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The Complete Guide to Finding Budget-Friendly RV Camping Options

So, you’ve just purchased (or rented) an RV and have your first big trip planned. You know the route you’re going to take and spots you want to see along the way! But… how do you plan where you’re going to camp? How do you find the best budget-friendly RV camping for you, your rig and equipment? 

Whether you’re totally new to RVing or just sick of overpaying for campsites that don’t live up to your expectations, trying to find that perfect campsite can seem a little overwhelming. A quick google search of “Cheap RV Camping Near Me” will pull up hundreds of results, all begging for your attention… So how do you know which campsites will be the best for you and your needs? 

In my years of full-time RVing, I’ve learned a few tricks to finding the best RV campsites. My secret? Using the websites and apps in this article to find campsites that fit your needs and your budget.

Things to Consider Before Searching for the Perfect RV Campsite:

  • Your overall budget - are you looking for a super budget-friendly RV campsite? Using a discount directory or staying for longer periods of time will help you save more money on RV campsites.
  • Desired length of stay - is your itinerary flexible? If so, you can save more money by opting for weekly or monthly stays.
  • Preferred Amenities - what do you want your campsite and campground to have? Campground amenities can include full hookups, 30 or 50 amp power, wifi, cable, pool and hot tub, etc.
  • Distance from activities - if you’ve planned activities, keep in mind the commute you’ll be making to and from the campground or campsite.

It’s important to know this information before you begin your search, because you will use this information as a filter to narrow down the perfect campsite for you.

Different Types of RV Camping

As you begin your search, you’ll notice several different types of RV camping options. If you’re totally new to RVing, this may be a little confusing! Here is a brief overview of the different types of RV camping:

RV Resorts

As you might expect, RV Resorts are the luxury camping option. RV Resorts are priced the highest for the state of their parks, location, and the amenities they offer. They are often found in hot-spot destinations. RV Resorts are clean, well maintained, large and typically have a lot to offer: pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, lounge, etc. RV Resorts are great for seasonal destination and long-term stays. 

RV Parks

RV Parks are usually just that – a place to park your RV. RV Parks don’t cost as much as RV Resorts and as such, you will typically find fewer amenities. There are many kinds of RV Parks at many different price ranges – some are just concrete pads with places to hook up your RV, and some will have resort-style amenities. Most RV Parks offer full hookups in addition to dry camping options. Campsites are usually very close together and depending on the park, you may not have much space to hang out outside of your rig. 

RV Campgrounds

If you prefer being in nature and being secluded from your neighbors, campgrounds might be the best option for you! RV Campgrounds are usually found in a remote, natural setting with lots of trees and things to do outdoors like water sports, hiking and biking. Campgrounds are what you would find at State and National Parks. You won’t usually find resort-style amenities at campgrounds like pools, cable or wifi, and sometimes you won’t have full hookups. Most campgrounds that don’t offer full hookups will have a dump station on-site.  

Boondocking and Dry Camping

Finally, we have boondocking and dry camping. If you are unfamiliar with this style of camping, dry camping is camping without electricity, water, or sewer hookups – like in a driveway, on a piece of land or parking lot. When it’s in a remote location, it’s called Boondocking. Boondocking is free (or close to it) and a great way to be close to nature without being around other people. This type of camping does require a bit of practice to learn how to best conserve water and power for longer periods, but it’s the cheapest (and sometimes most scenic) way to camp. If you want totally free RV camping, dry camping is the way to go.

Best Resources for Finding Budget-Friendly RV Camping

With your budget, timeline and preferred amenities in mind, use this list of resources to find the perfect RV campsite for you. 

Campendium

Campendium is one of my personal favorites – it’s like the ultimate perfect RV campsite finder. And it’s free! Campendium is a searchable database of 21,000+ RV camping areas ranging from resorts, parks, campgrounds, boondocking, dump stations and more. 

The best parts about Campendium are the filters and campsite reviews. 

With the filters on Campendium, you can sort by campsite type, price, what hookups you prefer, RV Length, pet and age policy(if any), discount clubs, recreation and amenities, and even cell signal strength of the major carriers. That’s a huge bonus if you need to make sure you’ll be connected while camping!

Reviews are what makes Campendium such a powerful tool for finding great campsites. Instead of just looking at what is offered at your desired location, you can read reviews and look at pictures from RVers who have been there and done that. New reviews are being added all the time as RVers and campers use the website, and you can see the date each review was left. When you read reviews, you’ll learn things like: the state of the campsite, last price paid, the conditions of the roads leading to the campsite, cell phone and wifi signal strength, and more. Reviews are great indicators as to whether or not a campsite will work for you, so be sure to seek them out no matter what tool you use.

Passport America

Another of my personal favorites, Passport America is a discount camping club where you get 50% off all campsites in their directory. With a price point of only $44 a year, and the average campsite costing around $30, this resource literally pays for itself in only two nights of use – sometimes only one! Passport America is one of the best resources for finding cheap RV camping – allowing even the most budget-conscious RVers the opportunity to stay in some really nice campgrounds. 

