Camping On A Budget: Affordable Tips And Tricks

Camping is one of the most affordable ways to spend a weekend. It’s also good for the environment, as it promotes higher visibility for camping in public spaces. 

But you can still make your camping trips even more affordable by using these tips and tricks.

Backpacking On A Budget (Cheap Backpacking Ideas
Camping can be an affordable way to enjoy the outdoors.
With careful planning, campers can have a budget-friendly trip without sacrificing the experience.
Tips for budget camping include buying used gear, cooking your meals, and choosing low-cost camping destinations.
Being prepared for unexpected expenses and emergencies is also crucial.
Always prioritize safety and adhere to Leave No Trace principles when camping.

Use A Tarp Under Your Tent

Tents are great, but they’re not waterproof. The best way to keep your tent dry is with a tarp, which you can use in many different ways. You can lay it under your tent and then put the tent on top of it to keep moisture from seeping through the fabric. 

You can also drape it over the side of your tent for an extra layer of protection against rain or dew, or even use it as a canopy if you’re sleeping outside on sunny days (and who isn’t?). 

If you have more than one person who wants shade while they sleep but only enough room for one hammock, consider hanging separate hammocks by tying them back-to-back between two trees with paracord and putting tarps between each one so that each person has their own space without feeling claustrophobic at night.

You don’t have to spend all day in front of a campfire when camping on a budget it’s important not only for safety reasons but also because being outside helps reduce stress levels and improve moods!

Looking for ways to enjoy the great outdoors without breaking the bank? Check out our article on how to go glamping on a budget for tips and tricks on a luxurious camping experience within your budget.

Look For Coupons Online, Or In Stores

By using coupons, you can save money on your camping trip. There are many ways to find coupons online, but here are some great places to look:

The library is a great resource for finding coupons in print or online. You can also check out the coupon section of local newspapers and magazines from your local library’s subscription list.

Social media platforms like Facebook often have groups that offer deals on certain items regularly, such as camping gear and clothing stores like REI or Cabela’s. 

These groups usually require an invitation code before joining you’ll have to ask someone who is already a member how they get their invitation codes if you want to join one of these exclusive clubs! 

This is also a good way to connect with people who love going camping (and may even live near you).

You can also try looking at websites like RetailMeNot and Groupon for any discounts offered during your trip dates they offer tons of deals every day so make sure not miss out!

Where to Find Camping Coupons to Save Money

RetailMeNotLook for camping coupon codes and deals to save money on gear and camping equipment.
GrouponGet discounts on camping trip packages, campsite rentals, and other outdoor activities and experiences.
REI Co-opLook for REI Co-op coupons and promo codes for discounts on camping gear purchases.
Camping WorldCamping World offers coupons and deals on camping gear, RV parts, and accessories, and even camping travel packages.
Outdoor Gear ExchangeThis outdoor retailer offers promo codes for camping gear and equipment, including discounted last-season items.

Plan A Car Camping Trip

You can plan a car camping trip in as little as one day or two. It can be done for free and with minimal planning, or it can be done with a small fee to reserve a spot at a campground. 

You could even rent an RV if you wanted to go big! People have been doing this since cars were invented, so there is no reason why it wouldn’t work for you too.

If you have never camped before, then this might not sound like an appealing option, but trust me when I say that anyone can do it even those who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes! The only thing required is that you fit into your vehicle and know how to drive (which isn’t hard). 

This method will allow for flexibility in regards to where we set up shop: We could stay at the beach one night and then go into the mountains on another night; maybe we’ll spend two nights on sandy grounds before heading inland towards pine trees and forest animals–the possibilities are endless!

Planning a camping trip can be overwhelming, especially with deciding when to go. Our article on the best time to plan your camping trip offers a season-by-season guide perfect for novice and expert campers alike.

Consider Used Gear

If you want to save money on your camping gear, consider buying used. Thrift stores are a great place to look for cheap camping gear that’s still in good condition. 

You can also check out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone is selling their old equipment at a bargain price.

If the item you’re looking for is durable and can be found in good condition, then used is definitely the way to go. It may take some time and effort on your part, but it’s worth it if you find yourself saving hundreds of dollars in the process!

Keep an eye out for lightweight items as well; these are less expensive than heavy ones because they don’t require as much material or labor to make them (which means more savings). 

Also keep an eye out for easy-to-carry items like backpacks with adjustable straps/straps that allow you carry more weight comfortably than other types might otherwise allow–this will help ensure that whatever piece(s) of gear end up being purchased will actually get used without causing discomfort during long days spent hiking through nature’s most beautiful places!

Where to Find Used Camping Gear

GearTradeBrowse used camping gear, from tents to sleeping bags, on GearTrade’s online marketplace.
REI Used GearCheck out REI’s used gear website for deals on gently-used camping equipment and accessories.
eBayLook for camping gear from sellers on eBay, including used and new products at discounted prices.
CraigslistSearch for camping gear on Craigslist in your local area. Be sure to inspect items in-person before making a purchase.
Facebook MarketplaceCheck Facebook Marketplace for deals on camping gear posted by local sellers. Always communicate using safe buying best practices.

Make Some Of Your Own Gear

If you are camping on a budget, there are ways to save money and make some of your own gear. You can sew a coffee filter into a pouch to hold your phone or camera. 

You can also use old t-shirts as makeshift pot holders and water filters for your water bottle. You can even find an old lamp at Goodwill and turn it into a new one by simply adding rope or twine around the base of the lampshade holder (you’ll need some electrical tape).

Camping doesn’t have to be roughing it! Check out our article on the surprising benefits of glamping to learn how you can elevate your camping experience in style without sacrificing comfort.

