.
Hence do yourself a favour, enjoy the drive and take it slow. Not only will you be more careful on the road, but you will also be saving yourself some money.
6. Keep an Eye Out for Discounts
When you’re on the road, you would be surprised at how often you come across discounts. Be it food, attractions or simply buying souvenirs, there are discounts everywhere. You just have to keep an eye out for them and find them.
For instance, when you consider attractions, you could find yourself saving some money by simply using their online services to book the attraction. There are parks which offer specials such as ‘stay 3 nights and the 4th night is on us.’ Make use of these offers.
When we say you have to keep an eye out for these discounts, we mean you have to politely ask places if they have any specials or discounts. They don’t usually dish out the information on discounts and specials, hence if you want to make use of this tip, you have to make sure to ask.
7. Book Your Campervan Online
When it comes to finding your ideal campervan, the best place you can turn to is the internet. For instance, Outdoorsy makes finding a campervan a breeze. There is a wide ranger of options that you can browse in a matter of seconds.
You can book the campervan for the exact dates that you are looking to travel in and will actually end up saving quite a bit of money. As mentioned prior, rental services often charge you much higher prices for campervan rentals as opposed to sites like this. Hence, make use of the services that are on offer. You can search for a campervan based on your budget and save yourself the hassles of finding the right campervan for your trip.
8. Consider Off-Peak Travel
Though you may want to travel during the summer when the weather is favourable, you do stand to save a fair bit of money if you are travelling off-peak season. Not only are rental costs lower during this time of the year, but campground costs also come down.
Just skip the summer and try to plan your trip for the spring, fall or even winter. If you know where you are going, you will not only sidestep the crowds which usually follow during peak season but get some great deals on attractions on your road trip.
Though this may not be feasible for everyone, or simply isn’t for those who simply want to travel during summer, it is something you should consider, especially if you are on a tight budget.
9. If You’re Booking Campground, Book Ahead of Time
Unless you find a great free campground from the various sources we provided you with, you would have to pay for a campground. Now we know what you’re thinking, try all the free campsites in the area and if you don’t find anything, then drive towards the closest campground.
However, this is simply not practical. You have to know beforehand where you would be camping. If you are planning on camping at a free campsite, that is great, but if you don’t find a viable free option, you would have to go for the next best thing. When it comes to booking these campgrounds, though you would love to be spontaneous and book when you arrive, you would find it rather stressful when you arrive to find that these sites are fully booked.
Hence do the wise thing and book your campgrounds beforehand. Plan out your trip as well as possible, that way, not only will you have a pleasant road trip, but you will save yourself the headaches of expecting the unexpected.
Best Budget Campervans for Rent in the USA
When looking for the right campervan for your road trip, one of the constraints that you would have is the budget. Hence it is important to find the best campervan for the best price.
When you are searching for the right campervan for your road trip, we do recommend that you look through the internet to find the best deals that are out there. From our search through the interweb, we managed to source Outdoorsy, as the most reliable source for finding a budget-friendly campervan. They have a great selection of campervans to choose from and you can filter your results based on the price range that you are looking to rent in.
Even if you aren’t looking for a budget campervan, you would find some great options on Outdoorsy. If you are not tied down by a budget and would like some direction on the best campervans for a long trip, we do recommend that you read this article by Camper Report, ‘Best Camper Vans For Long Road Trips‘
Can You Park a Campervan Anywhere in the USA?
You most certainly cannot park a campervan anywhere in the US. When it comes to private roads, you aren’t allowed to camp in those premises without the permission of the owner. You cannot park overnight in day-use state or country parks. When it comes to parking, it is advisable to only park in designated campgrounds that are meant for the purposes of parking motorhomes. Otherwise, you risk the chance of being towed.
When it comes to going on a campervan road trip, make sure to do the necessary planning and ensure that you reach your designated campground before you stop for the night. Otherwise, the only option you would have is to keep driving overnight and find a parking spot somewhere where can rest during the day. You can park in dispersed areas, however, you still run the risk of being towed.
We do not recommend that you park your campervan anywhere and everywhere and hope you do take the task of planning out your trip seriously. If you are having difficulty planning out your trip, we do recommend RV Trip Wizard which offers some great direction and guidance in planning your road trip.
Plan a Campervan Roadtrip
Having read this word to word, we are sure you have a good idea with regards to the costs involved in planning out a campervan road trip. With the amount of dedication that you have shown in reading this word to word, we know that you really do want to go on that campervan trip and we do hope that we provided you with ample information and resources to help you get started.
If you’ve already started planning your campervan road trip, that’s great! However, if you are still not sure, we hope you do find the means to make this road trip a reality. It can be an exceptionally rewarding experience, something you would cherish for the years to come.
After understanding the costs involved, so long as everything fits into your budget, it’s time to bring that map out and actually draw out the drive that you are planning on taking. Once there, we recommend that you search for the best campgrounds along the way and consider what you would be doing on your road trip. Once that is done, the only thing left for you to do is find that awesome campervan and book it for the duration of your road trip. That is all you would have to do. We know that it may sound daunting at first, but after having read this word to word, we hope you find it an easier task to accomplish.
With everything said and we hope we provided you with a good resource to rely upon to make that dream road trip a reality!