Burning Concerns
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20 Ways to Save Money on Gas for Your RV

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Burning Concerns
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Burning Concerns

Exploring the country in an RV can be one of the most memorable and budget-friendly ways to travel. In fact, according to one industry study, an RV vacation for a family of four is typically 21% to 64% cheaper than other types of vacation travel. As budget-friendly as this type of vacationing may be, the cost of gas when traveling by RV is no small consideration. Filling the tank for a Class A motorhome, which holds anywhere from 100 to 150 gallons, can cost $250 to $600 (at $2.50 to $4 a gallon), a figure that would certainly eat away at a vacation budget. With that in mind, we asked RV bloggers and travelers to share their top tips for saving gas. (When you do hit the road, keep these 50 Budget-Friendly RV Campgrounds in mind.)

Reduce the Weight of Your Vehicle
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Reduce the Weight of Your Vehicle

Cut back on gas costs by only packing what you need or actually use as you prepare to set out on an RV adventure, says Diana Hansen, who along with her husband, Eric, has been traveling by RV on and off for the past 25 years and created the site Let's Camp S'More. Keeping your vehicle as light as possible is much more fuel efficient. "So many people ignore the gross vehicle weight limits and overload their motorhome," Hansen says. "Sure, it would be nice to take your favorite grill or an extra table, but most campgrounds have a grill available for use and the campsite picnic table should suffice." (Another frugal tip: Avoid these 30 RV Accessories That Are a Waste of Money.)

Skip the Tow Vehicle
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Skip the Tow Vehicle

While you're considering weight as you prepare to embark on an RV journey, you may also want to skip towing a bunch of toys with your RV, suggests Hansen, who has owned five different RVs. For instance, you can rent bicycles when you get to your destination, Hansen says, rather than bringing your own. Hansen and her family also take public transport or use ride-share services when exploring a destination. "This reduces overall gas costs because you're not towing a heavy vehicle behind your motorhome," she says. Check out these 12 Expert Tips for Saving Money on RV Living, too.

Sign Up for Fuel Station Loyalty Memberships
Good Sam

Sign Up for Fuel Station Loyalty Memberships

Signing up for fuel station loyalty memberships is another easy way to cut back on gas costs, says Ronnie Dennis, a writer for Do It Yourself RV. "Membership Cards like GoodSam offer fuel discounts of as much as 8 cents per gallon at FlyingJ and Pilot stations," Dennis says. Good Sam membership provides 5 cents per gallon off of regular gas and 8 cents off of diesel. GoodSam Club membership prices start at $29.

Look into Fuel Rewards Credit Cards
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Look into Fuel Rewards Credit Cards

Still more gas discount programs are available with fuel rewards credit cards, Dennis says. The Shell Fuel Rewards Card from Citi offers a regular savings of 10 cents per gallon on fill-ups and 30 cents per gallon for your first five fuel purchases. The Chevron Techron Advantage Visa Card offers fuel credits (that are applied to your credit card statement) when you buy gas with its card.

Use GasBuddy App
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Use GasBuddy App

Here's a suggestion from nearly every RV expert interviewed: The GasBuddy app helps you find the least expensive gas near you. "Available as an app for both iPhone and Android, as well as an interactive website, many travelers rely on GasBuddy information to save a few dollars at the pump when it's time to refuel," says Georgianne Austin, communications director for Escapees RV Club, one of the oldest RV clubs in the United States. One word of caution, before picking the cheapest station available on GasBuddy, make sure they are equipped for RVs by having high enough awnings and plenty of room to pull in and out, Austin says.

Related: The Cheapest Gas Prices in Every State

Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
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Maintain Proper Tire Pressure

Ensuring that your tires are properly inflated can also help you save on gas costs, says Austin, communications director for Escapees RV Club. "Under-inflated tires will burn through extra fuel due to the increased surface area and friction on the asphalt," Austin explained. Because determining the correct pressure can be tricky, Escapees RV Club offers a program to help called SmartWeigh, which provides members with RV weight safety and load management information and assistance. Membership prices range from $10 to $55. (Keep these 20 Ways to Get Better Gas Mileage in mind no matter what you're driving.)

Calculate Your Mileage and Plan Wisely to Avoid Searching for Gas
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Calculate Your Mileage and Plan Wisely to Avoid Searching for Gas

When mapping out your route study the details. Begin by knowing how big your vehicle's gas tank is and how far it's likely to take you. Then calculate the miles you'll be driving between destinations, suggests Luca Sumberac at CAMPERiD.com, an RV parts and accessories site. "By planning your route and sticking to it, you'll be able to estimate how much you'll spend in gas, avoiding unpleasant surprises or high gas prices," Sumberac explained. "Map out your stops to avoid driving around in search of a rest area or park and using up an unnecessary amount of gas. When it comes to long RV trips, every little bit you save counts and will be worth it in the end."

Calculate Your Mileage and Plan Wisely to Avoid Searching for Gas
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Identify the Most Efficient Route of Travel

Take your trip planning a step further by checking maps against satellite navigation apps such as Google maps or Mapquest that identify the most efficient routes of travel based on current traffic conditions, suggests Will Hatton, creator of the site, creator of the site The Broke Backpacker. "Take into account that in built-up areas, stopping and starting will use a lot more gas than cruising at a steady speed through rural areas," Hatton says.

Highway Headaches
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Spend More Time at Each Stop
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Spend More Time at Each Stop

Instead of staying two to three days in one area, aim for a week, if you have the time, says Austin of the Escapees RV Club. "The less you drive your motorhome or tow your trailer, the less fuel you consume," Austin says. "As an added bonus, you have more time to explore the area, try new restaurants, enjoy more of the outdoor spaces, or take in local entertainment."

