June 29, 2017

Frugal Family Camping Tips

Camping ranks high on the list of low-cost vacations. With smart planning, camping becomes even more cost-effective. Here are a few favored money-saving strategies.

Cost-sharing:

Workingtolive.comís Julie Rains, a professional blogger with two kids, partners with other families to share costs on meals, supplies and site rentals. This is a strategy my family has used many times over the years, especially when times were financially leaner. It enabled us to experience extended lake stays as a family, and sharing the work load made reaching more remote locations much easier than it would have otherwise been. (See also: Glamping on the Cheap)

Fees:

Cheryl MacDonald and Lisa Chavis of What Boundaries recommend tracking down free camp sites. In Hawaii, Chavis and MacDonald discovered the federal national parks of Haleakala on Maui and Volcano National Park on the main island allow free camping on a first-come, first-serve basis. Boondocking.org features a list of free and nearly free places to camp, and The United States Bureau of Land Management allows free camping on certain public lands. Travel blogger Lisa Overman is a huge fan of the National Park Serviceís artist-in-residence program, which offers stays ranging from two weeks to several months at little or no cost. Check the National Park Service web site for details.†

Gear:

Weíve found killer deals at discount stores such as Big Lots, the Christmas Tree Shops and Mardens.† Max Levitte of Cheapism, a web site which reviews products for quality and affordability, recommends Colemanís Andover sleeping bags for off-the-shelf affordability at less than $30 each. For tent functionality and affordability, Levitte suggests the South Bend Sports Dome tent made by Wenzel, which fits up to four people and is available for less than $50.

Logistics:

For simple, but efficient cleanups during camping trips, Freelancefarmer.comís Linsey Knerl uses soap pads to avoid leaky dish soap containers. Knerl also recommends a plastic tote for organizing family footwear inside the tent. Before a camping trip, Katie Lee of Chaos in the Kitchen freezes meat ahead of time to create a block of ice that can be used to keep other items frosty in the cooler. This strategy avoids the watery meltdown of traditional ice, which can make the other groceries soggy, and the meat can be thawed and ready to cook by the time you set up camp, according to Lee.

Photo Credit: iStock