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Camping is already one of the cheapest ways to vacation, but there are easy ways of making it an even more budget-friendly activity. Whether your family is on a tight budget this year or you get a kick out of living frugally, we have some handy tips for you to help cut the cost of your next camping trip.
Where to go?
Boondocking or dry camping is a hit among the super-frugal campers. No campground fees and no hook-ups. Sounds appealing? Learn more here.
Boondocking may sound a bit extreme for your taste, but there are also other ways to save on campground fees.
Camping in provincial and national parks is generally cheap and comfortable. The level of services varies, though, and the campgrounds fill up fast in peak seasons, so do your research online and book in advance.
- Parks Alberta online reservation tool.
- BC Parks reservation service.
- Parks Canada Reservation Service.
Another way to save on campground fees is to join an RV membership club.
Shop around online and find a club that suits your needs by paying attention to the number of participating campgrounds in the area where you want to camp, campground season and restrictions to discounted rate.
Frugal-rv-travel.com provides a comprehensive overview of membership clubs for both boondockers and those looking for discounts on campgrounds.
True, time is money, but planning ahead can help you avoid unexpected extra costs on your camping trip.
Make a comprehensive list of things you need on your trip, check the weather forecast and bring the appropriate clothes and gear. Think about all the items you use on a daily basis and throw in some extras to avoid making an emergency trip to the nearest shop because you’ve run out of diapers. If you camp with kids, this checklist can guide you.
As mentioned earlier, reserve a campground early – especially if you are looking for a group campsite or a provincial or national campground in peak season.
Bring firewood from home. Not only do you run the risk of the campground being sold out, you could also end up forking over exorbitant amounts of cash for your firewood. Depending on whether you cross provincial or national borders on the way to your campsite, you may not be able to bring firewood from home. Stopping in a nearby town to stock up is another foolproof solution to ensure you will enjoy a campfire later.
The more the merrier (and cheaper)
Travelling in a group can help reduce the cost for everyone involved in a group camping adventure.
If you have some extra space in your car or RV, carpooling will cut the fuel expense.
Many campgrounds have group campsites. Check the rates to see if you’ll get a better rate when the fee is split among all parties.
As an added bonus, your fellow frugal campers may have new tips and tricks to share and you can buy food in bulk and cook together for added savings.
Be tech savvy
The days are over where you need four different battery sizes in stock before you go camping. Investing short term in solar-charged or kinetic batteries or crank-style flashlights and radios are popular replacements that could help you save on batteries in the long run.
The same goes for your RV. There are many solutions out there that can help you go off the grid and save on electricity and water.
Something borrowed, something shared, something used…
To save money on gear if you’re just starting out camping or if you need to replace your camping equipment, consider sharing with friends or family and split the cost.
Garage sales are goldmines for campers looking for cheap gear. It is possible to find gently used equipment for a great price.
If you don’t go camping that often, you could also borrow specialized gear that you know you’re unlikely to use more than once or twice.
Finally, end of season sales are another source of discounted gear.
Enjoy bargain hunting and remember it’s never too early to prepare for your next (frugal) camping adventure!