Bring Your Own Food, Including Water

Bring your own food, including water. Don’t rely on the campground to provide meals for you; it’s important that you bring enough food and water to last your trip, as well as a cooler to keep it cool. 

If you’re camping at a national park, check with them first to see if they allow outside food and drink some parks may require that every camper supplies their own food, while others will allow outside items but only in certain areas of the park.

Bring enough warm clothes. Even if it seems like a warm day at first, nighttime temperatures might drop significantly once the sun goes down. Make sure everyone has warm clothing (and jackets) packed away in case this happens!

Check Out Free Campsites

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have time to waste looking for free campsites, try this: in your local area, check out state parks and national parks. 

If you have a smartphone, download the app from your state’s department of natural resources (or whatever equivalent organization exists in your region) to see what public land is nearby. You’ll usually find some awesome hidden gems this way!

Safety is key when camping. Our guide on camping safety provides essential tips for a safe and fun trip, ensuring that you will have the best camping experience possible.

Search For Deals On Sites Like Groupon And Living Social.

There are some great deals to be had when you’re camping, but they won’t come to you by simply looking at the price tag of everything. 

In fact, the biggest discount opportunities might not even be in your home state! If you’re willing to travel a little bit further and get yourself away from the crowds, vendors can sometimes give up serious savings on gear.

Check out websites like Groupon and Living Social for camping gear discounts—deals are usually offered on a first-come basis so be sure to snatch them up quickly! 

You can also save money by checking out local newspapers for coupons or ads that offer free admission into campsites (or even discounts on food and drink). 

If any of your friends or family members have been raving about something cool at their favorite campground (like an awesome hiking trail), ask if there’s a way for both parties to save money without having one person pay full price while the other gets in free.

Where to Find Camping Deals Online

GrouponSave on camping gear, RV rentals, and other outdoor and travel experiences with Groupon’s deals.
LivingSocialLook for LivingSocial’s discounts on camping and glamping retreats, campsites, and travel packages.
HipcampFind camping deals on Hipcamp, a website that lists campsites, RV parks, and vacation rentals across the US.
MoosejawMoosejaw offers discounts and coupon codes on camping gear, clothing, and accessories, including clearance items.
The ClymbThe Clymb has deals on camping gear and equipment, often with discounts of up to 70% off retail prices.

Scope Out State And National Parks

Scope out state and national parks. State and national parks are usually cheaper than private campgrounds, offering free camping in some cases. For example, many state parks offer free camping for up to 14 days in a certain area (check with the park beforehand).

Some national parks also offer discounts on campsites and cabins for senior citizens, veterans, and groups.

Looking for the most scenic camping spots in the US? Our article on the most scenic camping spots in the US showcases breathtaking views and natural wonders that you won’t want to miss during your next camping trip.

Go During The Off-Season

One of the best ways to save money when camping is to go during the off-season. This usually means going in the fall or winter, but it can also mean going during other times of the year. One thing you should keep in mind: camping during peak season is usually more expensive. In addition to being crowded, there are other reasons why it’s expensive when everyone else goes.

The first reason is that many campgrounds require reservations (especially if they’re popular). This means that if you don’t have a reservation and show up after noon on Friday (or Thursday evening), chances are good that there won’t be any spots available for you. 

So instead of waiting on line at a crowded campground office all day Saturday while paying full price for a campsite, make sure you book ahead of time!

Camp At A Free Campsite On Public Land

Next up is free camping on public land. Although you won’t necessarily have a restroom or picnic table, free camping can be a wonderful experience for those who are looking for an adventure in the great outdoors and don’t mind roughing it a bit. 

Free campsites can be found throughout the country, but one of my favorite spots is in Northern California at Bass Lake Regional Park. It’s just off Highway 99 and only about an hour from Fresno, so it’s easy to get to!

There’s no charge to park your car there and camp overnight—you just need to stop by the park office first thing in the morning (before 9:00 am) so they can give you a permit that allows you to stay overnight in their undeveloped areas. 

They also have signs posted around their property telling people where they’re allowed to set up their tents and what facilities are nearby like restrooms etc., so take note before setting out on your trip!


We hope these tips and tricks will help you plan a camping trip on a budget. You don’t have to go far off the grid or overspend on gear. With some planning, research and creativity, you can have an amazing time with your friends or family without breaking the bank!

Further reading

Cool of the Wild: This comprehensive guide offers practical tips on how to save money while camping without sacrificing the experience.

Mom Goes Camping: Discover budget-friendly tips and tricks for a successful camping trip with this helpful article.

Beyond the Tent: Learn how to plan a camping trip while sticking to your budget with this informative guide.


What are some affordable camping meals?

Affordable camping meals can include pasta dishes, campfire chili, hot dogs, and s’mores for dessert. Plan your meals beforehand and pack non-perishable foods to save money.

Do I need to invest in expensive camping gear?

Not necessarily. While good quality gear does last longer, buying used gear or renting equipment can be a great way to save money. Additionally, some essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, and a camp stove can be purchased for a reasonable price.

What are some low-cost camping destinations?

National parks, state parks, and public lands can be great low-cost camping destinations. Some campsites offer camper vans and cabins for rent, which can also be a more affordable option than traditional camping.

How can I save on camping fees?

Consider camping during the week, as some campsites offer discounted rates for weekday stays. Also, look into memberships and discount programs, such as the National Parks Pass, that can save you money on camping fees.

What if I encounter unexpected expenses while camping?

Be prepared by budgeting for potential unexpected expenses, like an emergency evacuation or a car breakdown. Always bring extra food and water, and make sure you have a first aid kit and a backup plan in case of emergencies.