Accurately estimate the cost of an entire RV vacation using our popular RV Trip Cost Calculator.
We also share useful tips for creating an RV trip budget and highlight ways to save money.
RV Trip Cost Calculator
Tips for Using the RV Trip Cost Calculator
- Accurately Figure Distance: Start by accurately inputting the distance you plan to cover on your trip. The more precise the distance, the more accurate the overall cost calculation will be.
- Know Your RV or Tow Vehicle MPG: Manufacturer specs don’t account for added weight being carried or towed, so we recommend calculating it manually by using our Gas & Mileage Tracker to get a more accurate MPG. A more accurate MPG equals a more accurate trip cost estimate.
- Fuel Price: While inputting the national average price per gallon of gas is a good start, checking prices along several stops in your route and averaging those prices will give the most accurate average. You can use an app like Gas Buddy to view gas prices along your planned route.
- Consider All Costs: Don’t overlook any potential costs. This calculator allows you to consider various costs, including campsite fees, propane, laundry, firewood, groceries, restaurant costs, entertainment, tolls, and other miscellaneous expenses. But, we recommend looking through receipts and credit card charges of past trips to accurately account for your typical travel costs.
- Use the ‘Other Expenses’ Field Wisely: Use the ‘other expenses’ field for any additional costs not included in the previous fields. This can range from small repairs to extra travel costs we didn’t list.
By following these tips, you can greatly improve the accuracy of your trip cost estimation and make your RV trip planning more efficient and stress-free.
Tips for Creating an RV Trip Budget
Don’t let unforeseen costs turn your dream trip into a financial strain. Below we cover practical advice on constructing a detailed RV trip budget as well as highlighting opportunities to save money.
RV Maintenance and Repair Costs
Every RV trip begins with ensuring your vehicle is in top-notch condition. Regular maintenance helps prevent costly breakdowns during your journey.
- Routine Maintenance: Routine maintenance costs include regular oil changes, tire replacements, brake checks, and other necessary services to keep your RV running smoothly. Budgeting for these tasks can help you avoid unpleasant surprises. Our RV Maintenance Tracker makes it easy to track and organize the maintenance history of your RV, tow vehicle, and towed vehicle! You’ll be able to quickly tell what maintenance has been performed and what needs to be done.
- Emergency Repairs: Despite rigorous maintenance, RVs can occasionally break down. An emergency fund set aside for unexpected repairs will ensure a broken engine or malfunctioning appliance doesn’t derail your trip.
One of the most substantial expenses during an RV trip, fuel costs need careful estimation and tracking.
- Estimating Fuel Consumption: Fuel efficiency depends on your RV’s size, weight, and model. Once you’ve figured out your RV’s average miles per gallon (MPG), calculating fuel costs becomes easier. Just use our handy calculator above or divide the total trip distance by your RV’s MPG and multiply it by current fuel prices.
- Fuel Efficiency Tips: Optimizing fuel consumption can lead to significant savings. Some strategies include maintaining a steady speed, avoiding unnecessary weight, and keeping your RV’s engine well-tuned. Check out our RV Gas Trip Calculator for more fuel-saving tips.
Food and Provisions
Well-planned meals and provisions save money and add to the overall RV trip experience.
- Cooking in the RV: Preparing your meals in the RV’s kitchen can significantly cut down on food costs. Plan meals ahead, and remember to account for storage limitations. Our RV Packing Checklist will ensure you have all the food and supplies you need for your trip.
- Dining Out: While cooking in the RV is cost-effective, you might want to enjoy eating out at local restaurants occasionally. If so, include a dining-out budget based on local restaurant prices.
Campground and Parking Fees
These fees can vary greatly depending on your destination and the amenities you seek.
- Choosing Your Campground: While luxury RV resorts offer numerous amenities, their nightly rates can be high. National or state park campgrounds provide a more economical option.
- Boondocking: For a more cost-effective trip, consider boondocking, also known as dry camping. This involves staying in places without hookups, typically for free.
Tip: Alternate between free overnights and paid campground stays. This will allow you to save money while still being able to fill up with water, dump your tanks, and enjoy the amenities of luxury RV parks.
Activities and Entertainment
Exploring new places and trying out exciting activities form the heart of an RV trip. Factor in these costs when setting your budget.
- Sightseeing and Tours: Do you plan on visiting theme parks, museums or going on guided tours? Research prices in advance and include these in your budget. You may even get discounts if you bundle these adventures together.
- Outdoor Activities: Many RV travelers enjoy hiking, fishing, or kayaking. While these activities are often low-cost or free, there might be permit or equipment rental fees to consider.
Tip: If you’re in or near a major city, search Google for a “City Pass” for that particular city. You can often save hundreds on the entrance to theme parks, museums, and more by bundling them with a City Pass.
Road Tolls and Permits
Road tolls and any required permits for your route can quickly add up, especially on long-distance trips. However, with smart planning, these costs can be minimized. Here are some strategies:
- Use TollSmart or Similar Apps: These apps calculate the cost of tolls on your route and can suggest cheaper alternatives.
- Consider Toll Passes: If you’re traveling through regions with numerous tolls, look into getting a regional toll pass.
- Avoid Toll Roads: Some GPS systems and apps can set your route to avoid toll roads. However, ensure this doesn’t lead to significantly longer travel times, higher fuel costs, or routes that may be considered dangerous for RVs.
By planning ahead, tracking every potential expense, and finding ways to save, your RV trip can remain financially comfortable, leaving you free to create unforgettable memories on the road.