Camping on a Budget
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  1. #1
    Registered User latierra84's Avatar
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    Default Camping on a Budget

    This will be our first time camping. Any tips would be very much appreciated.

    Target had a few different tents on sale but I didn't buy anything because I wanted to look around online first. I visited a few "beginners" camping websites and they listed "must have" things such as propane tanks and various special cookware. I'm not looking to become a camping pro, I just want to know what to take with me so that I don't get out there and realize I didn't think about toilet paper or something

    BTW, we're taking my kid sister so.. I'm assuming things to keep her entertained are a good idea. Playing cards, marshmallows, a camera...

    We're only planning on staying a single night. TIA!

    I found a neat looking place in Oklahoma not too far away. Its only $3.50 per person since its "off season" right now. Not too shabby! and I'm hoping we get some great memories out of it

  2. #2

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    Thumbs up Camping on a Budget

    Hi----We camped in various tents, pop-ups, & a travel trailer thru most of our married life. We camped with kids, with teenagers, with a baby, later with G.kids, & by ourselves or with friends. IMHO, there is no better way to have fun, connect closely with family, see nature & other points of interest, & I really loved every bit of it.

    You can start small. Obviously , you will need a tent or something to sleep in, sleeping bags or bedrolls, air mattresses if you want more comfort, rain gear---can be simple cheap ponchos for just-in-case & cooking gear. You don't need a fancy cook set. Often, we used less decent stuff from the kitchen, especially when starting out. We bought some pans & utensils at yard sales & kept them for camping. Paper plates & cups are a good thing at camp. You will need a dishpan or SOS pads to clean your pots & pans, & dish soap. A plastic tablecloth. Dishcloth. Small amt. of condiments like salt & pepper, ketchup, etc.

    You should have a lantern such as propane & flashlights for everyone. It is not fun to walk at night to use the bathroom when you don't have a flashlight. Sweaters or jackets, appropriate to your seaon & area. Remember, it can chill down some at night.

    Games, playing cards, marshmallows to roast, as you suggested, paper & pencils, maybe a Frisbee or a ball or a jump rope.

    Don't forget your sense of humor on this & subsequent trips. Some of less perfect trips became fodder for many years of retelling & laughing until the tears rolled down our cheeks ! A camping friend of ours keeps a camping journal.

    It is nice to have a tarpaulin or a dining "fly" to eat under, especially if raindrops keep falling on your head. Some go up with poles & some can be tied to handy nearby trees.

    Secondhand gear is often a good way to acquire things----most campers take care of their equipment.

    You can buy long handled aluminum forks, 4 to a set, to toast marshmallows & hot dogs. We read, early on, that a good pair of long handled tongs to use when having a campfire, to shift around logs, etc., will pay their way. We had ours for 40 some years & actually I still can't part with them.

    Matches. Toiletries & whatever non-fancy clothes you will want. Soap.
    A bucket or two. A cooler & a water jug like Coleman makes are handy.

    Camping can be the thrill of your life. Go for it.-----Blessings, katkat
    P.S.---A first -aid kit that you put together, & mosquito repellant, also good for ticks. Real necessities.

  3. #3

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    your only camping for one night? your first time? I would send out signals to friends that you need a tent and borrow one. You dont need fancy sleeping bags, check out what the weather is gonna be... we use blankets. The one thing that I really like, is a blow up mattress... the ground is HARD.

    What are the emenities at the camp site? does it have a grill? a camp fire pit? If not, perhaps you want to bring along a tiny charcoal grill for food. They are usually under 10.00 and a good investment, can take them to the beach, to tailgating parties..... For one night, dont buy any camping gear... cook hotdogs and a can of bean on the fire. The only purchase would be the cooking forks that one would use to roast marshmellows and hot dogs with. In the olden days, we used to use wire hangers straightened out... but, with metal hangers and not knowing exactly whats in them... I would now opt out.

    My list would be:

    tent
    bedding with that air mattress
    grill, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches (lighters)
    grilling forks
    paper plates and cups, plastic utinsils
    cooler ICE
    pop, juice, bottled water
    hotdogs, buns (brats)
    beans
    potato chips
    snack foods... lots of snack foods, like chips, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, crackers cookies.....
    marshmellows, chocolate bars and grahm crackers for smores.
    flashlight and batteries.
    radio
    entertainment things, cards, travel games, book.....
    one extra set clothes... and yes, sweater or coat.


    now, my kids love to camp at a ground with a lake or pool to swim in... so swimsuit would be a must.

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    Our first time camping we borrowed the gear, we didn't invest in anything until we found out if we liked it or not. Once we knew we liked it, we found the best prices at WalMart. Try ebay for good deals too. The bare minimum we need when we camp is:

    Tent
    Sleeping bags
    Blow up air mattress
    Ice Chest
    Lighter
    pan/pot
    Washing tub/dish soap
    Jug of water
    Food
    flashlight/lantern
    camping table (found on sale at WalMart for $15.00)
    lawn chairs
    extra shoes
    Bug Spray

    That's the minimum for us, we always bring extras like marshmallow forks for roasting, cards, games, a laundry line.

