There’s a funny saying that goes like this – camping is when you pay a small fortune to live like a homeless person. Woefully, in most cases, the adage applies as it is likely for your outdoor adventure to relieve you of a hearty amount of money. Those who take up camping in the idea that they will end up saving money are the ones most affected by this ironic twist. However, the money is worth it in the end as you enjoy beautiful sceneries that wouldn’t have been accessible if you were to sit in a cozy hotel room, and there’s the advantage of living in nature for a few days, relaxing mentally and physically while getting to breathe in some lung-purifying fresh air finally.
Even though your experiences up to now might have been quite costly, this doesn’t mean that you cannot fix your mistakes and enjoy a budget-friendly camping trip. All you need to know is what to pack – and pack only what you truly need, not like in prior experiences where you almost ended up moving your house outdoors – and be a bit smarter with the food you pack.
Acquiring mandatory camping gear – Costs involved and importance
Where most of the money goes is on the gear that you take along during the trip as you tend to over exaggerate your needs in the wild. Instead of uselessly buying and packing more than you need, stick to the necessary items:
- Obviously, you will need a tent that can accommodate the number of people you take on the trip with you. Estimative cost: Depends on the capacity of the tent you select, prices generally ranging from $50 to $400 for more reasonable options.
- Just as important as the tent is are the sleeping bags. However, this is an expense that you can spare if you plan on camping during the warmer time of the year as packing some blankets suffices to set up your sleeping area. Estimative cost: $10 to $50.
- Foods and drinks need to be kept cold throughout your trip because foods perish fast when kept in improper storage conditions, and drinks don’t taste the same when they’re warm. So, it’s essential to pack a cooler. Estimative cost: $50 to $300 (varies depending on the quality of the product you buy, some models costing considerably more than we have specified).
- A propane stove comes in handy as for meals that require preparation in a pot or skillet you cannot use the charcoal grill that the campsite is most likely equipped with. Estimative cost: $35 to $100.
- A lantern is essential as you most likely want to enjoy the scenery when night settles. If your campfire goes out fast, you can rely on this item to illuminate the area for the rest of the night until you all go to sleep. Estimative cost: $10 to $150.
- A flashlight should be in your pack, especially if you plan on hiking and exploring the surrounding area. It comes in handy when the dark settles as it guides your way back to the tent safely. Best of all, you could even skip on buying a lantern altogether and replace it with the flashlight that you will use to shine through a water jug. Estimative cost: $5 to $50.
- Don’t forget to bring at least one knife for the expedition as you need something to cut meat and other food items when you prepare them. Of course, it comes in handy when you have to cut ropes and branches as well, so you shouldn’t neglect this important tool. Estimative cost: $10 to $80.
- You need a first aid kit for emergency situations, and you can either put one together yourself to save some money or buy one, whatever suits you best. Estimative cost: $20 to $75.
It’s likely that if you ever went camping before, you already own some of these items, which is good news as fewer expenses will be involved with your future trips. What can be reused – almost everything basically – should be kept in proper storage conditions when they’re not in use to prolong their lifespan and cut down on your costs overall.
Packing food and clothing items the right way
There’s one thing that we can all agree on – camping clothes are quite expensive. They are indeed made of better quality materials to protect you and provide insulation when the weather turns cold. However, you have to ask yourself whether it’s mandatory to buy all types of clothing items marked as “for camping”. The answer is obviously no; there are only three special clothing items you need for the trip as the rest of the bag can be filled with clothes you already own and are suitable for the weather at that time. What you need to acquire when it comes to clothes are waterproof socks that generally cost from $5 to $30, long Johns that cost from $10 to $100, and a waterproof jacket that costs from $10 to $300.
If you genuinely want to enjoy a 100% budget experience during the trip, you can rely on Mother Nature to acquire part of your food by fishing. This is possible only in sites where there are fish in the water, of course, and you shouldn’t take chances all that much either way as you could end up making an unwanted and costly trip to the nearest store – that can be very far away – to make sure you won’t starve. No matter the choices you make when it comes to food items, make sure that you at least not packing an absurd amount but rather only as much as you would normally eat at home. It’s a common mistake to pack more than you know you can handle, so beware of this aspect to leave room for more important things instead of packing food you don’t like or need in massive amounts.
Inexpensive activities you can take up
Luckily, there’s one side of things you can rely on to be 100% free all the time, and that’s the activities you take up while camping. There are more than enough things you can do as you are in the middle of nature, after all. However, you are limited by your surroundings, and what the area where you camp has to offer. So, what we list here might not be doable anywhere you go. The fun activities that are free – as long as you have the right tools and gear for them – include boating, fishing, swimming, and even hiking. Of course, if you have sporting gear in your pack, you can play football, tennis, and whatever sport you like and the environment allows, basically. Some camping grounds even have playgrounds where there are swings, the kids and adults alike getting to have some childish fun in them.
Taking a camping trip might seem like a budget-friendly decision at first, but the sad truth is that you can end up paying an exorbitant amount of money to sleep outdoors if you aren’t careful what you take along with you, and if you exaggerate potential situations that might emerge. To learn some useful tips towards planning a budget camping vacation and know beforehand what expenses you will end up with, check out our article.