Road Tripping in an RV – Part 2

In Part 1, I mentioned the general costs associated with renting an RV and listed additional expenses one might encounter. Here’s the details on those additional expenses:

  • Campground Fees: Prices vary greatly from campground to campground, as do your surroundings & amenities. You may more for premium sites with full hook-ups (electric, water, & sewer). I think I paid an average of $35 per night. I discovered late in my trip that some RV stops like Flying J offer free overnight parking. So you can pull in & sleep. They don’t have hook-ups, but in moderate weather it would be great.

  • RV Dump Fees: One thing you have to do periodically…or regularly with 5 people…is dump the RV waste storage tanks which are called the Black Water & the Grey Water. That’s toilet & shower/sinks, respectively. If you’re paying for a full hook-up site at a campground, it’s included in your overnight cost. If you’re parking in your sister’s driveway at night, you need to find an RV dump at a gas station like Flying J or at a campground. Flying J is $10 for non-card holder & $5 for card holders. Most campgrounds are $10.

    I want to pause for a moment to tell you a funny story. We left my brother’s house in Birmingham on August 30th. I had dumped the tank in Chattanooga on Sunday morning the 28th. So, I figured there would be a dump station somewhere along the freeway early on our drive. I was wrong! We were 2 hours out of Birmingham & still no Flying J or other site. I was trying to locate a station with Gas Buddy on my Android to no avail.

    I pulled over at the next rest area so I could do a Google search for a dump station. It was still coming up with nothing! I must have sat there for 15-20 minutes trying to locate an RV dump along our route.

    Finally, I gave up & headed toward the rest area exit. Would you believe that there was a FREE RV Dump station right there at the end of the rest area??? We were 16 days into our 16 day trip. I laughed at only now discovering free RV dumps at rest areas (not all rest areas have these). And I thanked God for providing an RV dump when we really needed it. (I didn’t want to lug all that water waste on a 10 hr drive as it’s weight cuts down on fuel efficiency.

  • Propane Costs: To tell you the truth, I was terrified of the propane. I used it sparingly because I feared having to refill it and being clueless. What I discovered was that, at least at the Flying J, they refill it for you. I paid $3.09 per gallon. I used about 1/3 of the propane I started with in 18 days.

  • General Maintenance (oil changes, tires, etc. these are reimbursed): It is possible to have to take the RV rental in for an oil change if you are driving long distances. Tires, of course, can always be an issue. I had to take our rental in for a tune up…which is basically unheard of, according to the man at the rental center. It was annoying, but I didn’t have to pay out of pocket (Not typical! Usually you will pay out of pocket & get reimbursed at the end of the trip.)

  • Air for Tires: This can range from free to a few dollars.

  • Potable Water: This is generally free at RV stations like Flying J, campgrounds you stay at, and any home that you can get a garden hose to the water tank. There are some places that will charge for it, so my advice is fill it with free water whenever you can.

  • Generator: The on-board generator runs off your fuel and also has a meter. Cruise America charges $3 per hour of usage of the generator. You also have to add oil to it. It was one of those things I avoided out of fear of not knowing what I was doing. It isn’t a “necessary” thing in most cases unless you are camping in a primitive area and need to run everything electric at once or long-term. Most things in the RV run off an on-board 12-volt battery or the propane.

  • RV Toilet Chemicals: After you empty the black water tank, and before you use the toilet again, you have to put a toilet chemical into the black water tank. I think I paid $10-15 for a bag of 15 packets and I still have 4-5 left over that I left in the RV for the next person. The chemical indicated you could add it to the grey water tank as well, but Cruise America never advised me about this and I dumped the tanks regularly (daily as I could). This chemical packet breaks down all of the waste & toilet paper sitting in the tank and manages the odor as well.

  • RV Toilet Paper: It’s typically sold in small, 4-pks for about $2.99. It’s single ply and easily breaks down in the black water tank to avoid clogs in the system, hose or sewer drain.

  • Ice: Coolers are recommended for frequent access to cold drinks, so ice tends to be a necessity. It paid anywhere from $1.47 to $1.99 for a small bag and up to $3.99 for a large bag.

  • Drinking Water: Even though you connect the RV to city water or fill the water holding tank, it’s not considered safe to drink or use for cooking. So, I purchased both bottled water (for the cooler) and kept 2 gallons of drinking water on hand for cooking & rinsing tooth brushes. Bottled water was generally less than $4 per 24-28 bottles and the gallons were usually under a $1 each.

In my next RVing post, I’m going to talk about the things I really liked & some things that I did not like.


Christian wife & homeschool mom to 4 in NE FL.


Road Tripping in an RV – Part 1

It all began a few months ago. Another homeschool mom who has her children enrolled in the same private school for unschoolers as I have mine enrolled in, asked if any other families enrolled in the group lived in an RV and traveled about the country.

Until that day, I hadn’t even considered an RV for our travel needs. And I’ve done a lot a traveling with my kids (with and without my husband). I really started thinking about renting an RV when I decided to take my 4 kids to Indiana. There is only 1 hotel where we were going. I’ve stayed there once. It wasn’t that great and now I would need two rooms at an outrageous $90 per night. (Trust me, the place is worth $35 TOPS!) After considering hotels outside the area (a minimum 30 minute drive each way), I started to wonder about renting an RV.

I didn’t know much about renting an RV, but I did recall Lisa Whelchel writing or talking about traveling for a year in a Cruise America RV. So, that’s where I went first to check it out. I then searched for other RV rental websites; contrasting & comparing prices & other details. Eventually, I decided to book with Cruise America.

So, that’s the long & short of how our RV adventure started out.

Along the journey, I had people everywhere we went ask me questions about renting the RV. Mostly people wanted to know how much it cost. In simple terms, you have a per night cost, plus a mileage rate. Of course, you have to pay for gas too. Oh, and insurance coverage is included in your rental fee with Cruise America (I can’t speak for anyone else, but this could be the standard in the industry.)

But there are other expenses an RVer can encounter.

  • Campground Fees

  • RV Dump Fees

  • Propane Costs

  • General Maintenance

  • Air for Tires

  • Potable Water

  • Generator

  • RV Toilet Chemicals

  • RV Toilet Paper

  • Ice

  • Drinking Water

In my next post, I will go into more detail on those expenses.


Christian wife & homeschool mom to 4 in NE FL.