Camping is an awesome activity if you want to be closer to nature or get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s also a wonderful experience for the whole family, and spending some time in the great outdoors can teach the kids a thing or two about “roughing it” and what it takes to survive out in the wilderness (even if you’re in a park).
But camping comes with a steep price tag, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Camping gear, food, gas, park fees and everything else always adds up and at the end of the trip, you might wish you didn’t go in the first place! Here are a few tips you could do to save money on your next camping trip.
Do a little Planning first
Before you go pack your bags, plan your trip first. Make multiple lists and plan everything out in detail. List down a few options on where to go. Make a list of essential things to bring such as your tent, sleeping bags, cooler, etc. Make a daily meal plan so you’ll know exactly what food to bring and how much. Make another list of things you’ll most likely forget, such as bug spray, matches, garbage bags, toilet paper, etc.
Save on Gas and Transportation
You don’t need to drive cross country on a rented RV or else your trip will be super expensive. Use your own car or SUV instead, and look for local campsites that’s easy to get to so you can save on gas. What matters is that you’re out of your house, out of the city and in the countryside.
For a real camping experience (and a cheaper one), choose primitive campsites. This type of camping is also called backcountry camping and sites usually don’t have any electricity or running water, so make sure you bring a lot of your own water or ask where the nearest natural water source is. Not all sites will have water sources you can use, so plan accordingly. You may have to dip into your survival skills a little bit.
Bring Old Stuff
Forget sleeping bags and mats. Old comforters and yoga mats can do the trick. Old puzzle mats would also work, but you won’t be able to roll them up. Look for an old pot, skillet and some utensils. If you have wood carving skills, you can make your own forks and spoons. Don’t buy expensive water bottles. Old 1-liter Gatorade bottles are light, sturdy and do the job extremely well.
Borrow or buy a used tent
If you have a friend or family member that has a tent you could borrow, ask if you could borrow it. If not, go to a local thrift store or go online on eBay/Craigslist and get yourself one. Just make sure that it’s still tough enough so it won’t fail during your trip. Used branded tents are the best because of the brand’s superior quality.
Bring Food that’ll last the whole trip
Bring food that won’t easily spoil and that’s easy to cook. Jerky and trail mix should be on the top of your list. For meat, fish and poultry, you can marinate it the night before and throw it in the freezer. Be sure to bring a cooler to keep all your perishable items and keep it out of the sun. If you have a solar powered cooler or if you can borrow one, that would save you a lot of money and make your trip cool one.
Always Stay Safe
Staying safe and preventing accidents can save you money in emergency room fees, so don’t forget to bring a FAK or a First Aid Kit, because it can literally save your butt. Also bring a cell phone for emergencies. Getting lost sucks, and it wouldn’t hurt if you could have a bird’s eye view of the location, so always bring a map and a compass. There are topographical maps of most parks available online. Want to download or view a particular topographic map of Canada? Google is your friend.
Always look for fun, outdoor activities you can do for free. Look for trails you can walk on, throw a frisbee, play volleyball or do a little fishing if it’s allowed. Camping should be a fun activity that doesn’t cost too much, and the next time you go camping, you won’t be spending a lot on gear if you already bought it. Good luck, and have fun!