This is a sponsored post from RV Share. All opinions are 100% our own.
For some people, camping is a cheap way to get away for the weekend during the summer- or even for extended vacations year-round.
However, as the popularity and demand for camping soared, so did the prices for campgrounds, entertainment, and camping equipment.
Whether you’re planning your first camping trip or your next, keep reading this article to discover 30 tips that will allow you to go camping on a budget.
If you are just getting into camping and want to test the water before going all-in renting an RV might be a great option.
RV Share is a budget-friendly company you can rent RV’s to get the whole experience without breaking the bank.
Cost Of The Average Camping Trip (Family of 4)
The cost of camping trips depends on various factors. For example, the distance of a camp from your home, whether you borrow or buy equipment, activities you’re interested in, and so on.
However, a family of 4 can expect to spend between $600 and $7,000!
As stated in the 2017 American Camper Report, campers spent on average 14.5 days per camping trip.
Most active campers take 1 camping trip per month. If you spent $600 per trip and camped every month of the summer, the costs can really add up!
Free Activities To Do While Camping
There are several free activities you can do while camping. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Making up stories to tell
- Playing board games
- Playing card games
- Watching movies
- Reading books and magazines
- Reading aloud to each other
- Playing on electronic devices
- Crafting and making things to sell
25 Tips For Camping On A Budget
1. Borrow Camping Gear
If you don’t already own gear, it’s a good idea to reduce costs by borrowing it.
Camping equipment – such as a tent, sleeping bags, chairs, grills, and more – is usually expensive, upwards of around $600 for the basics.
By borrowing gear from your friends, you’ll not only save money but also understand what you might need when you buy equipment later on.
2. Buy Used Camping Gear
If you plan to buy your own gear, you can save money by purchasing used camping supplies. Some things, like sleeping bags or tents, may need to be bought first-hand, but you can find some good deals on outdoor equipment for the family.
Simply pay a visit to your local thrift shop or go online to find used camping gear. Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist are some of the best online platforms worth searching through.
Amazon also has a huge selection of affordable camping gear.
3. Use Dishes & Bedding From Home
Why would you want to spend extra on buying new if you can use what you already have? You may have everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors in comfort!
Simply look for a few spare blankets and kitchenware that are collecting dust in your storage room and take them with you.
4. Camp In The Off-Season
One of the best camping hacks for low-budget camping is to go during the off-season. Traveling during the high season or holidays can significantly increase your trip expenses.
The reason behind it is that when there’s a high demand, the costs for campsites are likely to increase. Plus, gas prices will increase during the holiday season as well.
5. Meal Plan For The Trip
To keep your meals on a budget, brainstorm or search for camping meal ideas in advance.
Preparing a meal plan for the trip and bringing the ingredients with you saves on food- and keeps your family from dining at a restaurant or grabbing takeout.
Plus, a meal plan will avoid the hassle of coming up with what you want to eat each day.
6. Buy Food Before The Trip
Food and drinks from gas stations and rest stops are typically more expensive than they should be. So prepare in advance and take your food, snacks, and beverages (and a cooler!) to eliminate the need of stopping by on the road.
7. Bring Your Own Firewood
Firewood is another thing that can increase the costs of your camping trip. And we don’t recommend going without or your campfire may suffer.
Remember, you’ll get the best value buying a bundle of firewood locally.
Simply check Craigslist or local bulletin boards to find firewood near you. Depending on where you live, a cord may cost you about $100 – $150, but it will be enough firewood to last you throughout your trip.
Campgrounds charge higher rates – you might find 5-7 pieces of wood for up to $10.
However, check the legal rules of the campsite you’re going to stay at. It may be illegal to bring your wood.
8. Pre-Cook Meals At Home
Pre-cooking meals at home will help you save money and so much time. All you’ll need to do is to reheat your pre-cooked meals, which will use less firewood.
Simply prepare food that won’t expire quickly, and get plenty of ice to last the trip You may also want to consider freezing the meat if you have a fridge in your car or RV.
9. Cook Over A Fire
Do you really need to buy a portable grill and fuel to run it? Consider cooking simple foods over a campfire, making meals both cheap and delicious!
Most fire pits have a grate over the top that allows easy cooking. This way you can use pots and pans, or foil, and cook whatever you want.
Plus, roasting hot dogs or making tin foil dinners over a campfire is a fun activity you don’t want to miss out on!
10. Avoid National Parks/Common Tourist Campgrounds
Obviously, national park entries are typically pricey. There are many other incredible places to explore in nature, so you’ll want to avoid common tourist campgrounds.
Visiting less crowded places, you will spend less on entrance fees and enjoy less noise.
11. Check Gas Prices
When you’re trying to camp on a budget, it’s always a good idea to check gas prices between your home and your destination.
Gas prices may vary from location to location, so check prices to identify places where it’s worth it to refuel.
12. Camp Closer To Home
Choosing a campsite closer to your home is a no-brainer – it will definitely help you save on gas. A quick Google search for ‘camping near me’ will show you all the noteworthy places you can pay a visit.
13. Pack Light
What many beginner campers don’t realize is that packing light can indeed help you reduce expenses. While this hack may surprise you, the less your car weighs, the better your mileage – your vehicle consumes less gas when it’s lighter.
