If you’re new to MomsbyHeart, you can read about our year-long RV adventure HERE.
The last month has been an adventurous one for my family, as we headed out to see the country with four of our five kids, our fifth wheel and our trusty hula girl. Today I write from the mountains of Oregon, where we are enjoying great weather, and spectacular views.
But not everything has been roses and rainbows. This is what happened just four hours into our trip to Oregon. We had an *ahem* unscheduled week-long stay in the Texas desert due to some truck issues. You can read all about it on our travel blog. But all ended well, and we were back on the road, no worse for wear.
In fact, our unplanned adventure allowed us time to visit Big Bend National Park in Texas, something we would’ve missed otherwise.
Once we made it to our destination, we were blown away. Not only is Oregon indescribably beautiful, it is the perfect place for visiting on a budget. There are miles of free trails to hike, including parts of the original Oregon Trail! At our campground, we even have wild huckleberries and blackberries for the picking.
Huckleberries make for amazing pancakes, in case you were wondering…
Have a look at that! It was so awesome to be able to teach my autistic son what a mountain is by showing him one! Total cost for this experience: $0! It’s been easy to stay on our $3000/month budget without feeling deprived when we can soak in these spectacular views for FREE!
If you’re wondering how we are able to travel on such a small budget, here are my top 10 tips.
- Pay off all debt. This was our first step, and the most time consuming. But a goal like this is worth the effort.
- Save to pay cash for an RV. If you’re willing to get an older model, you can easily get one for $7,000-$9,000. We found ours on Craigslist, but I’ve seen some great deals on RVtrader. RVing is a surprisingly affordable way to travel.
- Establish a savings of at least 3 months living expenses. This is to allow for some “cushion” in case your income drops, or you are in need of unexpected repairs. Thanks to our savings, our trip was not derailed by our unscheduled pit-stop in the desert!
- Be willing to work while traveling. I am blogging from the road, and my husband is lining up construction work wherever we go. You can also workamp.
- Stay at campgrounds for at least one month. Most places have HUGE discounts for monthly campers. Our campground in Oregon charges $55/night, or $560 per month. That’s a big savings of over 60%. Where else can you live for less than $600 while enjoying free access to swimming pools, hiking trails, weekend crafts, and free outdoor movies/popcorn?
- Consider memberships to Thousand Trails and/or Passport America for even more campground savings. *TIP* you’ll save hundreds by signing up for Thousand Trails membership at one of their campgrounds rather than online.
- No restaurants on the road. For us, the experience of eating at a restaurant just isn’t worth the expense.
- No amusement parks. Or anything that charges admission, for that matter. I love Disney as much as the next gal. But did you see that view of the mountain? That was about $6000 less than the cost of seeing Mickey. And I don’t feel deprived. At. All.
- Limited visits to museums. This one might ruffle some feathers, but again, it’s about the most bang for our buck. There are several “free” museum days, and often the small town museums are free all the time. Occasionally, we will be paying to see a museum or two, but they will be very carefully chosen.
- Be realistic and don’t give up. We planned and saved for almost 2 years before we were able to hit the road. We were determined to hit our financial goals before heading out, because we knew it would be worth the wait!
We plan to stay in Oregon for the next several weeks, so we can see the gorgeous fall color change, and pick apples in neighboring Washington state. We still need to explore the Oregon Trail, hike to some waterfalls, and spend some more time at the campground’s indoor pool! I plan to do a Couponing Across America post in the next few weeks, so if you’re curious about food prices in different areas of the US, stay tuned!
Oh, and be sure to follow us on Instagram if you want to see the latest travel pics!