You’ll find a variety of camping types with Passport America – including tent camping discounts. You can use their trip routing tool or search by location, and on each campground’s page you’ll find important information like amenities, directions, and more. Be sure to read the campground description when using Passport America, because some do not honor the discount on Holidays or weekends.

And, as if Passport America wasn’t a great price already, all Escapees members get 3 months free when they sign up using an exclusive members-only coupon code. See below for more information about Escapees Partner discounts. 

Allstays

Allstays is a powerful directory of campsites and their website is free to use.  With Allstays, you can sort by state, location or map view. The different icons on the map are for different types of campsite designations like State Parks, Corps of Engineers, RV Parks, BLM land and more. When you select a campsite on Allstays, you are taken to a page with important information like price range, rig length, hookup type and more.

From Allstays you can read reviews, visit the park’s website and more. Allstays has filtering options for paid members which can make the process a little quicker, but you can still find what you need as a free user.

Boondockers Welcome

If you like free RV camping, you’ll love Boondockers Welcome. Boondockers Welcome is a directory of land and property owners that offer RVers free, safe, and legal overnight parking on private property.

With Boondockers Welcome, RVers are able to search for hosts in their desired location, read reviews from previous travelers and request to stay anywhere from 1 to 3+ nights. Boondockers Welcome is like AirBnB for free RV camping. As the name implies, the majority of locations on Boondockers Welcome are dry camping only – meaning your rig must be fully self-contained and there is no access to facilities.

Boondockers Welcome is a paid service with an annual price of just $30 – and if you’re an Escapees member, you get an additional discount with a members-only coupon code. Again, with the average price of a campground hovering around $30/night, Boondockers Welcome pays for itself in just 1 use – and you get the opportunity to stay in places that you would never find otherwise.

Harvest Hosts

Harvest Hosts is a membership service that connects RVers with a network of wineries, farms, breweries, museums and other unique attractions that invite RVers to visit and stay overnight for free, dry-camping style. 

Since the hosts with Harvest Hosts provide the opportunity to stay on their property for free, it is always encouraged to support the generosity and accommodation of the hosts by buying a bottle of wine, buying produce, shopping in their gift shops, etc. Harvest Hosts have some really picturesque locations, check out their photo gallery here(link). 

Harvest Hosts have 2 different pricing plans and Escapees members can save money on their membership with an exclusive Escapees-only discount.

Click here to learn more about Escapees Discounts with Passport America, Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. 

Days End Directory

Days End Directory is a directory of thousands of Escapees member-submitted free RV camping, boondocking, dry camping and cheap RV camping ($15 or less), with lots of extra information and advice.

This directory is exclusively for members of Escapees, created and maintained by members of Escapees. The Days End Directory has a route planning map, 3 eBook formats and an online directory search function. 

Freecampsites.net

Freecampsites.net is a great tool to find free RV camping when you’re on the road and need a quick place to stay overnight.

This website also lists campsites that require a fee, but they’re usually very low-cost campsites. You search this website by entering a location on the map, and it will populate all camping options in their database closest to your location. Once you select a campsite, you will be able to read reviews and find out important information like road conditions and rig length.

When using this website, be sure to look for information regarding rig length and road conditions because many campsites listed here are for tent and car campers and would be inaccessible by a bigger RV. That being said, there are still thousands of campsites on this website accessible by RV – just be sure to read about them first! 

Escapees Discount Park Directory

Escapees RV Club has a Discount Park Directory exclusively for members – discounts range anywhere from 15% to 50% off your stay. Escapees has built and partnered with RV parks across the continent to help full time and part time RVers save money. 

Members and non-members alike can search the Escapees Discount Parks Directory with the Escapees Mapping Tool, but only members are eligible for the discounts. You can use this tool to search in a desired location, or plan your route and it will automatically populate all parks eligible for an Escapees discount along the way.

If you are an Escapees member and you’re using the map tool, be sure you are logged in to your member account for added functionality and features. These additional features include overnight parking with SKPs, which are listings of members who have opened their private property to fellow members in need of a place to stay. 

Best Mobile Apps for Budget-Friendly RV Camping

Now that you have the best websites and resources for finding RV camping, let’s take a look at the best apps that are available for finding RV campsites on your phone:

Campendium

Currently Campendium only has an app available for iPhone users – and it’s amazing. If you’re an iPhone user, I highly recommend you download this app! It is so easy to use and find awesome campsites. If you are an Android user, you can still use Campendium on your phone by going to the website in your mobile browser. It has all the functionality you would find when using Campendium on a computer.

Recreation.gov

The Recreation.gov app is an on-the-go solution for finding beautiful campsites wherever you go. You can filter by rig length, amenities and more. This is a great app because it has all of the national recreation areas in one place, and, in my opinion, is more convenient to use than the website. 

RV Parky

This is a great free app for finding campsites on the road, built by a full-time RVer. RV Parky also lists low clearance bridges on it’s map which is a handy feature when you’re driving or towing a tall rig. This app has many filters, but rig length isn’t one of them. 

