Many RVers try to find ways to save money on their expenses on the road. Most of us don't want to spend more money than we have to, to live this life.
Some people boondock on BLM or National Forest lands or at Wal-Mart. Others belong to the Elks or Moose lodges to find inexpensive camping. Others try membership camping or use Passport America whenever possible. Some do it just to live less expensively. Others do it so they have more to spend on eating out or on entertainment.
We use Passport America occasionally, especially for one-night stays. We have stayed in National Forest campgrounds, though never on BLM land or at Wal-Mart. We rarely eat out, not to save money but because I like to cook and John enjoys my cooking.
But for 2011, we will spend only $8.46 per day for campgrounds--a total of $3086.68. We do that by work-camping, or rather volunteering. January through March we volunteered at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument in Coolidge, AZ, in return for free camping. From mid-May through Labor Day weekend, we volunteered at Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, CO, in return for free camping. We also are spending three months at Valle del Oro Resort in Mesa, AZ. Here, we take advantage of a "sale" they offer each year for October through December. The space rental for that period is $910.66, including tax. Utilities are extra. But that space rental works out to $10.12 per day. Not bad for a resort with activities galore, swimming, tennis, softball, shuffleboard and many other facilities.
Not everyone wants to work, like we do, in return for their space rental. But so far, we have found this a good way to cover part of our costs on the road. In addition, it provides many opportunities--to really get to know the community where we are living, learn new skills and new information, stretch our minds and our bodies. We have volunteered in state parks in Texas, Utah and Colorado; Bryce Canyon, Hot Springs and Casa Grande Ruins in the National Park system; and Oregon Fish and Wildlife. We also worked at one commercial RV park, but didn't like that as well. And in January, we will volunteer at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
I have focused on saving money by volunteering, but really, we love the work we do in these assignments as much or more than the money we save. For us, it is a great way to live in our retirement--for part of the year. We enjoy traveling and being tourists, as well.