Budget Camping Ideas for Your Summer Vacation

Budget Camping Ideas for Your Summer Vacation
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Given everything that’s happened so far this year, it’s probably a fair assumption that you're itching to go on some kind of vacation. However, with international travel ill-advised and social distancing a difficulty at popular destinations, what kind of vacation can you take?

The answer is camping. This allows you to stay local and get out into nature, while maintaining your distance. There is therefore little doubt that we’re due a record year for camping in 2020.

That being said, many families are having to cut back and tighten their belts. This leaves many wondering, can I even afford a vacation this year? If you fall into this bracket, don’t worry. I’m going to give you some budget camping ideas and tips that’ll ensure you can get away without breaking the bank. So consider each of these points as you’re planning your family camping packing list.

Borrow Camping Equipment

If you’re not a regular camper, this is a great option - especially if you’re going camping with your family. Hit up your most outdoorsy friends and see what they can offer you. However, if that’s not an option, it’s also possible to rent camping equipment.

If you fall in love with camping after this trip, you can then invest in your own gear.

Purchase Second Hand Gear


As any experienced camper will know, there is new gear brought out year after year. And with keen campers always looking to refresh their equipment for the latest and greatest, where does the old gear go? You’ll likely find some of what you need at consignment stores or online options like Facebook Marketplace.

Finding the best stuff can be a little daunting and difficult. Therefore, it’s best to get the help of a friend with camping experience to help you choose. Although it’s unlikely you’ll find everything you’re after, you’ll  probably be able to find some useful bits and bobs.

Plan or Pre Make Your Camping Meals


The easiest cooking method while camping is going to a well-known camping store or website and purchasing MREs (meals ready to eat). While these are very convenient and sometimes quite tasty, they’re also expensive.

Therefore, it’s recommended that you plan out your menu beforehand. You can bring pre readymade food found in the supermarket or, if you’re limited on space, bring dehydrated meals.

In addition, if you’re looking to save on fuel while cooking, aim for one cooked meal a day or look to cook your food in stainless steel pots and pans (these will use heat and fuel more efficiently).

Turn Your Headlight into a Lantern

This is a well known ‘camping hack’. That being said, it’s still worth doing if you don’t want to buy a camping lantern and/or save on propane.

How do you do this? It’s really simple. Just put your headlight around a jug of water and then bask in the glow of the ambient lightning.

Avoid Going Camping During Public Holidays or Other Peak Times

Camp sites charge more during public holidays and peak times. Therefore, if you’re looking to save some money on your camping trip, aim to go during the weekday and avoid public holidays.

Not only will this help save you money, it will also make it easier for you to social distance on your trip.

Avoid National Parks Too


If you live in the United States, national parks are best avoided on a budget. Not only will these be more crowded than previous years, they also charge entry fees.

While the pull of national parks like Yosemite or Yellowstone is undeniable, there are many other places where you can pitch a tent and not pay steep entrance fees, such as local government owned campgrounds.

Fill up on cheap gas before you go

If you’re heading into the wilderness, gas prices will be at a premium. Therefore, it’s worth filling up your tank before you head into the sticks.

Sites like gasbuddy allow you to see where the cheapest fill up spots are on your route. 

Cook over a fire 

Before choosing a campsite, it’s worth seeing if a campfire ground or area is part of their facilities. Why? Cooking over fire will not only help you save on propane costs, it’s also more environmentally friendly.

If it’s not possible to build a campfire for cooking and you’re travelling in a group, why not consider taking turns to bulk cook for your group? This way, you’ll each be able to save on fuel and can have small dinner gatherings night after night.

Be Prepared

The scouts were onto something when they came up with their famous motto, ‘be prepared’. If you want to have success camping or camping on a budget, you need to have a plan. This is even more important if you’re taking the whole family.

Having a clear plan for your meals, your gear, and your fuel while on the road will help you stick within your budget. Therefore, if you’re looking to take a budget camping vacation this summer, this last tip underpins the whole article.

You’ll not only save money, but you’ll also ensure you have a well-earned and enjoyable summer camping trip.

Written by Bill Loss, Co-Founder of Pillowpak, the world’s first sleepover bag designed to fit your pillow.

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