5 RV Trip Planning Hacks (Score Campsites and Save Money)

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As a full-time RVer, I spend hundreds of hours each year planning RV trips. During my 8 years on the road, I have learned several simple tricks to score better campsites for a better price. Keep reading to learn my 5 best RV trip planning hacks.

Use Apps to Book Sold Out Campsites

Florida state park RV campsite.
I Booked This Florida State Park Campsite using Arvie

Arvie and Wandering Labs are apps that make it super easy to get a last minute campsite at campgrounds that sell out months in advance.

Both apps allow you to enter your desired location and dates, and alert you as soon as there is a cancellation. With a paid Arvie membership, the app will even automatically book the campsite as soon as it is available, so you always get the open spot.

I’ve recently used Arvie to book a last minute weekend stay at a popular Florida State Park and an RV park close to the beach over spring break. Both of these reservations would have been impossible without the app.

Book Harvest Hosts for Popular Events

Harvest Hosts Winery
The Author Enjoying a Harvest Hosts Tasting

Most RVers are familiar with Harvest Hosts. This popular camping membership connects campers with host locations that offer free overnight RV camping. Hosts include wineries, breweries and farms.

While many RVers use Harvest Hosts for overnight camping during travel, few campers use Harvest Hosts as their destination. However, these hosts are a great option to check if you are looking for an affordable camping option during a popular event.

For example, for the April 2024 eclipse Harvest Hosts had over 500 locations in the path of totality, many of which were still available just a month before the event.

The downside is that most hosts only allow 1-night stays. However, their partner program Boondockers Welcome allows longer stays. Many Boondockers Welcome locations allow stays up to 5 nights.

Use this link to get 15% your Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome combined membership.

Book your Reservation Over the Phone

Woman at RV campsite picnic table with phone, computer and notepad for RV trip planning.
Booking RV Reservations on the Phone Can Save Money

Online booking platforms make reserving campsites super easy. However, booking RV parks online may cost you more money. When booking campsites online, always look for a “service fee” or “online booking fee”.

If you see one of these fees, call the campground and ask if the fee is still charged for reservations made over the phone.

Making reservations over the phone can also help you get better campsites. When booking over the phone you can make custom requests, such as being closer to the pool or far away from the road.

If you do not have any specific requests, simply ask the person on the other end of the phone, which campsite they would book for their own trip.

Ask About All Available Discounts

RV with American Flag 4th of July Decorations
Many RV Parks Offer Discounts for Veterans

Another reason to book reservations over the phone is to ensure all available discounts are applied to your stay. Many RV parks and campgrounds offer reduced rates for AARP members, AAA members, military and first responders.

My husband is a veteran and more than half of the private RV parks we book offer a 10 to 15 percent discount as a thank you for his service. However, we are rarely told about the discount before asking.

When booking any camping reservation, always ask for a full list of available discounts.

Pre-Plan Fuel Stops with RV LIFE Trip Wizard

Fifth wheel RV at remote gas station
Planning Fuel Stops is Super Important When Visiting Remote Destinations

In addition to securing campsite reservations, we also recommend planning your route and fuel stops in advance. RV LIFE Pro’s Trip Wizard makes this process super easy.

Trip Wizard is a great tool for planning your entire road trip. The tool allows you to search for campgrounds, calculate drive times, plan stops and track your budget for RV road trips.

The trip planner even indicates where you will run low on fuel, so you can pre-plan fuel stops at RV friendly truck stops or gas stations. Planning these stops ensures you will never run out of gas on your road trip.

Click this link and a coupon code for 25% off your first year of RV LIFE Pro will be automatically applied at checkout!

Thanks for reading our RV trip planning hacks. To avoid mishaps during your next road trip, see our list of 10 common RV mistakes to avoid.

Happy Camping!

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