The Frugal RVing Principles We Have Adopted as a Road Map for Our Journey
The Frugal RVing Principles I've collected on this page came out of the tough education that the struggle of the past three+ years has been for us. The good news is, that struggle has served to really put Life, into proper perspective for me. Decisions that were tough to make, back at the start, are now, almost effortlessly automatic.
***Frugal RVing Principles #1 - Travel in the Smallest RV you can deal with.
As time goes by, even the rather modest 30' Fifth Wheel we've been using is becoming too big for me. Our recent travels in Heidi's lil red Subaru... reminded us of the hassles of moving a big rig down the road. It's illuminated all the places... we couldn't have gone... had we been hauling that big Jayco.
Getting down to a smaller rig is about the biggest of the Frugal RVing Principles we have.
As modest as it may be... our 5er still carries its' load of stress, hauling it down the road... parking it... and squeezing it into the campgrounds we prefer to visit... not to mention the lil' spur of the moment stops as we wander around... can be a pain.
Having a rig that just slips right in, almost without a thought... is an idea that appeals to me.
A few benefits of a Smaller RV
The less I have, the happier I am... to a point... I have no desire to be naked in the wilderness, or have junk... no matter what Frugal RVing Principles say!
I admire quality, and for me, building that quality into a more compact, lighter, less stressful package, is the best sort of RV Boondocking Rig!... and what we are in pursuit of as I write this.
When it comes to an RV, The SMALLER RV has become The BETTER RV for us...
... and is maybe the biggest of the Frugal RVing Principles we are working at...
***Frugal RVing Principles #2 - Follow the Sun.
This sure sounds pretty don't it? Just wander with the seasons... and that's something this fella's been trying to get to since 2006! arrrrgggghhhh!
Any longtime readers of this site already know the whuppin' we've taken from the economy, the real estate market and life in general... but... we're still diggin' and tryin' to get there... and one day... we will!
But... listen here... Following the sun is more than just burnin' gas - or diesel... if you do it right... you save energy for heating or cooling... If you're where all you have to do is open a window that lets in the air... pre-set by the Boss, for the temperature you want... Cool (North) in the Summer... and Warm (South) in the winter... One of the Sweetest of the basic Frugal RVing Principles. :-)
No need to run furnaces or air conditioners! :-) ... and that sure eases one big problem for RV Boondocking... little need for a generator to keep those appliances turning... fits much better into a solar powered lifestyle You also greatly reduce the requirement for a lot of clothes to fit into different conditions... so, even less to buy, maintain and store... the essence of Frugal RVing Principles and minimalism.
***Frugal RVing Principles #3 - Utilize 'Outside' living setups as much as possible.
Now... two people, or more, in a box with wheels that encloses maybe 192 square feet, can get a little too cozy, no matter how well you might get along... But then, the idea of RV Boondocking, or RVing in general... at least for me, isn't to sit inside looking at each other... well OK... once in a while... when those Pheromones are doing their magic :-)
When it comes to Frugal RVing Principles, the RV is only our bedroom, bathroom and bad weather kitchen and reading room.
... otherwise... I prefer to do my living, outside. Now, just because I want to be outside doesn't mean I enjoy serving asa smorgasboard for bugs, and to tell the truth, I don't much care for slathering on all sorts of greasy repellants either...
So... what's the answer? ... Put your 'Living Room' outside in a screen room! Just a simple 10 foot square or so... available at REI, Bass Pro... Wal Mart and just about any sporting goods store... They've also got 'em that'll attach to the awning on your RV. The only problem I see with them is; I've seen few National Forest Campgrounds where the parking spot for your rig, left suitable space to use the thing...
Having a separate, light, quick to set up, screen room... that you could locate out in the camp area... over the pic nik table?seems the best option.
Build yourself a complete 'camp kitchen'... and do the majority of your cooking outside. If you intend to camp a lot in 'Bear'country... you'll need to have a setup or storage area to put that kitchen away at night... so since you'll need to put it awayon a daily basis... organizing for convenience is an important thing here...
But... bottom line, take it outside! With the right setup... some sort of light shelter like an easy up... you can even keep on cooking outside, in complete comfort... even when it's raining.
***Frugal RVing Principles #4 - Travel Very S - L - O - W - L - Y.
Make long camps... several days to weeks... and then don't move that awful far... as one contributor to this site put it... "$250dollars worth of fuel costs the same... if you burn it in one day... or a month."
The point is, if you travel slowly, you can get to the same places... you just stretch it out... to fit into your 'income flow' a mite better.
... and traveling so slowly, will give you the time to leisurely hike all the trails surrounding your camp... or make a lot ofday trips on your RV Motorcycle!... or sit in your screen room and knit that blanket for your next Grand Kid!
Now this is a Frugal RVing Principles that makes you smile... don't it?
Moving your camp on a more Seasonal schedule, following the sun, is going to save you hard earned dinero when it comes to fuel and clothing too. Not to mention... the peace of mind you get... from not having to worry about scraping up the dinero for that heating propane, generator fuel to run the air conditioner, or winter clothing!... and not so many blizzards down on the southwest deserts either.
***Frugal RVing Principles #5 - Live on a Cash Basis.
This is a toughie for a lot of folks. Let's face it, we're an instant gratification society... and this Ol' Geezer is as guilty as anyone... and still trying to bust loose from it... but the truth is... credit may seem fun up front... but it is an unforgiving, and consumptive master.
This is one of the Frugal RVing Principles that is going to go a huge distance in reducing your blood pressure... if you take it to heart. Not pathologically... just as a matter of habit.
