Family Camping on a Budget

For the many people who want to treat the family to a vacation and stay within a budget, camping has long been the popular choice. Lifetime memories can be made with a simple tent, some new scenery and very little money. A camping trip that lasts a week can cost less than other vacation options for two days. Camping also offers a unique opportunity to bond as a family and enjoy each other’s company while exploring nature.

A successful camping trip requires the gathering of essential equipment and supplies. Making purchases during an off-season will yield some fantastic bargains. In light of this, it is a good idea to plan ahead and maybe announce the trip during the holiday season as a surprise. Personal camping items like sleeping bags and toiletry sets can be given as gifts. If your family has never camped or expressed an interest in doing so, it may be a good idea to try it out with borrowed equipment to see if they enjoy it before making the investment in the necessary equipment.

One reason camping is such an affordable vacation option is that once the equipment is purchased, it can provide enjoyment for years. Lots of money can be spent on accommodations and travel to new and exciting locations every time the family wants to get away. The cost of a one week hotel stay would purchase all the camping equipment a family needs. The camping equipment is a one-time expense and there are relatively few expenses for each camping trip.
Making sure you have everything you need before going on a trip will ensure that camping is the most affordable of vacations. You don’t want to arrive at your camping site to realize there is something else to buy. The person camping for the first time needs to make sure these basics are covered.

Practical Equipment

The Dwelling:  Tents are the most commonly used however there are other options such as cabins, campers and RVs. Your choice depends on the size and need for comfort unique to your family. Whatever your choice, keep in mind the growing need for space to accommodate growing family members.

The Place of Rest:  Sleeping bags are the one item you should not be chintzy about. Choose sleeping bags of high quality which are thoroughly insulated and equipped with liners which can be removed. A supply of extra blankets can pad the tent floor and serve as additional cover when needed.

Lighting and Visibility:  You should be equipped with at least 2 or 3 lanterns. Most are powered by propane gas. The propane is available in small containers which make them convenient to carry when needed for walking after dark. It is a good idea to have one or two pairs of binoculars for sight-seeing, day or night.

Eating Economically

Food Storage:  A cooler will keep drinks cold and food fresh. It needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the elements as well as the attack of curious creatures. A strong complex latch or lock is recommended because bears and raccoons can be surprisingly resourceful.

Food Supply: One huge money-saving aspects of camping is the portable food supply. Bringing food from home saves the expense and hassle of locating grocery stores and being subject to an unfamiliar market and economy. Try to plan the meals in advance with your family’s taste in mind. This will help ensure the amount of food brought is sufficient. Don’t forget snacks and dietary needs. Don’t let your family feel like a lack of food is a part of roughing it or they may not want to do it again. Pay special attention to the needs of young children to avoid fussiness that could spoil the trip for everyone. You don’t want to be stuck paying tourist prices for diapers or baby food.

Some food choices are better than others for camping. It is not necessary to try to change the family’s diet for the trip. Start with what you have at home when packing the food supply. Start with basic favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, eggs, bacon and peanut butter and jelly. Small and inexpensive boxes of corn muffin mix can be made into johnny cakes on top of your grill by frying the batter on a griddle or pie tin for a camping breakfast treat. Camping meals don’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. Spend less time cooking and more time relaxing and enjoying the trip.

Affordable Campsites

Destination:  Decide as a family which attraction is to be visited or what type of experience you want to have while camping. Campgrounds are near just about every tourist attraction from theme parks to natural phenomena. Some campgrounds are more luxurious than others offering more amenities. The choice in destinations will dictate the campgrounds available.

To simply enjoy the process and natural challenges of this type of vacation, primitive camping offers the purest option. Areas designated for this kind of camping offer the free access for hiking and a campsite. There are no other amenities like bathrooms, electricity or water supply. These areas are ideal for hiking trips in which you carry your gear in backpacks to a site inaccessible by car or truck. Primitive and hike-camping are options best left to experienced campers without small children.

Generally, the price of renting a campsite depends on the number of amenities offered by the campground. Fewer amenities are reflected by lower rental fees. State and national parks are the exception to this rule in that they usually offer plenty of amenities for a lower fee than campgrounds that are privately owned.


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