Camping on a Budget

Camping tent and chairs shown on the beach

Nothing says summer vacation like a camping trip with the whole family. Between travel, food, and entertainment the cost can quickly add up. However, you can still go camping and have fun while sticking to your budget. Get ready to make some memories, the campfire is calling!

Preparing to Pitch a Tent

If you don’t already own the essentials, ask a friend or family member to borrow their camping gear. Likewise, ask if they want to join, and split up the pack list – Sharing in the packing of necessities will save you cash and room! If you want to go camping often and invest in some essentials, check out second hand stores. Thrift stores will likely contain all the cooking essentials you will need, and you might be able to snag a few extra items like a sleeping bag or tent! Also, try local garage sales. Look around your home and see what you can use while camping – things like old pans or spare bedding. Be sure to opt for reusable plates, utensils and bowls from home as opposed to buying the disposable version. As an added option, check out a few local campgrounds to see if other campers left anything behind they didn’t want like camp chairs or BBQs.

Keep your pack list short and simple:

  • Tent
  • Bedding
  • Cooking Supplies
  • Food and Water
  • Clothes and toiletries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Light sources

Set a Course for Camp!

You can ensure big savings by choosing the location wisely and employing some of these hacks:

  • Camp during the off season
  • Avoid National Parks
  • Avoid camping during long holiday weekends
  • Find free, off-the-beaten-path, places for camping
  • Find a free campsite –
  • Stay close to home to save on gas
  • Camp in your own backyard!

S’more Food Ideas

Doing the prep work beforehand will ensure you are saving the most money. Make as much as you can beforehand! For breakfast use shortening and dry milk for a pre-made pancake mix, pre-made breakfast burritos, or overnight oats in mason jars.  For lunch, prepare pre-made ham and cheese sandwiches or salads to go in mason jars. For dinner, try a chili or stew!

You can keep things simple with minimal ingredients by trying some of these 5 or less ingredients recipes –

Before you hit the road, pack snacks from home for the trip there and back. Buying from gas stations will add up quickly. Once you arrive, cook your meals over your campfire to save on stove fuel. Collect firewood from around the campsite, so you don’t waste money purchasing wood from the campground. Delegate meals if you are with a group so that you don’t have to purchase all the meals you will need for the trip.

Happy Campers!

Try these additional ideas to save some additional money –

  • Create your own lighting! Make your own candle stakes –
  • Use a large, empty laundry detergent dispenser for hand washing or a quick shower!
  • Freeze gallon jugs of water and place in your cooler to save on ice
  • Use a gallon milk jug filled with water and a head lamp to create light in your tent
  • Utilize free entertainment – go hiking, do a scavenger hunt, play cards, or sing songs around the fire
  • Don’t use bottled water. Bring reusable bottles that you can fill up with the tap at the campground.
  • Fill up on cheap gas before you go. Fuel prices tend to be more expensive in more remote areas.
  • Burn sage in your campfire to repel mosquitoes