Cheap RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers
I learned a lot about traveling — and traveling cheap! — for professional golf tournaments over summer 2017. I had previously stayed in Airbnbs, hotels and more for week-long tournaments , but that adds up QUICK. And as most of you know, pro golfers really aren’t making that much at first.
So deciding to go on the road for 5+ months doing Monday qualifiers and more, it was clear that we needed to get creative. My wife and I ran the numbers and found it would be cheaper to purchase a Travel Trailer and go out on the road that way. We’d be spending in a month or more in what we spent in a week previously. (I’m working on another post about that runs down the full costs of RVing for Professional Golf. More to come on this.)
But one of the biggest things you’ll have to plan for is where to park your RV, travel trailer, Class B, van or other such vehicle. And how to do so cheaply. There are actually a lot of options out there – free camping spots, boondocking (staying on someone’s private property), small town parks, and more. Many of which don’t get talked about much.
So, here are some of my best travel tips and tricks and some of the cheapest RV travel options for pro golfers.
Safe Travel Tip: The Daylight Rule
But first things first… safety! A word to the wise (and we found this out the hard way): Free campsites can sometimes be in some prettaaaayyy tricky spots. So, if you’re using one of these sites and scouting out a new location, be sure to get there before sunset. This quickly became one of our golden rules. In general, you want to plan ahead and get the next stop before dark no matter where you’re headed. But this is ESPECIALLY true for free campsites. If it is dark out, it’s not the best idea to stop and try one of these spots – especially if it’s a logging road in the middle of the Canadian wilderness… with bears. (This may or may not have been where we learned our lesson…) The only one we would stop at after dark? Cabela’s!
RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: Boondockers Welcome
Boondockers Welcome is a website that provides free overnight parking on private property. It is a great way to connect with fellow RVers and stay on their property for free. We met some amazing people that shared some helpful local knowledge and recommendations when traveling. There is a $30 yearly fee to gain access to the site as a guest. Then, you can start communicating with hosts that have a place to stay. Once you have access, you can search by location on a map and see who has availability. (Full disclaimer: We have an affiliate partnership with them, which means clicking one of their links from this site and signing up helps support this website and the golf journey.)
The image above shows what you may see on a host’s Boondockers site. It often shows pictures and if they have electricity, water, sewage and more. Some people have full hookups, which is a huge plus!
We had great luck with Boondockers Welcome and stayed at three different locations across our travels. The number of sites available seems to be growing. The only area that didn’t have many Boondockers Welcome options was South Dakota. We would have used the site a lot more while being on the Dakotas Tour. Hopefully, there were be more hosts in 2018 – as there seems to be a lot of land and local RVers there.
RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: Freecampsites Website
This is a free service that allows you to search a location on the map and see other camper reviews from local free spots. It may be a highway truck stop that allows overnight parking, a little-known campsite hidden behind a large boulder, or a logging road in the wilderness that welcomes local climbers and campers. This is where that safety rule really comes into play: Don’t try this when you’re tired and the sun has already set. You’re often going off crowd-sourced information and GPS coordinates. That said, it’s usually pretty awesome and accurate information – just tends to be off the beaten path.
RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: Campendium
I do not have any experience with Campendium, because we ended up using the other sites more often. It looks like it is similar to Boondockers Welcome and freecampsite. It is a free service that has reviews from users. You can search for RV parks, free campsites, national parks and state parks.
RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: City and State Parks
Small town camping
Many small town parks offer a few RV spots, which are typically wedged between the little league baseball fields and playgrounds. Keep in mind these small town options don’t always come up on a quick Google maps search. You really have to do some research, but it’s worthwhile. You’ll find more information on town websites (like camping in Lennox, South Dakota). We stayed at one that had 15 campsites right next to their softball fields, with water and electricity for only $10/night.
All of the state parks we stayed at… were amazing. This was especially true in Oregon and Canada, where they really take a lot of care in their facilities. We even ended up purchasing a yearly pass in South Dakota because we stayed at their state parks 90% of the time and they had great prices with great service. So don’t forget to check out your state parks and support the local communities.
RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: State Fairgrounds
When there’s no major events happening, State Fairgrounds are also a great option. They have offer tons of RV parking and full hookups. And for cheap. Just check their website to make sure that you are not trying to stay there during the time they have a state fair. We stayed at one for a week in Aberdeen, SD. It ended up being the closest option to one of the golf tournaments, and it was only $20/night for electricity and water. Dump station was free.
4 FREE RV Travel Options for Pro Golfers: Best for Long Trips & Highway Travel
We used all of these options when on the road. Most of them we found on the freecampsites.net website. As always with free sites, it’s always good to double-check each location’s overnight rules and/or call ahead.
1. Cabela’s Overnight Parking for RVers
Cabela’s is best if you are driving for a few days in a row and need a place to crash for the night. For tour golfers, it’s also great if you make the cut and have to stay an extra night that you may have not planned for. Most have a whole dedicated area for RV parking and overnight stay in their parking lots. Some even had dog runs. Even better: Cabela’s has super convenient – and free! – dump stations. To get the code for free, they ask that you come into the store and buy something and then ask for the dump station code. The parking spots are very clean, and you are usually next to other RVers that are just looking for a pit stop after a long day of traveling . There is always a lot of camper camaraderie and it generally feels very safe.
2. Cracker Barrel Overnight Parking for RVers
We had a hard time finding somewhere to stay overnight in Denver. We found this on free campsites, that said they had dedicated RV parking in the back of their lot. Walmarts in Denver did not allow overnight camping, so this was our best bet. We pulled in and in the back they had a couple RV parking spots. Not a whole section like Cabela’s, but there were a few more RVers that we parked next to us. We parked and went in the trailer to pass out!
3. Walmart Overnight Parking for RVers
Walmarts are getting harder and harder to do overnight stays. Depending on the city, they have restrictions whether you can stay overnight or not. Here’s a great website to double-check each one before stopping for the night. Unlike Cabela’s and Cracker Barrel, there are no dedicated parking spots. You will usually park along the edge of the parking lot, so you are out of the way of others. I never felt super safe staying overnight in Walmart parking lots, but many RVers do stay here.
4. Casino Parking for RVers
We also had great luck staying at casinos. Most states have casinos and they are usually right off the highway. Every single casino we passed along our travels had RVers staying in their parking lots. We even saw one that had full hookups!
Overall, plan ahead as much as you can. As you go along, you’ll find the right mix of websites and campgrounds to help you travel to tournaments on the cheap. As an example, we had signed up for a yearly KOA pass and found that we really didn’t use it. For us, it was really a mix of state and city parks and Boondockers Welcome.
For more about the professional golf life on the road, read My Story: Truck, Trailer and Turning Pro in 2017.