Guide to Frugal Camping

Each year our family looks forward to some sort of vacation, whether its an overnight trip to a far-away water park or amusement park or even a weekend getaway. However, like many families, with the soaring gas prices and the overall rise in the cost of living this past year, our family is looking for some vacation fun closer to home.

Our favorite and least expensive vacation is camping. Depending on your state and area you should be able to find a decent county park, state park or national forest near you for less than $12 per night.

This past year we discovered a gorgeous County park that runs alongside a beautiful winding river that allows for free camping for up to 14 days at a time.

In almost all cases, campsites at State and National parks offer picnic tables, fire pits, charcoal grills and plenty of recreational trails for bike riding, hiking and more.

The Basics

Initially, you’ll need to come up with a few basics to get started. We recommend checking yard sales, garage sales, and rummage sales for items such as tents, sleeping bags, etc.

Also, if you’re willing to make an investment, you can often purchase large 8-12 person tent sets complete with folding chairs, sleeping bags, flashlights, and a propane grill for about $125. on Amazon. We found several such family deals last season.

You might find that it’s worth a couple of dollars to purchase an inflatable raft (such as those in the pool section of a department store for about $4 each) to use as a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag. If you plan on doing a lot of camping, it’s worth it to invest in a self-inflating waterproof mattress pad.

If you don’t already have a camping cooler, you will need to invest in one to prevent food from spoiling.

Other items that are handy to have are cups, silverware, plates, a pan that you can set directly into a fire, and tin foil. Most of these items you probably already have available in your kitchen cupboards. Of course, you could always go with paper plates too.

A medium size Rubbermaid storage container works wonders for holding all your “camp Kitchen” items while keeping out nosey critters looking for snacks.

One thing that our family loves about camping is all the great, easy, inexpensive recipes that go along with it. The kids look forward to shoving chunks of veggies and hot dogs, etc on sticks to roast in the fire, hobo dinners, campfire potatoes and more.


Be sure to bring a camera, you might be surprised at the amazing photo opportunities that come your way.


Once the initial purchase for basics has been made, your family can camp over and over again for just a few dollars.



Things to Do:

Generally speaking there is usually a wide variety of things to do for fun as most parks offer marked hiking trails, have access to water for fishing, swimming or seeking out small critters (frogs, crayfish). Oftentimes they also offer playgrounds with swingsets, or an area to play ball, frisbee or badminton.


Other Help & Cheap Tips-n-Tricks



We’d love to hear your camping tips below!


  1. thanks for the ideas, and omg i love the photos in your album! i can’t believe some of those shots- especially the 2 headed turtle?! :meatballs:

  2. this is something my husband and i were doing even in our dating years. we have a cabin in our area where we go. it’s about a half hour drive out of town and then an hour’s hike into the woods.

    great location, and great view. can’t wait to take our little ones out there!

    • This is something my husband and I were doing even in our dating years. We have a cabin in our area where we go. It’s about a half hour drive out of town and then an hour’s hike into the woods. Great location, and great view. Can’t wait to take our little ones out there!

      Hi Sunshine! I think that’s the most fun- taking the kids and seeing their reactions to something that you really love to do, having a chance to hike and walk through the woods and watching all the birds and critters with them.

  3. we take the family camping every year. it’s great to see the next generation enjoying what i’ve done over the years. now we also own a cabin so snow trips in the winter make great memories too.

    sledding is so fun, then coming in to hot cocoa and some cookies. ummmm

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