Oliver Travel Trailers

20 Ways to Stay Under Budget on Your Next Camping Trip

A woman sitting at a desk, evaluating her finances and budgeting for the purchase of an RV.
By: Oliver
September 22, 2022

It’s no secret that camping can get expensive! Trailer repairs, gas, food, campsite fees – not to mention the random things you have to buy when you realize you forgot them at home. It all ads up quickly, so sticking to a budget can be difficult. However, it’s not impossible. There are so many small ways to save money so you don’t have to worry about your next camping trip costing an arm and a leg. 

Here are some tips on how to stay under budget while camping

Bring your own food and drinks

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s often overlooked. Packing your own food and drinks will save you a ton of money, especially if you’re camping at a resort or park that has inflated prices.

Do your research before booking a campsite

Some sites are more expensive than others, so it pays to do your research ahead of time. There are also often discounts available for booking early or during off-peak times.

Buy used or discounted camping gear

New camping gear can be expensive, so why not buy used? You can find great deals on gently used gear at second-hand stores, garage sales, and online.

Skip the activities

Camping is all about relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors, so there’s no need to spend money on activities. Take a hike, go for a swim, or just sit around the campfire – all for free!

Use coupons and discounts

There are often coupons and discounts available for camping gear and supplies. Do a quick search online or ask at your local store before making any purchases.

Make meals ahead of time 

One of the biggest expenses while camping is food. To save money, make meals ahead of time and pack them with you. This will also save you time and hassle while you’re trying to enjoy your vacation.

Stock your trailer with reusable dishes and silverware

Paper plates and plastic utensils may be convenient, but they’re not very eco-friendly or economical. Save money and the environment by stocking your trailer with reusable dishes and silverware.

Plan your trip ahead of time

The best way to save money while camping is to plan your trip ahead of time. This includes everything from booking your campsite to packing your food and supplies. By being prepared, you can avoid last-minute expenses and stick to your budget.

Stock your trailer with seasonings, spices, and condiments 

Seasonings, spices, and condiments can make all the difference in a meal. However, they can also be expensive if you’re not careful. Buy them in bulk or on sale and store them in your trailer so you always have them on hand.

Camp during the off-season 

If you’re flexible with your dates, camp during the off-season. Prices are often lower and there are usually fewer people around.

Don’t go too far away from home 

The further you travel, the more it will cost in gas. If you’re on a budget, consider camping closer to home so you don’t have to spend as much on transportation. Or if you are traveling far, look for gas stations with lower prices. Gas is expensive these days, so filling up where it costs a little less will save you money in the long run. 

Invite friends to split the costs 

If you’re planning a camping trip with friends, splitting the cost is a great way to save money. This includes everything from the campsite fee to gas, food, and supplies. Plus, camping is more fun with friends anyway. 

Use block ice in your coolers

Block ice lasts longer than regular ice cubes, so you won’t have to worry about your ice melting and your food going bad. 

Consider renting camping gear 

If camping is a one-time thing for you, consider renting rather than buying equipment. This can be a great way to save money, especially if you don’t need the gear again. 

Borrow gear from friends or family 

Do you have a friend or family member who camps often? Ask if you can borrow their gear for your trip. This is a great way to save money, and you may even get some tips from them on how to camp on a budget.

If you go often, get a National Parks annual pass 

If you’re a frequent camper, an annual pass to the National Parks can save you a lot of money. The passes are affordable and give you access to all of the parks for an entire year.

Try boondocking or going off-grid

Boondocking is when you camp without hookups like water or electricity, and you often don’t have to pay for a campsite. This can save you money, but it’s important to be prepared before you go. Make sure you have enough food and water, and know how to conserve your resources. 

Bring your own firewood 

If you’re planning on having a campfire, bring your own firewood. It’s often cheaper than buying it at the campground, and you’ll have the added bonus of knowing where it came from. 

Expect the Unexpected 

Things don’t always go according to plan, so being prepared for anything is important! When you’re prepared for inclement weather, medical emergencies, or other inconveniences, you can avoid costly trips to the store because you already have everything you need. 

Buy gear during the off-season or big sales 

If you’re looking to buy gear, wait for the off-season or big sales. You can often find great deals on camping gear, and you’ll be all set for your next trip. For example, Black Friday, Labor Day, Father’s Day, end of season, and other holiday sales are perfect for when you need to snag a few pieces of camping gear.

Final Thoughts  

There are many ways to save money when you go camping. By being prepared and knowing where to find deals, you can stick to your budget and have a great time. Do some research before your trip so you can be sure to save money and enjoy your time in nature.

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