How to camp on a budget

When you love to take your family out camping, it can be one of the best bonding activities a family can do together. But if your wallet is feeling too strained to take a full family vacation, you may be putting the fun off to the side. You don’t have to miss out, however.

There are many ways to get out of the work week hustle and have some outdoor adventures, even on a tight budget. Here’s how.

Stick close by

Camping in a local campground
Camping in a local campground

Save yourself the gas money of going a long distance and see what campsites are close to home. You will still get the outdoor experience, but you won’t need to go far. Your family is going to enjoy it no matter how far away you go. Going with a campground that does not offer amenities, like running water, is also typically cheaper than going with a full-service campground.

Make a list

You don’t want to get to the campsite and realize that you have forgotten some essentials, which would send you to the nearest store. Small stores at campgrounds usually have a high markup for the unprepared camper. Avoid extra costs by making sure you have what you need before you set out.

Reuse home items

Bring some home comforts along to the campground
Bring some home comforts along to the campground

If are missing a few camping items, like a pot, silverware, or even a sleeping bag for everyone, try to see what you have around your house that can be used instead. Maybe you have an extra pot for cooking in the back of your cupboard or an older set of silverware that doesn’t see much use. Quilts and comforters offer an alternative to the standard sleeping bag.

Check out second-hand stores

In the event that you are missing some camping essentials that you can’t replace using regular household items, look to see what things you can buy used before you try to buy things new. Many people on get rid of unused camping gear that was cluttering their garage, giving you a deal that can save you a lot of cash.

Think multi-use

Plan ahead and camp cooking will be a breeze
Plan ahead and camp cooking will be a breeze

The regular camper is going to already have gear, so that should be one less concern you have. Food, of course, is another matter. Instead of buying a lot of individual items to cook, save yourself some funds by getting foods that can be used for more than one thing. You can have baked potatoes for dinner then turn around and use the potatoes as part of your breakfast.

Skip costly activities

Instead of renting a kayak or fishing boat to go out on the water, see what is around your campsite that is free. Even just going for a hike through the woods can be a fun adventure. You can also see if there is a river or lake nearby for your kids to go play in or whether there is a playground not too far away as well.

Go cheap on food

The savings can add up if you are savvy about what you pack
The savings can add up if you are savvy about what you pack

Bring food that is inexpensive, such as canned foods, hot dogs, and anything you can cook over a fire. Also, instead of buying a bunch of bottled water to drink, bring filtered water in jugs along with you. No need to buy water that you can get for free. The cost of water per person can certainly add up if you are buying disposable bottles.

The best thing about camping is there is little to distract you from enjoying nature on your vacation. Camping is definitely the most economical vacation you can take and even then you can do it cheaply. This means that you should be able to have fun while keeping it simple and staying on a budget.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival