Secrets to budget-friendly camping

Planning for a low-cost camping trip starts well before you hit the road.

Camping is often regarded as a cheap alternative for a weekend away or family holiday, but there are still initial costs involved. Here are some tips on how to keep your costs down and enjoy a budget camping experience.

Save on camping equipment

Take the time to find used camping equipment. Pots, pans, utensils, clothing, ground sheets and more can be found at disposal stores, charity shops, garage sales and on Gumtree or eBay. Keep an eye out for retailer sales and clearances, or just ask family and friends if they have gear you can buy or borrow.

Use old blankets, doonas and yoga mats rather than new sleeping bags or sleeping mats. Use solar-powered lights rather than batteries, or at least use rechargeable batteries to avoid repeat purchases.

Keep timber dry by covering it with a tarp in case it rains, so you don’t have to buy firewood because yours is wet. If the weather is hot, keep your portable cooler in the shade to make ice last longer.

Stick close to home

Don’t travel too far, so you save time and fuel costs. Camping will be just as enjoyable at a campsite that’s a few kilometres away as it would be at one 400km away.

Pack food wisely

Take food that can be used in different meals. For example, mince meat can be used in rissoles, hamburgers, tacos or with pasta. Buy tinned food, spices, condiments and batteries when they are on sale and keep some stored for your camping trips.

Choose low-cost campsites

Stay in campsites that don’t have electricity or running water. You might have to take water and a generator with you, but will avoid paying higher camping fees. Check if the sites are drive-in or walk-in, particularly if you have kids and need to carry their gear for them.

You can even sometimes find free camping spots.