Related: 50 Best Restaurants for RV Road Trips

Refuel in Cheaper Locations
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Refuel in Cheaper Locations

It's well known that fuel prices are higher in California. If you know you're heading that way, stop in a neighboring state to fill your tanks before entering California or other higher-cost areas, Austin says. "The same thought process applied to areas such as national parks and rural areas, where fuel prices tend to be higher due to higher demand and less competition," Austin says. In other words, always plan ahead and refuel where it makes the most sense economically.

Disability Accomodations
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Slow Down

Driving too fast can be expensive, says RV travel blogger, Brittany Wittig, creator of the site The Rolling Pack. "In my experience the easiest way to save money on gas when traveling by RV is by slowing down your travel pace," says Wittig, who suggests aiming for driving around 50 mph. "When my partner and I first started traveling full time in our RV, we were bewildered by the amount of gas we were going through," added Wittig. "We quickly realized that forcing a three-ton vehicle to drive at 60 mph or faster was turning our motorhome into a total gas guzzler. We forced ourselves to slow way down, and our gas bill went down."

Another Word on Speed: Use Cruise Control
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Another Word on Speed: Use Cruise Control

Simply making it a point not to speed is one way to save money on gas. But you can make that effort even easier by opting to use cruise control, which will keep your vehicle at one smooth speed and pace, improving overall fuel efficiency, while reducing your carbon emissions. According to fueleconomy.gov, speeding, rapid acceleration and braking all waste gas, lowering your gas mileage anywhere from 15% to 40% on highways and between 10% to 40% in congested traffic.

Avoid Making Unnecessary Trips
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Avoid Making Unnecessary Trips

It can be difficult to not make unnecessary trips when you're traveling in an RV. However, these trips can cost you quite a bit of money in gas, says Matt Woodley, founder of the site MoverFocus.com, who regularly travels by RV. "Before heading out in your RV to go to the store to buy something or to a restaurant for a quick bite to eat, really think about whether or not this trip is worth the fuel costs," Woodley says.

Streamline Your Vehicle Exterior for Smoother Travel
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Streamline Your Exterior for Smoother Travel

When strapping belongings to an RV, it's best to reduce all the pockets and walls of material that can be caught by the wind, says Zander Buteux of VacationRenter.com and an RV travel expert. "Every bit of stuff you have on your roof will act as a buffer against the wind causing your engine to work harder to maintain speed," Buteux explained. "Help yourself out and smooth out what's on your roof, or put it off the back. I always grimace when seeing those big roof cargo bags flapping on down the highway." Consider purchasing a hard-shell storage box for the top of your vehicle, which is more streamlined and can help make for a more fuel-efficient trip over thousands of miles, Buteux says.

Limit Air Conditioning Usage
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Limit Air Conditioning Usage

There have been studies showing that using a vehicle's air conditioner can impact fuel efficiency by nearly 4 miles per gallon depending on the age and size of the vehicle, says Randy Berman of RVontheGo.com. "Staying cool and comfortable keeps drivers more alert, which is the safest way to drive, so picking and choosing the best times to turn off the AC and enjoy the cool open air depends on safety more than fuel efficiency," says Berman. "Driving in the evening, at night or early in the morning when it's cooler outside would be the best times to crack the windows and avoid the heat."

Avoid Idling
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Avoid Idling

Allowing your vehicle to run when stationary is a waste of gas. If you're doing so to keep the air conditioning on for instance, there are other, more fuel-efficient ways to keep cool, says Woodley of MoverFocus. "You're better off parking in a shady spot and roll the windows down," says Woodley. Idling can drain a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, based on your engine's size and the particular air conditioner being used, according to fueleconomy.gov. Limiting the amount of time your vehicle spends idling will not only cut back on fuel expenses, it can also extend the life of your engine. (Here are 10 Tricks for Staying Cool in Your RV.)

Empty Wastewater Tanks Regularly
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Empty Wastewater Tanks Regularly

When selecting camping locations, it's a good idea to find places that provide freshwater hook-ups and dump stations so that you can empty your fresh and wastewater tanks, eliminating about 8 pounds per gallon of extra weight prior to traveling, suggests Greg Linsmeyer, regional operations director for Blue Water Development, a company that operates six RV resorts on the East Coast.

Conduct Regular Maintenance
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Conduct Regular Maintenance

Properly maintaining your RV is not only a good idea in terms of safety, it can also help reduce gas costs, says Jake McKenzie of Auto Accessories Garage. "One of the best ways to save on gas money in your RV is to do standard and routine maintenance on it," says McKenzie, who says that in addition to tire pressure, such things as the cleanliness of your air filter will have a big impact on fuel efficiency. By some accounts, a clean air filter can improve fuel economy by up to 10%. An out-of-tune engine also impacts fuel economy.

Plan Ahead To Avoid Peak Travel Times
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Plan Ahead to Avoid Peak Travel Times

If there's a long weekend coming up, or the weather has just turned for the better, roads are likely to be busy, which means traffic jams, says Jonathan Holmes, who writes for the outdoors blog Crow Survival. "The No. 1 impact on fuel consumption is sitting in traffic moving at a snail's pace. But, it can be avoided with some forward planning," Holmes says. "If we want to get out for the weekend, we make sure to do all of our packing way ahead of time, which means on the day, we can literally get up and go." Holmes also suggests hitting the road early, like really early. "Before 7 a.m. is good," he adds. "Earlier than that is even better. This means we can almost always be at our destination before most people have even left the house. And the roads are clear most of the way. It saves us a ton of time and fuel."