If your recreational budget is tight, like mine is, there are many ways to cut your camping costs without spending a lot of money. You can borrow, rent, trade or barter for some of the things you need. Not everything recreational can be exchanged this way, but there are some – and each can help you travel more and spend less. Here are my recommendations:
Rent or Borrow
Let’s start the list with RVs. Many frugal campers determine that they just don’t travel enough to justify buying an RV for camping a few weekends a year. Renting makes much more sense, especially if they can get a discount by pre-paying for vehicle time or mileage, called “blocks.” Ask local RV retailers about this option. Other frugal RVers have a rig for weekend trips, but still want to take extended trips in RVs that sleep more people or offer more comforts. Or maybe you want to borrow and try out a smaller rig to see if it better fits your camping needs. Local RV clubs are an especially good resource for borrowing or trading camping rigs with people you know.
You have a wide variety of assets besides cash. These assets can be traded for what you want. For example, you can exchange your goods or services for someone else’s goods or services. That’s called bartering. It’s similar to a cash transaction without the cash. The most obvious place to start a trade is by listing out what you have that you can trade (car, truck, ATV, sports equipment, your skills, etc.). Then make a list of what camping things that you need (vehicle, tent, camping equipment, etc.). Finally, begin looking at your camping buddies for folks who have what you need and need what you have. For example, a new RVer can trade an extra car for a tent trailer. A mechanic can trade services to a friend who is selling an older RV.
Barter and Trade Resources
If you’ve never done much bartering or trading, you may be surprised at how much is being done. The U.S. barter economy is estimated at over $12 Billion-with-a-B per year. No currency exchanges hands. In tough economic times, that number goes up. Here are some resources for getting into the barter-and-trade economy with your camping needs.
- RVTrader.com includes many classified ads with the word “trade” in them. Trade up, trade down.
- GoSwap.org is an online property barter site that includes land, houses, cars, motorhomes, travel trailers, boats, aircraft and other larger assets. There is a fee for listings, but you can read the Search results for free and look for something you want.
- TradeAway.com is a listing service for barter transactions including transportation (cars, motorcycles, RVs, aircraft).
- Craigslist.org is the grand-daddy of whatever-you-got transactions. It is one of the top 50 websites in the world! Select the edition for your area and Search for “motorhome” and “trade” or “barter” and be amazed. Also, be careful. Because it is so popular, it has been abused and there are numerous scams. Remember: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Even bigger than craigslist is eBay.com. At any given time, more than 500 million items are for sale on eBay including trailers, motorhomes, parts, books and GPS units. (I purchased one of my pickup-and-trailer rigs via eBay!) And there are 128 million buyers and sellers using the system. Barter and trade are not so easy on eBay, but it is a good resource for selling assets you don’t need and getting good-old-cash for them.
One caveat: Barter and trade transactions are subject to taxation, just as are cash transactions. U.S. laws say that such transactions are supposed to be reported to the IRS on Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. Your state or municipality may have similar requirements.
Here’s a good option for the frugal RVer: Consider renting, borrowing, bartering or trading the next time you reach for your camping wallet. Travel more and spend less!
>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!