10 Cheap Camping Ideas – Tips for an Inexpensive Camping Trip

Disclosure Affiliate10 Cheap Camping Ideas - Tips for an Inexpensive Camping Trip

If you ask me prices today are way too high for family vacations. Hi, I am Kelly from BeyondtheTent.com. My family and I love to camp and with 5 kids it?s the only real option for a family vacation. With a little amount of money you can make memories with your children that will last a lifetime.

Here is how we have been able to save money and still have a great time camping together.

10 Cheap Camping Ideas – Tips for an Inexpensive Camping Trip

1. Garage Sale Shopping

Every year I go around stopping at homes with their yard lined with items they no longer want or need. Garage sales are the best place to find camping dishes and pots and pans for your camping kitchen. Garage sales are also the place to go to stock up on travel games or board games. One of our favorite games is Catan. The whole family sits down with campfire popcorn to play a round or two.

2. Clearance Shopping

My number one stop for just about anything are the end caps of Target! Crazy deals can be found there. I become buddies with an employee one day as she was marking items down from 30% off to 50%. She told me every Thursday her job is to go around remarking the clearance end caps. She informed me every Target is different, but my advice to you is to ask your local Target manager if there is a special day they mark their products for clearance. I would say Target clearance would be one of my top places to search for a great new tent. That is where we got our 2 room with a screen porch for our family.

3. Tell Friends and Family

We are currently in the process of getting a traveling trailer. I am working on making a list of the supplies I will need to get to stock our new 30 foot beast. I could really use a set of dishes to keep in the camper. With a very snow filled April I haven’t seen one single garage sale! I have put the word out there among my friends and family to keep their eyes open for camping gear. Just the other day a Mom told me she had a bunch of kid friendly dishes she no longer is in need of and she plans on passing down my way. This is a win win for everyone, like they say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

4. Online Shopping

I never have been a huge fan of online shopping because I am the type that wants to handle an item before buying it and I really like to bring home whatever it is I just paid for right away. However, I have started enjoying the fact that I can shop online and don’t have to have any little people tagging along behind me or too far in front of me! Amazon.com is always the cheapest site to purchase anything you can wait to get your hands on.

 5. Craigslist Shopping

Buyer beware central 🙂 There are things on Craigslist you must be aware of before buying from a private party. I would be fine with buying camping chairs off Craigslist, but not sleeping bags. A camping stove could be more than half price on Craigslist!

6. Campground Deals

A lot of campgrounds will have coupons on their websites. They also sometimes will post deals for staying more than 2 nights at their campground. I have found that if you plan your trip out early enough you can sometimes get an early bird price.

7. Group Camping

Split up the total cost of camping with a group of friends. Not only will this save you money, but it can be a ton of fun!!

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8. Food Storage

Buying a big block of ice is cheaper than the bags of small ice cubes you find in nearly every grocery store. Plus, the bigger ice blocks will last longer. You can find lots more handing camping tools in the widget just above this paragraph.

9. Location

When it comes down to it you truly don’t need to waste a bunch of money on gas. Camp someplace near home. The kiddos will love the time you’ve invested in playing with them. They don?t care if you are camping here or there.

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10. Meal Planning

You can prepare ahead of time some fun cheap snacks or meals for the family. I make a roast beef spread we have named “Vacation Meat”. It looks gross, but it sure is tasty! Have a simple lunch of PB & J with chips and for dinner campfire hot dogs with a side of baked beans. The nice thing about camping food is no one expects a gourmet meal.

I hope you get a chance to camp this summer with your family. Please come check out our travels over at www.BeyondtheTent.com. Thanks to Chrysa for letting us hang out with you today. Kelly


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About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of ThriftyJinxy.com, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 9-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1. I’m not a camper, but now you know I have to go look up that Catan game. I should think meal planning ahead of time would be crucial for camping. Smart tip!

  2. These are great tips! We have haven’t been camping in years so I’ll have to keep this in mind!

  3. These are great tips to keep in mind! We love to camp and actually have a membership to a group where we can use a variety of campgrounds. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Great tips! We love to camp too!

  5. I love Camping. I have some great deals at Target too, but never thought about asking what day they do their mark downs.

  6. I am so anxious to take my little one camping I will have to keep my eye out at all the yard sales around me for one!

  7. How about sharing your roast beef spread! Years ago when we were camping, my dad found a DYI cookbox. It contained/corralled all of the cooking gear. Dishes, flatwear, dishpans for cleaning and we had the all -in-one cookkit which had plates, skillets, bowls, in one large cookpot. But we were also involved in Boy & Girl Scouts. We got used beer boxes from a local brewery [back in the day when a case of beer came in a reusable container] painted them, and used family initials to ID users.. had one for rain gear, emergency gear, etc.

  8. Love these camping tips! Thanks so much for joining us at LWSL this week for Thrifty Thursday!

  9. as for block ICE save milk jugs and rinse and refill 2/3 let freeze , Ice for cooler plus the helps keep the freezer from running as hard the fuller it is of frozen things

  10. I recycle my milk gallon jugs for blocks of ice. I just fill it half full and put it in the deep freeze a few days before heading out. I cut off the top with a box opener to have a larger opening. Don’t pay for frozen water!

    • whoops – didn’t see Sean’s comment above – sorry

    • I use galloon milk jugs and half gallon jugs too but I don’t cut the tops off ice melts we use it for drinking water, make coffee or clean dishes.

  11. tentspro says:

    We really need ice to protect uncooked foods from virus and bacteria attacked. And all foods should pack in air tied packs which are also so cheap on the market. Great information explained to get things at cheap price.

  12. I didn’t know campsites had coupons on their sites. Great tip, thanks for sharing!


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