It is summer time and one of our very favorite things to do in the summer it to take a camping trip. Camping trips do not have to cost you an arm and a leg, they can be one of the thriftiest vacations out there.
Planning is key to a frugal camping trips, the better you plan the less money you will need. Planning in advance also helps, since the less expensive camping spots usually always fill up first.
Here are my tips to frugal vacation while camping:
1) Check the state parks for the best deal on camp spots. commercial camping spots and hotels can get very expensive, whereas a spot in the state camping grounds is very reasonable, usually between $10 – $25 a night.
2) Book early – These spots fill up quickly so you will want to book early to be sure you get the spot you want. Early spring is not too soon if you know when you will be taking your vacation and where you are going to go.
3) Plan what you will need ahead of time – There is nothing worse than getting to your campsite and finding out that you did not bring the sun block, or forgot the propane. Make a master camping list of everything you need to take on your camping trips and refer to it when you are packing your gear.
4) Borrow or buy used camping gear – Camping gear is the most expensive part of camping, but simply put it is an investment. If you can borrow what you do not have, or can find it at yard sales or thrift shops then do so, if not then look at all the money you will be saving not renting a cabin or hotel.
5) Use gear you have at home first – instead of purchasing expensive cooking gear for the campfire take a look at what you have at home first. Pots and pans do not need to be fancy, take your old beat up pots with you in fact so you will not ruin your good stuff from home. If you do not have anything then here again is a good reason to head to the thrift store.
6) choose a location that has plenty of free recreational opportunities – Most state parks have hiking, swimming, fishing, places for the young kids to play and some even have events during the summer such as nature walks or concerts. Check the surrounding area for free or cheap activities as well such as museums, wildlife parks, or tours.
7) Take your own Recreation – Be sure to pack a football, Frisbee, volleyball and net, and any other out door activities you may have.
8) Bring all your own food and beverages – buying anything near a recreation area is expensive so be sure to plan ahead and buy ample amounts of whatever you think you might need, doing away with the temptation to buy food while you are there.
9) Skip the Convenience foods – Convenience foods might be tempting while you are out camping, but the truth is you can prepare your own convenience foods ahead of time to take with you with just a bit of planning. Pancake mixes can be made ahead of time as can baked beans or potato salad. Canned good may be a good compromise too, as they are not expensive and can be heated easily at the campfire.
10) Take your own wood for a campfire – Most state parks require you bring your own wood for the campfire or purchase it from the stores near the park. This can be very expensive to buy so be sure to just bring your own wood if you plan to have a campfire.
Camping is a fun and inexpensive way to take a vacation with your family. With tons of things to do and the ability to bring and cook your own food there is no reason why a family of four cannot take a weeklong vacation for less the $500.
pic by Paul.Carroll