How to Save When it Comes to Camping Trips

I am a skilled penny pincher/coupon collector and money miser or at least this is what I am told.  No, I am not cheap but I do not like to have to pay more than I need to.  This came into play when my son went to Philmont with his Boy Scout troop.  While we did have a small collection of camping gear, we did not have enough of the correct equipment.  Yes, we could have just gone out and bought everything he needed in one swoop but why should we.  The troop he belonged to gave us over a year to get the equipment together.  I know most people will not take this amount of time to gather supplies for a family campout but if you follow one or two of these suggestions, I promise you will save money.


Get a Plastic Tub

Believe it or not, this is a very valuable item.  I cannot tell you how many duplicates of things I have because I did not know I had it or I could not find the item.  Now, I put my small camping equipment inside with a list of the contents on the top of the tub.  When I am ready to go camping, I just grab the tub and away I go.  This is an old Boy Scout trick.

Also, if you are buying up some supplies, like canned food or spices, why not put them in the tub.  Just remember not to mix equipment with kitchen supplies.  The organization idea goes out the window when you are left searching again.

Check Out Thrift Stores and Yard Sales

Let me tell you, I never pass up a thrift store or yard sale that has camping equipment.  Yes, you have to be careful but if you check to make sure things work and do not have holes then you can save a bunch.  To aid you in your thrift shopping, take these tips to heart.  If you find a tent, set it up.  Make sure all the parts are there.  Once you get the ok for that, climb into the set up tent.  Look up.  What you are looking for are pinholes, which will leak water in the rain.  If you find these, say no to the bargain.  On the other hand, if everything checks out then you have a deal.

As far as backpacks go, put one on.  Make sure that all the straps are there.  Check the backpack out like you did with the tent for holes.

Cookware is something that you can use even if it looks a little worn.  The key is to make sure that it will be safe to use.  As far as cooking stoves go, you will need to make sure that they work.  What this means is you may have to go buy some fuel to test them out before buying.

Camp in a Primitive Site

I personally like primitive camping.  Not only does it save me money but it really allows me to get back to nature.  While this may not be your cup of tea, it should be something to consider if you are on a budget.  Having said that, if you choose to save this way make sure you find out if you can pull your vehicle up and unload, or if you have to carry your equipment to the site.  This will help with the planning.

Camp near Home

I learned this trick when my kids were young.  You can have the same amount of fun at a park that is 50 miles from your house or 500.  The key that I have learned is to go to a park that is far enough away that you do not visit often but is not so far away that it takes days to get there.  This will save you time and money.  Plus if your young campers get homesick, you do not have that far to go to get home.

Pick Multi-Use Items

To save space, time, money, and weight, pick items that can be used for more than one purpose.  Need some ideas?  What about the old-fashioned mess kit?  This kit contained bowls that could be eaten from, cooked with, and stored in.  All of these uses from one camping item.

Following these ideas for frugal camping will make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful for many years to come.