Frugal Camping Tips

Camping can be an inexpensive and fun way to travel and spend time with family and friends. Here are some ways to minimize the costs and make it more enjoyable for all. This is a guide about frugal camping tips.
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May 22, 2012 Flag
18 found this helpful

I discovered this by chance last year while packing for camping. I took my 2 outdoor solar lights to use in my tent. These have a flat bottom because they hang from small shepard hooks. I put them outside the tent door in sunlight to recharge during the day and brought them inside at night. Worked great and were fireproof.

By Tootic from Plainville, CT

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June 6, 20140 found this helpful

Hi. First of all, that is a great idea! And winning the $$ is not a scam, in fact, I have won three contests! The first two were cash awards, the third was an Amazon gift card, which is what they give now. Don't worry, you will receive it. Thanks again for the great tip!

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June 7, 20140 found this helpful

Super great idea, Kerly! Also probably a good source of light on Earth Day when we unplug for a few hours. Actually this whole post re Solar Lights for Camping has got me thinking for winter uses or cutting electricity costs down using them in the Media room in lieu of having over-head lights or lamps on. Hmm, maybe children's bedroom 'nite-lights': creating Christmas eye-dazzler arrangements which we nowadays have on 4 hour timers ( that's not long enough and batteries just don't last as long as they used to... went through over 100$ of them last Xmas!).

There must be a plethora of ideas for all seasons. Plus I've seen Solar Lights in Dollar Stores here in Canada. Yet as Kerly said...watch for the frosted rims. But even if you do make a mistake you haven't paid Big Box Store prices for them. (Um...wonder if there is a way to seasonally paint them?) Wow! Thanks for this post! It's a real winner in my opinion. It certainly has me thinking overtime now. Love it! Bravo! Any further comments would be appreciated. After all... many heads, many talents and many workable ideas! (NB: My vote goes to 'Solar Lights for Camping" as the original winner!

Anything thing after that is just sharing and mind-fodder-feed. But you never know. Another concept or application may come up a winner too!) Thanks all!

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October 11, 2011 Flag
15 found this helpful

If you are a camper, you have probably at one time or another experienced having a very dark campsite. I have a simple and inexpensive solution for you. Pack one of the solar yard lights to take with you camping.

You can purchase them for less than $4 and they give just enough light to make your campsite safe and easy to walk around after dark. If you have tent stakes and you are concerned about your family tripping over the tent ropes after dark, the solar lights are very safe to use as there are no electrical wires or extension cords to deal with.

Solar lights are weatherproof and using a couple around your campsite usually are not too invasive to your camping neighbors. They are very handy if you have small children who have to be taken to the restroom during the night in the campground. The solar lights give just enough light to take away the scare of coming and going from the campsite.

By Marsha from Greenville, NC

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October 11, 20110 found this helpful

That is a good idea! They now make them small and easy to take. I wish they had these when my kids were little. We went camping a lot. It would have made life just a little easier for all.

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October 11, 20110 found this helpful

Good idea!

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January 3, 2012 Flag
8 found this helpful

When my son was younger, I was the Cubmaster for his pack. Most of the scouts had single moms. The whole family goes camping in Cubscouts, but money was an issue.

When we didn't have money, the boys slept in my backyard in the tents. For breakfast, they cooked for their family on stove inside, usually pancakes for a $1. The older scouts helped younger ones (6 years and up) to cook. They watched not to burn it, since this was mom's breakfast and their siblings would tease them if it burnt, especially sisters.

At the State Parks, you can stay for a dollar a night in primitive. Other campgrounds, such as K.O.A., charged $5 a night per scout. Some campgrounds offered free camping when scouts helped clean up the campground. Scouts collected and sold cans for camping fee money or odd jobs.

Each scout made a cup when starting Scouts, which was brought everywhere with them as their official cup. Each scout had a mesh dish bag (made from mesh fruit bag with drawstring on top) in which stored his mess kit or made their own, consisting of fork, spoon, knife, dish, pan, and pot. Each scout washed his dishes or didn't have clean ones to use at next meal. Bathroom and dishtowels were used instead of paper napkins, washing and line drying them. Sand was used to clean up the burnt pots. I saved old foam meat containers that I washed in the dishwasher to use as paper plates for the moms.

