Camping trips can be fun. They bring you close to nature, giving you the opportunity to take in the beauty around you. They open up a door of opportunity for you to enjoy the fellowship of your family and friends. They can be expensive, though. If you don’t budget for it and plan in advance, you could be left with many pleasant memories but also with less money for household expenses such as rent, groceries, and utilities after the trip is over. Let’s have fun while saving money!
Make a Plan
There’s an old saying that points out that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The same holds true for camping trips. Indeed, good planning starts out with making a list. With pen and paper in hand, begin to write a list of items you need for your trip. Decide what absolutely needs to be bought, and what can be borrowed from friends. In planning her trip, for example, I have seen my wife purchase lots of things she would need, but I also noticed that she borrowed a lot of items from friends as well, such as a backpack. Backpacks can be quite expensive. Yet saving money is not merely about spending less money, but also about seeking areas in which not to spend at all. For instance, if that old swimming suit your mother wore back in 1968 that she handed down to you fits, pack that instead of buying a new one. As the USA Today website points out, buying a swimsuit when you have one at that is just your size can be a colossal waste of money.
Planning is also essential for meals and drinks. Everyone must eat in order to live. So it’s best to budget how many meals you need according to the number of days you plan to spend camping. Buy foods that you can put in the cooler; take bread and condiments with which you can make sandwiches. Hot dogs and hamburgers are a good bet too because many campgrounds have grills that they offer as amenities. Why go to the convenience store on the campgrounds where everything will be more expensive when you can go to your local grocery store prior to the trip and make your own meals based on what you’ve already bought?
In addition, when buying toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair care products, and other personal items–buy as many of them as possible at your local dollar store. Many dollar stores sell travel-sized items. A word of caution is in order, however: Before you buy, observe the prices of the merchandise they sell–all dollar stores that claim that they are have items there that sell for more than a dollar.
There are some things, however, that are not best bought at the dollar store. For instance, you’ll probably need batteries for flashlights. Buy them at a place that does not charge a lot of money for batteries, but are reputable for selling high-quality batteries. That way, you’ll save money in the long run. If your batteries die while you are camping, it may send you to the convenience store on the site, where you will be forced to buy batteries that are overpriced, with no guarantee that they will even last.
Location, Location, Location!
Location is very important. As the MyDollarPlan website advises, choose a site that’s closer to home. For instance, if you live in Chicago, it’s best not to choose campgrounds in Carbondale–it’s too far south, and you are likely to waste money in gas and car maintenance. And depending on the state of fuel prices at the time of your trip, that alone can place a serious dent in your wallet.
Speaking of vehicle-related expenses, choose a site that has amenities such as bike trails. Traveling by bicycle, as opposed to by motorcycle–is a less expensive way to go. Also, it will afford you a chance to enjoy nature while exercising. Leave your boats at home as well, for parks love to charge mooring fees, as well as boat launch/trail fees. These can start to add up.
Another way fees can accumulate is in choosing a site for your camping trip. Among the many money-sucking mistakes many campers make is choosing a resort, or hotel, instead of booking at a national, state, or local park. Hotels may advertise free Internet, a complimentary hot breakfast, or swimming pool, but these amenities come at a price. Since the idea of camping is staying outdoors, you should plan your trip at a park.
Five Tips on Free Things to Do While Camping
Have you ever camped and wanted to ride a pony or canoe across the lake? While these activities may be fun and yield many precious memories for years to come, they can be quite costly. Fret not! There are things you can do that will not cost you a dime. For example, if you bring your own bike, and you find a trail on which you can ride that is complimentary and included in the cost of your overall camping experience, then that is an excellent idea.
Another fun way to spend a camping trip that doesn’t involve money is to sing campfire songs. If you play the guitar as I do, you can bring your own guitar and a songbook and have hours of fun singing campfire songs that everyone will enjoy. The best thing about this is that the only money you will have to spend is the price of a lighter and lighter fluid–and, of course, the marshmallows.
Yet another free way to enjoy your camping trip is to go hiking. For this, I would suggest you borrow a good pair of hiking boots from a friend, or if you have older ones in good shape, bring those. Hiking boots can be quite expensive if bought from a sporting goods store.
Aside from that, hiking is an excellent free way to enjoy your camping trip. It gives you excellent exercise. It also affords you the chance to enjoy the natural beauty that’s all around you.
Or if you don’t feel like going on a hiking trip, pop out your disposable camera and begin taking pictures of flowers, grass, or mountains that are around you. Have your significant other and/or children pose for you close to a tree or a lake. Or if you’re camping alone, take pictures of birds and other wonders of the great outdoors.
If you’re on a group trip, another activity you can participate in that’s free are games. The Beforeitsnews website suggests playing games such as hackeysack, volleyball, soccer and frisbee. These games make for great fellowship times, and provide exercise for you. Again, frisbees can be bought prior to your trip at a local dollar store, or, better yet–borrowed from a relative or friend. Your local neighborhood school may be gracious enough to lend you their soccer ball if you ask.
These are just a few ideas about camping without spending much money. Camping is meant to make good memories. With these tips on camping, you can make memories that you can treasure forever without the unpleasant memories of wasted money that could have gone to rent, utilities, or other unexpected expenses that came up after your trip.