Skip to Content

10 Tips for Camping on a Budget

Camping doesn’t have to break the bank! There are many ways to cut the costs of a camping trip. It all boils down to the supplies you bring, the destination you choose, and the food you bring to prepare.

These ten tips for camping on a budget will allow you to get the most out of your trip in nature without taking a hit to your pockets.

Keep reading to find out how to save the most money on your camping trip.

View of a modest campsite for camping on a budget.

1. Choose a Free or Budget-Friendly Destination

Many campsites have a low-cost entry fee or are completely free. Research campsites near you that have low entry fees or don’t charge an entry fee at all. Generally, national parks or state parks have very affordable entry fees if entry is not free.

Camping with a large group may also make your entrance fees cheaper if you prefer to go that route instead of finding a cost-efficient site for just yourself.

2. Avoid Holidays and Peak Season

10 Tips for Camping on a Budget 1

Holidays and peak season are always the busiest times for campgrounds, so it is also the most expensive time to go camping at a campground.

Prices are substantially lower during the off-season, so many campers choose to plan their trip immediately after peak season has ended or right before it begins. This significantly cuts the cost of your camping adventure for those camping on a budget.

Gas also costs more during the holidays and peak season for travel because demand is higher, so the supply cost is also driven up.

Planning your camping trip to avoid holidays and peak season can save you money in multiple different ways for an all-around cheaper experience.

3. Borrow Gear from a Friend

If you don’t go camping often, you can save a large chunk of change by forgoing the purchase of your own tent and gear and borrowing from a friend or family member.

Borrowing gear is probably the most cost-efficient tip on this list for budget camping because the cost of a tent and all the added gear you will need can rack up really quickly. If you’re only going to use it once in a blue moon, borrowing from someone else is your best bet for camping on a budget.

Ask friends and family if they would be willing to loan you the required gear for your camping trip.

4. Buy Secondhand Equipment

Cool Camping Gear

Thrift stores and consignment stores are a treasure trove for secondhand camping gear for a largely discounted price. Many of the essential supplies you need for camping on a budget can be found at discounted prices, even high-end name brands.

While you won’t want to get all of your equipment secondhand, you can absolutely purchase a tent, backpack, cookware, or bedding in great condition for only a portion of the original cost. Perfect for camping on a budget!

Check near your home for thrift stores and consignment shops, and you can also research secondhand stores near your camping destination.

Online Options

Don’t forget to check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp to see what’s available–you could score some things for free!

5. Bring Supplies from Home

One of the best ways to save money when planning a camping trip on a budget is to bring stuff from home.

Check your cupboards for any shelf-stable food you can bring and other supplies you may need that you can bring from home to save money.

Rummage through your cabinets for old pots and pans you don’t use much anymore and bring them along with you, rather than purchasing new cookware just for the trip or bringing your quality-made pots and pans.

Bringing your own bedding and pillows can save you lots of money when camping on a budget. If you have room, you can even skip the sleeping bag with layers of fluffy blankets on an air mattress for a more comfortable night’s sleep. You get a budget-glamping feel while saving even more cash!

6. Stick to the Essential Gear and Supplies

Camping in Arkansas

When camping on a budget, it’s vital to stick to only the necessities. With the number of camping accessories and gear on the market, it can be challenging to decide what you need to bring and what can be left behind.

It is easy to get caught up in the spirit of a camping adventure and want to buy a bunch of stuff you don’t really need. To further cut the cost of supplies and gear, check for cheaper alternatives to the products you absolutely must have.

7. Share With Friends

A fantastic way to lower the cost of your camping trip is to camp as a group with friends and share supplies.

Since food is usually one of the most expensive parts of a camping trip, pool your funds together to buy meals and supplies in bulk.

Also, a good plan to camp on a budget is to ensure none of your group has duplicate items. This saves money and cuts down on wasted food or unneeded items.

8. Plan Meals Carefully

Best Camping Meals

Since food is so expensive, planning meals very carefully when camping on a budget is important. Bring along shelf-stable canned foods and one-pot meals to save time and money. Food for your camping trip doesn’t have to break the bank.

You can also bring herbs and spices from home for delicious food without the pain in your wallet. If you have simple meal kits at home, bring them along!

9. Choose Campgrounds with Basic Facilities

Campground amenities and facilities differ wildly.

A campground with minimal amenities and extra activities is the most cost-efficient option when camping on a budget.

Of course, choosing a campground with all the bells and whistles is fun, but it definitely isn’t conducive to saving money. Research campgrounds with only basic amenities, and bring your own comfort items and entertainment.

There are also many fun activities to experience in nature when camping that helps you stay on a budget. Nature walks are free, and you can discover breathtaking views and beautiful foliage on a free hike.

10. Camp Free in the Wilds

10 Tips for Camping on a Budget 2

If you want to avoid campgrounds and paying for a campsite altogether, head for the wilderness for some truly wild camping. You can set up a tent or hammock and camp in many beautiful places for free. If you’re in the western part of the country, research land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

National forests and grasslands are often options for camping on a budget. Still, you should always contact your local United States Forest Service office for rules and regulations on where you can set up camp.

If you intend to do dispersed camping in the wilderness, make sure not to encroach upon anyone’s property for your safety.

Only set up camp in wild areas that are suitable for camping. Be sure you aren’t setting up in a flood zone or any other areas that could be dangerous. The last thing you want is water to pour inside your shelter while you sleep.

It is important to be aware of your surroundings and know first aid basics when camping out in the wilderness, just in case anything happens and you need quick medical treatment that doesn’t require a doctor or emergency room.

Wrapping Up Tips for Camping on a Budget

A cozy-looking fall campsite with an air mattress inside a tent and a campfire near the tent.

With so many modern resources, camping on a budget is easier than ever!

Purchasing secondhand gear, cutting back on amenities, sharing gear and food with a group of friends, and avoiding bringing along unnecessary supplies all contribute greatly to your ability to go camping on a budget.

If you would like to learn more about tricks and tips to reduce the costs of your camping trip, check out the main Camping page on our website.