For drinks, we had Sun tea and Kool-aid. The Dutch oven was used for the big oven. The scouts made solar ovens by covering pizza boxes with aluminum foil or by folding a silver sun visor into an oven. The visors could also be used as a mat to sleep and sit on. Metal coffee cans were used as Hobo stoves. We would burn wood collected on garbage night for firewood. Metal knife and flint were used to start fire.

For sleeping, we lined the bottom of tent with newspaper if cold, and a pillow made by stuffing clothes in a pillowcase. We used sleeping bags or quilts to stay warm in winter and slept on mats in summer.

I am proud of all my little men and they still talk about those cheep fun camping trips their Cubmaster took them on.

By Southernbelleklb from Jefferson, LA

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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January 3, 20120 found this helpful

This all sounds like so much fun!

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July 18, 2012 Flag

If you are camping and going to be hiking or even just traveling, these will come in handy. Place a straw over the opening of the ointment and squeeze a small amount of it, about one quarter of an inch.

Single use salve made from straws

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March 27, 2014 Flag

If you need to keep milk or cheese cool when camping or picnicking, wrap them in wet cloths and place in a bucket. As the water evaporates, it keeps the food cool. Remember to dampen cloths again when they dry out.

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March 10, 2014 Flag
9 found this helpful

When you are camping where there are no shower facilities, try this. Spray paint gallon milk jugs flat black. Set it in the sun and, wah lah, shower water.

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February 22, 2008 Flag
Debra Frick0 found this helpful

I look forward to camping each year. Although I now camp in a Pop-up camper, when my children were little, my husband and I would take them Tent camping. Cooking over a campfire can be one of the most challenging things you will ever do. I almost always knocked one meal or the other in the fire. (My husband was always better at this than I was) Good thing I always had things wrapped in tinfoil so they were easy to get out of the coals. So first off the bat are some cooking tips and then here are a few of the tips, my husband and I came up with that just might help make your next trip easier.

Cooking Tips

Tent and Gear Tips

Miscellaneous Tips

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August 12, 20080 found this helpful

Freeze gallon water jugs to use in the cooler to keep things cold, then have drinking water as it thaws. (We sail, and have 7 gallons on board fresh water for 3 days, so any extra is welcome) K-mart and some others have box containers (in the cookware aisle) with watertight snap lids that smaller all fit into the larger - really great for keeping in it all together, but they stack really well into coolers. I have stashed 3 days of meals into the 9 containers that fit inside the larger for 2 of us. Break it down to LUNCH BREAKFAST DINNER so no one grabs the wrong thing - one container out for each meal. less reaches into the cooler.

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March 25, 20120 found this helpful

Space is a premium for us on camping trips so we try to carry only one cooler. We save juice jugs, like for cranberry juice, and freeze water in them. They are more flexible for use in the cooler than milk jugs, as they can be laid on their side.

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July 4, 2007 Flag

If you're like me, you're going camping/hiking with friends/family this summer (or wishing that you'd be able to). Here's a few tips for your summer car-camping and backpacking trips:

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June 12, 2007 Flag
1 found this helpful

Build a good fire at night, it keeps the bugs away. Take all the ingredients for s'mores, a must have for camping. And don't forget the marshmallow sticks.

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June 4, 2008 Flag
1 found this helpful

When I go backpacking and don't have one of those tiny travel tubes of toothpaste, I'll make my own so I don't have to cart the large tube of toothpaste with me.

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August 5, 2013 Flag
2 found this helpful

I save cereal boxes and use them to stand on after showering to get dry and dressed. Shower stalls are usually full of dirt off people shoes so I open boxes up where they are glued and keep a stack of them in the camper.

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February 9, 2012 Flag
3 found this helpful

We go camping in our travel trailer almost every weekend during the summer at a place where it is parked in a remote area with no water hook-ups.

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October 10, 2005 Flag
2 found this helpful

Make a camp washing machine with a five gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. The plunger does a good job of agitating the water.

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June 30, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

A lot of these tips are for tent camping. They are inspired by some hints from an old Boy Scout site.

