Camping used to be an inexpensive way to have a break for a weekend or longer but as the popularity of camping has risen, so too have prices, of equipment and of campsites.
Many campsites have invested to attract campers in what is now a large marketplace and these amenities are now reflected in campsite prices.
In addition the the cost of paying for a campsite you also have the costs of getting all of your camping gear, the tent, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and sometimes more.
So is there a way to camp cheaply and save money?
Buying second hand camping gear is one of the best ways to reduce cost. Check places such as eBay and local adverts. You can explore second hand stores and military surplus suppliers, all of which can be great sources for camping equipment. Take cooking gear from your home kitchen and see if you can borrow camping equipment from friends or family. Stay local to reduce travel costs too.
How to reduce the cost of camping
The one great thing about camping equipment is that it can last for ages before it needs to be replaced.
If you buy decent gear then, in the long run, the investment will be worth it, for example if you spend $400 on a family tent that has a lifespan of 10 years and you use it for 10 nights a year then, for just one person the cost is $4 per night.
If you are planning to be a regular camper then it is worth buying the best equipment that you can afford as it will pay for itself in the long term.
Remember that there is no need to rush out and buy everything in one go – if you can borrow stuff then you can spread the cost of equipping your camping adventures over a longer period of time.
Try to borrow camping equipment
Friends and family can be good sources of camping gear and you can ask them if you can borrow their kit for your camping break.
One advantage of this is that it can give you an idea of the type of items to get, for example what would be a good camping stove?
Remember that if you do borrow equipment to return it in good, clean order.
Look for second hand camping supplies
Camping is more popular than ever and often people will upgrade their camping gear, providing the opportunity for you to get hold of their second hand stuff.
There are also the people that tried camping and didn’t like it who look to move their gear on.
It can turn up almost anywhere so you need to keep your eyes open. Put the word out to family and friends in case they spot anything that you need and check online sites that sell second hand camping gear.
Take things from home with you
There will be things in your house that you can use on your camping break which means you don’t have to buy them.
Things such as pots and pans for cooking, mugs, blankets and washing gear.
You can put together a makeshift sleeping bag from a blanket by folding it in two lengthways and using safety pins to keep it closed.
With a bit of creative thinking you will be able to adapt and use home items on your camping breaks.
Buy camping gear out of season
Try to buy camping equipment in the winter when very few people will be thinking about it.
As soon as the spring arrives and the weather begins to improve, people will start to think about camping, either replacing broken gear or new campers setting up.
Prices reach a premium between April and August and it’s unlikely that you will find any bargains or deals. However, as soon as September begins, demand falls and camping suppliers will be looking to get rid of their excess stock.
Get away from the rat race tourist pack
If you avoid the honey pot tourist traps then you will save money on campsite fees.
Try to go somewhere that is less popular. Not only will you save money, the campsite will be quieter, cleaner and you’ll enjoy it much more.
If you are able to then avoid camping during main vacation periods and try to go when the kids are still at school. Prices tend to go up as soon as schools close so this is one potential way to make savings.
Plan your meals in advance
It’s a good idea to try and take some food with you as buying at your destination could be more costly.
Prepare some meals that will easily and safely keep and use a cool box to store them, they can be reheated on your camping stove in a large pan.
Try cooking at your camp rather than eating out. There are loads of easy to make meals that are healthy and great fun to put together.
For some ideas you could try the Easy Camp Cookbook available here on Amazon.
It is possible to camp cheaply. It may not be as easy as simply going out and buying all of your camping gear in one go, and it may take longer to find second hand equipment, but you can save significant amounts of money if you try.
Most of all, camping should be relaxing and fun and, if you save money, you’ll relax more and you’ll have more fun.