Three ‘Splurge’ Items to Consider While on an RV Trip

One of the best things about owning an RV is being able to travel on a budget. Once you get past the upfront expense of purchasing the RV, you should be able to take many affordable trips to great destinations all throughout the region where you live. Most RV parks and campgrounds offer affordable nightly rates, and you can even find places to park for free if you are willing to look around long enough. If you want to be able to get away on plenty of vacations – but don’t want to break the bank – there is a lot to like about vacationing in an RV.

Taking a Guided Tour is a Great Way to See an Interesting Area
Taking a Guided Tour is a Great Way to See an Interesting Area

However, even if you are trying to vacation on a budget, it is okay to spend a little money from time to time in order to have a great experience on your trip. Each of the three items below might be a little bit outside your typical RV-trip budget, but none of them are wildly expensive either.

#1 – A Meal at a Nice Restaurant

RV kitchens are great, but even a talented cook is a little bit limited by the equipment available on the RV. Therefore, if you have been on a trip for a week or two, you might feel like you have been eating similar meals over and over again. If that is the case, consider taking yourself and the family out to a nice meal at a local restaurant in order to break up the monotony. Not only will you enjoy the food, but you can also use this as an opportunity to meet some local people and experience just a little bit of the culture wherever you happen to be staying.

#2 – A Guided Tour

This is another idea that depends entirely on the destination of your trip. If you are staying near to a major city or a well-known natural area, you might find that there are guided tours available for a fee. Many travelers will pass on those tours in order to save money, but taking part could give you an insight into the area that you would not have otherwise enjoyed. If you are considering taking a guided tour of a specific location, take some time prior to your trip in order to read reviews on the tours that are available so you can book one with confidence.

#3 – Souvenirs for the Family

Sometimes, buying souvenirs is a quick way to waste some money that you could have spent on something more useful. However, if you are visiting a particularly memorable location such as a National Park, you might want to go ahead and buy something for each member of the family to take home. Your best bet is to look for items that you would use anyway – such as t-shirts and sweatshirts – so you don’t end up buying something that just sits on a shelf collecting dust. It is easy to blow your budget buy purchasing souvenirs at every single stop along the way, so be careful to pick out just one or two important places where you would like to take home something to help you remember the trip.


  1. I disagree with all three, if you are in a nice, big Class A Motorhome, all three are null and void. As for #3, it really is a waste of money, pictures are enough, in fact if you take more than the average person does, you will appreciate them more later on and when you travel many states and many National Parks you want pictures to be the center for you. As for eating out, that to is a waste of money, the reason for RV’ing is to avoid hotel bills, restaurant bills and wasting money on souvenirs that you will throw away later or sell for nothing in a yard sale. Better to budget and take more trips!

    • Speak for yourself. We enjoy eating out sometimes, but not always. We like a few souvenirs, shirts coffee mugs and some refrigerator magnets. We do not go overboard on any of these. We have fun on our trips. We don’t spend time at the table counting our change. Maybe because we have a smaller trailer, we can enjoy the trip more. No big payments.

    • I disagree. Eating out allows you to sample the local cuisine. If you don’t, you are missing out on part of the local culture.

    • You are so right, all three are bogus. This has been my first year in an older class a rig. I can put together meals most restaurants would fail at. And yes, photos over nik nacs. Full timing and learning more every day.

    • We don’t campbto dave money. We camp for the experience of it which we love. So much so we sold our home, retired and camp 12 months out of the year. I love a few souvenirs, experiencing local cuisine. The truth is eacj family has their own idea of what to splurge on and where to cut corners

  2. As for souvenirs I buy one charm for my bracelet only save money and space I also take guided tours if I want Togo back later I know what area interested me and what I want to see more of use judgement

  3. I usually let time, location, and #1 has to be consideration guide me. If out away for a considerable time we have to plan a day out of the week or two weeks for a laundry stop. This day would be in town and you might as well combine it with seeing a little of the town, the local attraction(s), and maybe a souvenir shop. The shop stop isn’t so much for purchasing as it is for a break, a relaxing viewing of gadgets or clothing that depict the pride of the area. Like a short tour perhaps. Finally, but most importantly is to use the seperate nice meal afternoon as an appreciation day for the ‘hardest’ worker on a RV trip, the wife, or companion. I could list all the reasons, but if you don ‘t do this you won’t be RVing for long with a partner. Face it guys, the woman works harder, and has the most tedious chores. While the man has the tough stuff like driving, fishing, maintenance items, the wife is what keeps harmony in the entire trip… cooking, menus, cleaning, laundry, kids?, dogs? Believe me, they deserve a day off from all this great outdoors once every week or so, and it won’t kill you. Side note; We’ve been camping and RVing for 52 years, married for 51. Our kids (3) and grand kids are all raised the same way. It’s true, a family that camps together stays together… if done right.

    • Amen! As a kid camping, I have wonderful memories. As the mom, I had no idea how much work went onto camping! Cleaning and prepping the camper, packing, don’t forget toys for the kids and dog and every possibility, then while you’re camping, the meals, messes and laundry, then the cleaning up when you get home. Yes, please, to local cuisine, maybe a souvenir or two and I have taken a few guided tours which were wonderful! So, yes please, the extras are nice from time to time. Vacation is what makes your heart happy. 🙂

  4. Checking out the sights near your camping area is a must for us. Have some way to get off road and enhance your photo ops with a towed vehicle if you are motor homing it. Check with the campsite hosts/owners and explore. The areas around the Tetons, all the National Parks, Wyoming Big Horns, Montana Glacier NP and surrounding BLM. We tow a Jeep but there are countless ways to do it. You will see lots more and stay longer if you look around.

