Last updated on June 24th, 2020 at 03:42 pm
Camping is something that should be a cheap family getaway, but can be extremely expensive if you don’t pay attention to costs. My husband and I have been camping with our children since they reached school age and now they have all graduated and are in college. All those years of camping experience have resulted in learning many simple ways to save money on camping and I am going to share them with you in this post.
10 Ways To Save Money On Camping
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How To Save Money On Camping Supplies
If this is your family’s first ever camping excursion, buy as little as possible and borrow all that you can. This will allow you to make sure that your family enjoys camping before you invest several hundred dollars in a tent or thousands of dollars into a travel trailer.
Three Camping Essentials You Can Use For Other Reasons
These three camping essentials you might want to invest in first; you can use them for other purposes so that they won’t go to waste should you decide camping is not your thing.
- A Cooler: A good quality family-sized cooler will last you a lifetime if you take care of it. We bought a cooler similar to this one and love that it has wheels and a handle. When the kids were little, those two features came in handy–we could pop a toddler on our hip and drag the cooler behind us with our free hand.
- Portable Camp Chairs: For close to 20 years, every fall you would find camp chairs in my trunk for the duration of our boy’s soccer season. And then you would find them in there all summer for beach days and backyard barbecues. So go ahead and purchase a basic folding camp chair for each member of the family, they will be well used.
- Sleeping Pads: If you invest in a quality sleeping pad, you can use them for when guests come to visit your home. They will also come in hand for when your children have sleepovers. We bought 2 of these tri-fold mattresses and LOVE them. They are incredibly comfortable and can be tucked away in a closet when not in use. They do take up a lot of trunk space, but if you can fit them in, I highly recommend them.
2. Buy It Used
Craigslist and Facebook buy and sell groups are great places to look for second-hand tents, travel trailers, and other camping supplies. Don’t forget to look at yard sales, too; I have found all we needed to outfit our new to us RV from various yard sales.
3. Buy It On Clearance
Even camping supplies go on sale as summer turns to fall.
This differs from borrowing because you are purchasing articles together with friends and then using them at different times. Most people camp perhaps 2 to 3 weeks a year at most so there is time in the season to share your stuff with others.
Pick the friends or family you share with wisely and create a written list of rules. Doing so helps decrease the chances that a relationship becomes ruined over a piece of camping equipment that was not cared for in the manner an individual in the sharing group thought it should be.
5. Use Reselling And Point Programs To Help You With The Cost Of Supplies
For most families, things like camp supplies are not going to be a regular line on the family budget. If you want to invest some money in camping supplies, but can’t find the money in your regular paychecks, perhaps you could go through your house from top to bottom, gathering all the things you don’t need, and throw a yard sale or list big items on Craigslist. Consult my reselling page for a list of all the different ways you can earn money reselling your items.
If you simply don’t have many items to sell, then with a little more time, you could earn money for what you need through point programs. I have a list of 17+ programs that can help you make up to an extra $100 a month.
How To Save Money On Each And Every Camping Trip
6. Shop Around For A Campsite
Prices of campsites do vary. For instance, in our area, state parks charge $30 per night for a campsite with electricity, but we have seen other private campgrounds in our area charging as much as $70 a night for the same types of services, but without the hiking trails and beaches of the state parks.
If you live in the western states, free camping sites are more available than in the rest of the country. They can be found on BLM land and National Forests. If you live in Canada, you can camp for free on Crown land. The rules and regulations for each of these areas vary so make sure you do your research before you go.
7. Plan Your Camping Trip Menu At Least Several Days In Advance
By planning ahead, you can think through how to simplify recipes for campground cooking. For instance, you can make up a homemade baking mix that you can use for pancakes and biscuits and even quick pizza dough, oatmeal packets, cookie dough, and even freezer bag crockpot meals (if you are RV-ing it as we do), which will save you time at the campground and money.
8. Make A Master List Of Supplies
Nothing is worse than getting out to your campsite and realizing you forgot the tinfoil that half your recipes need, forcing you to pay a premium price for it at the campground store. A master list stops this expensive problem in its tracks. Here is my essential camping list that includes a free printable version that you can download and use.
9. Plan For The Unexpected
Bring along basic first aid items as well as Tylenol, cough drops (these are a staple at our house for knocking a scratchy cough to the curb), Benadryl, and those monthly unmentionables.
These should go on your master list (number 8), but I listed them separately because it took me a few camping trips to realize that all these items should make it on my master list. After all, you just never know and camp store Benadryl has a high mark-up, but when your daughter has a swollen face from mosquito bites that the bug spray didn’t seem to stop her from getting, you will pay anything to make the sweet thing feel better.
10. Plan For A Rainy Day
The weather app may say ten days of full sun ahead, but it isn’t always right and some rain may fall on your camping getaway. Instead of letting rain send you to the movies and dinner out in a nearby town, thus emptying your pocketbook, plan what to do for rain fall before you even leave the house. Here are ten rainy day camping ideas that have worked for our family over the years that are reasonably inexpensive.
I hope these tips help you keep camping within your budget.
How To Turn Your Vehicle Into A Camper
If you don’t want to sleep on the ground, but you don’t want to shell out the cash for an RV, here are two ideas that might work for you.
Check Out My Other Articles On Camping
- 10 Ways To Keep Children Busy When Camping In The Rain
- Camping With Children And Sanity
- What To Bring When Camping With Children
- Essential Items For Camping: Plus Free Printable List
Wisdom From Our 5 1/2 Months of Travel Trailer Camping
- Our RV Trip Page With Links To Weekly Updates On What We Saw On Our Trip
- 12 Tips For Long RV Road Trips
- 10 Things To Bring When Exploring The National Parks
- 15 Essential Tools For An RV Toolkit–Don’t Travel Without These
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.