We are conditioned by a constant barrage of advertising urging us to "Buy now - Pay later" ... and pay later you will do! and pay, and pay, and pay... It's a slippery slope... once you're on it, trying to get off of it is like trying to wash Tar off with cold water... It's a piece of work that will leave you bruised and raw.
Work hard, at paying cash up front... or do without... You'll be a happier RV Boondocker. You'll enjoy greater flexibility, and live in less stressful Freedom - IF - you can get or remain, Debt Free.
***Frugal RVing Principles #6 - Minimalism the Defintion of Frugal RVing Principles
Do more with less and reap the stress reduction benefits.
-How many people have one or more closets, stuffed full of clothes they've either never worn... or worn, maybe once? I've found we all tend to wear the same, favorite clothes over and over again. Minimize what you carry. Carry only what you actually use and wear. Carry only enough to get you to the next 'laundry day'... two weeks worth?
-Do you really need an eight place table setting in an RV? When was the last time you had a dinner party out in a Boondock Camp?... and you know what?... ain't nobody gonna complain... when you serve 'em up on a decent paper plate... and if they do? show 'em the way back to THEIR rig... so they can go get a plate! :-)
Two people only need a couple plates... a couple glasses... and a couple coffee cups... this is one place I have to get my own kiester in line! :-) ... again, less weight, less to maintain... less stress... more often than not... we eat on paper plates and burn 'em in the camp fire... no dishes to wash, so no water to haul - either direction... and no trash either! :-)
-How much other 'Stuff' do you have, so you store, carry and worry about... that you never use... and seldom even ever see, 'cause it's stashed away in some closet or compartment... and you've even forgot what's stuffed in there?
You know what? If you can't remember where it is... or even WHAT it is... you likely don't need it! Hauling it costs fuel if nothing else...
Get rid of it!
***Frugal RVing Principles #7 - Working for Wages
This is maybe, the toughest part to accomplish.
A lot of people have told us, 'till my ears hurt from hearin' it; "You can't afford to retire"... and that is for sure and for certain true, now more than ever.
How-some-ever... it was never our intention to 'retire', and I ain't tryin' to!... I don't even like the idea of that.. 'Retiring' has always seemed to me to be a situation where you either stop doing what you hated doing for 40 years... or you're simply waiting for the grim reaper to come do his dirty deed. Either one is far worse than being on the losing end of an argument with a bucking horse!
I prefer to view what we've been trying to accomplish as Changing the Basic Way We Live... as trying to find a way for a person to enjoy their whole life... and demonstrating a Better Way, as a matter of Frugal RVing Principles, for a whole lot of people to live as a general rule...
What is that Better Way? ... for me... it's the dream that it's a Better Life Through RV Boondocking!
Rather than doing a hateful job, for 40 years... to save up enough to LIVE... I want to show people that you can maybe LIVE for that 40 years!... rather than the 5 or 10 or 15... you have left... once you get too old and stove up to enjoy it...
So... the idea here is... First, put your lifestyle on a frugal, minimalist basis... and give yourself the opportunity to Live!
Then, develop what some call an "Auto-Pilot" Income... either with an internet basis... writing of some sort that provides an ongoing income... inventions... online product sales... whatever... do that work up front... Develop some sort of independent, portable income... Preferably in your YOUTH! :-) and reap the benefits for the rest of your life...
...as you LIVE!
Also available... is the situation where you work a few months at a time, in some picturesque place... Yellowstone, Glacier... the Olympic Peninsula... as a clerk in a gift shop or some other Travel oriented operation... to fill out the gaps in your finances. You only work for a few months... to set aside the cash you need for your next round of traveling... and then you move on.
The job can actually be pretty rewarding and NOT just another HATEFUL employment... visiting with people from all over the world, who are traveling the world... sharing your journeys with them as they give you tips and suggestions about the places they've wandered through... not too shabby!
Use your imagination... put together a variety of income sources that fill your needs... keep your needs simple, and LIVE!
***Frugal RVing Principles #8 - Utilize National Forest Camps
The High end of RV Boondocking! There are still quite a few that are "No Fee Areas"... and even if you have to pay, the outlying campgrounds, are still awful reasonable in cost... for those of us lucky enough to be disabled... or old enough... (?) :-) ... I have a National Forest Card that allows me to only pay 1/2 fee :-) the cost is even more reasonable.
The Real Frugal RVing Principles benefit though is in facilities.
Staying in a National Forest campground generally means a few things... You'll have close access to fresh water... outhouses... and trash service!
If you utilize the outhouses... you have to dump your blackwater a whole lot less... trash service speaks for itself... and fresh water?... Um...
... this is a little 'delicate'... Have you watched the tent/car campers?... they wash themselves and their dishes in a plastic tub... and then what? Haul that gray water back to town?... Uh Uh... they walk over to the edge of camp... and toss that wash water out into the trees... If you recharge your fresh water tank from the potable water spigot in camp... what do you do with the gray water?...
... use your imagination... pretend you're a tent camper? :-)
***Frugal RVing Principles #9 - Learn from Those That Have; "Been There, Have the T-Shirt"
Why go through all the difficulty of learning the hard way, what a whole bunch of other folks have already figured out? Read what they've written. Listen to what they say... plug into your own life... the lessons they've learned that fit... and gain the benefit of their hard knocks... without all the bruises and scars they have to carry! :-)
Well... there you have the 'Frugal RVing Principles outline' I'm using... a few, guiding, ideas I'm using to help keep me focused... I'm sure there are others... but these keep my head plenty full of things that need doing.
If you think of more Frugal RVing Principles... submit 'em on the Readers Tips page! :-)
Jeb Taylor Western Series