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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
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.
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 small grill will also work for cooking, which may entail buying charcoal. 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.
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 a cooler from things around the house like this will keep your food costs down. If plans are being made ahead of time, using bread bags to make your own bags of ice for the cooler will also save a few bucks.
If there is a fisherman in the bunch, things like bread and corn will also work as bait to catch a nice batch of sunfish for another meal or two, thus saving still more.