How to Vacation at Home (or Close to It) With Your RV This Summer

Young couple toasting with bottles of beer near trailer. Camping season

Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

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Young couple toasting with bottles of beer near trailer. Camping season
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

RV Staycation

When people picture RV vacations, it’s usually an epic, cross-country adventure or maybe even visiting all 50 states. If you’re like most Americans, though, rising inflation and outrageous gas prices may have you second-guessing a recreational vehicle vacation this summer. Nearly every RVer we spoke with in the Cool RV Stuff Facebook group — the largest one — said they have been staying closer to home. Fortunately, there are many ways you can enjoy an RV staycation right at home or close to it this summer.

Related: What It's Really Like to Vacation in an RV

Camping nights

Camp in Your Driveway or Backyard

As a kid, you might remember camping in your backyard. Even though you didn’t go anywhere, it still filled you with joy to just be camping. Why not bring that back? If you have a flat spot to park in a driveway or backyard, there is no reason you can’t enjoy a night of fun. Toast marshmallows over a chimenea fire, cook hot dogs, and make your own paradise. 

Related: Little-Known Facts About RVs

A couple enjoying a picnic and country views
Vladimir Vladimirov/istockphoto

Have a Dinner Date in the RV

I remember eating our first dinner in an RV. Even though everything practically slid off the table — we were parked on an extremely sloped road — the excitement more than made up for it. If you need a change of scenery or a quick escape from the kids, dinner in the RV can be as fun as you make it. Hopefully, you have a flatter place to park it for an even better time. 

Related: RV-Friendly Meal Hacks for Delicious Eats On the Road

Young entrepreneur woman working from her RV

Use Your RV as a “She Shed” (or “He Shed”)

When you’re parked at home, an RV can be the ideal “she shed,” says Kelly Beasley of Camp Addict. “Nobody can see or hear what I’m doing in there, so I can let my creative juices flow with no judgment.” So grab a good book to read, start writing that novel you’ve always dreamed about, do some yoga, or even paint. Your RV might just prove to be the perfect place to escape to when you can’t actually escape. 

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Mature woman getting RV ready to leave for summer vacations.

Park on Nearby Property

Many RVers in the Cool RV Stuff group say they park their RV on their own property and drive the car to it when they need to escape. If you don’t have your own place, maybe you have friends or family members who would let you park your rig nearby. Be sure to check local zoning restrictions to make sure this is allowable. 

Colorful Camping Site at Fall

Get a Seasonal RV Site

If you don’t have your own property or don’t want to deal with all the work that goes into setting up an RV site, there is another option: Many RV parks offer seasonal sites. This means you rent for the season and can leave your RV parked there all summer long. Driving the car instead of the RV every time you want to camp can save a lot on gas. Seasonal sites often need to be reserved well in advance, but you never know what you might find even partway into the season. 

Camper Van Situated in the Northern Arizona Desert near Monument Valley Tribal Park under a dramatic sky wild camping or boondocking

Give Boondocking a Go

Don’t have property to park on? Think again. In many states, you can take advantage of boondocking on “your public land,” as the government likes to call it. There are rules and regulations to follow, but it might surprise you what kind of cool, free camping you can find in your own backyard. 

With the camper through the Alsace Wine Route

Try Harvest Hosts to Find Nearby Spots

Another option for finding nearby places to park: Harvest Hosts. When you buy a membership, you can find dozens of places to park for free for one to two nights. Local wineries, farms, museums, and more might be hosts. The organization’s map will give you an idea of how many options might be close to home. 

RV van in Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Take Your RV to a Local Outdoor Area

“RVs are great for actually seeing things in and around the town in which you live. How many people do you know who live near the beach but never go? Or live near the mountains yet haven’t visited? Especially if you have a smaller RV, using it is the perfect excuse to go park at an attraction near you and go explore,” Beasley says. 

Beachside Summer RV Vacations

Take Your RV to the Beach

You may need to arrive early to ensure a parking spot, but taking an RV to the beach is the ideal way to use it close to home. You can beat the heat and have a place to eat or relax. If you have a generator, you can kick on the air conditioning for a blast of cold air in the heat of the day. 

Tree Lined Sidewalk in Lincoln Park Chicago
James Andrews/istockphoto

Bring Your RV to a Local Park for the Day

Bringing your RV to a local park for a barbecue is another way to use it close to home. You can load up the cooler, extend the awning, and spend a day relaxing. Invite friends or family members and make a day out of it. 

Camping in a trailer in the trees
Larry Crain/istockphoto

Check Out City Campgrounds

Many cities have small campgrounds you can search out and stay at for very reasonable rates. Not only can you save money by not having to pay for gas on a long trip, but the cost per night can be as low as $20. Compared with staying a big resort that can cost more than $100 a night, these campgrounds are a money-smart choice. 

Class A motorhomes in RV park
J. Michael Jones/istockphoto

Visit State Parks in Your Home State

“If you want to venture out a little way from home but not drive hundreds of miles, you might consider visiting a state park,” says Erick Young of RV Toolbox. A benefit of state parks over national parks is less crowing. Chances are you can find a nearby state park with a campground within a few hours. 

RV leaving through gate

Invite Family to Stay in Your RV and Vice Versa

Visiting family, especially if you have to drive an RV to do it, can be expensive. Hotel prices can be even worse. A simple solution? Invite family to come stay with you and experience a private RV stay experience. You’ll love getting to visit without having your house overwhelmed (especially by in-laws). Bonus points if they also have an RV, so you can flip-flop visits. 

view of the pool

Visit a Local Water Park

Visiting a local water park is fun. Visiting a local water park and having a place for the kids to eat lunch or relax midafternoon is even better. Call ahead to ensure there is room for RVs.

Wellfleet Drive In, Cape Cod

Go to a Drive-In Movie in Style

Another way to use an RV close to home: Go to a drive-in movie. If you have a motorhome, you can’t beat watching a movie out the front window. There are even some drive-in movie theaters specifically for RVs. Before visiting, check it out in a car beforehand to ensure there is adequate space for an RV to park — and turn around. Make sure you park somewhere that doesn’t block other patrons from seeing. 

Recreational vehicle at campsite nightime

Make Your Own “Drive-In” Movie

Enjoy an outdoor movie without driving anywhere by making your own “drive-in” experience. Many RVs have an outdoor television, or you can set up a projector screen. Grab camp chairs or blankets and enjoy a fire — with s’mores, obviously — while watching a movie.