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How To Save Money When You Go Camping

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Are you looking for a fun and affordable way to escape the stress of everyday life? Camping can be a great option, but many people are put off by the potential costs involved. The good news is that it is possible to enjoy a fantastic camping trip without breaking the bank.

By following some simple tips, you can save money and still have a memorable experience in the great outdoors. In this article, we will share some of the best ways to keep your camping costs down and make the most of your time under the stars.

How to save money when you go camping

How to save money when you go camping

Camping trips are a great way to relax, get some exercise and recharge your batteries with some time away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation.  You can escape the daily grind, breathe fresh air, and appreciate nature's beauty.  However, many people shy away from this amazing experience because of the cost of camping equipment and other expenses.

If you love the great outdoors but are worried about the cost of camping, you're not alone. Sure, you may come across some high-tech camping equipment that looks impressive and promises a luxurious camping experience, but that's not necessarily what camping is all about.

In our opinion, camping is supposed to be a budget-friendly alternative to pricey hotel stays or Centre Parcs, allowing you to explore new places without breaking the bank. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money and still have a memorable camping trip that meets your needs and desires. With some careful planning and a little bit of effort, you can cut costs on everything from food to shelter and beyond.

While it's true that buying or renting camping equipment can be expensive, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a budget-friendly camping trip without sacrificing fun or comfort. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy a camping trip and save money when you go camping.

How to save money on food when camping

Feeding yourself on a campsite can be difficult as your options are limited. Instead of travelling with lots of cooking equipment and ingredients think about specially made camping meals.  There’s lots of different providers but companies like "Summit to Eat" provide a number of different options, including some which are suitable for vegans.

These options can save money and effort allowing you to enjoy your trip and some of the meal options available are incredibly tasty and quick to make, meaning they are perfect for fuelling your trip and giving you more free time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Last time we went camping we managed to buy a camping stove in the sale and took cheap tins of beans with us!

Here are some additional ideas for keeping camping food cheap:

  • Plan your meals in advance: Before you go on your camping trip, take some time to plan out your meals for each day. This will help you avoid impulse purchases and ensure that you only buy what you need. Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Buy non-perishable items in bulk: Non-perishable items like rice, pasta, and canned goods can be bought in bulk and stored for a long time. This can save you money in the long run, especially if you plan on camping frequently.
  • Bring your own snacks: Snacks can be expensive, especially if you buy them at a gas station or convenience store. Bring your own snacks from home, such as trail mix, granola bars, or dried fruit.
  • Cook over a campfire: If you're allowed to build a campfire at your campsite, take advantage of it. Cooking over a campfire can be a fun and inexpensive way to prepare meals.
  • Share meals with other campers: If you're camping with a group of friends or taking a multigenerational holiday, consider sharing meals to cut down on costs. Each person can bring a dish or ingredient, and you can all enjoy a communal meal together.
  • Look for discounts: Some camping stores and websites offer discounts on camping food and supplies. Keep an eye out for sales and special offers to save money on your holiday.

By following these tips, you can enjoy delicious and satisfying meals on your camping trip without breaking the bank.

Here are some vegan-friendly camping food ideas that are easy to make and affordable:

There are plenty of foods that are both affordable and convenient to bring along on a camping trip. Here are a few ideas:

  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a filling and inexpensive breakfast option. You can buy instant oatmeal packets, or bring your own oats and cook them on a camping stove.
  • PB&J: Peanut butter and jam sandwiches are a classic camping food that's easy to make and budget-friendly. Bring a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jam and you're good to go.
  • Pasta: Pasta is an affordable and versatile meal option for camping. Bring your favourite pasta and sauce, or make your own sauce from canned tomatoes and spices.
  • Trail mix: Trail mix is a great snack that can keep you energised throughout the day. You can make your own by combining nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables can be a healthy and inexpensive addition to your camping meals. Bring along some apples, oranges, carrots, and celery for a quick and easy snack.  (Celery dipped into peanut butter is a winner!)
  • Veggie burgers: Many brands offer vegan-friendly veggie burger patties that are easy to cook on a camping stove or over a campfire.
  • Couscous salad: Couscous is a great base for a vegan-friendly salad. You can add diced vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, as well as some herbs and spices for flavour.
  • Hummus and pitta: Hummus and pitta bread are easy to pack and make for a filling and nutritious snack or meal. You can also bring along some vegetables like carrots and celery to dip in the hummus.
  • Lentil soup: Lentil soup is a filling and comforting meal that can be easily prepared on a camping stove. You can also make it ahead of time and reheat it when you're ready to eat.
  • Bean chilli: Bean chilli is another hearty and flavorful meal that can be prepared on a camping stove. You can use canned beans, tomatoes, and spices to create a delicious vegan-friendly chilli.

