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Low Budget Camping

Camping is the best way to spend quality time with family and reconnect with nature. Surrounded by endless opportunities to explore and discover and unplug from the demands of your hectic lives at home, you can focus on being together and making lasting family memories. If you haven’t gone camping before and don't have any camping supplies, it may seem like an expensive hobby to get into. But don't let that deter you! If you play your cards right and think thrifty thoughts, you can get some great camping gear at low prices and stay in campgrounds that cost next to nothing for a night's stay. So let's start shopping!

Camping Gear

Camping requires a lot of gear! There are definitely things you can do without in the great outdoors, like a Keurig coffee maker or a heated mattress pad, but there are plenty of items you'll need to meet your basic needs. This includes sleeping bags, a tent (if you’re not an RVer), cooking supplies, dishes, silverware, coolers, food, water bottles, dish soap, cleaning supplies, bathing supplies, tools, and more. There's no reason that you have to buy all these items brand new, so let's go thrift shopping!

Thrift Stores
Shop Goodwill and Salvation Army stores for great camping finds. This is the perfect place to pick up dishes, silverware, and other kitchen supplies that don't need to be brand new. People often get tired of dishes they've had for 20 years and donate them to one of these stores. Be the lucky person who happens to pick them up for just pennies. You'll also find things like cookware, colanders, utensils, silverware trays, placemats, and other kitchen items that you can use while camping.

Craigslist is a huge online garage sale where you can find anything and everything! People post pictures of items they want to sell and you can contact them directly to ask them questions and purchase an item. People often sell larger items on Craigslist that they don't want to just donate, and for camping you'll find items such as tents, kayaks, tools, sleeping bags, small appliances, games, etc. You can even pick up a used RV on Craigslist at a great price! Just use caution when meeting someone to look at an item. Always arrange to meet in a public place and try to avoid going to someone's home. And take someone with you if possible.

Yard Sales
Yard sales are a gold mine! Often people have yard sales because they just want items out of their house or garage and are willing to part with them for little money. You can find all kinds of camping related equipment at yard sales, including tents, kitchen supplies, bedding, outdoor games, small appliances, decorative items for an RV, and so much more. You might even come upon a used RV with a For Sale sign on it! The best way to hit garage sales is to look on Craigslist or in the newspaper for advertised sales and plan your route for the day. Or download the Yard Sale Treasure Map app on your smartphone for an instant map of current garage sales right in your area. You can even search for certain items, such as camping equipment or RVs, and the map will only mark sales with items you're looking for. Hit as many as you can to find as much as you can by spending as little as you can. That's the name of the game with garage sales.

Camping Sites

Compared to the cost of hotel accommodations, campgrounds are pretty inexpensive. While you could easily spend $70-120 per night at an average hotel, you could enjoy the comfort of your RV or cozy tent for a fraction of that price. Campgrounds could cost you anywhere from free (yes, free!) to over $50/night for an upscale RV park or resort with loads of amenities. With a membership to the Good Sam Club, Passport America, AARP, or if you qualify as military, you can possibly receive a discount at RV parks and resorts. State parks and national parks are very reasonably priced and clean. Our government offers an annual America the Beautiful Passport that gets you into all of our country's beautiful national parks for free with the purchase of the $80 passport (or just $10 for senior citizens for a lifetime!). If those low prices just aren't low enough for you, there are several websites that will show you where to find free to almost-free sites to camp. Check out FreeCampsites.net to find your low-budget campsite. Because it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to sleep under the stars!


When you head out to camp you will see stands on the side of the road selling firewood. This may seem like a great deal. It’s already chopped up and ready! However, the average bundle you get for $5 isn’t going to last long, and only contains fuel wood which means you'll have to trek out into the woods anyway to find kindling and tinder to make a Teepee Fire. If you’re going out into the woods, you may as well just find your wood on your own! It'll take a little work, but you won't spend a dime. Bring a hatchet along for easy cutting. Look around the forest floor for fallen trees and sticks. If they’re too big, just cut them down to smaller pieces with your hatchet!

Camping shouldn't be expensive. There are so many ways to save money on camping supplies and accommodations! Make camping one of your family's favorite activities and you'll make fun family memories that you'll love sharing for years to come--and you won't break the bank doing it!

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