RV Life

The RV Life app is great for campground suggestions near you and to find campgrounds along your travels – they also have helpful articles and a variety of other features for RVers. 

Allstays Camp and RV

This is a paid app coming in at $9.99 – but it’s really handy when you’re on the road and all you’ve got is your phone. The Allstays Camp & RV app comes with all the necessary filters and extras like Walmarts – this is really handy when you need a quick overnight stop and want to stay at a Walmart, because not all localities allow overnight RV Parking. It also lists stores, RV Dealers and services, Truck Stops, Casinos, Rest Areas and more. This app is only available on iOS. 

FreeRoam

The FreeRoam app is new and promising. I have been using this app for the past several months and I like it for many reasons. This app is totally free and has features like cell signal overlays, BLM and USFS land overlays, fire hazards and smoke, and more. There are also options to filter by all the usual filters and new things like: crowdedness, road difficulty, shade, noise and more. Keep in mind that most of the data in this app is user-generated by RVers and since it’s new, it’s still being added to and updated. Along with the campground maps, this app has a social aspect where you can choose whether or not you want to see (or be seen by) other RVers near your location and chat. This app has too many other cool features to list here so I highly recommend checking it out. And since it relies on users to gather information, using it and reporting what you experience will only make it better.  

How to Find the Best RV Campsites

Now that you have this epic list of resources to find the best RV campsites, there are just a few more things to keep in mind.

  1. Plan In Advance – there is always the possibility of finding the absolute perfect campsite and finding out that it’s totally booked out. It’s better to plan your travels and overnight stays in advance, especially on weekends, holidays and in popular destinations. Driving all day can be tiring enough without having to worry about where you’re going to sleep!
  2. Ask About Amenities – If there are certain amenities that you are relying on, be sure you ask about them when you call. For example, the website and reviewers may list great wifi – but if you’re depending on it for work reasons, be sure and ask how it’s working before you arrive. It’s no fun to pay for a campsite and have the amenities you were expecting to have be temporarily out of order. 
  3. Use Google Satellite and Street View – If you’re concerned about getting to the campground, use Google Street View to check it out before going. This can help you plan where to turn and what streets to take to make it easier for you to maneuver your rig. If you are planning on boondocking in a remote spot, use Google Satellite view to check out the road and make notes of spots you’d like to check out. This can also be helpful for figuring out what site to ask for at a campground.
  4. When in Doubt, Scout – If you’re planning on boondocking somewhere that you can’t find much information on, it’s always best to scout it out with a tow vehicle before taking your RV. It may take a little more time for you to disconnect and go check it out, but it will save you from possibly getting into sticky situations with your rig. 

Keep this list in mind and these resources handy next time you are planning a trip with your RV, and you’ll be bound to find great camping wherever you go.

Author

Carrie Fay | SKP#135479

Carrie Fay has been on and off the road for the past 3 years, experiencing travel as a full-time RVer and most recently trying out the van life. 

With a passion for the RV lifestyle and all things marketing related, Carrie is the Social Media and Marketing Coordinator for Escapees RV Club. 

You can find more of Carrie’s work on her blog: Making Money and Traveling – where her love of travel and obsession with location-independence meet.

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11 Responses to “The Complete Guide to Finding Budget-Friendly RV Camping Options

  • Thanks for mentioning FreeRoam! In case anyone prefers to do their research from a computer, you can also use the website: https://freeroam.app

  • You should mention in the first section about RV Resorts, that many of the parks with ‘Resort’ in the name—aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination. Only way to know ahead is by reading reviews.

  • Very informative article! Take a look at overnightrvparking.com.

  • june hebert
    1 month ago

    Where is the RV park in the first picture. Beautiful!

    • Carrie Fay
      1 month ago

      It is gorgeous! The RV park in the first photo is in Monument Valley in Utah.

  • I wonder why you didn’t mention campgroundreviews.com? That is our overall favorite site for RV parks.

    • Carrie Fay
      1 month ago

      Thank you Susan! Campground Reviews is a great resource to use when researching campgrounds. I will add it to the article in the future!

  • Debbie32311
    4 weeks ago

    Great article! You may not know that the ALLSTAYS app is only updated for Apple devices. The app owner said Google does not allow him to make updates for the Android app. It has not been updated since 2017. However, ALLSTAYS is updated on the computer website (for those with Android phones, it is a way to use ALLSTAYS).

    • Georgianne Austin
      4 weeks ago

      Yep! In the App section of the article, Carries specifies that Allstays is only available on iOS, which is the Apple operating system.
      Thanks for the info!

  • Thanks for the great article! I’ve used about half of the websites and apps but it’s nice to have more to chose from for various area.

  • Kristine Mannino
    4 weeks ago

    Great informative article! We’ve been on the road 2 years now and agree with many of the items you have mentioned here. Before we hit the road I didn’t know the difference between an RV resort or RV park. Not I just tell myself an RV park should have been named RV park….ing lots.

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