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Old 02-24-2014, 10:53 AM   #1
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Suggestions for reducing camping costs?

Newbie here. I bought an Escape 21 that I will pick up in the spring. I intend to take my time bringing it back to my northwest Florida home, hopefully taking several weeks to get back. I need advice on how to minimize camping costs.

The Escape 21 has the dual 6V batteries but no solar panel; I had it wired for solar and may have a solar panel system installed while on my trip. I will be traveling alone, and I'm not yet eligible for senior discounts.

I am willing to boondock when possible; how long can I hold out before having to dump the tanks on the Escape 21 (assuming I don't drink too much beer)? How long with the batteries last on a charge? Any tips on camping club memberships, etc? Please fire away.

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Old 02-24-2014, 11:02 AM   #2
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Hi Mike and welcome. A good place to start is with Passport America (Passport America Website) they are great if you are travelling as they offer half price discounts but only for short periods. As for the battery and tanks those are based on usage but one person should easily get a week off that black tank. Hope this helps.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:22 AM   #3
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Dry camping at state park or national forest campgrounds will be much less expensive than private KOA type campgrounds. A night at a truck stop or walmart every 3 or 4 nights can reduce your overnight expenses by about 25%. You could probably make it all the way back to FL staying in truck stops/walmarts/casinos for almost nothing if you were desperate.

Many hi-way rest areas out west even had free dump stations.

Stay out of town, buy groceries rather than eat at restaurants, and keep your speed down to save the most money. I took six weeks to get back to RI from Chilliwack last summer. Awesome trip. Enjoy it.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:29 AM   #4
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I have a 13' Scamp w/full bath. I judge my water usage by input=output. The fresh water tank is about 9 gallons, black water 6 gallons and grey 15 gallons. If I fill my fresh water up 2x, I figure its time to dump when I get down to the end of the 2nd fill up. It is a conservative estimate. Scamp has LED lights. I have used it for 4 days without charging the 1 battery it has and don't think it was close to wearing down. If things start to get dim, it can be hooked to the vehicle and start the vehicle, or recharge it by running a generator.

Watch the fine print on Passport America. Some discounts are only good for certain days and/or certain times of the year. If you have AAA or AARP you can usually get a discount.

If you are just boon-docking overnight, sometimes I stay at a Pilot/Flying J truck stop. Some have dump facilities, electric hookups and water. A Camping World membership will get you discounts on gas and RV facilities. A $50, 2yr mbrshp will return you a $25 certificate to use in any Camping World store. The truck stops also offer showers for a few $$ if you don't want to add to your waste tanks.

Congratulations and good luck!!
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:34 AM   #5
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Many casinos also allow free overnight parking...another option to check out.
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Old 02-24-2014, 11:37 AM   #6
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Check the web for maps re Dispersed Camping on National Forest land. We were forced to do so in Sedona last October during Gov't shutdown, now we prefer it and don't like staying in parks that are more than 1/2 full. Our four year old batteries last 4 days. Price is right too: $0. Just be sure you check where you're going so you know you can turn around(-;
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:30 PM   #7
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Hi: Mike Lewis... Our trip down to Florida included two nights at Cracker Barrel stores. We did stay for meals, so it was revenue neutral... but too cold to cook in the trailer, and no water to clean up with. Alf
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Old 02-24-2014, 01:42 PM   #8
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I am a fan of Cabela's for overnight stays. I believe Bass Pro Shops offer a similar overnight. Usually these locations are not mentioned as camping but RV Parking, it makes sense.

What I like about Cabela's is we can keep Trigger in the horse corral while we rest. The store in Omaha had someone using the kennels the night we were there. The dogs looked the size of small deer.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:15 PM   #9
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Have ETI install your solar and you will have unlimited power every night with solar keeping your batteries charged. Make sure you also get propane filled and get some of that Canadian water in your tank. Passport America is great for Mon-Thurs nites, most have limits on weekend nights. American Legion if a member, local church affiliation, your home town church can help with that. Each state has different rest stops, some are very nice. The truck stops also have $ showers. I normally plan on showers every other night when traveling alone. By stocking up your refer you can save a lot of $$ for food, enjoy the trip.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:33 PM   #10
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I seem to struggle with paying for a camp site while on the road to some where to simply sleep. In these cases I will find locations that over night parking is alowed to simply get a bit if shut eye. I am more than happy to pay for a camp site if we are stopping some where for a couple nights. I find this really cuts the cost of a trip as there are always a few nights like this .
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Old 02-24-2014, 04:22 PM   #11
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I would second Jim's comment about having ETI install your solar panel, as opposed to having it done on the road somewhere. Unless you're really up on solar knowledge, I would opine that you'd be taking some unnecessary chances with unknown vendors, at who knows what cost(s).
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Old 02-24-2014, 04:31 PM   #12
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This is the first I've heard about Passport America. Are there a fair number of campgrounds that honor the passport?
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthe View Post
This is the first I've heard about Passport America. Are there a fair number of campgrounds that honor the passport?
Here is the site Passport America The original 50% Discount Camping Club - Passport America Discount Camping Club they have the campgrounds listed by state with all the information as to when and how long they honour the membership.
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:20 PM   #14
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Some free locations to stay (such as Walmart and truck stops) have a side benefit of reducing the rate of waste tank filling: you can't dump the trailer tanks there, but you can use their facilities instead.

