Even though camping is more affordable than some family vacations, it still costs money! I have put together a few ideas and tips for an inexpensive camping trip to help make your trip cheaper.
1. Garage Sale Shopping
I absoultly love garage sale shopping. You never know what you will find. I make sure to look for any used pots and pans or dishes to add to our camping supplies when I stop at garage sales. I also make a point to look over used board games. My family loves to play Catan, if you ever see it grab it! Sales are now running from Wednesday to Saturday. The best garage sales are the city wide sales. In most cases they are held in late Spring to early Summer. My favorite city wide sale is in Champlin, MN. Every year many neighbors will join the sale and they seem to always have decent prices.
New Campers have crazy outdoor setups!
2. Clearance Shopping
Target is a favorite for clearance shopping. I make sure to run through the back end caps before heading to check out each time I shop at Target. One way to really save even more at Target is to print off coupons from their website and sack a coupon on top of the already marked down item. We purchased our first tent at Target when it was marked on clearance and we still have it in the garage! Our local Target prices are marked down to clearance every Thursday. Ask the manager when your store plans to clearance their items to make your savings even bigger.
My Dad put this up for us at the Cabin –
3. Tell Friends and Family
Once we told our friends and family members that we were planning on camping all summer they were more than willing to give us items they thought would be useful. My Mother-in-Law was sweet enough to pass down a bunch of cozy blankets for the camper. She also bought me new towels for my Birthday present, now the old ones are going to be stored in the camping trailer.
4. Online Shopping
I don’t buy many things online because I enjoy getting out of the house! If and when I shop from my kitchen table I use Amazon. They have amazing prices and I have never had any issues shopping through Amazon.
If there is a product I am looking for I make sure to check Craigslist. Steer clear from used items that could contain bed bugs or any other little critters. Such items need to be purchased through a safer outlet. However, Craigslist is a great spot to buy camping chairs or used camping stoves. You can save more than 1/2 price sometimes!
Check clearance at the end of the season –
Lots of campgrounds will advertise coupons for their campers. If you plan your trip ahead of time you might be able to get an early bird rate. I have seen many giving a 2 night stay and receive the third FREE.
7. Group Camping
Going camping in a big group is really fun for the whole family! In the past we have saved money by pitching in on the meals with our friends. Make it a new tradition to go camping with the same group every year. Those kind of memories are priceless.
You can make pancake batter ahead of time and store in a reused plastic bottle such as a syrup container. You can also use blocked ice instead of bags of ice which is cheaper and it will last longer.
One of our goals for Beyond The Tent is to travel around to many of the campgrounds in and around Minnesota. We love getting away, but we are not fans of traveling all day long with five crabby kids. Staying at a campground that is close enough to your home will save you gas and time.
10. Meal planning
Meal planning is useful for camping trips and for everyday life. I have found myself wasting a ton of money and ending up with left over food when I don’t meal plan for our family. Also, if you prepare your meals ahead of time you can spend more time playing with the family. My kids love a meal we call “Vacation Meat”. My Mother-in-Law use to make it for her family whenever they would take road trips. It looks gross, but it tastes really yummy! Vacation Meat is very simple to make. All you need to do is slow cook a roast. Once it is all cooked throw it into a food processor with Mayo, Sweet Pickles, Onion and season it to your liking. It is used as a spread on bread. I like to pair it with cole slaw and chips.
I hope these tips help you when planning your next inexpensive camping trip.