Compared to other vacations, car camping is by far a lot more affordable. As long as you already have a head start with some of the equipment or gear, the experience shouldn’t set you back too far. That being said, there are some things that go along with car camping that certainly aren’t free. If it’s possibly to save a buck or two on your outdoor adventure, then why not?
Borrow Gear or Buy Secondhand
Especially if you’re not one to go car camping every day, then there’s no reason you should have to buy new gear just for this occasion. Instead, ask around to see if you can borrow someone’s cooking stove or tent. If you don’t have any outdoorsy friends that can help you out, then consider buying these things second hand. As long as it functions and there are no safety or health risks on the equipment, then it’s good to go.
Take Advantage of Take-Out Food
All those little plastic utensils and packages of condiments you get when you take out food or visit the food court? Keep those! They are perfect for car camping trips as they are easy to bring along and of course, don’t cost a thing!
Find Cheaper Campgrounds
In some places, campgrounds, especially those with full hook-ups, can cost as much as a place with a roof. But, of course, you get what you pay for. And, sometimes, the best things in life are free! So, do your research and find something that’s as low as $10 (or $0) a night, and see how much more you can save on your trip.
Additionally, make sure you check information about permits, parking costs, and materials and activities available at the campsite. Perhaps a place is only $10 a night, but it’s not really a steal if you have to put money down for everything else.
Sharing is Caring and Less is More
If you’re going car camping with a large group, share your gear! Let them bring half and you bring the other half. Split up the groceries and contribute to the campsite. And, don’t overdo it! When you share, you’re less likely to bring things that you don’t need. And, bringing extra isn’t always a good thing. Things like food ultimately end up in the trash. Save money by splitting things up and planning precisely.
Forget Buying New Clothes
When you go hiking, especially a thru-hike, it’s important to invest in the right clothing to make sure you stay safe and comfortable. But, car camping isn’t quite the same. While you should bring enough layers to keep you warm, you should have plenty of things in your closet already that you can wear, without needing to buy more.
Use Things You Have at Home
Don’t buy anything new if you already have it at home! For example, there’s no need to buy an actual first-aid kit if you already have everything you need in the medicine cabinet. Just take what you need and compile it together.
Coupons and Sales
Outdoor stores often have clearance racks or sales to help you gather the gear you need for car camping that you don’t already have. Likewise, when it comes to food, see where you can save. Check out the flyer or coupons for your local grocery store. You might just be surprised what you can save on.
Make Sure Your Gear (and Ingredients) are Multipurpose
Any gear you have to spend money on should be versatile. It should be functional for a variety of different things. Whether it’s using a sleeping bag as a daytime blanket, toilet paper as napkins, or skewers as marshmallow sticks, think outside of the box. For your meals think of dishes you can use a lot of the same ingredients for, but make different things with.
Why spend a fortune on car camping? Getting outdoors should be a way to have fun that everyone can afford. Don’t pay for anything you can get for free or at a cheaper price.