I have been surprised by the number of free dump sites run by both municipalities and businesses. The municipal sites can be at visitor welcome centres (Edmonton is an example, at Gateway Park), at municipal campgrounds, or at utility locations such as water and sanitation yards (I've used Fort Saskatchwan AB, and Dryden ON, for instance). Many of of these locations also have free or cheap fresh water fill stations. Businesses are generally those which serve customers with RVs, such as RV dealerships, or (a local example) Canadian Tire (a hardware and outdoor goods chain).
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:37 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies so far. I was thinking about longer stays and shorter legs in between, such as stay a week or two in one location, drive 200 miles, stay a week or two, drive 200 miles, etc. I'd like to indulge my hobby of landscape photography on this trip. From what you've told me so far, I guess I should be looking at state parks and BLM land in rural areas.

Regarding the solar panel-- I may need more solar /battery capacity than ETI provides, hence my thoughts about looking at a third-party supplier. If possible I want to run a microwave a few minutes a day (yes, I'm a bachelor), I want to do Photoshop work at night, and since the Escape 21's fridge is a 3-way, I might try to run it on 12V via solar panel(s) and batteries instead of propane.

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Old 02-24-2014, 08:38 PM   #16
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Cabelas, Bass Pro, C/W also may have dump facilities as well as allow over night. I also like to stay at CrackerBarrel, come in late, eat dinner, use their facilities, sleep, have breakfast at 6am, use their facilities and be on the road by 7 am.
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:57 PM   #17
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Here's a follow up to Brian's reply regarding dump sites. I've used this link to locate nearby dump sites when needed. They list both free and small fee locations - www.sanidumps.com
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:07 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
Thanks for the replies so far. I was thinking about longer stays and shorter legs in between, such as stay a week or two in one location, drive 200 miles, stay a week or two, drive 200 miles, etc. I'd like to indulge my hobby of landscape photography on this trip. From what you've told me so far, I guess I should be looking at state parks and BLM land in rural areas.

Regarding the solar panel-- I may need more solar /battery capacity than ETI provides, hence my thoughts about looking at a third-party supplier. If possible I want to run a microwave a few minutes a day (yes, I'm a bachelor), I want to do Photoshop work at night, and since the Escape 21's fridge is a 3-way, I might try to run it on 12V via solar panel(s) and batteries instead of propane.

Mike Lewis
You want to operate the refer off propane while sitting still and possibly while towing, except when in gas stations. The 12v option should only be used while towing and make sure you have your tow vehicle properly set up with the correct charge wire, the alternator and the solar should keep the battery bank charged while towing. The computer is 12v and most televisions are 12v so with close to 100 a/h available you will not run out of juice. Use the propane stove to heat your food, the microwave is best left when hooked to 120v.
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:20 PM   #19
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When traveling the two biggest expenses are going to be fuel. Both for your tug and your body. Figure out how to slow both of those down and you'll be money ahead! If you pay for a site, use EVERYTHING you're paying for. Don't run on propane if the site has electricity... you've paid for the electricity. Use it, use propane when you need too. Are you a traveler (site) or working toward a destination? That determines what you pay. Remember, you may never pass this way again... enjoy the moment.
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Old 02-24-2014, 10:10 PM   #20
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Donna-

My only firm destination on this initial trip is to eventually get back home to Florida. I'm trying to set things up here so I can be gone for several weeks if I wish. I don't intend to hurry, and I don't plan to do a lot of driving in a short period of time if possible. That way I hope to keep the fuel cost under control. I have to eat wherever I am, so hopefully that cost won't increase. I just want to figure out the cheapest way to camp for a week or so at a stop while I'm on my trip.

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