motorhome fuel stop

Fuel-Saving Apps & Tips for RVers
How to get the best rates on fuel and go longer between fill-ups.
By: GoLife Staff

motorhome fuel stop

While fuel prices are a hot topic of conversation for everyone this year, avid RVers tend to be especially interested in how much fuel costs in different areas across the country. While your fuel budget may be noticeably more this season than in the past, with the right tools, route plan, and strategy you can save quite a bit at the pump!

6 Fuel-Saving Tips for RVers

Here are some recommendations from other RV travelers for finding the best rates on fuel and going longer between filling up your tank …

1. Use the GasBuddy App Search Feature

This app has come up multiple times in past GoLife articles as a must-have for RV travelers. While the popular free app has other features and offers, most RVers use it for the gas station map and search to find the best prices for the type of fuel their RV needs.

screenshot of gas buddy app

Winnebago Journey owners Scott and Jaime Sichler use GasBuddy to find the lowest price on diesel. However, if traveling in a larger RV, Scott recommends doing a little more research before adding a station to your trip.

“With a larger motorhome, and especially when we are towing, we have to confirm we can get in and out of the station by checking the satellite and street view on Google Maps,” he shares. This quick search can help avoid a lot of headaches during fuel stops.

2. Consider Discount Fuel Cards or Cash-Back Options

Winnebago Vista owners Kenny and Sabrina Phillips use their Flying J card/app to get three cents off per gallon, plus discounts on electronics, food, and drinks. To make sure he gets the most use out of the card, he uses their Garmin RV GPS heads-up display to show all the Flying J locations along their route, making it easy to plan ahead on travel days. 

The Sichlers also have a TSD Open Roads diesel card which can be used at selected truck stops to get discounts; however, this is not something they use as often as the GasBuddy app. He shared that the advantage is “you can search on the TSD app map for the lowest price and don't have to worry about access since they are truck stops.” But the disadvantages of the card are that “it comes out of your checking account, there are transaction fees, options are limited, and they keep 10% of the discount.”

crowded fuel stop Tight fit for RVs at a gas station.

Scott noted that they often find it is best to lookup the lowest-priced fuel using GasBuddy, check that they can fit using Google Maps, and use their Costco Visa card which gets them 4% back on fuel purchases for additional savings.

Other stores, like Safeway, Walmart, and Kroger, offer fuel savings card programs as well.

3. Plan Your Route for Fuel Savings

Before locking in your next RV trip, check fuel prices in the areas you plan to go to and along the route you will be taking. If you are on a budget, it may make sense to make some adjustments to avoid areas with higher fuel prices and routes that will decrease your mileage.

Scott notes that their worst mileage was on “curvy and steep climbs on narrow Baja roads,” but has found that interstate freeways are the best bet for fuel efficiency. They also like to avoid driving on windy days if possible because “wind can really affect mileage in high profile vehicles and makes driving difficult in general.”

curvy road in the desert

Another way to save is to use your GPS to help you avoid unnecessary detours. “Our GPS has what is called a heads-up display and we can program up to three items for it to look for along our route,” Kenny shares. “We typically add rest areas for quick stops, casinos for overnight stays, and Flying J’s for our fuel. We find they are typically under two miles from an exit that we will already be passing by, which makes it barely out of our way.”

Kenny notes that driving out of their way can really add up quickly, so it is worth it to consider how far out of the way a gas station, campground, or activity is if trying to save on fuel. For those in a larger RV with lower gas mileage, going four or five miles out of the way and back to your route could be a gallon of fuel.

4. Drive for Maximized Fuel Economy

There are certain driving techniques that can also help you get the most out of your fuel fill-ups. Winnebago Revel owners Kelly Laustsen and David Somach share some of their top tips:

  • Stay at a slower, consistent speed: “We’ve noticed a sharp decrease in efficiency at over about fifty-five miles per hour”
  • Use cruise control: “Increasing and decreasing speed levels uses more fuel than maintaining a consistent speed.”
  • Avoid rapid braking, when possible: “Rapid braking isn’t good for fuel economy. Watch the traffic ahead of your vehicle, looking for brake lights or signs of slowing vehicles.”

