7/1/2013 7:15 PM ET|
8 cheap camping-trip tips
Vacations in the great outdoors can be pricey, even if you're supposed to be roughing it. Here are some ideas to keep camping costs to a minimum.
We've compiled a list of eight cheap camping tips to use this summer. Why? Because camping, believe it or not, can cost as much as a hotel or motel stay. In an ideal world, the outdoors would always be free, but it's not. If you want to spend time with Mother Nature, here's how to do so on the cheap.
This is especially true if your family is new to camping. There's no reason to invest in an activity before you know it will be a winner. Search Craigslist and Freecycle (a site where you give and get stuff for free) for major items such as tents and camp stoves. Check seasonal deals on sites like Amazon.com and Overstock.com or go to RetailMeNot to find coupon codes for camping gear. For cheap cooking supplies, sift through yard sales and thrift stores. And always ask family and friends about borrowing their supplies before you make any purchases.
Use solar lights
Flashlights are so last century. An eco-friendly and cheap camping tip we found at Thrifty Fun calls for solar lights. Charge them while the sun is shining and use them at night to save both money and energy.
Use a shower curtain as a tent tarp
Another cheap camping tip with a conservation angle comes from Dave's Journey & Adventure. This veteran frugal traveler's suggestion: Turn old vinyl shower curtains into tent tarps instead of throwing them away.
Become a card-carrying member
Sign up for a membership with a campground chain and you'll get loads of discounts. For example, KOA offers a value card that saves members 10% every time they camp at one of its properties. Members also earn points that can be redeemed for rewards and savings for each stay at KOA. Campgrounds come with amenities such as Wi-Fi, cable hookups, fire rings and food service.
Thousand Trails, a chain of RV resorts and campgrounds, charges a $525 annual fee for up to 30 nights of camping (after that, a $3 daily usage fee applies). Most sites provide electrical, water, and sewage setups. No RV? Thousand Trails offers rentals on cabins, cottages, yurts, etc.
For RV owners, a $44 membership with Passport America's Discount Camping Club is a cheap camping tip that saves 50% at more than 1,800 participating campgrounds in North America.
Be vigilant: Check frequently for camping deals on e-commerce sites such as Living Social and Groupon.
Campers who can do without the amenities can try camping for free. Boondocking.org offers a user-compiled database of areas where setting up an RV or tent is a no-cost adventure; not surprisingly, there's an iPhone app that can come in handy. Other free-camping websites to explore include Freecampsites.net and Freecampgrounds.com.
Avoid overpriced eats
Campgrounds restaurants are expensive. Instead, pack frozen meals in a camping refrigerator or cooler and bring along plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and other snacks. And always stock lots of liquids, especially water. There's no need to pay for pricey bottled water.
Camp with friends
If friends also enjoy camping, embark on a multifamily vacation. Take as few vehicles as possible and share gear.
Forget about the weekends
Setting out in an RV or pitching a tent during the week (Sunday through Thursday) may take some planning, but doing so will lessen the budgetary stress. Delaware state parks, for example, offer a $2 discount on weekday nights at a tent or RV site and $14 off on weekday rentals of cabins and yurts.
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We camp off the grid... one time a ranger came up on us driving his sea-doo and asked us... "how the hell did you guys get over here?... I didn't even know there were roads this far over" That is the only time we have paid for camping, and he only charged us for half our tents since we were bagging and carrying out our trash.
for RV'ers, we dragged a camper across country and found many interstate road rest stops to be very good and safe for an over night sleep.
we even cooked a chicken wrapped up in aluminum foil in my old chevy S10 pick up. wrapped it up in tenessee, had roasted chicken and baked potatoes in pennsylvania! (held it in the engine compartment on the wheel well)
i'v heard of cooking dinner on your engine real efficient just hope you don't hit a bump and dinner becomes road kill.
what a cruel thing to say ok so maybe i'm a bit jealous of adventures I know i'v missed
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