Sure, you can go out and buy a $3,500 tent, a $1,650 parka and a $1,500 utility knife, but camping doesn’t have to cost you big bucks. We’ve figured out some ways to have a fantastic camping trip without sacrificing the quality of your experience.
Budgeting & Planning
Focusing on budgeting and planning your trip will save you time and money so you can enjoy more of what’s important.
- Inventory your camping gear and useable household items and create a camping box to store all your gear. Household items like flashlights, freezer bags, safety pins, bed sheets, cotton balls, trash bags, pill bottles, aluminum foil and disposable plates and cups can be useful for camping trips. Having your stuff in one place will help you make your shopping list.
- Create a list of things you need. This way, you can quickly identify what purchases you need to make before the trip.
- Decide on what you can spend on gear, travel, food, fuel and reservations.
- Plan your menu ahead of time
Ways to Save
- You don’t always have to pay full price for everything you need. You can look for quality used camping gear via online spaces such as eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, or brick-and-mortars.
- Travel short distances. If you camp closer to home, you’ll save on travel time and gas money, and you’ll be able to spend more time in the great outdoors.
- Food prices can add up. Rather than making a haphazard grocery store run the night before you leave, plan your menu and prep meals before your trip.
- While saving money is paramount, sacrificing quality is a mistake. Some things you’ll want to buy new, like hiking shoes and good wool socks. For larger purchases, you can space them out, so they don’t hit your wallet all at once. Outfitters like Carhartt offer quality gear that will last you more than a season.
- Think about future camping trips and plan to make purchases strategically. By shopping in the offseason, you can save a few bucks.
- Another place you can actively save money is on the campsite itself. Most state and national park websites list their prices for the different kinds of campsites and even allow you to book and pay online. One way to budget this is to pay well in advance so you have more disposable income when you’re putting together your gear. Primitive campsites that lack modern amenities are usually cheaper, so if you’re up for an adventure, check those out. Occasionally, parks will offer deals on their reservation prices, so be sure to keep an eye out for these.
- You can have a great time camping without spending money on recreation. Bring some games from home, tell stories, explore, carve a walking stick, do some writing or enjoy the silence. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money on wireless charging solutions for your electronic devices. Camping is a chance to actually… unplug. This also means practicing the forgotten art of making your own fun.