How To Save Money On Gas While Camping

With gas price at all time record highs, I thought it’d be good to give you some easy ways to save money on gas while you’re camping so I called up Gary Ruplinger of and asked him what he’d recommend people do to cut down on gas usage – here’s what he had to say…

Before you leave

When you’re packing for your camping trip, ask yourself if you’re going to really need all that stuff you’re packing. I know that I’ve found I’ve taken a lot of things camping that I never even thought to use. Every extra 100 pounds you pack into your vehicle or camper can reduce your mileage by up to 2%.

Also, now’s the time to check your tires on both your vehicle and your camper to make sure that your tires are properly inflated. It’s been estimated that up to 80% of people are driving around on underinflated tires which can reduce your gas mileage by another 2-3%, and if you’re towing a camper, that number goes up since you have more wheels on the ground.

If you have a roof rack or anything large on the outside of your vehicle or camper that you’re not going to be using on your trip, then take it off. Roof racks have been known to reduce fuel mileage by up to 10% since they mess with the vehicle's aerodynamics. If you’re going to use it on your trip for your bike or kayak or whatever, then by all means, use it, but if you can do without it, then take it off, or switch to a rear mounted rack instead.

While driving to your campsite

When you’re driving your camper, take it easy. It’s not only safer to drive slower when you’re pulling a camper behind you, but it’s going to use a lot less gas. That means keep your top speed lower than normal, try to anticipate when you’ll need to break ahead of time, and accelerate slowly. Driving conservatively versus driving aggressively can mean a 35% improvement in your gas mileage.

If you really want to save money on gas, ditch the camper entirely and pack only tents. Pulling a camper can reduce your gas mileage by 15-40% depending on the size, weight, and aerodynamics of the camper you’re pulling.

While camping

While you’re camping, ideally you shouldn’t need to use any gas. Park your vehicle and leave it where it is for the duration of your trip. This does mean you need to come prepared with all the food and supplies you’re going to need, but if you’ve been camping a few times, this should be no problem.

At most campsites you’ll be able to get things like ice which you may run out of sometime during your trip without needing to drive anywhere.

Instead of driving, take your bicycle or walk. You get a much better feel for nature when you experience it by walking or biking through it rather than driving through it anyway.

Plus, I think we could all use a little extra exercise.

If your budget is really tight, then you could look for campsites that are much closer to home. Instead of driving across the country to go camping, you could drive across the state. Instead of driving across the state, you could drive across the county. You don’t usually need to drive too far to feel like you’re away from it all and you can just relax and enjoy your trip.

Bonus: Advanced gas saving tips

For most people, these tips aren’t going to apply, but if you’re in the market for a new camper or tow vehicle, here are a few bonus tips.

If you’re purchasing a new camper and fuel economy is an issue, you have plenty of options. If you’d like to be able to use a fuel efficient car or small SUV to do your towing instead of a full size SUV or pickup truck, then stick with smaller camper. Popup campers are especially good choices because they’re compact when travelling, and expand into good sized campers at the campsite. But you could also go with a teardrop camper which is know for its excellent aerodynamics or buy an ultralight travel trailer which will get better mileage when towing than a regular travel trailer since ultralights weight significantly less.

If you’ve got your heart set on a full size camper, then go with an Airstream which is far more aerodynamic and easier to tow than regular travel trailers or get a fifth wheel.

If you’re going to be towing a big camper like a fifth wheel or a large travel trailer, then make sure your vehicle is diesel powered. Not only are diesel trucks better suited for towing larger loads, but they’re more fuel efficient than their gasoline counterparts, especially when towing a load – that’s why all the semis and farm equipment you see are diesel powered. Same thing applies if you’re buying a motorhome – always opt for the diesel powered motorhomes verus the gasoline powered ones.

Now quit worrying about the gas prices and get out and go camping already. :-)