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Money Matters Blog

Monday, June 16, 2014

Camping 101: Where to Go and How to Save

Besides being a unique experience, camping is a great way to save money while traveling. I have to admit that I wasn’t always an avid camper. But while trying to find ways to save money on lodging, I discovered how helpful camping really is.

Where to go

Before you start looking for a place to camp, determine what you’re looking for. What type of activities would you like to do? Do you want a secure campground?

The U.S. National Park Park website lets you check out state parks that allow camping by state. This is where you’ll see only public camping grounds since they are owned by the government.

The Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (GORP) is a perfect site if you have specific activities in mind for your camping trip. Whether you want to fish, bike, surf, or backpack, GORP will find a camping site right for you. This search generates both public and private camping grounds.

Go Camping America lets you search by the type of site you’d like, such as a tent or if you’ll need an electricity hook-up. You can also look by the amenities available like pets welcome, internet access, and a laundry facility on site. Each park lists the surrounding tourist attractions to make trip planning a breeze.

Read reviews of campgrounds, and ask friends for their recommendations. Be aware of any issues associated with that particular location such as wildlife, plants, or insects you should be prepared for.

Save while camping

Don’t overspend on supplies.
Camping supplies can be expensive. If you’re going to be camping often, it is a good idea to invest in good quality supplies and gear to keep you safe and comfortable. If you’re just starting, however, use items you already have or borrow from friends or family. Check out eBay and Amazon for used items.

Watch for sales.
If you are purchasing new items, keep an eye out for sales and coupons at stores that sell camping equipment.

Camp somewhere close.
If location doesn’t matter and you’re just looking to camp, go somewhere close. You’ll save on gas, tolls, and any car wear and tear.

Ask for a discount.
If you’re planning on staying more than one night, ask if they can give a discount. Campgrounds also may offer discounts if you’re a resident of that state, veterans, and students so don’t forget to ask and bring along your ID or membership cards.

Sign up for rewards or become loyalty members.
Private campgrounds offer reward memberships if you’re planning on camping frequently. For example, KOA Campground offers a reward card that gives 10% off every time you camp plus points towards additional savings.

Double check your checklist.
Having the proper gear and food will help you avoid spending money while on the trip.

Camp during good weather.
Camping during ideal weather is a lot easier said then done since it’s unpredictable. But while watching the weather forecast and choosing the best time of year, you can save. Avoiding rainy season helps you save by not stocking up on rain gear. If you camp during colder weather, you’ll need a more durable tent and more supplies to keep warm.

Photo by Arup Malakar via cc.

By Kristen Kuchar Copyright 2014 brass Media, Inc.

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