Budget Camping Guide: The Best Money Saving Tips And Tricks


One of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is to go on a camping trip. Not only will you view some breathtaking scenery but getting away from the hassle and bustle of daily life will help your body relax which offers you some amazing health benefits.

However, when you consider the expenses plus all the gear you will need to buy, you might get put off by the figures not to mention some camping sites will charge quite a bit for a weekend getaway. This doesn’t always have to be the case. With a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can still enjoy your camping experience on a budget.

Let’s take a look at a few of these tips.

Practice makes perfect

Or in this case, practice will cut down on the costs of camping. You don’t need some of that extra gear if you know how to do things yourself. And knowledge will cost you nothing. Do your research before going out budget camping and learn a few essential skills such as tying knots for setting up camp.

YouTube is an excellent place to gain these skills and the more you become self-reliant the less cash you need to spend. Instructional videos will help you practice some basic survival skills at home.

Buy affordable gear

One of the main essentials of budget camping is a good camping tent. It is possible to find a good quality backpacking tent at an affordable price. However, be careful not to compromise on quality for affordability. A poorly made tent can tear easily in strong winds, let water in, and provide spaces for mosquitoes and other biting insects. All these could ruin your camping experience.

You need a comfortable place to sleep when you are budget camping. Instead of buying that sleeping bag, you can purchase warm fuzzy blankets that are much cheaper. As for the pillow, simply fold up some clothes and this should provide you will all the headrest you need for a comfortable night’s sleep

You will obviously need sustenance when you are out in the great backcountry. One option is to buy and pack unperishable food that is simple to prepare. You can also carry canned food such as beans and vegetables.

An even better option to save on your food expenses is to catch your own food. Choosing a camping spot next to a river can provide you with all the fish you need plus access to a reliable water source.

You can also bring along a single multitasking camping knife and use it to fillet your fish, apply jam or peanut butter, or cut down sticks for making a fire. Advice: the best item for your budget camping on our list comes with the lowest price.

Do some planning

This is one of the most important things that you can do before camping on a budget. Don’t just pack a few essentials that you think you will need and head out into the backcountry. You might end up noticing you forgot something essential and the only way to get it is to rush to the nearest convenience store, which could be miles away.

You will only end up incurring costs and expenses that you would have avoided if you had made the necessary plans beforehand.

Avoid paying campsite fees

The only way you can do this is to find a free campsite. But as we mentioned above, always avoid last-minute rushing. Some of these cheap camping zones also attract many camping enthusiasts. These can fill up fast so call in advance and book your spot.

If free campsites with plenty of other campers simply aren’t your thing, there is always the dispersed camping option. These areas are open to camping but don’t come with some of the essentials that you will get at a campsite such as water or a bathroom.

Dispersed camping sites are often wild and free places where you can enjoy the raw beauty of nature without a soul in sight.

Get yourself a National Park Pass


For a one-time yearly fee, a National Park Pass grants you access to the state’s national parks. This brings down the costs significantly of having to pay entrance fees every time you want to camp in a park.

And what’s more, you will also get a 50% discount on your camping fees at some of the parks.

Go camping closer to home

You can save on the expensive gas prices by budget camping close to home. An hour’s drive for most people can provide you access to some incredible natural places that you would never have imagined are so close by.

An extra benefit of this is that in case something went wrong, it will be easier to call in for help.

Ask your friends to join you

Spending quality time with friends out in the backcountry while sharing stories around a campfire can be one of the best ways to have fun while camping. Fees however at some of the campsites can be quite high. However, by splitting the costs among yourselves, everything becomes much more affordable.

Bring anything you might use from home

You can still find some quality and cheap camping gear and cookware at an affordable price. But if you want to squeeze your budget a good alternative is to carry what you already have at home. Find any small-sized plates, pots, and cutlery that you can pack easily and take on your camping trip.

And this goes for clothes too. While it’s important to carry a waterproof jacket or that windproof jacket, you don’t need to purchase other clothes for wearing on your cheap camping trip. You can simply find any rugged clothes that you have locked away in your closet and use these instead.

Don’t be afraid to borrow gear

The best and most reliable camping gear might require you to dig a little bit deeper in your pockets. And while it’s possible to find quality and affordable camping gear, remember you are staying to cut down on the costs of camping.

One of the ways to get quality camping gear without spending a dime is to borrow from family and friends.

Forget packaged water

Many people will still prefer to buy packed water mainly due to health reasons. However, this will take a chunk out of your budget especially if you plan on camping for a couple of days.

What’s more, carrying water will only add to the weight. Instead, get a water bottle with a filter and use this to refill at a nearby river or stream.

Find free activities

While campsites will offer boats and kayaks for rentals, these can be expensive and out of your reach if you are on a budget. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot make the most of your budget camping trip.

Instead, find some fun and free activities that you can take part in such as hiking, fishing, rock climbing, or biking. And when the sun goes down, you can lie on your back next to the warmth of the fire and gaze at the stars.

Volunteer at a campsite

One interesting way to gain free access to a campsite is to volunteer. While the jobs are not the most glamorous, if you don’t mind cleaning up the area, then you can exchange this for a free pass.

Use a campfire for your meal

There are plenty of affordable camping stoves but if you still want to stretch your budget, then you can enjoy some tasty and delicious meals cooked over a campfire.  Just make sure you know how to set up your fire correctly and that you have the essentials to get that fire cracking such as those fire starter rods.

And don’t worry about making that gourmet meal. While camping in the rugged backcountry, roasting marshmallows and sausages over a stick will keep your belly full.

Keep your meals simple

Speaking of meals, when you are out shopping for groceries for your budget camping trip, avoid purchasing. Always make sure that you buy what you need such as packed bens, rice, pasta, or sausages.

Having a long grocery list will only cost you valuable money and you might end up not finishing the food which is a waste of cash.

Purchase ahead of time

If you plan on going camping in two or more months, you can use the time you have to search for camping gear and other items that you might need. This will save you from having to spend a lot of money immediately before you head out camping.

It also provides you with ample time to secure good deals on your camping gear and essentials.

Keep the cooler in the shade

If you are planning to carry a few perishables then one of them must have items to bring on your budget camping trips is a cooler box. It needs to remain cool to keep the ice from melting. Leaving it out in the sun will melt the ice and cause it to incur more costs of purchasing ice at the campsite.

Keep your firewood dry

When camping, sometimes you will need to buy your own firewood. To keep your expenses low, always make sure you cover your firewood with a tarp or any other waterproof material.

This is to protect it and keep it dry if it rains. Failing to keep your firewood dry may force you to buy more wood when you need to light the fire thus adding to the costs.

DIY fire starters

While fire starters are not the most expensive item on your camping gear list, any money saved is welcome, and having your own DIY fire starter can save you some cash.

Using dry shavings, lint, or cotton that has been dipped in wax is an efficient and cost-friendly way to light a fire.

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Few things can compete with a night under the stars surrounded by nature and wild animals. You get a sense of freedom and escape from an otherwise busy and hectic lifestyle. Budget camping is about keeping your costs low by carrying only what you will need.

Camping on a budget lets you make the most of your time outdoors while being gentle on your pockets. Who said you needed thousands of dollars for that camping trip? With the tips we’ve laid for you above, you can have some great fun out in the backcountry without breaking the bank.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!