How to Save Money Camping in Alberta

By Sam Lemna | March 11, 2022

Despite its low-cost reputation, camping in Alberta can get expensive quickly. You’re paying for campsites, passes, fuel, food, firewood – and that’s all after you’ve spent the money to buy an RV! In this article, we’ll share some tips on how to save money camping in Alberta.  

How to Save on Buying an RV in Alberta 

Due to the lack of a provincial sales tax, you will already be saving more money. . Here are a few extra tips to help save you money when buying an RV in Alberta: 

  • Buy used rather than new (make sure you get an inspection). 
  • Negotiate (and be ready to walk if your price isn’t met).  
  • Look to buy during sales or at the end of camping season. 
  • Pay attention to extra fees that might end up on your bill. 
  • Look for the lowest interest rates if you’re financing.  
  • Consider perks that may be offered by a dealership (such as maintenance and winter storage).  

Before you buy an RV, you should consider the maintenance and fuel costs as this will directly impact your camping costs down the road.  

You could also consider listing your RV on an RV-sharing platform like Outdoorsy. This can help your RV pay for itself when you’re not using it. Just don’t forget to let your insurance broker know! 

How to Save on RV Maintenance in Alberta 

Maintaining your RV can be expensive, but it is essential. You’ll save a lot of money taking care of small problems before they become big. Taking good care of your RV also means you’ll be less likely to have issues that keep you from camping.  

The best money-saving tip for RV maintenance in Alberta is to do it yourself. You can do most basic maintenance and fix small problems if you’re a little handy.  

In some cases, dealerships will offer maintenance packages or discounts if you’ve purchased an RV from them.  

How to Save on Campgrounds in Alberta 

Not all campgrounds in Alberta have the same rates. In provincial and national parks, the fees largely depend on the location of the campground and its amenities. The more basic the campground, the cheaper it is. You can see a list of Alberta’s low-cost provincial parks here – there are even some free sites! 

Alberta also has Public Land Use Zones (PLUZ) where you can camp. You will need to purchase a Public Lands Camping Pass ($30 per adult, kids are free). Keep in mind that this is boondocking or backcountry camping so there are no services or amenities.  

You can also camp for free in Alberta’s wildland parks, however, motorized vehicles are not normally allowed. There are also no services in these areas. 

There are some low-cost private campgrounds in Alberta, mostly operated by municipalities. Some private campgrounds may offer discounts for longer stays or if you have certain memberships, like Good Sam or AMA. Also be sure to keep an eye out for campgrounds that charge more over long weekends. 

Generally, you can expect to save money on campgrounds by camping during shoulder season or the off-season. Campsites with no services are also cheaper.  

Check out this article on where to camp in Alberta for free or cheap. 

How to Save on Food when Camping in Alberta 

The first step to saving money on food when camping in Alberta is to avoid eating out. Save this for special occasions.  

To save money cooking at the campground, prepare ahead of time. This will reduce food waste and ensure you’re not spending money on groceries you won’t use. Plan your meals and prep ahead of time where you can. Make that your food is properly stored to prevent food poisoning. 

You can also save money on groceries by buying in bulk (stick to things that won’t go bad). It’s also worthwhile investing in reusable dishes and utensils – and much better for the environment.  

Two RVs driving down an Alberta highway. They're going uphill and there's a lake, forest and mountains in the background.

How to Save on Gas when Camping in Alberta 

The further you go, the more you’ll spend on gas. You’ll also spend more driving through the mountains, thanks to the hills. Here are some tips to save on gas when you’re camping in Alberta: 

  • Check your tire pressure as tires not properly inflated can increase your fuel consumption. 
  • Use an app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest fuel.  
  • Take advantage of discounts through AMA or Costco gas (if you have a membership), or visit gas stations like Centex that offer cheaper fuel on certain days of the week.  
  • Bring less stuff with you – the less weight you have to haul, the less gas you’ll use.  
  • Don’t move around as much on your longer camping trips.  

How to Save on Activities when Camping in Alberta 

Luckily, camping and free outdoor activities often go hand in hand. Here are some tips to save on activities when you’re camping in Alberta: 

  • Check Groupon for discounts on golf, museums and other activities where you’re camping.  
  • See if discounts are offered for AMA members, families or seniors.  
  • Stay at campgrounds with activities included (interpretive programs, bike parks, a lake, pools, et cetera). These can be more expensive, but it may be worth the extra expense if you’re spending a lot on activities.  
  • Buy used gear.  
  • Rent new items instead of buying, especially if you might only use it once.  
  • Use things from home rather than buying items specifically for your camper (this means a lot more packing, but it is a lot cheaper).  
  • Check if there are free activities nearby.  


How to Save Money on RV Storage in Alberta 

The cheapest way to save money on RV storage in Alberta is to keep your RV at your home. However, many municipalities prohibit RVs from being parked on the street or even in a driveway for too long. Check your local bylaws and see what your options are.  

Generally, location and security impact the cost of RV storage. RVs are common targets for theft, so it is important to make them as secure as possible. Your RV should also be protected with wheel covers and a cover or tarp, if possible. Investing in wheel locks and hitch locks may be worth it if your overall storage costs are lower.  

How to Save on Insurance in Alberta 

If you’re travelling out of province or headed to the U.S., make sure you have travel medical insurance. Healthcare costs can be extremely high, especially south of the border. This coverage can save you a lot of money if you have an unexpected injury or illness.  

If you have an RV, there are a few ways you can save on RV insurance: 

  • Raise your deductible (the amount you pay if you have a covered claim). 
  • Choose an actual cost value loss settlement (if your claim is covered, you’ll receive the market value of your RV).  
  • Only make a claim if you cannot afford to cover the damage yourself.  
  • Avoid getting tickets, as these can cause your rates to increase.  
  • Some club memberships can get you discounts on your insurance. 
  • Consider bundling your insurance with the same provider.  
  • Many insurers offer a claims-free discount.  

With RV Direct, our policies can include free emergency vacation expense coverage and $2 million liability coverage for the price of $1 million of liability coverage. Our trailer policies can also include free roadside assistance.  

Give us a call today if you’re interested in an RV insurance quote!