Taking a vacation can be a costly proposition. Between airfare, hotel rooms, and the endless dollars spent eating at restaurants, even a short family vacation can quickly end up costing well over $1,000. If that’s not in your budget this year, consider going camping instead.
Check out my frugal camping hacks for your family vacation first. It can be a great way to spend a frugal summer vacation, particularly if you already have the equipment you need.
Frugal Camping Hacks
Camping should be fun, and not something that turns into a stressful vacation. Keeping things simple and low cost is best but sometimes that is hard.
Camping equipment can be expensive, but with the camping hacks and ideas below there are ways around spending more than a person needs to or wants.
First camping hack – relax and look forward to being in nature and surrounded by family and friends.
Here are things you will need or want for your camping adventures.
If you’re a seasoned camper, this will be no problem. Gathering up all the camping gear and checking it over. Sometimes mice or bugs can chew holes in things or leave things unusable.
Packing up camping gear in a hurry can leave things wet and then they might get moldy. Unpacking a tent and airing it out before going camping helps get the dampness off. Wiping off any mold or dirt before packing it back up is a good idea.
If you’re new to camping, you have some decisions to make. Do you want to camp in a tent, in a camper, or do you want to rent a cabin at a campsite?
Tenting is fun but not something that is for everyone. Borrowing a tent from someone and using it before buying your own will help you decide if you like tenting. Put it up in the backyard at least once before you head out to make sure you’re familiar with the setup and that everything is in good working order.
Borrowing a tent or camping gear is great for a one time trip, but if camping is something you find you’d like to do more often it’s best to invest in exactly what you want and need. Tents come is so many sizes and designs, and with many fun features.
Sleeping mats are a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable. Depending on the climate, you can take some old blankets and comforters to snuggle up under instead of investing in sleeping bags. Sleeping bags however might be easier to pack and tote and they will keep you warmer.
Head to your local superstore (or order on Amazon) and pick up a gas camp stove and a few essentials like a cooler or pots and pans. Dig through your cabinet for plastic plates and bowls, or stick to disposables for this first trip. Keep it simple and inexpensive until you know you’ll enjoy camping.
There are plenty of inexpensive campsites all across the country. Ask around, check with your local camping friends, or stick with one of the bigger campgrounds. State and National parks are also great sources for camping.
Reserve your spot ahead of time if possible. Many campsites fill up very quickly in the busy summer months. Do your research and find a site you’ll be happy with. Head out and take a look ahead of booking if you can. No matter where you camp, it will be a lot less expensive than staying at a hotel.
Finding that campgrounds are full in your area? Try a staycation instead, and camp in your backyard.
Boondocking is another fun way to camp. Many people are turning to boondocking because it’s free, you can find some amazing places and sometimes you are the only one there. BLM is Bureau of Land Management and they offer many places all over the USA to boondock.
Food for Camping
This is where you can save a bundle on your camping vacation. Bring what you can from home, shopping at your favorite frugal stores. Dry goods are easy to store in the car or in totes in your tent.
Refrigerated foods that need to be kept cold should be kept in a quality cooler. Freezing milk containers so you have big blocks of ice for the cooler will help keep things very cold. Packaging foods in zipper bags helps to keep things from cross contamination. Leaking meat into a fruit salad is not something anyone wants.
Beverages like pop and juice boxes are perfect for camping. Keeping them in their own cooler helps keep the food cooler cold, because usually a beverage cooler is opened more frequently.
Camping foods don’t have to be a huge chore or production. Keeping the choices simple so there is less prep and less clean up. Hot dogs, premade burgers, buns, chips, cookies, crackers, sliced cheese, premade cold salads, marshmallows, etc.
Taking along fun snack box is perfect so everyone can enjoy their favorites. Something filled with crackers, cookies, candy, suckers, Twizzlers, granola bars, and fruit snacks.
Extra Camping Hacks
Here are some extra hacks I personally recommend all camping people do.
Using a cake carrier on your table to put your paper plates, utensils and napkins in keeps bugs off them and keeps them from blowing away.
Give camping a try. It may just become your favorite new way to spend a family vacation and create new memories.
Struggling to make sure you have exactly what you need to have a successful camping trip? Check out the RV Packing List from That Traveling Chick. It’s not only for RVers.