4 ways to save money on your next camping vacation
By Aimee Heckel
The sound of the crickets. The fresh mountain air. The $12,000 Titanic-shaped camping tent: The “Tentanic.”
Sort of defeats the purpose of a simple camping experience, don’t you think?
As basic as it is, planning a camping trip can be a surprising money hole. Between a $169 Kelty backpack, another $100 spent on lightweight titanium camping cookware and yet another hundo on hiking boots (and that would be if you got a seriously great deal), you can easily tally up a camping bill that costs more than $1,000.
Here are four money-saving tips for planning a camping vacation.
1. Cook on a campfire instead of using propane or a fancy camping stove. For example, the Optimus Crux Canister Stove sure looks cool, and it does have an undeniably intriguing name, but that’s $50 (fuel not included) that you don’t need to spend. Bring a few matches. Nature comes with free sticks included.
2. Don’t pack a pillow. First, it takes up valuable space in your pack. Second, it takes up valuable money in your wallet. The NEMO Equipment Inc. Fillo Pillow has memory foam and a soft exterior, but it also costs about $45. Roll up some clothes or fill a Ziploc baggie with air. If you want to go “glamping,” rent yourself an RV or just stay back at the Hilton. It’s not a true camping experience if you don’t wake up with at least one sharp kink in your neck.
3. Don’t fall for the outer space-looking, freeze-dried “camping food” in a pouch. Unless you are a soldier at war, surviving in a bomb shelter or going on an extended camping trip for several weeks or more where fresh food is not an option, just pack food. Real food. Like apples, carrots and berries. Trail mix is easy, too — buy it in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club, and buy it on sale. Pack beef jerky, nuts, Kind Bars and PB&Js for protein. Don’t overthink it.
4. Use solar-powered radios, flashlights, fans and lights (depending on what you need). No more wasted space and money on batteries. We suggest the Goal Zero Solo Flashlight, marked down to $8.93 at REI.com. Set it out in the sun during the day and it’ll provide several hours of use at night.
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Photo of solar-powered flashlight, courtesy of REI.com.