You might be thinking, well sure, if I go camping I’ll cut out those “holiday” expenses. But what about camping expenses like gear, campsites and fuel? Obviously, there are some costs to camping but if you are smart and budget savvy you can go camping for far less than you would pay on a destination holiday.
Camping Gear Does Not Have to be Expensive!
If you don’t already have a tent and other supplies needed for camping there are a few ways to get them without spending a lot of money:
Ask family or friends if you can borrow some of their camping equipment.
Look at garage sales, church rummage sales etc. for random supplies that you could buy cheaply and use especially for camping. Buying used pots and pans are great because it is likely they will get black and slightly damaged from the campfire smoke. This way, you won’t ruin your everyday cooking utensils and you won’t be out a great sum of money.
Dollar stores are excellent for any other random nick knack’s you may need such as dish towels, tools, beach towels, flashlights, cooking utensils or anything else you might need. No, the quality of the random dollar store buys will not last you the test of time, but they will get you through your trip. Buying from the dollar store is a huge saving if you know the items won’t be used after camping. Be budget smart, only get what you need and be prepared to ditch some of the stuff after camping if need be.
Keep an eye on camping gear sales in such stores as K-mart, Target, Wal-Mart or any other store selling camping equipment. Buying camping gear after the main summer season is a great way to get gear on clearance.
Just as you would with any vacation, do your research to find a cheap, suitable campsite/campground in an area you like and that you feel your family would enjoy. If you look around, you might be surprised to find that most campgrounds are in beautiful locations usually close to the ocean, lake or other body of water. Campgrounds vary in regards to the amenities and facilities they offer. Campsite amenities range from very basic, such as a toilet and shower block to very extensive facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, recreation rooms/areas, group activity nights etc.
It all depends on what you’re looking for and how much you are looking to spend. Every basic tenting campsite will likely have a fire-pit, charcoal grill, and a picnic table. Campsites generally cost around $12 – $25 per night, costing you less than what you would be paying at a cheap motel. Here are some sites that offer budget campsites Go Camping America, Forest Camping, Camping USA for RVer’s Free Campgrounds, Harvest Hosts.
If camping in the popular months (May-September) make sure you call ahead and reserve a spot. Also, find out if campgrounds have discounts for longer stays. Paying on a weekly basis might be cheaper than paying on a daily basis.
On the Road
Camping is the cheapest way to cut costs on travel. If you go camping as a family, you only need one vehicle to drive all of you to the destination; so really, it’s not so bad. If you decide to go camping in or around your area, your fuel costs will be considerably less. It’s always a great idea to get out and explore all that your “backyard has to offer. You might be pleasantly surprised. Prepare and pack sandwiches and snacks for the journey. Stop at rest areas with a patch of grass or picnic tables where you can enjoy a nice lunch. This will avoid costs at fast food restaurants keeping you on budget and allow you to have a nice family break along the way.
Plan and Prepare
Make a camping checklist of all the stuff you need to bring along with you. Check items off the list once they are packed up and ready to go. This will save you from forgetting essential items and also save you from buying items on location.
Take food you know is easy to prepare and has a flexible expiry date such as canned food, pasta, rice, and durable fruit and veggies like apples, pears, carrots, potatoes etc. If you take a cooler, freeze blocks of ice before you go and put them in the cooler. The blocks will last longer and keep things cooler than ice cubes. It is also wise to freeze any juice boxes. Freeze meat in ziplock bags to help keep the food cooler for longer. Another tip would be to prepare as many meals as possible before going – like camping omelettes. This way, everything is ready and will be easy to cook when camping. Read some more great cooking tips and recipes.
Those are some reasons why I think camping is one of the best budget hobbies! Apart from the costs mentioned above, there should not be anything else you need to pay for. Every family, no matter how financially stable, can afford to go on a great camping vacation. Follow these camping budget tips and others available on the CampTrip website and you too can enjoy on of the best vacations with your family while camping.
You’ll wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner! Have fun out there!
***This is a guest post from Kaitlyn – founder of CampTrip.com.