Road trips offer an affordable way to see more of the world, and car camping can help you save even more money on your next road trip. First and foremost, car camping allows you to skip out on the cost of a hotel. While many campgrounds charge a fee to stay the night, the fee pales in comparison to the cost of a decent hotel. Plus, you don’t even have to camp at a designated site with fees (and showers), instead, you can pave your own road and sleep in the unmanned territory.
“Car camping” means something a little different to everyone—to some, it literally means camping in your car, while others see it as sleeping in a tent right next to your car. Sleeping in your car might sound a little rugged but it’ll cost you $0. If you’ve got the room or an old van sitting around that could be retrofitted with beds, it’s worth considering.
If sleeping in your minivan with 3 kids, a dog and your partner sounds extreme, you can expand camp by setting up tents, tarps, etc. around your vehicle. Buying tents, sleeping bags, and other camping necessities adds up quick—and suddenly you’ve spent more on your outdoor camping adventure than you would have to reserve a 5-star hotel for a few nights. But, if you’re anything like us, you’ll have more fun camping than dining on fancy cuisine and sleeping within the confines of four bland walls. Still, we promised to help you save money on your car camping road trip…
How to Score Camping Gear for Less $
Don’t have camping gear or still need a few random items to complete your checklist? Shop around online and in-store to get a good idea what camping gear costs. Keep in mind, a family of 4 will do best in a tent that sleeps 6—you’ll thank us later. Additionally, a low-quality tent can cause more problems than anything else. Instead of buying the cheapest or smallest tent, invest in quality gear that’ll last many seasons.
While the cost of camping gear adds up, just remember you can use it again and again—unlike that $400 a night hotel down the street from your campsite. Do your research to ensure the gear you invest in can stand up to the elements, weather, etc. so that it remains a solid investment. If nice gear isn’t within your budget, start checking garage sells and asking friends via Facebook if they have gear they want to sell. Carefully check over used gear before purchasing it. Old gear covered in holes is not going to do you any favors.
Car Camping Helps You Eat for Cheap
Not only does car camping help you save money on accommodations, but it can also reduce your food bill. Load up your car and cooler with jerky, noodles, eggs, protein bars, drinking water and just about anything you can eat on the road or cook up on your campfire. If you run out of food, simply stop at the next grocery store you pass and load back up on supplies. Instead of spending $100 at one restaurant feeding a family of 4, you can buy enough groceries to last more than a day with that same amount of money.
Did Someone Say Cheap Gas?
Gas is easily one of the biggest expenses associated with a car camping road trip, but you can spend less on gas by downloading a helpful app. Apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru provide a list of gas station prices in your area, allowing you to pick the cheapest option.
Plan Your Car Camping Road Trip Accordingly
Planning is the best way to save money on the road. For instance, many national parks and other attractions offer free entry certain days of the week or month. Plan your road trip so you cross through certain locations at just the right time to score free entry. You can do this same thing for all activities, for instance, plan to drive through a city or town during a parade or other exciting event you can get in for free.
Carry It All with The Cargo Hitch Carrier
The Cargo Hitch Carrier is your best friend when it comes to car camping road trips. From food to outdoor equipment, this easily attachable carrier can haul up to 500 pounds of additional gear. Plus, it’s specially engineered to keep your gear clear from dirt and exhaust. That means you have more room in your car to sit back and relax, or maybe even catch a few ZZZ’s.