Friday, July 2, 2010

Camping on the cheap

Camping is pretty cheap if your single or have no kids. But when you start having children, you need more items. We out grew out last tent and needed to buy one that would fit all 6 of us. Luckily I found this one at Costco for only $150. What a great deal!  This tent was pretty easy to set up and fit all 6 of us very comfortable.  We used the screened area for putting our bags and chairs in when we went on day hikes.  Plus this tent is made by Coleman which means it will last for a long time. We also invested in a $100 heater buddy because we were in for some cold nights.
Since we were camping for 4 days, we needed way more things than we usually would. I wanted to make our own food and use no disposables in the process. Here is what we ended up borrowing from neighbors and friends.

Stove/cast iron pan/kettle-Thanks Kim!
Plates/bowls/cast iron griddle/bowl-Thanks Christy and Nat!
Portable cooler/carrier-Thanks Julie!
Sleeping bags with pads-Again Thanks Christy and Nat!
Dog watcher-Thanks Jessica for feeding Riley!

I packed my own all natural soap to wash our dishes not knowing exactly how. Luckily our campground had a dish washing station. Only cold water but hey its better than nothing. Also was able to fill our water jug with cold water from there.

Napkins were our home fabric napkins we use everyday.

Knives/utensils-A friend of mine (thanks Rox!) gave me a set a few years ago and I stashed them away just for this type of occasion.  Knives were from my own kitchen set.

Salt/Pepper-Used my own set. Tupperware makes amazing sets with lids. love it!

First Aid Kit-brought from home. Band Aids, head ache medicines, vitamins, and chewable vitamin C all put into a plastic storage bin usually used for my kids toys. Also lots of allergy medication because all but my husband suffer from allergies.

All personal care such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant and things like that were just taken from our bathrooms and put into a large ziplock bag  that I have been reusing for about a year now. I will reuse it till it falls apart. Why? Just ask Beth from fakeplasticfish. It was unlikely that we would find Eco friendly products in the park so I just packed what we had. We wanted to stay close to nature as much as possible to lessen our impact there.

Clothing was limited due to space. Since we were planning on a 10 day trip, we packed for half that. Each item(except undies/socks) was worn 2 times. One pair of pj's for the whole trip. This cut our baggage down a lot. One sweatshirt, one jacket, flip flops and one pair of tennies (as my mother would call them).  If it was hot we rolled our jeans to make Capri's.

Entertainment was also things from home. Our choice was Yatzee, cards, outdoor backpack full of things like horse shoe's etc, coloring books with crayons, spiral notebooks with pencils, ipod's fully stocked with music, Leapsters, and each child brought a few toys of their choice. In the end we had 1 reusable bag full of my older girls stuff, and one full of the twins stuff. We also packed our Wii because my husband installed a tv screen in our Eurovan  before our last vacation 2 yrs ago to Disneyland. I know, when I was a kid we were lucky to have a coloring book let alone a Wii. Spoiled!

Camping chairs we had because we use them at our daughters soccer games each weekend. Our twins have a double child size one that a friend gave us a few years ago. Dog has eaten a few corners but still works. lol.  We did purchase 2 chairs for this trip for our older girls.

Camping sites vary in price. Do your research and plan 6 months ahead. Our campsite was only $20 a night. Had we had a hotel/cabin stay in Yellowstone it would of cost well over $200 a night.

Driving can save you some cash as well.  We drove about 3,000 miles and was able to cut down on gas a few ways. Take it easy going up hill. Speed limit was 75 most the way but we only went 65 or 60 over the hills.  Take advantage of head winds.  Fill up more often, your motor works better with a full gas tank.  Chillax (those who are old that means chill and relax)behind semi trucks. They can save you a bunch of gas by blocking the wind for you. lol I said blocking the wind! ...sorry just cant help myself.

Don't eat out. Yes it may be fun, but its expensive and will eat up your budget. We only ate out 3 times in 8 days. I packed almost everything I could so we could save on our food budget. We might of spent $30 a day for the whole family of 6 to eat. We would easily spend $50 for one meal if we went out to eat.

Don't give in to knick knack shops. Instead take lots of pictures, take them home and order large prints through your favorite frugal place. One amazing picture is way better than any silly plastic water globe with "Yellowstone" written on it.  Our girls were given the change to pick one thing they wanted. 1 pen on a necklace, 2 binoculars, and our middle daughter of course picked the silly plastic water globe. Hey, she is 9 what do you expect?

So if your planning a vacation, start planning it 6 months in advance. Spread the word of what your in need for and barter when you can. For example our neighbor Jessica watched/fed our cat and dog while we were gone. In return we will help them when they need it. Currently i'm watching my neighbor's dog for them and they will do something for us at a different time. Doggy daycare is way too expensive so this saved us a ton of money. Just remember to give as much as you receive. And remember to have fun!

1 comment:

Gadget said...

Sounds like a win-win on the trip :)

We did an overnight for Memorial Weekend. I haven't been camping (" a tent") in almost 20 years so outside of truck, sleeping bag and ice chest. I've got nothing.

Or so I thought....

I knew someone from our Relay for Life team that had a tent (we borrowed it for the trip, then kept it till relay and were responsible for setting it up so she didn't have to) and I packed leftovers from my birthday barbeque the night before. My camping buddy had chairs.

Sorting through my reusables and work gear, I found my bag-o-bandaids (and stuff for insect bites, as I get eaten up like I was sugar or something) and had my own version of to-go-ware.

Entertainment came in the form of burning marshmellows, making our own family-friendly versions of the "Real men of genius" commercials, and talking... a lot.