5 Ways to Save $ On Your Next Camping Trip

December 22, 2010

Whether you’re on a tight budget, or just want to use your money for stuff you love to do (like camping), you’re probably always in the mood to save a little cash.

We asked campers some of their favorite tips for saving money, and these are the top five responses:

1) On-Site Cooking:

  • Cooking and barbecuing at the campsite, rather than dining in local restaurants, is a great money saver. To boost savings even more, buy items on sale and then freeze them to use when you’re camping later in the year. Use traditional grocery items (rather than quick, pre-packed foods) and plan meals that uses food for more than one dish, like meats and veggies that can be used both in foil dinners and stews. Another great idea is to invite friends and family members who are camping with you to prepare meals pot-luck style. The more the merrier!
  • (Thanks to Eric Early, Sharon Sadilek, Tammi Hailey, Charlene Balkema , Krista Pomeroy, Courtney Hurd and Lori Kamieniecki for their tips!)

2) Where There’s Smoke…

  • Campers like Giuseppe Lipari and Carrie Hancock opt to take wood from home with them, as do several other campers. Keep in mind that some states do have prohibitions against bringing wood across state lines, so you may want to check with the KOA you’ll be visiting about any regulations or restrictions in their local area.

3) Bring It With You:

  • While KOA stores are the perfect place to grab drinks and other necessities while you’re at your favorite campground, gas stations, convenience stores and other stops along your route can take a bite out of your budget.
  • “Tourist shops and roadside shops can break you in no time. Seems like even when you expect it and plan for it, when you wind up having to purchase just a few little things that you forgot it drains your budget,” said Kip Wilson. That’s why he makes sure to stock up on batteries and other essentials before hitting the road. Katie McGrath agrees, telling us that she and her family bring as much from home as possible, like food, toys, activities, bait, etc.
  • “I take a couple of days to prepare a list of everything I might need,” Betty Wilcox says. “It saves me from having to buy at the last minute. That way, my cash is spent on souvenirs not toothpaste.”
  • Opting for reusable plastic dishes (not paper ones) brought from home are also, “good for the pocket and the environment!” according to Erika Anderson-Pierson.

4) Inexpensive Activities:

  • When she heads out camping, Jeannine Lambrecht-Rowe likes to take full advantage of the activities at the campground as a way to save money, rather than seeking out expensive pastimes.
  • Mark Eaton also uses a museum membership program, for off-site fun, saying, “We are members at the Ontario Science Centre and they have agreements with tons of museums across North America that allows us free entry. We learn as much as we can on our trips then enjoy the facilities at the campgrounds.”

5) Use the Card:

  • A number of campers we asked, like Kerri Groff, Ryan Young and Ruby Pederson, told us that camping itself—rather than staying in a hotel—is a great way to save money. As Kathleen Drost noted, “We enjoy riding bikes, storytelling, walks, and sitting around the campfire—all for free.”
  • But Eric Jackson, Diane Krzemian Boike and other campers took it one step further, telling us that KOAs Value Kard Rewards program allows them to save even more money.
  • “The rewards card is awesome,” Diane said. “The more you stay at KOAs, the more points you rack up towards more discounts.”

Do you have some great cash saving techniques you’d like to share? Tell us more by commenting below: