Filed under: Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Family Weekend Trips, RV Campgrounds
Tips for camping on the cheap ;)
For many of us, our camping trips are, at least somewhat, shaped by our budget. Whether it is the length of time that we are able to get away, or the destination that we choose, money has some impact on our trip. No matter what kind(s) of camping that you prefer, there are always things that you can do to make your trip a little more affordable.
If you prefer to resort camp, most of your expense will probably be in your camping site fees. Many people don’t realize that there are a lot of campgrounds that offer: deals for things like staying a whole week (either a special week-long rate or sometimes deals like 7 nights for the price of 5), printable coupons for discounts like a percentage off or upgraded sites, and even special rates for park amenities if you purchase a package deal (this is not a deal though if you are not going to use those extras!). If you don’t see anything mentioned online, call and ask if they have any current specials/deals.
We have found that when we are looking for a place to do activities like water slides or mini golf, it saves us a lot of money to just go to a park that has these onsite, and where their cost is included in our camping fees, or that offer a package deal like daily armbands for everyone in the site for one price. This usually ends up being quite a bit cheaper, and more relaxing, for our family than driving to another location to go to these type of activities and back and forth to our camping spot.
When choosing any campground, it pays to call and inquire whether or not they charge extra fees for dogs, extra vehicles, or per person fees above ‘x’ number of people (if any of these apply to you). These can add significantly to your overall resort bill. For instance, right now I am sitting in Round Top Campground near Gettysburg, PA. We had actually driven by a competitor, and, hoping to stay there, we had called the other campground, who charges a per person fee above 2 adults and 2 kids. The per person fees would have put us up at $90 per night! A little more than we want to spend unless the campground has a waterslide or other extra activities. We called around, and got a site for less than half of that here since they are a ‘family rate’ campground – no extra fees if it is your immediate family. That one phone call saved us nearly $150 over the 3 nights that we are/were here – and this campground ended up being nicer anyway! LOL!
Another way to save money, no matter where or how you camp, is to prepare ahead of time when purchasing items for your excursions. For instance, we seldom buy plain Hershey’s chocolate bars except for s’mores when we are camping. If I see them on sale at a good price, I will buy what I think that we will use for the entire summer – besides saving money, I don’t have to hassle with remembering to purchase them before we go each time. This can be done for most non-perishables, and meat; hot dogs, steaks, and hamburgers all freeze well. I like to have the meat that we will be using frozen anyway, then I can then put some of it (what we will be using the first day or two out) in the cooler to keep other stuff cold since we always need to take more than what fits in our fridge.
We make a point to shop like this for items such as sun screen and bug spray. It will often go on sale in the spring and fall, and if I catch a good clearance, I will buy for the entire next year. Also, just double checking that you have packed everything (like beach towels and EVERYONES swimsuits!) that you will need can be a huge buget saver – having to purchase new items at gift shop prices can be a killer!
If you are going to an unfamiliar place (like out of state), be sure to stop at the local Chamber of Commerce. If you are interested in exploring the area, ask the hosts there what the best attractions (that are worth the fees) are – they are not always what is advertised the most or best. And be sure to pick up a local attraction or tourist guide. Many of these include coupons or printed specials for the local businesses. Also, don’t discount free attractions; local parks can be a wonderful way to access the beach, go for a secluded hike, or stop for an inexpensive picnic lunch while you walk the local historic district.
If you like to visit national parks, it pays to invest in a National Parks Access Pass – $80 will get your family in to all the national sites, for free, for a year. Our National Access Pass has paid for it’s self many times over in the past 7 months!
There are so many ways to camp inexpensively! It is a great feeling to save money while you are vacationing – and those savings may just make it so that you can stay out longer or venture out again sooner! And that is a Good Thing!