Camping is one of the favorite outdoor activities the entire family can enjoy. Not only is it an excellent way to spend some quality time in nature, but it can also serve as a perfect budget-friendly family vacation idea. Since family vacations should be all about spending some quality time together, there really is no need to aim exclusively for extravagant and super-pricey destinations, such as Disneyland. Instead, gather your family, pack your bags, and go camping! Camping is also one of the vacation ideas where doing it on a budget won't significantly take away from the whole experience. That said, here are some considerations for a budget-friendly camping vacation.
When thinking about going camping, the number one thing you need to consider is the location you want to go camping. There certainly is a plethora of campsites you can choose from, but keep in mind that not all of them are equally affordable. For instance, state and national parks and forests usually tend to cost significantly less than some other campsites. And just because they're notably more accessible, that doesn't mean they're any less beautiful. The majority of such campsites are also typically run (and guarded) by park rangers, which is a bonus. Many campgrounds offer various additional perks and amenities you can use but keep in mind that will not result in budget-friendly camping.
2. Understand The Pricing
While estimating your camping trip's cost, you first need to understand all the things it entails. Of course, the number one thing to account for is the camping ground's cost per night. Some of the most affordable campsites range anywhere from $15 to $25 a night.
The more luxurious ones can even go up to $40 or $60. Most of the campsites will feature a fire pit, a designated grilling station, and a picnic table. However, these are not the only costs you need to include in your budget-friendly camping. The food you'll be bringing, the camp gear you'll need to obtain, and the gas you'll need to reach your destination are also essential budget points. Of course, the closer the campsite you choose is to your home, the cheaper the gas will be.
Any additional services you decide to hire, such as the internet, the cable, electric, and water connections, will increase the cost. So, that's another thing to keep in mind.
The camping gear you decide to bring along will also significantly affect your budget. Many people decide to splurge and buy anything and everything that features the word 'camping.' However, this is not only going to be expensive, but it's really not even necessary. Here, we'll break down some of the camping essentials and offer alternative ways to approach them.
4. The Clothes
If you're going camping, it's probably safe to assume you won't be doing so in the middle of winter. However, no matter how mild or warm the weather is, you still want to make sure you bring some warmer clothes just in case. The clothes you'll bring to your camping trip should be comfortable and not restraining so that you can quickly move around in them.
Additionally, you should also bring a pair of boots for hiking to stay comfortable and safe while exploring the nature around you. You may wish to get your hands on a raincoat as well, mainly if you live – or go camping – in an area where rains are a common occurrence.
5. Share Your Stuff
If you plan your camping trip with a big group of friends or family, there is no need to duplicate your camping equipment to ensure budget-friendly camping. Things like washing liquid, ketchup, aluminum foil, and a cool box can be easily shared with the whole group. It will reduce a lot of bulky items from your checklist of things to take long. You can even get a little cozy and share a big tent to save the lump sum amount of separate tents.
If you're going camping as a family activity, the best course of action would be to get a tent designed for at least one person more than your family counts. This way, you'll ensure that every single person in a tent has enough room to move around without necessarily bumping right into the person next to them.
Since tents can be quite an investment, it's better to go with a single big one than multiple smaller ones. Also, if you're going camping in the summer, there's really no need to buy sleeping bags. Instead, simply bring your blankets and comforters.
Everybody has some extra stuff kicking around at home. You don't need to invest in new equipment to experience enjoyable family camping. Either take the comforter or blankets off your bed at home. If you don't like the idea of using your bedding, find those forgotten blankets in the back closet or put on an old duvet cover on your comforter and head-out to your camping site.This budget-friendly camping hack will be a hit.
Before stuffing the blankets with your camping gear, double-check the weather forecast. If temps are dropping down to 40 or 50, consider bringing along extra layers to keep you warm on chilly nights.
One thing worth investing your bucks, is a good sleeping mate to keep you warm and comfortable from the ground up.
8. Food And Food Prep Essential
As mentioned earlier, most campsites feature a fire pit and a grilling station. However, burgers, hotdogs, and marshmallows are probably not going to be your only source of nourishment. You should consider investing in a small propane camp stove. This way, you'll be able to be in full control of the heat when preparing meals.
Also, there's really no need to buy pots and pans marketed as 'camping' appropriate. You can simply bring the ones you already have and use in your day-to-day life. I am not suggesting using new non-stick pans and pots over a camp stove. But I bet there are one or two old pots that you have not used for ages.
Finally, you should also invest in a portable fridge or the right size of a cool box as you'll want to have a way to keep your drinks nice and cool.
9. Plan Your Meals
Camping menu planning is crucial for budget campers. Choose the meals that are easy to cook on the camp stove using canned ingredients. Bring along lots of spices and herbs from home to cook tasty meals.
Cooking meals in bulk is also essential for a budget-friendly camping trip instead of lots of meals in small portions. You get the extra benefit of a night off cooking to relax.
10. Camp During The Off-Season
The time of the year you camp defines your experience. Campgrounds are always crowded on public holidays. You can plan your trip on weekends only if you are super organized and smart enough to book your camping site in advance. Otherwise, you will end up stretching your budget to get the last available spot. Besides, the whole place will be too crowded and noisy to enjoy some personal space if you fetch the last spot.
And the same camping grounds with extra fancy facilities cost pretty less during shoulder seasons, that is, spring and fall. So, something out of the peak season to ensure budget-friendly camping experience.
11. Don't Travel Too Far
It is very tempting to travel for hours and enjoy a proper gateway. But the further you travel, the more expensive your trip costs. It is suggested to check out destinations closer to your home.
If you plan to head out to remote areas, it's more likely that fuel prices will cost you too much. Fuel your gas tank to its maximum limit before embarking on the journey. Look out for cheaper gas options en route.
The best way to make your trip an everlasting memory is to celebrate essential occasions on your camping trip. Plan out a surprise and host a great party with your friends and family.
It is essential to list down the gifts and essentials for birthdays and anniversary celebrations to turn the stuff you already have into super useful camping gear. It is the best way to hack away some extra savings.
Remember, planning makes the trip more feasible and more fun. You can also start a camping gear fund and a little amount to it each month. It will help you have a handsome amount of cash in hand when you go out for picnic shopping.
13. Plan Inexpensive Camping Activities
In the end, we simply can't talk about camping if we don't mention camping activities. The majority of public parks feature lakes that are perfect for fishing or swimming. Numerous parks also feature various hiking trails. Going on a hike is an excellent way to stay active without necessarily spending any money.
Additionally, don't forget to bring different outdoor toys, such as balls, ping pong sets, jump ropes, and Frisbees. For some stationary fun, you can also always bring various board games and playing cards. Finally, you can always turn the entire experience into a learning opportunity and organize a scavenger hunt. Depending on how old your kids are, it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.
Camping is all about spending some quality time with your family surrounded by nature. If you plan your trip well and ensure you've brought all of the necessary stuff, you're bound to have a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank. The next time you're wondering whether or not you can afford to go on a family vacation, make sure you give camping a thought as it truly is one of the best options you can easily do on a budget.
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