By choosing these types of foods, you can save money on your camping trip while still enjoying delicious and satisfying meals.  If you don't have a fridge, then check out these vegan-friendly food ideas with no fridge when camping.

How to save money on shelter when camping

When it comes to camping, your shelter is a crucial element to a successful trip. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep your shelter costs down without sacrificing comfort or safety.

One of your biggest outgoings when you’re going camping is a tent. Bringing your own tent is often cheaper than renting accommodation, such as a glamping pod. However, it might be worth looking at this option if there’s a lot of you going camping, as a group of friends and you can split the cost between you to have a less stressful weekend with less set-up involved.

If you do need to bring a tent keep in mind that they can be incredibly expensive so its worth asking around friends and family to see if anyone has a tent you could potentially borrow first.  Alternatively look online for a second hand version.  This can save you a fortune. Another good idea is if you can borrow a tent ask the person you are borrowing it from to show you how to put it up and take it down properly.  Not only will this help you avoid struggling to put a tent up on a campsite, but it can also help you avoid damaging the tent and having to replace it anyway.

Here are some additional ideas for cheap shelter when camping:

  • Hammocks: Hammocks can be a cheaper and more comfortable alternative to tents. You'll need some trees to set them up, but they're lightweight and easy to pack.
  • Bivy sacks: A bivy sack is a waterproof and breathable shelter that can be used instead of a tent. They're small and lightweight, making them ideal for backpacking.
  • Car camping: If you're camping in a national park or other popular camping destination, look for car camping spots. These are designated campsites that are accessible by car and may have amenities like bathrooms and showers.
  • Camping with a group: As mentioned in the previous section, you can split the cost of a larger tent, camping yurt or glamping pod with a group of friends to reduce your individual costs.  If you're planning a weekend away with the girls, then look into glamping retreats.
  • Renting gear: If you only go camping occasionally, renting gear may be a more affordable option than buying everything you need. Look for camping gear rental companies in your area or check with local sporting goods stores.

By considering these ideas, you can save money on your shelter and still have a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

How to save money when you go camping

How to save money on essential equipment when camping

With camping, there’s a temptation to buy every gadget, space saving tool and handy piece of equipment there is to make spending some time outdoors as relatively easy as possible.  This can pile a lot of unnecessary cost onto your trip. You should avoid this by planning carefully, work out exactly what you need and where you can trim away any excessive purchases.

For example, you might not need to buy a whole new wardrobe for camping. Or there might be utensils, can openers, etc that you can bring from home. This can save you on having to buy new items for your trip and drastically reduce the cost of getting ready to go camping.

Think about the following things to help you finalise your inventory for your trip:

  • How long you’re going for – if you’re going away for a weekend its more likely that you can travel light and need to buy or prepare less equipment for your trip.
  • What amenities your campsite has – some campsites provide kitchen areas, towels, etc. This can mean you again have less to bring with you as some equipment is tied into the cost of your campsite.
  • What your itinerary for the trip is – you might have the opportunity to eat out on various days meaning you have to buy less in terms of cooking equipment.

Here are some additional tips for saving money on essential camping equipment:

  • Shop for used gear: Look for gently used camping gear online or at thrift stores. You can often find quality equipment at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
  • Borrow from friends: Ask friends or family members if you can borrow equipment like tents, sleeping bags, or camping stoves. This is a great way to save money and try out gear before you commit to buying it.
  • Pack light: When it comes to packing for a camping trip, less is often more. Focus on bringing only what you really need, and leave behind any unnecessary items.  If you're planning a kid-free camping trip and it's just the two of you, then you can pack minimally.
  • Make a list: Before you start packing, make a list of everything you need to bring. This can help you avoid forgetting anything important and also prevent you from packing items you don't need.
  • Rent gear: If you only go camping occasionally, renting gear may be a more affordable option than buying everything you need. Look for camping gear rental companies in your area or check with local sporting goods stores.

By considering these additional tips, you can save money on essential camping equipment and still have everything you need to enjoy a comfortable and memorable camping trip.

