(Camping in a state park in Wyoming when our kids were very little!)
I recently posed the question; “What is your biggest challenge in travel?” By far the most popular answer was budget. With that in mind I decided to start putting together several posts on how to travel on a budget, how to save for travel in creative ways, and some ways to make budget travel work. Kicking that off is this first post on camping!
How Camping Can Save You Money
Camping is a great way for families to have vacations and not spend anywhere near the amount they would staying in traditional accommodations. When traveling the two largest expenses are accommodation and food. Camping actually has ways to help cut both those parts of the budget drastically, making it the ultimate budget travel.
For example last summer our family drove to Prince Edward Island, Canada and spent 10 days on the island. We had waterfront accommodation (our tent) for the entire time. We spent $240 CAN for the 10 nights to camp in that spot. ($182 USD by today’s exchange rate). For a hotel we would have spent anywhere from $100-500 for a waterfront spot per night! Well that would have made the trip impossible, so camping was the perfect alternative.
The next big issue is food. To save on this part of the budget we stopped at Walmart before crossing the US-Canadian boarder and stocked up on items, such as cereal for breakfast, hot-dogs for roasting on the campfire, sandwich items, fruit and snacks. We planned to eat at least 2 meals a day at the campsite. By planning to eat 2 meals at the site each day we cut back on costs dramatically. We also found a Walmart in Summer-side (about 10 minutes drive from our site) and we made use of it to restock our groceries as needed.
(Camping in Wyoming at the state park. We were lake front and our boys spent a lot of time in the water! As you can see below they were pretty happy about this set up!)
Positive Effects of Camping on Families
Camping has been proven to have a positive effect on families. Several years ago I remember reading an article that had scientifically proven families who camped were close, more likely to stay together and more likely to stay in closer touch once the children were grown.
That article really stuck me. From it I determined when I had children we would go camping! What I learned taking my kids camping is that it provides so much good quality time. We get away from busyness of life, and all the to-do’s and just enjoy each other. Besides that, my kids LOVE it!
Equipment Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
Many people see camping as something that is expensive to get started in. If you really look at the expense of a hotel verses the camping equipment it really isn’t even a comparison. Last summer we didn’t have any equipment because we live overseas. So we had to get everything. Here is a basic layout of what we purchased and the prices.
Tent – $150
Air Mattresses – $ 75 (1 for us and 1 for each kid)
Blankets & Pillows – $30 (because we didn’t have these items in our home we had to purchase them, you could easily take items from your house)
Campfire cover – $25 (we purchased a iron gate type cover that fit over a basic campfire making it easy to cook on)
Ice Chest – $20
A Few Cooking Items – $20 (because we didn’t have these items in our home we had to purchase them, you could easily take items from your kitchen)
(When we first started camping we had 2 small tents. One we were given and we got a cheap second one to fit all of us. We each had one kid in our tent because they were so young. Now we have a big tent that we love that you can see in our post Prince Edward Island on a Budget.)
Other than those basic items it is up to personal preference as to what you need. You can honestly get away with spending nothing else or buying tons of items.
The beautiful thing about the cost to go camping is that it is an investment. You can store your items afterward and keep them for year after year. Currently our items are stored in a family members basement so we could get them and use them again this coming summer! That makes camping this summer even cheaper because all the equipment is already purchased.
I encourage you to consider camping as an option for your family! It has tremendous benefits and is a wonderful way to have a vacation as a family without breaking the bank! Stay tuned for more camping information posts and other ways to travel on a budget!
Have you camped with your family? Tell us your favorite spot!
PS: If you are looking for help planning your next travel or vacation experience; look no further than our Travel Planning Services.