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