Most RVers started out as campers and I am no different. We happily spent many vacations and weekends in a tent and cooking over the fire and they bring back some very special memories.
Family camping trips have been popular for many years and each generation of campers pass their love of camping on to the next. Family budgets are often tight, so camping is sometimes the only affordable means to get away on vacation for a reasonable amount of money. However, it is still not free.
If you have a limited vacation budget, but you would still like to take the family on a nice camping trip, there are several ways to cut costs.
Borrowing Camping Gear
If you have friends and family who like to go camping a lot, chances are you can borrow some of their items for your trip. Unless you go camping all the time, there really is little reason to buy a lot of camping equipment. Most people are more than willing to loan their camping stuff so it gets used regularly, keeping it from molding or rusting.
Take advantage of the generosity of your camping relatives and friends by borrowing things like canteens, water jugs, camp stoves, lanterns, coolers, coffee maker, griddle, heater, and even camping dishes and cutlery. Of course, you’ll want to borrow the tents, as well as sleeping mattresses and sleeping bags, if possible. However, for a small investment, you can buy your own sleeping bags, pillows, and extra bedding just so you have your own personal items.
Second Hand Camping Gear
Walk into any quality second hand store and you’ll find piles of gently used camping equipment. That’s because there are always people who make the mistake of thinking they’re going to devote their vacation time to the camping experience, buy all new equipment, and find out they should have borrowed or bought second hand before they splurged. With that said, you can take advantage of these hasty decisions by buying camping gear for next to nothing.
Visit yard sales and flea markets, too, for gear that is practically free for the asking. Tents may need to be aired out and scrubbed well, but a little elbow-grease goes a long way toward the cost of a brand new tent. Used sleeping bags may not be as appealing as other equipment, but consider buying used sleeping bags for extra padding underneath your air mattresses, or for sitting around the campfire. A little diluted bleach goes a long way to sprucing up, freshening up, and getting the mold and mildew out of used gear.
Search for Used Camping Gear Online
Not only can you find specialized second hand camping sites like The Outdoor Gear Exchange or Outdoor Online, you can also hit up the classifieds like Craigslist, FreeSell, and Kijiji for some great local deals. Keep in mind that shopping online can involve shipping if you are not shopping locally. Do the math before you make your decision.
Of course, besides the camping gear and supplies, you’ll need to plan out where you will be staying. Your shoestring vacation budget might not allow for a trip to Yosemite, but you can find many good campgrounds or parks that offer great deals right along with fabulous amenities. Click here for 50% off at RV Parks
Search websites to find campsites near you, as well as campgrounds or parks in your destination of choice looking for special deals. You’ll find campgrounds that offer shower facilities, boating equipment, fishing, and even classes in snorkeling or other summer sports.
You might want to learn more about Boondocking or FreeCampsites.net and others like them that give you resources for finding places to camp free. Campers also love to share their favorite finds in websites and forums. Search around the internet and start clicking on interesting looking sites, but always check the authenticity of a free campsite by calling the local tourist bureau.
Taking the family camping is a learning experience. Each year, you’ll figure out how to do things better, and cheaper with smart budgeting. Each year, you’ll figure out how to do things better, and cheaper. Start small, and if it turns out you are in love with ‘roughing it’ then go ahead and branch out. Keep the frugal camping basics in mind, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Read my post on easy cooking tips while camping here.