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In these days of having to sometimes penny-pinch, everyone is looking for ways to save money. On the face of it, camping may seem to be a way of spending even more cash, but take a closer look. If you already have your camping equipment, great, but if you don’t, now is the time to invest.
Everyone’s cutting down, and the first thing people cut down on are leisure expenditures, so suppliers of leisure equipment are rolling out some great offers to get people spending.
All you really need for a short camping trip is a tent, sleeping bags, a cooler bag or box and a disposable/portable barbecue. Anything else is nice, but it’s a want, not a need.
Take old pans, crockery and cutlery from your home kitchen if you don’t have a camping set, or look in clearance stores for cheap, lightweight melamine ware.
Most people have outdoor folding chairs, but if you don’t, take along some large cushions for a little comfort when relaxing on the grass.
If you intend to camp regularly, it may be worth joining a camping club. It costs around $25 – $30 for a year’s membership for the family. For that, you’ll receive a monthly magazine with camping articles and tips, special offers on sites and camping equipment, and a rally program. Camping clubs have geographical sub sections, and you will be automatically placed in your local one, which means you won’t have far to travel to rallies.
Clubs usually negotiate much lower site fees for rallies of up to half the normal price, so two or three weekends away will soon recoup the membership costs.
The rally clubs organize social activities for the weekend, such as guided walks, games afternoons and quizzes, so there is plenty to do for the family, or you can just do your own thing. The Camping and Caravan Clubs cover all types of camper, whether you have a 2 man tent or the latest RV full of all the bells and whistles.
For your first camping adventure, choose a campsite fairly close to home. Just Google ‘Cheap campsites in (your area)’ and you’ll be presented with lots of options. Not only will you save money on traveling to the campsite, you won’t be using up valuable camping time to travel.
Sites with facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurants and clubs cost a bit more, so unless you have a large family to keep entertained, go for a site with basic facilities. All you really need are bathroom/shower amenities.
If you have a small charcoal barbecue, (Weber 10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill) take that with you, or invest in a disposable barbecue. Take along sausages, burgers and quick cook items like thin steaks or kebabs for barbecue night. Forget about fancy salads and side dishes – camping food should be quick and easy.
Prepare a one pot meal at home that you can heat up on the barbecue, and you have the two main meals for your camping weekend all sorted out. Breakfast can be cereal or bacon sandwiches, and take a selection of healthy snack foods and some homemade pies and quiches. This way, you’ll definitely save enough money on food.
There are plenty of free activities when you’re camping. Go for walks in the countryside, or spend the day on the beach. Take along bats and balls, tennis or football, and a pack of cards, board games and puzzle books for the evenings. Involve the children in chores such as erecting the tent, disposing of trash and fetching things. Draw up a list of things for them to collect. They will certainly not be bored, and the fresh air will ensure they sleep well.
Camping does not have to be more expensive than staying at home, and the bonus of spending quality time with your family in a healthy, stress-free environment is priceless.
What are you waiting for? Go and pack that car!