A family vacation to Disney World is not in our budget right now.

Piggy-bank-to-save-money-camping

Here are a few ideas to save money when camping without lacking the fun.

1. Garage Sale Shopping

I guess you could call me a Garage Sale Junkie. I love them and I have a hard time staying on course when I see a bright colored sign with an arrow pointing the opposite direction than my destination! Garage sales are the best place to find camping dishes and pots and pans for your camping kitchen. Garage sales are also the place to go to stock up on travel games or board games. Our family favorite game is Catan. I also enjoy playing UNO while the campfire is blazing in the background.

2. Clearance Shopping

The end caps of Target are like searching for gold in a lost cave! Crazy deals can be found there. I become buddies with an employee one day as she was marking items down. She told me every Thursday her job is to go around remarking the clearance products. She informed me every Target is different, however my advice to you is ask your local Target manager if there is a special day they mark their shelf items for clearance. I would say Target clearance would be one of my top places to search for a deal on a new tent. We bought our 2 room with a screen porch for our family at Target a few years ago.

3. Tell Friends and Family

Some of you already know, we are currently in the process of getting a traveling trailer. I am working on making a list of the supplies I will need to round up to stock our new 30 foot beast. With a very snow filled April I haven’t seen one single garage sale! I am sad on all levels. I have put the word out there among my friends and family to keep their eyes open for camping gear. The other day a friend told me she had a bunch of kid friendly dishes she no longer is in need of and she plans on passing down my way. This is a win win for everyone, like they say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I love being apart of sharing instead of wasting.

4. Online Shopping

I am the type that wants to handle an item before buying it and I really like to bring home whatever it is I just paid for right away. However, I have started enjoying the fact that I can shop online and don’t have to haul any little people behind me or sometimes too far in front of me! Amazon.com is always the cheapest site for purchase anything you can wait to get your hands on.

5. Craigslist Shopping

Buyer beware central 🙂 There are things on Craigslist you must be aware of before buying from a private party. I would be fine with buying camping chairs off Craigslist, but not sleeping bags. A camping stove could be more than half price on Craigslist! Don’t forget shopping this form is very time consuming and it might be cheaper time wise to hop onto Amazon instead.

6. Campground Deals

A lot of campgrounds will have coupons on their websites. They also sometimes will post deals for staying more than 2 nights at their location. I have found that if you plan your trip out early enough you can score an early bird price. We received big discounts when we went to the Black Hills because our travel date was in the last part of May. Most school districts are still in session. Which gave us a deal without the crowd!

7. Group Camping

Split up the total cost of camping with a group of friends. Not only will this save you money, but it can be a ton of fun!!

8. Food Storage

Pinterest is full of ideas when it comes to food! I really liked the idea of reusing an old plastic syrup bottle as a holder for homemade pancake batter. That way you don’t have to buy a box of pancakes that taste like cardboard.

9. Location

When it comes down to it you truly don’t need to waste a bunch of money on gas. Camp someplace near home. The kiddos will love the time you’ve invested in playing with them. They don’t care if you are camping here or there.

10. Meal Planning

Ahead of time make some fun cheap snacks or meals for the family. I make a roast beef spread passed down by my Mother in Law. We have named it “Vacation Meat”. It looks gross, but it sure is tasty! Have a simple lunch of PB & J with chips and for dinner campfire hot dogs with a side of baked beans. The nice thing about camping food is no one expects a gourmet meal.


I hope you get a chance to camp this summer with your family. Kelly

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