Planning the Camping Budget: What Is the Average Cost of RV Parks?

An RV trip, whether it's a mini vacation traveling or the ongoing adventure of full timing, has its expenses. While some costs you can adjust for depending on what you use and how much you need, one that you'll regularly encounter is park and campground costs—and for full-time RVers, these numbers can quickly add up over the year.

When looking at RV park prices, it's critical to remember that things like amenities, availability, and location can all impact the cost you'll likely pay. Even so, there are some average numbers you can expect to work with to help you securely plan your budget.

Average Cost per Night

With so many variables involved, you won't find one consistent answer when asking, "What is the average cost of RV parks?" You can, however, come up with some average numbers by comparing prices across the nation. On average, the cost of parking your RV somewhere will come out to a little over twenty-nine dollars per night.

However, prices will fluctuate a bit more than that due to one critical distinction: private RV parks vs. public campgrounds. While both these areas will let you set up your RV for some time so long as you pay the appropriate fees, they do have some significant differences that will impact not only your camping experience but also your final costs.

Private RV Parks

While sometimes used interchangeably with public campgrounds, "RV parks" technically refer to privately owned areas. What makes these parks pleasant is that they have most of the hookups you need for your RV, such as sewage, water, and electricity—which saves you the hassle and cost of running your generator.

Because they have increased amenities in comparison to public campgrounds, RV parks cost a bit higher than our average price—usually around thirty-three dollars per night.

Public Campgrounds

In contrast, public campgrounds can sometimes have RV hookups, but it's not always a guarantee. In return, you get more scenic views, as many of these camping spots are at places like national and state parks. Overall, they're cheaper, but you may not be able to stay at one for more than two weeks, depending on the location's policies.

When comparing costs across the nation, public campgrounds tend to cost around twenty-two dollars per night to use. Be sure to also account for potential costs for your RV, such as generator fuel.

Variations Across States

If you look at a map of RV park and public campground prices across the country, you'll see a lot of change in the average cost per night. Generally, states that have higher costs of living will see higher prices for RVers. Additionally, states also have differences in taxes that apply to their campgrounds. The more research you conduct in advance, the better idea you'll have of what to expect!

Finding Discounts on Camping

Whether you’re renting an RV or you’re an RV owner, everyone wants to find a good deal, and, thankfully, it's possible to do so with RV parks and campgrounds, so long as you know where to look.

Private RV parks usually provide discounts if you stay for a certain amount of time (generally at least a week). By paying attention to what's available, you can save a lot of cash in the long run, especially if you're full timing or on an extended trip. You can check available discount information by looking on the park's website or calling in advance.

In contrast, public campgrounds tend to have fewer discounts available, so you may not be able to save by staying longer. However, since the base prices tend to be lower, one option isn't necessarily superior to the other.

Hacks to Save on Campsites

While discounts are an excellent way to save some cash, they aren't the only way you can manage your campsite budget better. Here are some extra tips to consider that can help you get the best possible deal:

●       Camp during the off-season. Prices on RV parks tend to be higher during the summer because more people are out camping. In turn, prices go lower in autumn and winter since fewer people are RVing and campsites want to attract customers. This time is perfect for discounted rates if you don't mind the chillier weather.

●       Consider a camper club. Camper clubs come with a yearly fee, and their members get discounts on campgrounds within the network, usually around fifteen percent. You need to pick out a club that matches the sort of locations you like to camp in, but the right fit will give you savings throughout the year!

●       Researching your options. There's no shortage of campground options out there, with different price ranges, amenities, and environments. Studying where you're heading in advance will give you enough time to find the best prices and potentially even save a bit for getting your reservation in early.

●       Pay attention to hookups. Campsite hookups do let you have an extra level of convenience while camping, but how much do you need? Usually, the fewer connections you use, the less it will cost to stay, so plan what you use carefully.

●       Be cautious with RV "resorts." RVing usually invokes images of camping in nature, but some resorts do live up to the name, with all sorts of extras. Naturally, the prices of these places are higher. If saving money is your goal, these camping areas may not be the best choice for you.

●       Check if any additional fees apply. Some RV parks will have little add-on fees depending on how many passengers you have on board, if any pets are along for the ride, if you bring in additional vehicles, etc. These usually aren't too expensive, but they may not be something you want to see if you're on a tight budget.

●       Staying away from busy areas. Big cities and places where popular events are happening attract a lot of people—and usually have higher camping prices the closer you get to them. Unless you're exclusively heading into an area to see the sights or participate in an event, stay away from these heavy traffic, heavy cost places.

Free Campgrounds

If you genuinely want to save money, it is possible to find free campgrounds to use. These areas can sometimes only provide one cost-free night, while others will let you stay for a couple of days. They can make for perfect rest stops on the way to your destination or give a quick stop for full-timers. Guides like Free Campsites can help you find low and no-cost areas for camping trailers.

Additionally, you can also find other facilities like casinos and fairgrounds that can allow you to park for free, though you always need to contact the location first to see if they'll permit you. Depending on what's available, you may have full hookups, or you may need to boondock for the evening, so consider that when picking your place to stay, too!

Don't forget that you don't always need to stay at places that cost roughly the same, either! Many RVers alternate between more pricey locations and then use a cheaper campground next to balance out the budget. Paying for campsites may be an extra expense after purchasing or renting an RV, but it's a manageable one.