Camping on a Budget

Camping is often viewed as a cheap alternative to paying for a fancy getaway vacation. With staycations and other budget holidays increasing in popularity each year, camping has also increased in popularity as a cheap and easy alternative to traditional holidays. Camping isn’t an inherently expensive activity or pastime, but whether you’re a newbie or an experienced camper looking to spend less on the hobby, there are ways in which you can budget your camping experience and tailor it accordingly. 

Camping on a budget makes you think more about the essentials, equipment needed and travel. It’s a useful skill to have and shouldn’t impact on your camping experience

Considering the Essentials

Camping on a budget can throw up a lot of questions about which equipment is really considered essential.

1 – If you’re an experienced camper, you may already have your own Camping Checklist and know which essentials to take with you, but if you’re unsure it’s vital to research and consider the things you will definitely need for your trip – or things you could potentially need in case of an emergency or in any other unwanted circumstances. One thing to remember when considering camping checklists is to remember that everybody is different and the locations in which you are camping, and the time of year can drastically change your necessities. For example, you wouldn’t need to take snow shoes if you’re planning a trip in the middle of summer.

2 – Consider how many days you plan on camping and pack accordingly, but include enough food and other essentials to last an extra day in case of emergency. 


Camping equipment can easily start racking up in cost, and as a beginner it might be overwhelming if you’re trying to stay within a budget.

3 – Second Hand camping equipment can be easy to come across as some people will dispose of perfectly good gear if they don’t plan on using it anymore. Second Hand tents are especially abundant after festival season, and can be snatched up on any local marketplace or other online Second Hand retailers, as with other bits and pieces of camping equipment. 

4 – The necessary equipment for camping varies greatly depending on the conditions you’re planning on camping in, the location and what facilities are available in your chosen site. So whilst tarpaulin is very useful to have in wet or otherwise grim weather, it may not be worth investing in if you’re going to be experiencing generally pleasant conditions. 

5 – If you’re confident or experienced, Cowboy Camping may also be a suitable option for you if you’re willing to go without a tent. Whilst the conditions for cowboy camping have to be perfect for it to be a comfortable experience, it definitely has its draws and may be worth considering if you have access to those conditions. 

6 – Hammock Camping also offers a great alternative to a tent, whilst useful camping bed hacks can keep your sleeping arrangements comfortable and cost effective. 


One of camping’s more uncomfortable truths is that it involves a lot of traveling, by car or otherwise. If you’re intending on staying within a budget, there are a bunch of different things to do to cut down on travel costs both to and from your campsite. 

7- One such idea could be to camp locally, or otherwise closer to home. This can help save on gas and in turn make it easier to get back home if something unfortunate does happen and your camping supplies are low. 

8 – Additionally, public transportation is a viable option if your campsite is located near a tourist or otherwise popular destination. Make sure to research which buses have routes in that area and if there are trains which take you to the general vicinity! 

9 – If all else fails, there is the option to hitchhike. Whilst not exactly a preferred or recommended method of travel, there is the opportunity for it to help you reach your camping destination. 


Whilst the hustle and bustle of finding a camping spot and pitching the tent is entertainment in itself, you need to consider what other pastimes you can indulge in whilst you’re busy camping. Unless you’re only out camping for a couple hours, there’s going to be lulls in the day when you need to find something to do. Some campsites offer rentals for canoes, kayaks or other forms of entertainment, but they can be expensive or could tip you over your budget if you indulge too much. 

10 – Ensuring the campsite is located near some natural interests can help as it provides an area to hike to or walk around. Part of the enjoyment found in camping is being able to reconnect with nature, so it’s always a good idea to find a particularly beautiful or inspiring spot to visit whilst on your camping venture. 

11 – Each evening, collecting firewood for a campfire can be made into a competition, and can lead to some exploring of the landscape. Sitting around a campfire is an opportunity to entertain, and popular campfire activities include telling scary stories, singing campfire songs or even just playing a couple of card games. 

Camping offers the opportunity to find enjoyment from tasks that sometimes aren’t that enjoyable, and this also includes cooking. 

12 – Make cooking meals into an activity by either trying out some new recipes or using some Camping Cooking Hacks to breathe new life into some recipes we take for granted when at home. 

13 – Along with this, you could also try Foraging to find some snacks such as blackberries. Of course, research and knowledge is essential when foraging and it’s important to be totally aware of what you’re eating. Make sure to do some research into edible berries or plants that are present in the area which you’re camping to ensure that you and other campers will be safe.

Food and Cooking

Cooking a meal whilst camping is always an experience and can make for some truly unforgettable moments. However, if trying to remain on a budget, cooking and meal planning can become a burden.

14 – Some common advice that is often passed round is to cut the meat out for a couple of days, healthy vegetarian meals can sometimes be a much cheaper option when it comes to camping (and also quicker to prepare!). If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to save on your cooking equipment when camping.

15 – One way to save is to avoid disposable BBQs and cook over a campfire instead. If a campfire isn’t an option, a small portable grill is second best. Buying several disposable BBQs is about the same as buying a portable grill, and the grill can be reused. 

Avoiding Expensive Campsites

Most campsites require payment on a nightly rate, which is something that can add up if other factors are taken into account. Depending on how high-end or how popular the campsite is there is a huge range of prices that can be charged for a nightly stay. On average, however, most campsites charge from $12-$25 for a night.

16 – There are exceptions and free campsites do exist, it’s just a matter of finding them. Most free campgrounds are owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and can be found on sites such as 

17 – The time of year and even what day of the week you decide to go can also greatly influence the cost of pitching. For instance, camping in off-season will be significantly cheaper, and booking to go in the middle of the week rather than on a weekend will be cheaper too. 

Extra Ideas

18 – Take bedding from home. It’s comfortable, warm and saves you from buying extras.

19 – Plan in advance. Planning in advance can ensure that you’re only purchasing and taking items which you truly need, and it also gives you more time to plan out your budget. 

20 – Volunteer. Some campgrounds offer free entry and stay if you’re volunteering. If you don’t mind taking a few hours out of your day to help around the campsite, then this is something that can certainly be considered providing your campsite offers the opportunity. 

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