  5. We got our first RV in 1976. We usually went out on weekends and a one week trip to Myrtle Beach for most of that time until my husband retired. Our first major trip was to Alaska! Wow! We traveled solo and explored whatever we wanted along the way.
    So, that being said, I would put your list in the “it just depends” category.
    We eat out when we want to because that may very well be a part of the experience, such as lobster rolls in the New England states or salmon in Alaska or steak in cattle country. But, if grilling out or building a campfire and roasting hotdogs, cooking s’mores or making hobo pies while you’re snuggled in the woods or overlooking a lake, then that’s what you need to do.
    Next, we did the tours both ways. We didn’t want to drive in Boston so we took a a small bus tour and loved it. Other times we did self-guided tours. Look at all the info about the place and then decide.
    On to souvenirs. Yes, take lots and lots and lots of pictures. You will want to buy some souvenirs, but wisely make your choices. I’ve been buying bears. Now, I didn’t go to Alaska and buy a bear ‘made in China’. I wanted all our souvenirs made by a local artisan. I’m very pleased with my bears and love the ulu knives purchased in AK. I still use mine.
    Anway, remember, sometimes “it just depends”.

    • I completely agree with you. We don’t live like paupers at home, so why should we when we are on the road. We try to make a habit of not eating in a restaurant more than once a day. But, eating at Burger King or something like that is just part of the day. And, if you need to watch every penny that you spend, maybe you should wait on the RV trips until that lifestyle is more affordable to you. When we are near large cities, a good way to see a lot in a short amount of time and a small price is Greyline tours. Most cities have them and they can even be “hop on, hop off” tours. Now that we are both retired, we spend most of the winter in south Florida in our RV and love every moment of it. We usually take one day per week and visit a town, island, or some place we’ve not seen before. The remainder is spent sitting under the awning reading, or napping.

      • And, yes, I do my share of cooking, cleaning and laundry. While we’re camping, when we prepare a meal, we usually do the entire recipe and make several small meals (one to eat, one to freeze) so that it spreads out the effort and keeps down the leftovers. We also do that at home, and sometimes when loading the RV to leave, we just transfer the frozen dishes from the home freezer to the RV freezer. Then we have wonderful meals without breaking the budget or eating leftovers for days.

  6. Oh, by the way, we’ve been in all but two of the continental US states- North Dakota and Minnesota, but I don’t think we’re going to get to those.
    It’s been wonderful!

  7. We started off in a 25ft mallard travel trailer then to a 32ft cougar fifth wheel to a class c motor home now to a 44ft park model trailer that will be sitting in a campground for time indefinite I really didn’t like travelling around but do like the park model even though I have gourmet kitchen to cook in I still have the luxury of going out for meals I love my park model trailer don’t have to worry about flat tires traffic finding a place to park it just sit back on my new deck relax with a glass of wine and wait till dusk and start a camp fire and enjoy

  8. Eating out occasionally no problem as there are specially food in certain areas you might want to try. I found that souvenirs such as t shirts can be got at Wal-Mart cheaper than souvenir shops unless you can find something they might have in clearance rack. Mostly buy for grands anyway

  9. We have been camping since 1970. I collect patches that you sew on. i hav them sewn onto a couple of banners in our rig. It is a real trip down memory lane to show them to fellow campers. That and lots of photos ia I need. Life is Good. Mary

  10. Just an idea if you have children and celebrate Christmas. We buy a Christmas ornament for the kids. Most places have them or something you can put a ribbon around and put on the tree. My guys are 18, 16 and 16 and still love this. Every year when we set up the tree they talk about all the places we have been and the things we have done. I hope when they have there own families and move on with their lives they will share with their families what we have shared together.

    • Shuswap Lake is too die for – currently there. Kelowna & Osoyous, is Wine country – all beautiful, we’re headed there this week. We are now in a 2013 Jayco Melbourne with Manitoba plates if you see us say Hey!

  11. I believe it is a matter of choice. While camping in a RV eliminates hotel costs, we then afford to go out to eat at some of the local restaurants. Cooking at the RV is also great on the grille. So it is whatever U feel like doing or what U R willing to spend. Love going o Saratoga Springs and the race track. Last year won money at track to defer most of the cost of traveling there for 6 days. And yes, we ate out.

  12. I think it is a matter of choice and convenience — sometimes I would prefer to have full hookups as opposed to boondocking or vice versa —–sometimes I like to eat out or experience local cuisine as opposed to cooking my own food —– and as far as souvenirs go i agree with Donna I would rather buy something locally made as opposed to some cheap chinese made knickknack— Photos are great — digital photo frames are awesome because they can hold thousands of photos and you can enjoy a slide TV and have your own travelogue. As for me and my travel i think in terms of a gallon of gas or a loaf of bread if i can save three or four dollars i can buy another gallon of gas or have another sandwich

  13. After setting up our motorhome at a campsite, we often take our car-in-tow to explore the area. Since we are not bringing our motorhome kitchen and fridge with us in the car, grabbing a midday meal is often done at a local restaurant. We get to sample the local cuisine, which is part of our travel adventure, and not worry about having to deal with packing and preserving a lunch in our car.

  14. “Seeing” the area also may mean “tasting” the area! Most of our souvenirs were made by a local artist. Didn’t want to go all the way to AK to buy something “made in china or …” We bought Ulu knives that were made in AK. I’ve collected smal locally crated bears from many different places that now adorn my bookshelves.

  15. To each his/her own! Sometimes, we do exactly that! Eat at local eateries, but souvenirs, enjoy our spot as we would if we were staying in a hotel. Others, we camp! And for those who may be uninformed, I can cook a gourmet meal even in my tiny little RV kitchen. I insisted on the oven and we use it. Do what makes you happy. Be willing to expand your horizons. Enjoy!


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