RV Trip Budget Breakdown: A Couple's Long Weekend Adventure

Dustin and Sarah Bauer's RV parked in front of a sign for Leadville.

RVing is the perfect way to explore Colorado's picturesque mountain towns. Leadville, Colorado, is ideal for a long weekend trip because it is just a few hours away from our home, offers much cooler temperatures in the summer and has some incredibly historic places. We love exploring ghost towns and places with significant educational opportunities to learn about local history, and Leadville fits the bill. The town is jam-packed with fun excursions, yummy restaurants, charming downtown shops, incredible hiking and biking trails, and fun ways to explore the town's rich mining history. We split our time between two of the gorgeous campgrounds that surround the majestic Turquoise Lake, which we found to be the best way to explore the area and save money at the same time.

Our Trip to Leadville, Colorado.

Our Trip Budget Breakdown

Below is a breakdown of the various expenses for our four-day trip through Colorado. We've provided a comparison of what we estimate the same vacation would have cost without our RV (including hotels, food and entertainment).

Our RV Trip

Without Our RV

  • Fuel




    The distance from Fort Collins to Leadville is about 160 miles. We also drove quite a bit while we were in Leadville, including around the lake and to various hiking trails and destinations. In total, we spent almost $226 on gas for the entire weekend.

  • Campground



    Dustin and Sarah Bauer's RV parked at a campsite in a forrest

    We stayed in two different campgrounds while we were gone—one for just a single night, and another for two nights. Both campgrounds cost $34 per night, which included taxes and full access to their boating, hiking and biking sites.

  • Food (Eating in and out)


    Food (eating out)


    We cooked every meal in our RV, with the exception of one dinner and one visit to an ice cream shop. We spent about $197 on groceries, which included everything for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus snacks, water and ice. We had dinner at the famous Silver Dollar Saloon, and spent $76 (including tip). Our afternoon ice cream cost just over $11.

  • Entertainment



    Dustin and Sarah Bauer pointing at a sign and smiling

    Most of our entertainment budget was spent on museum visits and tours of the various mines. We got a tour at Matchless Mine, which cost $14 per person plus a $10 tip. We also visited the Mining Museum, which cost $14 per person. Everything else was free! In downtown Leadville, we visited the Tabor Opera Hall and the Delaware Hotel (said to be haunted). We also rafted on Turquoise Lake, hiked on the trails around the campgrounds, biked through town, and played yard games at our campsite.

  • Total RV Costs


    Total Cost Without RV


Total Savings: $423.66 (38%)

By owning an RV, we have been able to cut down on traditional vacation costs—allowing us to travel more, stay longer and create more memories together. *"Without RV" trip costs are estimated based on current national averages for airfare, lodging, fuel and food unless specified by contributor. "Without RV" estimate assumes entertainment costs would be identical to what was provided by contributor. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Dustin and Sarah Bauer at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

Tips and Tricks for Budgeting for Your Own RV Trip

  1. Key Factors and Considerations for Trip Preparation and Budgeting

    On this particular trip, we chose to stick closer to home to help save on fuel and not have to drive nearly as far. We also packed most of our meals, including pre-made breakfast burritos, frozen pizzas and easy ingredients to make smoothies. We opted to stay at national forest campgrounds since they offered so many great amenities and activities, all of which came at a low cost. And whenever we travel somewhere, we always try to take advantage of free activities and tours to learn about the local history and culture.

  2. How RVing Helped us Save Money

    With our RV, we don't have to worry about paying for hotel rooms and we are guaranteed a comfortable place to sleep every night. Most hotel rooms don't have full kitchens or they have small kitchens with limited items and equipment. Rather than eating out for three meals every day, we can bring all of our own food with us. This saves a significant amount of money, and makes mealtime much simpler and easier for those of us with allergies and dietary restrictions. We're also easily able to bring all of our adventure items with us in the RV—our bikes, rafts, hiking equipment, and camera gear. If we flew or drove in a smaller car, we'd likely have to rent these items at our destination or worry about packing and transporting them. Instead, each item has its own dedicated place in the RV and can be safely locked away when we're not using them. We also love to travel with our four dogs, and the RV allows us to bring them along. We can avoid spending money on pet care, which easily saves us a minimum of $140 per night.

  3. Elevating the Experience

    In our opinion, there's no doubt that an RV can elevate your travel experience. After all, you have your own bed, own bathroom and a kitchen that you can use any time. No more porta-potties or gas station bathrooms, or worrying about finding allergy-friendly foods in a pinch. Having an RV also eliminates the need to pack and unpack all of the time. We keep an extra set of sunscreen, bug spray and first aid kits with us so we don't have to worry about forgetting them and needing to buy them at a premium cost while we're out. Plus, we don't have to worry about accidentally leaving something behind in a hotel room. And, of course, being able to bring our dogs with us makes everything better.

  4. What to Avoid When Planning Your RV Trip

    One of the most common, unexpected expenses when traveling by RV is a tire or maintenance issue. These can be extremely costly, so it's important to do a thorough maintenance walk-through before you head out. Some other unexpected costs can include increased parking fees at touristy locations, last minute campground fees (for example, maybe the boondocking spot you wanted to stay at was too crowded) and fuel. To avoid these unexpected costs, it's important to plan your trip carefully and research your route ahead of time, have a back-up camping location just in case and download apps like GasBuddy to help find the best gas prices.

  5. Our Top Tips for RVing on a Budget

    If you're looking to travel on a budget, there are a few things you can do to save money on overnight stays, food and fuel. One is to boondock or camp in remote areas without hookups (if your RV is capable) and rely on solar energy as much as possible. There is a wide range of apps that help travelers find epic, free camping sites. Otherwise, you can save money by booking your campsites well in advance so you don't have to resort to more expensive alternatives in a pinch. Planning and preparing easy meals ahead of time can save you both time and money on the road, and keeps you from over-packing unnecessary food. Finally, packing light is critical. This will help you save on fuel, keep your space clean and requires less organization time.

  6. Bonus Tip!

    Regardless if you're taking a long or short trip, we recommend utilizing as many RV-specific apps as possible. GasBuddy, iOverlander, AllTrails, US Public Lands, and inRoute are just a few we like. There is an app for practically everything—maintenance checklists, fuel prices, route mapping, meal planning, and free camping. These can be extremely helpful and are easily accessible right on your phone.

the Crew family hanging out in chairs in front of their RV at a boondocking campsite

Calculate the Cost of Your RV Trip

See how your vacation budget compares to an RV trip using this Trip Calculator.

Chelsea and Layla driving down a road next to the ocean

Finance Your RV

Interested in the RV life? It's more affordable than you think.

Find Your Perfect RV

Whether you're new to the world of RVing or you're ready to narrow your search, we're here to help you sort through it all and find the RV that's right for you. Explore RVs based off of your lifestyle and the features important to you.

Find Your RV
An travel trailer RV parked in a green field.