If you are keeping an eye on your miles per gallon, you should notice a difference in fuel efficiency if you make these adjustments.

Read more about maximizing your RV fuel economy in this article.

5. Have a Fuel-Efficient Tow Car

\When deciding what kind of vehicle to tow behind your RV, keeping fuel efficiency in mind can also be a great way to save. The Phillips chose a fuel-efficient hybrid tow car to help offset their fuel cost of driving the motorhome. Since it averages over 42 miles per gallon, this is their go-to vehicle to explore in.

winnabego motorhome towing a car

It also helps to consider the weight of your car and its contents. “When traveling, I try to only fill our tow car with half a tank of fuel or less to keep the weight down,” Kenny shares.

For more tips on choosing a tow vehicle and best practices, read this article.

6. Check Your RV for Ways to Save

Keeping up with RV maintenance can help your rig drive more efficiently. Be sure to keep a close eye on your tires and check your tire pressure often to keep it at the optimal point. Some RVers choose to install a tire pressure monitoring system to get alerts on tire pressure changes.

However, the weight of your RV is probably the biggest factor that can be causing you to spend more money at the pump. Getting rid of gear you don’t use, avoiding heavy renovation or mod additions, and just generally downsizing what you pack can give your mileage a boost. Getting your RV weighed is a simple process that can offer some important insights. Learn more here.

Planning your route, taking some extra time to research options, and paying attention to your RV and how you drive it can make a noticeable difference in your fuel budget! We hope these tips help you feel a little less stressed next time you fill up. 

Happy savings and happy travels! 

Comments

User commented on June 26, 2022 11:38 AM
I am a rookie at the RV life, as My Winnebago restoration project continues, but I have found that for saving on fuel consumption, as well as wear and tear on the rig, is to water up as close to the destination as possible, and only take on what You think You will need, drain the sewage at each stopover where sani-dumps are near, and swap out conventional dishes and kitchenware to Melamine, lighter cutlery, high heat plastic utensils and light containers. I imagine this will get a "DUH" from the RV veterans, but every gallon/litre of gas counts.
User commented on June 26, 2022 12:09 PM
The operator manual recommends when towing a vehicle you do not use cruise control
User commented on June 26, 2022 12:52 PM
My Name, Bruce [email protected] I am 80 years old and have a 2015 Itaska 42E. Almost same as a Winnebago tour. A big rig and a lot of weight and a lot of comfort features and two bathrooms and a big engine. I do not know how long I can continue to maintain and drive this thing so I am going to enjoy it as long as I can. This is what I am saying, I am not going to go on a trip worrying about fuel costs and going out of my way to save $10. on a $150. fuel fill up. I will just cut out some of the miles knowing I may not get to see everything on this trip but I will try to include whatever I missed on the next one if the good Lord is willing to allow that to happen. For me it amounts to enjoy your trip, drive safe and I say 3:00 or 300 miles whatever comes first, get into that RV park, have a cool drink and meet some new folks, get some rest and have some fun tomorrow. Safe travels and Peace to you. Bruce
User commented on June 26, 2022 5:12 PM
I disagree about using cruise control. It is inefficient to maintain a constant speed when climbing hills. Manually keep the gas pedal at the same pressure, if your vehicle slows down, so what.
User commented on June 26, 2022 5:24 PM
I have found that NOT using cruise control is more economical, especially on hilly travels. Unlike cruise control I can look down the road to see if a hill is coming and I can start picking up speed on the downhill getting momentum for the upgrade. Anyone that has done any kind of traveling pulling a trailer would know that cruise control is only beneficial on a steady, level, grade.
User commented on June 27, 2022 5:52 PM
Three cent savings ar Flying J is a myth. Their fuel is much more expensive than any other out there.