If you have been traveling in an RV for a while you know that campground prices can add up, especially when you are on an extended vacation or traveling full-time. Here are some sites and apps that can help with the expense of camping, by providing you with some awesome, yet cheap RV parking options.
Boondockers Welcome is a community of RVers helping other RVers where hosts (private property owners) allow guests (traveling RVers) to stay on their property for free. It’s a great way to meet other RVers and get the opportunity to stay with locals in the area you are traveling to. Here’s a great testimonial from a new member, talking about how Boondockers Welcome helped her save money:
“My boyfriend and I were planning on traveling the July 4th weekend to somewhere in Mississippi. We had made reservations at a campground in Columbus, MS last week for the price of $150 for 3 days. I woke up the morning we were to leave and happened upon this website. I found a place in Preston, MS that looked like a little piece of heaven on earth and perfect for what we wanted (peace, quiet, able to run our dogs, electricity) and decided to risk the $50 membership fee. LITERALLY less than one hour later, our host accepted the request and even called to confirm. The best part was that after chatting we realized that he has family in the same place as I do in Virginia and a relative who is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from our hometown in Virginia.
I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this site! So instead of spending $150 today on lodging, we spent $50! Who could ask for a better July 4th present!” – Submitted July 2020 by member “holleyjacobs”
Good Sam Club
Good Sam Club is another membership-based service in which you can find some great campgrounds at a discount. They seem to have fewer restrictions than Passport America but the discount is a flat 10% rate at participating campgrounds (there are over 2,400 that participate). In addition to saving at campgrounds, you can also save 10% at Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors, plus you can save on gas at Pilot Flying J locations.
You can save up to 50% on campsites by using this service. You do have to pay a yearly fee for Passport America but it’s nominal compared to the great discounts you can get on some really nice campgrounds. You can find some unique campgrounds through this service at great rates. One disadvantage to this service is the restrictions on when you can use your discount. Mainly it’s during peak season and on weekends, but if you’re flexible with your travel plans it’s a great option.
National, State, and Provincial Parks
Campgrounds at National, Provincial, and State Parks are not only beautiful but they are also pretty inexpensive, compared to most commercial campgrounds. Campsites fill up fast though, so do your research and prepare ahead—way ahead! Also, cell signal can be non-existent in a lot of these parks. So, if you work from the road, they may only be good options for the weekend. However, the beauty that surrounds these campgrounds and the ease of getting around the park make these really great options if you want to explore the park.
Harvest Hosts is a great way to combine a unique experience with a safe place to stay. For $79/year you can stay for free at over 1,100 wineries, breweries, farms, and attractions. You can usually only stay one night, and there aren’t generally any hookups, but you can walk away with a pretty cool experience.
There are a lot of great features about iOverlander but possibly the best is the ability to access information on the app without having a cell signal. Not all features will work, but the most important ones like finding a place to park near you still function in dead zones. This app not only helps you find established campgrounds, informal campgrounds, and wild camping locations, it can also show you where you can dump or fill up on propane and water.
iOverlander is user-generated so you can add places you find along the road as well as see reviews from others who visited the locations. Some even include pictures and will tell you if the parking location is big-rig friendly.
This app is similar to iOverlander in that you can find discounted or free camping locations but you do have to pay $9.99 to purchase the app. A nominal fee when you consider the many ways the app helps save you money. AllStays has a robust search feature that you can use to search for free camping by either forest, overnight parking, public lands, rest areas, or Wal-marts among other locations.
There are many other services and apps that provide free and discounted camping options.
What are some of your favorites?