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August 12, 2011 Flag
2 found this helpful

Use a blow up air raft, the kind used to float in a pool, as a bed when camping. The air raft carries flat and, when folded, it makes a small package. It is lightweight and it can be used as a float near the campsite if you are camping near water.

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June 28, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

I would love to hear other people's camping hints. Here are some of mine:

Hope these suggestions help others and maybe someone has thought up some more.

Have fun camping!

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May 24, 20090 found this helpful

The one item that I find makes our camping trips more enjoyable that I wouldn't have thought of unless someone suggested it to me is a doormat. I put a large doormat outside our tent to reduce the grit and dirt that gets tracked in. Seems pretty obvious, but I took our first couple of trips before someone suggested it to us. Much better now.

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March 8, 20100 found this helpful

Pack your food in clear totes, one for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner. Most of the time keeps you from having to dig in all to find what you need.

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March 8, 20100 found this helpful

When you plan to go camping, be sure you take the entire meal for the first night already cooked and prepackaged in foil packets, double-wrapped. It takes a lot of time just setting up camp, and if you have your meal already cooked and ready to warm up on the grill, you can devote all your time to the setting up and placement of the things you'll be using the next morning getting breakfast.

Bake a roast of beef or maybe a couple of chickens with carrots, celery, potatoes and onions, and when it's done, make individual packets of double-wrapped foil with some of everything already cut into bite-sized pieces. Keep them on ice, and when you're ready to eat, place them on the top rack of the grill, and allow them to warm, then fold back the foil and set it on a pie tin and supper is ready. Easy supper and easy clean-up as well. Many times, I'd butter an entire loaf of bread...and many times, it was eaten before we retired for the night. Camping makes everyone hungry, I think.

Plain pound cake is a staple of our camping expeditions. It's good with almost any kind of canned fruit, and will make a good breakfast snack any morning while you're waiting for eggs and grits to cook. If you like raisins, make the pound cake in loaf pans, adding raisins for a nice quick breakfast bread. Easy enough to slice and warm on foil too.

Someone else mentioned using fleece throws for bedding, and I second that and add that they are about the best thing we've found for wrapping around you when you come out of swimming as well. They dry much faster than towels do and are warmer, and they keep you from getting chilled.

Just one little safety tip I'd like to offer and that is to do a good survey of your campsite for anything like broken glass or things stuck into the ground which might trip you in the dark. Experience has been a great teacher.

This is also a safety tip, but actually, I used it to protect my sanity more than anything. I bought tank caps in white and painted a big Red X (using bright red nail polish) on the top of each of my 3 daughters' swimming caps. Anytime I couldn't count three caps, I stopped what I was doing right then until I knew they were safe.

Be sure to take along some card and board games for the rainy days which are sure to come if you're ever camping.

Instead of soda pop, I'd take cases of the small bottles of water, and a large canister of Crystal Lite Lemonade. The kids get a lot less sugar, and drink more water which is really what we want them to do anyway. You can even open a bottle of that water, save a bit of it, and add good dry milk to the bottle, shake it really well, and you have milk for their cereal and for drinking. If they insist on Chocolate milk, add some Nestle's Quick, and it comes in strawberry as well. There are few things as much fun as camping if you are prepared to do some resting along with the fun.

Instead of paper plates, I bought a dozen of the less expensive aluminum pie tins, and we ate from those same pans for years. Nothing tastes as good as hot baked beans eaten from a metal pan with a spoon while sitting around a fire. Kids love to "play" cowboys for most of their lives, believe it or not, and most men enjoy things which are simple too.

Save and take with you as many of the old wire clothes hangers as you can get. I can't tell you how many good uses you'll find for them. You can bend them into loops to hang from tree branches to hold towels, or grocery bags of food, or dirty clothes. They make great "clothes lines" for drying clothes too.

When we go camping, even the grandchildren love to pretend we are pioneers, and we all try to do as many things as we can without a lot of fuss or griping. The "Little House On the Prairie" books have been our source of pioneer information, and they are wonderful.

Our children are all grown now and the grandchildren are quickly getting there, but camping has always been the most pleasurable family experiences we've shared and have provided all of us with the happiest memories.

Go camping. Be safe and make sweet memories.

Julia in Boca Raton, FL

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