Bug spray, deodorant and coffee, these are my staples when it comes to staying the night in the great outdoors. Clearly I’m not much of a lumberjack-mountain man, but I’m cautiously optimistic about my camping trip this weekend. I think my daughter is going to have a great time and who doesn’t love a campfire?
But, just because I’m not much of a nature lover doesn’t mean I can’t put my money blog talents to work. With the pending trip, I’m wondering, just how much the average family spends on a camping trip and what frugal ideas can I come up with to save an extra dime?
I spent some time asking the Google Oracle “what does the average family spend on a camping trip.” I didn’t find my usual, well-rounded statistics, but I found some numbers and a possible estimation for you. According to USA Tourist, it costs on average $20-$30 per night for a “well-equipped” campsite and the average stay at a state park is 3-4 days. Using the figures $25 by 3.5 days we arrive at $87.5. If the average camping trip follows the percentages for the Bureau of Labor Statistics average vacation data, then the costs break down 44% for transportation, 23% housing, 23% food and 10% entertainment. That would put the average cost of a camping trip at $380.
While $380 is large savings compared to the average American vacation estimated at $1,415. There are things you can do to bring the cost down even lower:
Borrow Don’t Buy
New camping equipment can be expensive, which is why the industry made $412 million in sales. However, most people have some camping equipment, which means there are many opportunities for you to borrow. On our trip, we had no trouble finding friends with a tent and cooking equipment is being borrowed from my in-laws.
If You Buy, Go With Craigslist
Most people camp a couple of times a year, which means that used gear will be in good condition. So make use of Craigslist and find yourself a deal instead of paying full cost at a retail store.
Bring Your Own Supplies
Campground stores have large markups, don’t buy from them. Bring your own food and drinks, you’ll find that it will save you. Especially bring your own firewood, but make sure that it is certified and pre-package. Insect infestations have lead campgrounds to ban the use of non-commercially packaged firewood.
Stay at Campgrounds Where Entertainment is Included
Many campgrounds have trails, pools and recreation centers. Use these instead of leaving the campground for entertainment. The cheapest entertainment is whatever you’ve already paid for. Some campgrounds have concerts, square dances and adventure exhibits and activities. Shop around for a campground that has activities that fit your family’s interests.
My family is heading out to a place that has a shallow creek you can walk up for miles. My daughter is going to love it.
USA Tourist noted that the cost of camping usually decreases when there are less amenities offered. For example, electric hook ups or access to a shower. When you go with more basic amenities, you can cut the cost of a campsite to $5-$10 a night.
When the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed the average cost of a vacation, they found that most of the budget was spent getting there. This means that you can save a lot of money by staying somewhere local. You could also camp for free in your own back yard.
Camping is a great way to save on a vacation, but if you are looking to save money, you might as well take advantage of some of the tips above. Frugal is as frugal does.