10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Camping


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Camping is something that I still feel like I am learning all things thrifty about. My family and I have been campers for 4 seasons now and I have learned a lot about how to keep the costs of camping down in those years, and am still learning.

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Camping

10 Ways To Save Money On Camping

How To Save Money On Camping Supplies

1. Borrow

If this is your families first every camping excursion buy as little  as possible and borrow all that you can. This will allow you to make sure that your family really does enjoy camping before you invest money in a tent, sleeping bags and all the other things you think campers need.

2. Buy it used

Craigslist and Facebook buy and sell groups are great places to look for second hand tents, 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.

4. Share

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 your friends or family wisely for this though, as it takes just the right friends to do this with and will require some written rules so that feelings are not hurt when lets say the tent breaks on your camping outing and the other couple expects you to pay the whole replacement cost even though it was a normal wear and tear break.

5. Use Reselling and Point Programs to help you with costs 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 pay checks, 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, with a little more time you could earn the money for what you need through point programs. I have a list of 17+ programs that can help, as well as a plan for earning $30 each and every month with Swagbucks without filling in a single survey.

How To Save Money On Each And Every Camping Trip

6. Shop around for a campsite

Prices of campsites really do vary. For instance in our area we got to a great state park for right around $20 a night, but we have seen other private campgrounds in our area with less to do on their land charging as much as $70 a night.

7. Plan your camping trip menu at least one full week in advance

This is where I failed big time this trip. I made our menu up the evening before we left and went grocery shopping only 3 hours before departure. Needless to say we ate a lot more processed food than my tummy and my wallet liked.

By planning ahead you can think through how to simplify recipes for campground cooking. For instance you can make up homemade baking mix that you can use for pancakes and biscuits and even a quick pizza dough,  oatmeal packets, cookie dough, and even freezer bag crockpot meals (if you are RVing it like 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 premium price for it at the campground store.  A master list stops this expensive problem in its tracks. Here is a basic outline of what to put on your master camping list.

9.  Plan for the unexpected

Bring along basic first aid items as well as Tylenol, Cough Drops, Benadryl and those monthly unmentionables.

These should go on your master list (number 8) but I listed them separate because it took me a few camping trips to realize that all these items should make it on my master list because you just never know and camp store Benadryl has 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 10 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 you pocket book, plan what to do should rain fall before you even leave the house. Here are 10 rainy day camping ideas that have worked for our family over the years, that are fairly inexpensive, another treasure trove of great ideas are these camping activity bags not all of them could be done in the rain but most of them could be and many of the supplies for the bags could be purchased at dollar stores.

Check Out My Other Articles On Camping….

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free 2 page printable checklist to help you have your best yard saleA great way to earn money for camping is to through a yard sale.

Grab a 2 page printable checklist that will help you through a yard sale big enough to pay for your next camping weekend.



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  1. Richard Buse says:

    These are great tips. Thank you for sharing this information. Tips 8 and 9 are crucial. Items such as sunscreen or aspirin can often be bought at a convenience store, campground store or other location near the campsite, but the prices on those items can cause sticker shock. Dollar stores can be good resources for picking up many items beforehand, too.

    • Victoria says:

      Great tip! Yes Dollar stores are a great resource for all sorts of camping supplies from basic first aid supplies to buckets and shovels for the beach.

  2. Great great tips! I have been adding to our camping list, and somethings I want I can use for our backyard as well as camping like the Dutch Ovens I’m eying!!

  3. We have great neighbors and share items between us. It saves so much money and also saves on storing items.

    When I used to go camping with my grandparents we also camped with family or friends of theirs. So everyone was on their own for breakfast, lunches were quick and easy grilled items and each night someone hosted the dinner. It was fun and saved money too. Love all your tips!

  4. I like to go to neighborhood yard sales to pick up items for camping. People sell their tents and camping gear at a fraction of the cost of what they paid. Plus you can get dishes and other cooking things too. Saved me a bundle!

  5. To simplify, plan meals where the number of things needed is minimized. For example, plan on cooking hotdogs on the fire, but bring a can of chili with no beans to make coney dogs. This eliminates having to bring catsup, mustard, relish, etc. In addition, a tub or bar-b-q pork that you can warm in the microwave doesn’t require all the condiments that hamburgers do (again, catsup, mustard, pickles, mayo, onions, tomato, etc.) Less stuff to bring means lower cost and less hassle.


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