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5 Awesome RV Staycation Ideas: Enjoy Your RV & Save on Fuel!

5 Awesome RV Staycation Ideas: Enjoy Your RV & Save on Fuel!

It’s summer and we’re all feeling the heat – at the fuel pumps! We’ve previously written about how gas prices are affecting RVers’ travel plans. These things tend to be temporary but still very much a bummer, especially if you were planning an RV trip. So, today we’re tossing out some RV staycation ideas to help you to enjoy your rig and your camping trip… without spending lots of money on fuel.

There’s no time to delay – so let’s get right to it!

What’s a Staycation?

Well, technically, “staycation” is a word that was created to express the idea of vacationing at home. But this doesn’t literally mean that you have to stay in your house. 

A “staycation” just means that you’re sticking closer to home while you’re RV camping and taking some time to relax and enjoy your family. The idea here is that you don’t need fancy RV resorts and theme parks. It’s just as possible to create wonderful memories on a staycation as it is on any other kind of vacation.

In today’s post, though, we’re focused on RV staycations. In other words, how can you use your RV for your vacation while staying closer to home (thus saving lots of money on fuel)?

And there are LOTS of ways to do this. 

A family enjoying an RV staycation with a campfire

There are so many ways to enjoy an RV staycation. Traveling far and wide is great sometimes, but it’s not necessary for the process of creating wonderful memories.

How to Staycation in an RV

There are lots of ways to staycation in an RV but – what if you don’t own a rig?

No RV? No problem! Our first idea has you covered:

Rent an RV!

Owning an RV is an expensive proposition. First, of course, you have to consider the purchase price. In addition, you’ll have the registration, insurance, maintenance, and repair costs, and you may need to store the rig when it’s not in use. It’s not cheap to own an RV.

While the per-night cost of renting an RV may seem excessive at first glance, when you consider all the money you’re saving by not owning a rig, the idea is far more palatable. 

When you rent an RV, you’re free of insurance, maintenance, and repair costs. You pay the fee and off you go. And you can take an RV staycation in a rented RV, so all of the staycation ideas below will apply even if you rent a rig.

Travel with a pet or two? We point you to our post on pet-friendly RV rentals for more information. For anyone interested in making some money renting out their RV, see our post on how to rent out your RV.

And now, without further ado, here are some of our best RV staycation ideas:

Visit Family & Friends and Stay on their Property

An RV parked in a field at night, with the starry sky above them

When you visit family or friends in an RV, you bring your own tiny house along. This not only benefits your hosts but also gives you a great place to camp in the company of loved ones. Perfect staycation!

If you’ve got family & friends you’ve been wanting to visit, an RV staycation is a fantastic way to do it (as long as they agree, and have the space, of course). You’re less intrusive as guests because when you park your RV, you’ve got your own hotel room right there (and if you want to be as good a guest as possible, check out this article about how NOT to be a terrible moochdocker). And you’ll be saving lots of money on campground fees.

Most importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with loved ones and make memories together. Priceless!

Boondock!

As always, this is our favorite idea. We’ve lived and traveled full time in our RV for about 20 years now, and boondocking is far and away our favorite way to camp. There are SO many reasons for this, but for the purpose of today’s post on RV staycations, we’ve gotta tell you that boondocking saves some serious dough!

If you’re not familiar with boondocking or you’re hesitant to try it, check out our post on boondocking for newbies. If you’re a diehard full-hookup camper, we encourage you to give this a try!

When you feel ready to give boondocking a fair shot, read our boondocking tips! Once you’ve done that, check out our 11 best ways to find boondocking spots, and let’s go!

Boondocking really makes the best RV staycation, hands down. There are SO many places to go, things to see, and experiences to have. And no campground fees!

And remember – you can get in your RV and head to someplace that’s not that far away (to also save on fuel costs): to the beach, to a lake to do some fishing and kayaking, to an event or a concert, to pretty much anywhere. And you can boondock overnight for free in some city parks, on a friend’s property, at a Harvest Host location, or in a parking lot!

We know that doesn’t sound vacation-like. But you’d be surprised. Your kids will think it’s so much fun to be able to run into Walmart for their favorite snacks and treats, head back to the rig, and watch a movie or play some board games. 

Forget your favorite drinks? Pause the show and run back into the store! Kids love this stuff. They don’t need fancy resorts, friends. They just need you.

You can also overnight in a Cracker Barrell parking lot with the promise of a great breakfast before you head out the next morning.

