Consider Your DestinationBefore you can prepare and pack for your trip, you'll need to decide where you're going -- and your destination may actually matter a lot. According to a survey conducted by The Outdoor Foundation, 67% of participants stated that they camp in public campgrounds most often. Choosing a public camping location that's relatively close to home can save you money on gas. Family campgrounds often come with extra amenities that can be great for entertaining young kids, but rates may vary, so it's best to shop around a bit before deciding. In addition, keep in mind that National Parks, while popular for camping, tend to be a bit pricier than National Forests are. Don't be afraid to compare your options!
Buy Used Or BorrowIt's very easy to overspend on camping gear. If you aren't careful, you may end up blowing your entire budget before you even leave for your trip. To avoid this, borrow as much as you can from friends and family. For those who don't go camping on a regular basis, this is a sound financial strategy and will allow you to get some tips from those you trust, too. There may be things you aren't able to borrow, in which case you should try to buy used. Many thrift stores or online resources will have inexpensive camping gear for sale. You may not be able to find every single necessity, but as long as you give yourself enough time, you should be able to get most things on your list.
Bring Food With YouBringing food with you, rather than buying it once you arrive, can save you quite a bit -- particularly if you're camping in an area frequented by out-of-towners. Multi-purpose food items are a good bet since you'll get more out of them. In fact, you should plan out your menu well in advance to make sure you don't overspend but will still have great food to enjoy during your trip. You may want to cook on a smaller propane burner at least some of the time since the wood for campfires can be expensive.
Go Solar OR RechargableTraditional batteries can be pricey, particularly if you need a lot of them, and campsites that have electricity will be most costly. Rechargeable batteries can power up the necessities but won't give you the opportunity to spend the whole trip on your devices (which is a good thing!). Solar lanterns can be a good investment too since they just require light to charge. While solar-powered products may cost a bit more upfront, they'll last longer and won't require constant battery changes.
Avoid Tourist TrapsWhen you head out on your camping trip, don't fall victim to tourist traps. Whether it's a restaurant you find on the way or a town center right outside of your campgrounds, remember to keep costs in mind. If you do decide to go into town, feel free to look around but don't buy. Instead, try to find free activities your family can enjoy together, like hiking trails, group games, or a nearby festival that doesn't charge an admission fee.
Camping is already pretty financially feasible, but costs can add up quickly if you don't keep track. By following these tips, your family will be able to enjoy your next camping trip without breaking the bank.