6 more ways to save money on camping trips

  1. Some other tips for saving money on camping trips include planning a staycation camping trip rather than going abroad.  This should keep travel expenses to a minimum.  If you have kids and money is really tight, then why not camp in your back garden?
  2. Also, skip any extras.  Many campsites charge extra for additional equipment such as an extra tent or an awning.  Try to avoid any extra costs if you are camping on a budget.
  3. Camping during peak season can be more expensive, with campsites charging higher rates for more popular times of year. Consider camping during the off-season, when rates may be lower.  You can also try booking last-minute camping trips or getting early bird prices.
  4. Many campsites charge fees, but there are also free campsites available in many areas. Do some research to find free campsites that are safe and suitable for your needs.  There are some pub carparks that let you camp for free if you buy a meal in the pub, however this is more suited to campervan campers and not tents.  There are apps available to find such places.
  5. Buying water at the campsite or nearby stores can add up quickly. Instead, bring your own water supply and refill as needed.
  6. Camping close to home can save you money on travel expenses, including gas and transportation costs.

Tips for saving money on camping activities

Camping offers a fantastic opportunity to get closer to nature, explore new surroundings, and engage in outdoor activities. However, these activities can quickly become expensive, especially if you're traveling with a family or a large group. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on camping activities to have an affordable family holiday.

One of the best ways to save money on camping activities is to take advantage of free outdoor activities or low-cost activities. Instead of booking expensive tours or activities, consider exploring the nearby trails or parks. Many state and national parks offer hiking trails and other activities for free or at a low cost. You can also bring along a frisbee, football, or other outdoor games that you can enjoy with your family or friends without any additional expense.  You can still have adventurous family days out for free.

Another great way to save money on camping activities is to bring your own equipment, such as kayaks and bikes, instead of renting or buying them at the campsite. This can save you a significant amount of money, especially if you plan on using the equipment multiple times during your trip.

In addition, consider planning your activities ahead of time to take advantage of any discounts or special offers. Many campsites and outdoor recreation companies offer discounts for booking activities in advance or for booking multiple activities at once.  If you're going as a group then you may be able to get group discounts on things like horse riding or archery.

If you're near a town or city then check out what free events and entry options there are.  For example, here are lots of free things to do with kids in Gloucestershire and many other counties will have similar.

Maximising campsite amenities for free

Many campsites offer free amenities that can help campers save money. These free amenities often include water, public restrooms, showers, and even free firewood. To make the most of these amenities, it's essential to do your research before your trip. Check the campsite's website or call ahead to ask about the free amenities they offer.

You can also gather small pieces of wood from the surrounding area to save money on heating and cooking.

Using coupons and discounts for camping gear

Camping gear can be expensive, but there are ways to save money on your gear purchases. One way to save money on camping gear is to look for cashback, coupons, promo codes, and discounts. Many outdoor retailers and camping gear manufacturers offer these types of discounts, especially during the off-season.

To find these discounts, start by checking the manufacturer's website or signing up for their email list to receive exclusive discounts and promotions. You can also check online coupon sites or outdoor gear deal websites for the latest discounts and promo codes.

Another way to save money on camping gear is to shop at outlet stores or buy second-hand gear. Many outdoor gear outlet stores offer discounted camping gear from previous seasons. You can also find great deals on used camping gear at garage sales, online marketplaces, and second-hand outdoor gear shops.

By using coupons and discounts for camping gear, you can save money on the essential items you need for your camping trip, leaving more money in your budget for other camping activities and experiences.

Here are our favourite places for getting camping gear discounts:


Saving money staying warm when camping off-season

Camping in the off-season can be a great way to save money, but it can also be much colder than camping in the warmer months. To save money while staying warm when camping off-season, consider using thermal sleeping bags, insulated sleeping pads, and wearing layers of warm clothing.

You can also use a portable heater to warm up your tent, but make sure it's safe to use inside your tent and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Additionally, you can use a hot water bottle or heating pad to keep warm at night.

Here are some tips for how to stay warm in a campervan in cold weather.

Final word

Camping is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, relax and recharge your batteries.  While there are some costs you can't avoid such as campervan insurance if you are using a van for camping, there are many other ways you can keep the cost of camping down, especially if you are using a tent and keeping things simple.  

While it's true that camping can require a significant investment in equipment and supplies, it doesn't have to be an expensive activity. With careful planning, you can enjoy a budget-friendly camping trip without sacrificing comfort or enjoyment. Planning your trip can in more detail can help you to work out what you need to budget for in terms of activities, but also helps you create a comprehensive list of what you need to buy and what you can avoid.

In this article, we've shared some tips and ideas for saving money on food, shelter, and essential equipment when camping. By following these suggestions, you can significantly reduce your costs and make camping a more affordable activity for you and a cheaper option for a holiday for your family.  Taking the time to do this can help you define a budget for your trip, help you be properly prepared for your camping and ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy yourself and have a stress-free camping adventure.

Remember, the key to an epic holiday and successful camping trip is to plan ahead, stay organised, and focus on the experiences that matter most. With a little effort and a bit of creativity, you can create a memorable and enjoyable camping trip that won't break the bank. Happy camping!