I love to find Ways To Camp On A Budget, aka Cheap camping!! As it can be, even with how basic camping is in idea, the costs can add up. Just for one night, it can cost $20 to $30 each night to stay at a typical private campground, even with just a tent. That’s about the cheapest you can get for camping in my area. If you go off-season to somewhere off the beaten trail, you might find somewhere you can camp for free!
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Now one of my closest friends always laughed and asked why they would pay money to live in the woods for the night. They have a point, but I love that there is some comfort in numbers at a campground. Now the nightly cost of a camping spot is just the beginning of your actual camping costs. To get there, you must add food, shelter, entertainment, and even gas. You can’t do much about the cost of gas, but there are many other ways to save on camping costs. (You can see my posts on Camping for Free -> here)
WAYS TO Save and CAMP ON A BUDGET:
Bring It From Home: Everything’s almost always cheaper back home than near a campground or a corner store. The trick to cutting camping costs is to buy as little as possible from the campground general store. Meal planning makes all the difference when camping!
Avoid Disposables: Paper plates and one-use plastic forks may be easy to deal with after each meal, but they can also be expensive. You’re also dealing with a lot of extra trash, which you might have to pay for. Some campgrounds don’t offer recycling bins.
So your way to cheaper camping is to get the kind of cheap plastic dishes and basic metal or upgrade-plastic cutlery that you can reuse repeatedly. You can use them for picnics and backyard cookouts as well. They’re pretty durable and don’t break easily, but even if you break one, it’s easy to replace it. I have also picked up dishes and cutlery at thrift stores before as well for cheap as well.
Free entertainment: Many campgrounds are close to lots of free things to do. Some will have lakes, beaches, swimming, boat launches, sand castles, hiking, fishing (after licenses), and sometimes free camp programs at night. One thing I love about Washington State Parks is many have junior ranger programs for kids. (See the state parks site -> here)
You’ve got lots of hiking trails. You’ve got fishing and fresh-caught fish and evening campfires. You’ve even got freebie-planned recreational activities in many national parks, like nature talks and wolf howls. Have fun, for Pete’s sake! Bringing board games and cards for rainy days and outdoor games can also help.
Go With Classic Meals: Make at least one camp night a hot dog with beans and burger night. It’s traditional and can be cheap! Look at some cheap foil dinners and camping foods as well. We do a lot of eggs for breakfast-filling meals that will fuel your experiences. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but make sure the meals will fill you up! Seriously a good camping skillet breakfast is terrific!
Camping Gear: Good camping gear can save you money in the long run. My go-tos for camping are an excellent camp stove or camping griddle, a propane hose with a larger tank instead of little tanks, and a good air mattress. Now the air mattress is to avoid the chiropractor visits after camping!
What do you do to save money while camping on a budget?