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Camping on a Budget

One of the greatest things about camping is that it can be done on the spur of the moment, with nothing more than a shoe-string budget. Of course, there can be plenty of extravagance and luxury camping as well. Still, for those times when a quiet little getaway is desired, and the money is elsewhere, camping on a budget is a fun challenge that will help you create lifelong memories.

Camping on a budget doesn't have to suck! Some of our best family memories have been made around a campfire, in our cheap-o second hand tent!

Camping on a Budget

For this type of camping, the greatest expense is often the gas to get there. Once this is covered, the rest is easy.

Choose where to camp

When camping on a budget, there are many places to camp that are quite a low cost and even cost-free. State Parks are a well-maintained example of this, with many beautiful areas available for campers at no cost. These will often offer a good bit of privacy, with well-kept trail systems, great fishing spots, and even more.

State parks offer the next level, with less primitive camping at a low price, with lots of amenities. Other areas will include state-maintained land of various types, such as the no-longer-mined iron pits in Central Minnesota (a “secret” free camping hotspot with fantastic swimming areas, lots of wildlife, and some really nice fish), and other similar lands throughout the country.

One thing to take into consideration when choosing a location is whether you will be pitching a tent or camping with pop up trailers. There’s no doubt that pop up trailers make camping easier and more comfortable, but tents can provide the same level of adventure, if you don’t have a camper. Plus, opting for a simpler setup leaves room in your budget for affordable activities for your kids.

Pack equipmentCamping on a budget doesn't have to suck! Some of our best family memories have been made around a campfire, in our cheap-o second hand tent!

Depending upon one’s level of camping savvy, the necessary items here will likely already be on hand, so it will take very little expense. The potential expense for the avid camper may be a can of camp stove gas, which costs about three dollars or less. A campfire grill will also work for cooking. Of course, campfire cooking is free if you gather your own wood.

Someone without all the necessary equipment will often have a suitable substitute on hand anyway, so you won’t need to spend extra cash. Even without a tent, a tarp can be made into a workable shelter. Plastic plates and cups from the cupboard will work for camp mess kits, and suitable pots and pans can also be taken from the kitchen, if necessary. An egg crate from a mattress also works well as a camp bed. Comfort, food and light are most important! Candle lanterns for camping are a great addition to any campsite and make your tent much more enjoyable.

Many other things that are regularly used at home will work on a camping trip, too—walking through a regular day from waking up until bedtime will remind one of what to bring, so there is little or no extra expense.

Pack clothes

Weather conditions at the camping location will dictate what type of clothing to pack. Most necessary items will be available right from your closet. Some things can be put together from household items in order to save expenses. For example, rain gear can be made from a large size garbage bag, if needed.

Raid the refrigerator and pantry

Many of the food items you already have on hand will work for a camping trip. Things like eggs, bacon, hamburger, lunch meat and canned goods are great camping foods. Anything that will cook on a regular stove will generally cook just as well over a campfire.

Packing an Orion cooler from things around the house like this will keep your food costs down. Planning ahead helps you save money, too! Bread bags to make your own bags of ice for the cooler will also save a few bucks. Just save the bags from your bread for a few weeks before your trip.

Bread and corn will also work as bait to catch a nice batch of sunfish for a couple of meals. Fishing is an easy way to have fun and save money on dinner!

Camping on a budget doesn't have to suck! Some of our best family memories have been made around a campfire, in our cheap-o second hand tent!

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Ideally, for the shoe-string budget camper, anything needed on a camping trip will come from home. This way, it really isn’t hard to have a great getaway with very little expense. Anyone can do it, and make it fun.