For example, it could be better to take a tent and sleeping bag with you rather than tow a full camper.
14. Use Camping Hacks
Simply searching the ‘camping hacks’ on Google will help you discover a whole host of practical uses to the stuff you already have. You could have things right at home that could do the trick on your next camping trip!
15. Play Games From Home
If you’re not in an adventurous mood, you might need other entertainment to pass the time.
While there are touristy attractions available at or near typical campsites, you may want to bring your own games to save you from paying for overpriced entertainment.
Maybe consider taking a deck of cards or board games you enjoy playing.
16. Make It A Tech-Free Trip
One of the best ways to make family camping on a budget is to make it a tech-free trip. You’re probably camping to get away from the daily life full of tech.
So why not save on buying a generator or solar phone chargers and set a rule not to use your electronics while being on the trip?!
Instead, connect with your family and enjoy your time together.
17. Learn To Fish
Fishing is a great way to pass the time, get free dinner, and minimize packing needs. Simply consider camping near water, learn how to fish, and cook your meal over the campfire.
18. Put A Camping Budget Category In Your Personal Finances
Putting a camping budget category in your personal finances will help you set aside a certain amount of money for your next trip. Plus, when you have a pre-set budget, it would be easier to plan your trip accordingly.
19. Ask For Camping Supplies As Gifts
If your family and friends ask for gift ideas for Christmas or birthdays, it’s a great way to ask for camping supplies. It’s a win-win- people will know exactly what to gift you and you don’t have to buy the camping equipment you want.
20. Avoid Disposable Items
Not only are disposable items not eco-friendly, but they add to your expenses in the long run. Instead, use non-disposable dishes, cups, cookware, or other items.
21. Structure Your Days Around Nature
Structuring your days around nature will help you save big on battery-powered lights and lanterns. Simply use the fire as a light source after sundown to avoid the need for using artificial sources of light.
22. Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle
Minimalist camping on a budget is what can help you save money on things that aren’t essential for your trip.
23. Camp In Your Own Backyard (Literally!)
Have you heard of taking a relaxing staycation?
If you have a spacious backyard, why not camp in there?! Imagine how much money you can save on fuel, food, entrance fees, and so much more.
According to Statista, most campers go to a camp that’s less than 50 miles away from their homes- your neighborhood may be less crowded, cheaper, and quieter than any of those!
24. Find A Free Or State-Run Campground
While a touristic campsite may be pricey, you may want to consider finding a free or state-run campground to settle. Generally expect to pay up to $25 for government-run sites which provide basic amenities like pit toilets and no showers.
25. Find Hike Trails That Are Accessible For The Whole Family
Hiking is an excellent family camping activity that is free. All you need is gas to get to the trailhead. Since many campgrounds have access to trailheads, you may not even have to drive to start your hike.
26. Choose A Campground With Natural Interests
When choosing your destination, pick a campground that’s rich in natural wonders to visit and explore. Doing so will help you save on gas money- as you’ll be able to hike instead of drive to reach stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, parks, or any other attractions.
27. Choose Campgrounds With Basic Facilities
While a campground with a pool, tennis courts, and shops might be tempting, they obviously skyrocket the site’s price. Instead, look for a campsite that provides basic facilities, like restrooms and showers.
28. Plan Out Your Activities
When you pick a campground with basic infrastructure, you’ll need to take care of the entertainment. To stay on a budget, make sure to plan out your activities in advance, such as hiking, playing games, or even sports.
29. Join RV Clubs And Memberships
RV camping on a budget might sound like a more challenging task. An RV requires more gas than a regular car and it’s more expensive to park at a campsite. However, you can significantly minimize your expenses by joining RV clubs and memberships.
Campgrounds usually partner with RV clubs to offer discounted rates and special benefits to their members.
Or you can check out our favorite company RV Share to plan your next once in a lifetime outdoor adventure.
30. Start A Camp Gear Fund
Last but not least, if you’re someone who likes glamping or having the niceties you may need to save up extra. Just set aside a portion of money from each paycheck to contribute to the camp fund. You may also consider getting your family involved to help you fill-up the fund faster.
Bonus: Easy Tricks To Boost Your Camping Budget
1. Sign up to Inbox Dollars
A good way of boosting your cash for trips is to bring in extra money. An easy way of doing that is to sign up to a site like InboxDollars or getting an easy, profitable side hustle.
There are several ways of making money on InboxDollars, with the most common being taking surveys, but there are also other ways such as watching videos.
2. Create a Budget
The best way to camp without overspending is to put together a budget for your general finances!
A budget isn’t as daunting as it sounds – it’s more of a spending plan, where you look at your income and write out all of your spendings.
Once you’ve written it all out, you need to compare your spending goals to what you’ve actually been spending.
This is a really important step, where you will see if there is money you need to shuffle around or stop spending – and this will free up money to spend on other stuff, like your camping trip!
3. Go With Friends and Share Everything
Do you have a huge tent or camper? You could get together with your friends and all pitch in (no pun intended) and share your resources.
If you are providing the transport/place to stay, they could contribute food and drinks for example.
There are so many fun ways that you can go camping on a budget, and we hope you’ve found lots of ideas to try!