How to Go on a Frugal Camping Trip


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Camping rocks. There’s something about communing with nature that de-stresses me, and makes me forget all about my worries. And it’s not just about escaping. Camping and hiking have a way of energizing me. When I inevitably come back to my world of adulting responsibilities and city living, I feel more energized and capable of taking on the toughest challenges urban life has to offer.

But camping – or going on any other trip, really – can get expensive and stressful. When that happens, it kind of nullifies all the benefits you could have gained from it. And that is why I always try to save money whenever I go on camping trips. I happen to go on camping trips often, since I want to reap the benefits of communing with nature as often as possible. That makes saving extremely important.

I know a lot of people who love to go on frugal camping trips as well. I never thought about sharing my money-saving techniques until I met them. Since I’m sure a lot of people online are looking for ways to save money while camping, as well as frugal camping hacks, I decided to write this post. This article is geared towards frugal travelers, but the truth is, these saving techniques will be useful to anyone looking to get away from it all.

What are we waiting for? Let’s get this show on the road!

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Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Never leave town without adequate preparation. Make a list of things you need to bring, and emergency numbers you have to call in case the unthinkable happens. You should also shop ahead of your trip and buy everything you need in your own town. Also, plan your camping accommodations ahead of time. Setting up your tent in an area without prior reservations might be costlier than if you had booked ahead of time.

Also, camping gear and other necessities are usually more expensive near campgrounds. So save yourself some money by making sure you already have all the items you need before leaving (I would recommend buying your camping gear from your local shops, which tend to have better prices than those near parks and camping areas.)

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Find Free Campgrounds

Paying to be able to set up your tent and camping gear can get pretty costly. This used to be one of the biggest expenses when going out on trips. But now I look at my local directory of free campgrounds. The available spaces will differ from state to state, so make sure you check what’s available in your locale.

Free campgrounds won’t be as nice and fancy as paid areas, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. I used to think the relative crowding would be a problem. It hasn’t, since I spend most of my time hiking anyway. And I’ve even met lots of new friends and made valuable contacts while camping in free campgrounds.

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Do Your Food Prep at Home

My friends and I love roasting food on a bonfire. That doesn’t mean we do all our food prep on site, though, In fact, we do most of our food preparation at home. I marinate meats days in advance, slice bread, and skewer meets ahead of time. This saves me money since doing food prep outdoors can be difficult, and there’s a big chance we would just give up and end up buying cooked food from a nearby store.

Food prepping at home is also cheaper. That means I can bring more food, and dishes that suit the tastes of the people I’m camping with.

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Get Used Camping Gear

Makers of camping gear want us to think that we need the newest, most high-tech outdoor gear money can buy. That might be true if you’re scaling Mount Everest or embarking on a dangerous expedition. But when you’re camping one hour out of town? Used items will be more than adequate.

Camping gear is plenty expensive. And that’s why I usually hit Craigslist or eBay or Facebook Marketplace looking for people looking to unload their old camping stuff. The best time to do this is right after camping season. I noticed people usually unload their gear during those times.

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Don’t Use Disposable Items

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning here. While packing stuff, it’s tempting to use disposable items. And I get it – they offer lots of convenience. If you’re using disposable plates, cutlery, and cups, you don’t have to think about cleaning them. But all that garbage has to go somewhere. Even if you make efforts to clean up after each camping trip, you’re still producing garbage.

So instead of using disposable items, use reusable ones instead. In addition to being better for the environment, reusable items are also cheaper in the long run. You’ll be able to use them again and again, and that amounts to some pretty considerable savings.

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Earn Some Money Before Your Trip

The best way to save money is to make money. If you’ve already got a full schedule in the weeks leading up to your camping trip, you can try earning some extra money by using a rewards site. There are tons of rewards sites out there, but the best one to use for this purpose is ZoomBucks.

Memberships in ZoomBucks is free. When you become a member, you can earn points by completing offers, answering surveys, and watching videos. When you’ve accumulated 3,000 points, you can trade your points for cash or gift cards. These rewards will be really useful when you’re stocking up on supplies before you head out.

But my favorite benefit is ZoomBucks fast processing times. Other rewards sites usually take weeks to send your earnings. But on ZoomBucks, it only takes 48 hours. That means you can rely on your earnings arriving on a specific time. For example, if you’re heading out on a Friday, you can request a payout a couple of days before, and rest assured you’ll get your money in time for your trip.

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