Camping can be a fun weekend experience or inexpensive way to travel. We’re sharing our top tips for camping on a budget to make it even more affordable.
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If you are looking for an inexpensive way to get away, you can’t beat camping! Camping can be a costly trip if you’re not careful, but there are ways to make it more frugal! Here are ten thrifty tips for camping on a budget that anyone could use!
Tips for Camping on a Budget
Camping is a fun and inexpensive pastime and way to travel. We’re sharing our top tips for an affordable camping experience.
There are many ways to book your campsite when planning your camping trip. Many campsites will charge a fee for booking online, while other sites, such as Hipcamp, may have promo codes for first-time bookings. You can also save money by staying longer at one campsite, as many campgrounds offer a discount for long-term stays. This works well if you choose an area as a base camp from which to explore the region.
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A few weeks before your trip, make a simple camping checklist of what you need ahead of time. This will help you avoid impulse purchases or last-minute fees on items you need for your trip. Having a packing list of camping essentials also helps ensure you don’t forget anything crucial, and helps you avoid making a shopping run during your camping trip. Camping on a budget is easy, as most items can be found at your local Dollar Tree.
Purchase Annual Passes
If you do a lot of camping and traveling, it’s worth considering annual passes to your favorite places. A National Parks Pass helps support our national parks, but it also gives you access to over 400 national parks, national monuments, and national historic sites. State park passes can also save you money on entrance fees and camping fees.
Become a Campground Rewards Member
Many campgrounds participate in rewards programs similar to hotels and airlines. KOA, for example, has KOA rewards. For a $33 annual fee, campers save 10% on each campsite rental and earn reward points that can be redeemed for free camping.
Rent or Borrow Gear
If this is your first camping trip, or first in a while, don’t invest a bunch of money in camping equipment. You’ll learn a bit on each camping trip and tailor your purchases to your own camping style. When you’re first getting started, you can save money by renting or borrowing camping gear. Sporting goods stores like REI often rent equipment, and if you have a friend or relative in the military, have them check the “MWR” on base. You can even rent an RV before you buy to see if it’s really your style. That can save you thousands of dollars!
Try BLM Land Camping
Free campgrounds are few and far between, as they will often charge for amenities, but BLM land camping is perfect. If you are camping on a budget and don’t mind “roughing it,” most BLM land is completely free. Also known as boondocking, or dry camping. There won’t be a swimming pool or shower house, but you’ll likely have the forest to yourself. Just know the local regulations and come prepared to be self-sustaining for as long as you are BLM land camping.
Look for Sales & Discounts
NEVER pay full price for camping supplies! You can find cheap camping supplies at Goodwill, or during a great sale. During the end of summer sales or the beginning of summer sales, you can get great prices on people clearing out their old camping supplies. You can also buy used equipment on sites like Craigslist, NextDoor, or Facebook Marketplace. Never invest a lot in camping equipment until you really know what works for you and your family.
Repurpose Items from Home
Don’t feel like you need to get every piece of camping gear on the market! Most of it is stuff you won’t ever need or use! Instead, try to do with what you have before you go out and buy something. A milk jug and a headlamp can make a great lantern, and you can use the same pillow you use at home! Older kitchen gear works great in a camp kitchen, so the next time you replace come cooking gear or utensils at home, toss the older one in your camping bin. Not everything you take camping has to be specifically made and marketed for camping.
Prep and Plan Meals at Home
Once you have your camping equipment, buying food for each trip will be your greatest expense. Without a meal plan and prepping at home, you can end up wasting a lot of food. When it comes to things like fruit and vegetables, you can save time by chopping them all up at home and freezing whatever you don’t use. This will also save you from having to run to the nearest store for a spice or ingredient you forgot at home. Camping is best when you have easy meals ready to cook.
Share Expenses With Friends
The best way to camp on a budget is to share expenses with your friends. Campgrounds may limit the number of people or cars on a site, but even with two campsites, you can still share a lot of gear and food. With proper planning and meal prep, everyone can save money by buying food in bulk and sharing across the group. You can assign one meal to each person, or have one person create an ingredient list to assign items. If you have an aspiring camp chef in the group, let them plan the meals and purchase the ingredients while everyone else chips in some cash and does the camp cleanup.
As you can see, camping on a budget is easy to do. Hopefully, these tips will help you save money on your next camping trip, but help you make the most of it too.