How to Go Camping on a Budget

Camping and outdoor recreation in general have tremendously gained popularity over the decades, causing campground prices to skyrocket. While camping still remains a relatively cheap way of spending a vacation, many people struggle with saving up enough money to fund their camping trip.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money on it. Heck, they may even allow you to go to the long-craved camping journey no matter how tight your budget is!

How could you do that exactly? Let’s have a look at a couple of ways of camping on a budget.

Save money on camping

The average camping ground certainly can’t compare with hotels when it comes to nightly costs. But if you are on a tight budget, you could go the smart way when choosing a camping ground to save money.

Take advantage of primitive camping

Primitive camping can allow you to avoid most, if not all camping fees. There are plenty of state forests that allow free primitive camping.

Even though primitive camping sites are very basic, they can still offer some tenting space, a fire pit, and an outhouse. In addition, they are usually located next to water sources like a lake or river.

Alternatively, you could go camping in the wild. But in this case, you would need to do some extra research to make sure that the camping spot is safe for camping.

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Pick campgrounds with the most basic facilities

The pricier camping grounds have facilities like a swimming pool or a shop, but why overpay for things that you don’t really need? Extra facilities bump up the fees quite a bit, so you could save plenty of money by opting for a camping ground that only has the basic facilities that you actually need.

Camp during the off-season

The bigger camping grounds with fancy facilities usually reduce their fees during the off season. If your requirements dictate that you need to have stuff like tennis courts and whatnot, you could save a bit by camping outside of the peak season.

Avoid national parks

Camping at picturesque national parks can be a spectacular experience, but they have extra entry fees that you will need to take care of. And if your budget isn’t ready for it at the moment, why not opt for something else? There are many places where you can camp without entry fees, so choose them instead.

Save money on camping gear

Camping gear can seem like a big expense at a time, but it is going to pay off in the long run. With that being said, you don’t really need to go and buy pricey and brand-new camping gear from a local store. Instead, you could follow these tips to save money on gear.

Borrow equipment

Why buy equipment if you can borrow it?

There are two ways to do this. The first is to simply rent equipment, which is going to be considerably cheaper than outright buying it.

What could be an even better option is borrowing gear from friends and relatives. Even if you have no one to borrow gear from, you could join an outdoor club and borrow gear from fellow members.

Buy used equipment

Second-hand gear can be as good as new but for much less money. Look in places like Craig’s List or eBay to find some good bargains on camping gear. You could even get lucky enough to get an item for half its original price! But you’d also need to make sure that the gear is in good condition for camping.

Take advantage of package deals

Retailers very often offer discounts for buying supplies in a bulk. If you are yet to buy camping gear, pick a place where you can get a discount for bulk purchasing.

Don’t buy pricey gear

By just getting the things that you need, you can save plenty of money on your trip. If you don’t need that $300 grill, why not save money and go for a cheaper $100 unit?

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you should cheap out on your gear. For example, a cheap flashlight for $3 will probably go bad very quickly, making those $3 a waste of money.

Save money on food

Feasts and treats are a big part of the camping experience. But this doesn’t mean that you should waste your entire budget on food and drinks. You can simplify your menu and save money yet still enjoy awesome meals.

Bring your own food and drinks

Rest stops and service stations almost always sell food for a higher price. The price difference may seem negligible at first, but the little costs can add up and make a big sum. If you instead bring your own food and drink items, you can save plenty of dollars.

Carefully plan your meals

Planning a camping menu is a pretty deep subject, and there are plenty of things that can be done. It goes from picking all your ingredients at a store and ending with distributing your resources over the course of your camping trip.

Don’t over complicate your camping menu. Instead, opt for simpler foods that are easier to make like cereals, eggs, instant meals, fruits, and whatnot. Bring herbs and spices to keep things tasty. What kind of foods and drinks you will be exactly taking will depend on your preferences.

And to make sure that you get just enough food and drinks, outline the camping menu for your trip, including the serving size, the number of meals per day, as well as the personal needs of each of the party members.

Cook more vegetarian foods

Meat is among the more expensive food items, so there is plenty of money to be saved on with it. You don’t need to go full vegetarian for your camping trip, but you could cut down on meat somewhat and instead eat dishes made of greens and vegetables. A good idea would be to have meat only once per day – for dinner, for example.

Cook meals over a fire

Cooking meals over a fire can help you save a lot of stove fuel. It can be really fun too!

Of course, you would need to think about having firewood with you as well. Many campgrounds charge for wood, so maybe you should bring your own stock of wood. Or you would need to be ready to go out collecting wood while respecting the rules of the camping site.

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