The cost of traveling by RV is really determined by you. It can be very expensive, or very inexpensive depending on the choices you make while you are traveling. There are many things that impact the cost of an RV trip, however, they are generally lumped into four groups: fuel, food, campsite fees, and entertainment. Backpackers are the kings of low budget travel and exploration. They use little to no fuel, eat basic meals,
The first thing to tackle is getting an RV if you don’t already have one. There are a couple options you have for getting a rig on a backpacker’s budget. As you may know, backpacking gear is not cheap and can easily run you several thousand dollars. That is the cost for a good backcountry setup capable of keeping you alive and comfortable for an extended period of time. On the RV side you can pick up a used travel trailer, or maybe a fifth wheel in decent shape for similar money. If you prefer not to own, you can also rent. There are many great RV rental outfits like Outdoorsy.com out there that will allow you to get exactly the RV you need and within your budget.
Once you have your RV, you will have to stock it with food. You may actually have a slight advantage over the backpackers here. You will have a refrigerator and space to store non-dehydrated foods. This will allow you to buy standard foods at your local grocery store and use coupons or any other cash saving techniques you can think of.
Most backpackers will rely on dried or dehydrated foods, which can be quite expensive. Many will also eat things they can forage for or catch while in the wilderness. RVers can do this as well. There are many opportunities across the county for hunting, fishing and gathering nearly year-round. RV camping at or near one of these areas can allow you to fill your freezer for little or no cost. Wild, natural caught foods can also be much better for you, just be sure you do your homework on the local rules, regulations and recommendations.
Next are the places to stay. Backpackers generally stay in the back country, which is usually very cheap or free. RVers can travel on a backpacker’s budget by doing basically the same thing. There are a lot of very inexpensive or free camping areas all over the world. In the US, the majority of those types of sites are in the west, but with some research you can find many in the east as well. Try using the Campendium or All Stays Camp and RV apps to find these sites in the areas you plan to visit. On the web, Campendium.com or freecampsites.com are great resources as well.
Entertainment is a similar situation. To travel like a backpacker generally means finding free activities. That doesn’t mean you are limited to hiking mountainous trails while fighting off the black flies and ticks, or sitting around the campsite and playing cards, although those things can be fun too. Instead, check with the places you want to visit and see if they have free or discount times you can visit. Another option is to check the Atlas Obscura at www.atlasobscura.com. This is a website that allows you to search the areas you will be visiting for unusual, and usually free, things to see and do. It has thousands of ideas for travel around the world and is a great resource for entertainment on a budget.
Last but not least is fuel. There are many things you can do to keep the fuel costs at or near a backpacker’s budget. First, don’t get more RV then you need. Bigger is not always better and towing or driving a larger RV will inevitably cost you more money in fuel.
The distance you travel, and where you go will also affect your fuel costs. The greater the distance, the higher the cost. Also, the hillier or higher the terrain the more fuel you will burn. To keep the costs down look at short trips and avoid heading way up into or over any major mountain ranges.
Lastly, stay in one place longer. Staying at a single campsite for a week or more will significantly cut your travel costs over moving every couple of days. It helps in two way. First, you are not burning gas sitting in one spot so there are fuel savings. Also, if you did land a free campsite, camping fees are generally less per day the longer you stay.
RVing on a backpackers budget can be a challenge. Fortunately, you do not have to live on