Camping the Frugal Way!

Family campingFamily bonding! Fresh air! Life skills! Fun! No matter why you camp, there is no doubt that you ultimately do it because it is a great activity for your family. And while the expense might be worth the experience, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend more  money than is necessary.

Camping can be expensive or inexpensive. It all depends on how you approach it. Here are some tips on how you can cut down the costs on your great escape.

Go Car Camping

What is car camping? Basically, you drive to the campsite and park your car and then pitch a tent right next to it. This means that you still have access to many items that you might want and need without having to resort to hiking several miles with them. How does this save money? You can skip the expensive hiking or camping types of food or equipment that is designed to be lightweight, and eliminate some of it altogether.

For example, with car camping, you can bring a case of water instead of investing in an expensive water purifier system.

Because you can bring many more things that will make you comfortable, you can also skip the expense of renting a cabin.

Don’t forget to include a day pack, so you can still go hiking.

Buy Used Equipment

A six- to eight-person tent can cost anywhere from $250 to $350 new or only $50 slightly used. You can see how buying used equipment can save you quite a bit of money. Sleeping bags, camping stoves, portable grills, back packs and other equipment may all be available as previously owned.

Search online classifieds, Facebook yard sale groups, and garage sales to equip your family for less.

For a little more money, visit resale sports stores. You may pay a little more, but chances are that all of the used equipment you buy will come with some form of warranty or exchange policy.

Bring a Lot of Food

Campers tend to be hungry people. The exercise and fresh air certainly bring out the appetite. Making sure that you have extra food on hand will save you money because you won’t have to leave camp to find a restaurant meal, which not only interrupts your camping but can get expensive.

You can make your own granola bars, trail mix and other snacks to take with you and save even more cash.

Find Free or Low-Cost Campsites

Research potential camp sites to find out the cost. Some campsites are free for all, some just for local residents and some require extensive fees. In general, the farther away from a major city you go, the less expensive the campsite.

Different campsites have different amenities, and these extras may factor into the cost. Determine what you really need to be comfortable and then go from there.

Don’t Forget the Wood

Bringing your own wood may be the best option. Dry wood is usually scarce around frequently used campsites, although there may be wood available for purchase from the camp site manager or at the check in point. You will pay a premium for purchasing wood   this way, though. Save money by gathering it yourself or purchasing it cheaply before you camp.

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for Families.com since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT verizon.net or visit her personal blog http://homeinawoods.wordpress.com

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