Don’t shy away from this idea. Just be sure not to CAMP in a parking lot. Overnighting and Camping are two different things. 

Our RV parked for the night in a Walmart parking lot, with the Walmart sign showing above us.

Overnighting in your RV in a Walmart, Cracker Barrell, or other parking lots can be fun, especially for kids. To kids, everything is an adventure!

Don’t pull out your grill, extend your slides, and start a campfire. There are far better places to boondock for that. And respecting the parking lot overnighting rules is absolutely imperative to keep this option available for all travelers.

Okay – enough about boondocking. On to the next idea!

Join Harvest Hosts and Visit Every Location in Your Immediate Area

When you join Harvest Hosts, you pay one low fee for a whole year of having the privilege of visiting and overnighting at farms, orchards, wineries, breweries, distilleries, markets, museums, and attractions. There are well over 3,000 Harvest Hosts locations throughout the United States, Canada, and even in Mexico. We can tell you that every Harvest Hosts location we’ve been to has been fabulous. 

To become a Harvest Hosts member, you’ll need to have a self-contained RV with a toilet, water tank, and inside cooking facilities. No tents, no cooking outside your rig, no campfires, etc. 

What’s so special about these places? Well, imagine taking your kids to an alpaca farm, visiting the alpacas, and then going inside the market to grab a glass of wine and some treats for the kids. Then imagine sleeping beside the alpacas, and the excitement your kids will feel knowing that when they wake up, their new long-necked pals will be right outside your rig. 

A group of alpaca in a field. Imagine an RV staycation with alpaca as neighbors!

Imagine your kids waking up to these little friends bidding them “Good Morning!”

Cool staycation, right?

Believe us when we tell you, there are some REALLY cool Harvest Hosts locations out there. Call ahead, and be sure to respect your host’s instructions once you arrive. You can take your RV to the beach during the day or visit a quaint nearby town. Spend your days enjoying the leisure and head over to your Harvest Hosts location as the day winds down.

For about 100 bucks a year (yup, we said a YEAR), you can enjoy all the Harvest Hosts locations around you. If you’re a golfer, for a $139 annual fee you can add their golf course locations to the list! Spend the night in the golf course parking lot and tee off in the morning!

Again, the caveats include needing a completely self-contained rig, and you’ll also need to check in ahead of time to make sure a particular location has room for you. Some places have only a few spots available, while others have acres!

Think that sounds fun? Here’s a coupon for a 15% discount on an annual membership (even MORE savings!):

SAVE 15%
Harvest Hosts logo
Harvest Hosts 15% Discount

Tired of RV Parks and Campgrounds and want to try something different? Stay overnight at wineries, breweries & distilleries, farms, and other attractions instead! Enjoy unique experiences that...Show More

Tired of RV Parks and Campgrounds and want to try something different? Stay overnight at wineries, breweries & distilleries, farms, and other attractions instead! Enjoy unique experiences that you'll always remember.

Read Our RV Trip Planner Post

Save 15% on your first year’s membership to Harvest Hosts... click on the "Go To The Deal" button!

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Use CampNab to Find Last Minute Camping Reservations Near You

Our final RV staycation idea may find you taking RV trips to great campsites in state/provincial parks or in a national park… with last-minute reservations!

CampNab searches for cancellations at campsites in an area you specify, and then nabs you a campsite in a location that may have previously been full.

For all the details, see our full post on CampNab! If you like what you see, get yourself a CampNab membership (they’re short-term, so you can sign up just for the period you need):

CampNab logo
CampNab

Unable to reserve a campsite? Now you can get notified when a sold-out campground has availability! Campnab helps campers around North America by monitoring a number of provincial, state, and...Show More

Unable to reserve a campsite? Now you can get notified when a sold-out campground has availability! Campnab helps campers around North America by monitoring a number of provincial, state, and federal parks in Canada and the United States.

You tell them when, where, and how long you want to camp for. They notify you (via SMS) when a suitable spot opens up at that campground—so you can nab that sold-out campsite reservation! We used it to book a site at Zion National Park's Watchman Campground... just 10 days before we were supposed to arrive there. In the peak of the season!

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Staycation to Your Heart’s Delight!

Those are our top five RV staycation suggestions. To help you to save a little more money, here’s our post on the 5 best apps to find cheap gas, and our post on Costco gas prices. Have some ideas of your own about how to save money RVing by staying closer to home? Drop us a note below… we’d love to hear your ideas!

Happy RV staycation, friends!

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