    A little tip about washing up the dishes....slightly spritz some dish cloths with water, drop a few drops of dish detergent into the middle, then let set on the counter to dry. Once they're dry, fold them up, put them in a baggie, and when you're ready to use them, just get them wet and you should have enough suds to clean up a round of dishes.

    ~Dawn

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    Registered User StaceyS's Avatar
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    Definately borrow a tent!
    I absolutely LOVE camping. We've been going since I was about 5. I've camped in tents, trailers, motorhomes, and now DBF has a tent trailer. It's real nice because it's not too big, but you don't have to sleep on the ground.
    The ONLY time I've ever played UNO was camping. So much fun! My sisters and I would play Yahtzee until all hours as well (parents kicked us out of the motorhome and into a tent once we reached our teens!)
    Have fun!

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    I agree with the others... borrow a tent. You may not like and not want to go again.

    Dinner idea: I love eating fish while camping... its very woodsy... hahahah... anyway, before you go grab a couple piece of tin foil place a piece of fish in each one add some onions- peppers- salt/pepper... whatever you like.... add a dab of butter and wrap it up... when you get there start your fire and just throw it in!! Makes a great "campy" dinner.

  8. #7
    lgw
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    Another option -- though some may not consider it camping -- is to rent a cabin at the campground. It should have most of what you need, and frankly, if you were to purchase everything up front, it would well exceed the cost of the cabin rental.

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    Registered User joyofsix's Avatar
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    Here's how I cook with one or two pots when camping. I cook on the fire with a grill over the fire to set the pot on. Breakfast-I pre-fry bacon or sausage and put in baggie,bring a baggie of cheese, eggs. Crack eggs into baggy and squish up, add meat or cheese and put into your pot of boiling water. Hint-bring a ladle and take out some of the hot water for your cocoa, tea or coffee first. You just boil the baggie a bit and it's scrambled eggs. Lunch is hot dogs or sandwiches, chips and beans from a can heated in the pot. Dinner-I bring all the ingredients pre-mixed in baggies for chili or veg soup, have with crackers, cheese and apples.

    I find with kids, walking in the dark is cool for them with a flashlight. Frisbee, a ball for soccer, and card games. Card by latern light with marshmallows or s'mores are the best part of camping.

    Bring plenty to drink. My kids never like the taste of the water where we camp, no matter where we camp. Kool-aid or lemonade help with that.

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    Registered User qtkitty's Avatar
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    a Cooler with rolling wheels really comes in handy... expecially if its a nice even camp surface.

  11. #10
    Registered User Edna_E's Avatar
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    What you need is so dependant on where you will be. Find out whether the camp site has grills or fire pits or stones for a fire or do they even permit fires (many places in the southwest do not). Also, do they have bathroom facilities and what is provided if they do. That said, you also need to consider how important it is to you to be how comfortable. I do not use any sort of matress but do use a double layer of quilt underneath my sleeping bag, and I also have been known to just take a flannel sheet and blankets. I do like to take my pillow. Flashlights are a must have. I take my own toilet paper, and take paper towels and grocery bags to put trash in. To the extent that you can plan food to have very little trash - it makes life easier. I usually did hot dogs for dinner with beans or chips or both and finger-food fruits and veggies (apples, carrot sticks, celery, etc.) Then breakfast was usually instant oatmeal, in the same mug used for coffee/tea/cocoa (yeah, I know, that means you have do have things one at a time). Lunch was usually sandwiches and chips and more fruit. If you don't have meals that require silverware and plates, then it is easy to just use paper towels. I usually took instant cocoa, and instant tea because I'm a tea drinker. One thing a lot of campers I know do is mix instant cocoa with instant coffee - and I like it too. If you take beans and want them warmed, then you have to take a pan (I'm so wierd that I'll eat them cold, but usually just decide to skip them when camping). You can make up something like cole slaw or fruit salad and take it, but you'll need plates and utensils, or I guess you could use your mugs for that too, but you'll still need forks or spoons. I also typically take a song book, and often a book of read-aloud stories (ghost stories are fun if nobody is too easily scared). Cards or checkers or dominos work well for entertainment, and a cheap harmonica can be a lot of laughs while you try to learn to play it. If you don't have rain gear, plastic garbage bags make a cheap alternative. I have used a tent the I got new for $29.99 for nearly 20 years now - and you can still find small ones very cheap at places like K-mart. I'd suggest taking some kind of bug deterrent in case you need it, but don't put it on until you get there and see if there are bugs. Also, you want to close up any food in the car whenever you are not going to be eating since wild animals will come get into it if it is where they can. Some people hand it from a tree limb, but I seem to still get ants in it. Consider it an adventure, and have fun. Take the camera, and paper and pencils or pens so you can draw or write if you want to (cause you never know when the muse will strike you out in the wilds!) and I'd suggest leaving all electronic media at home, but I'm old fashioned about it. Let us know how it goes.

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    Registered User zazenist's Avatar
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    I totally agree with everyone who has suggested borrowing or renting a tent. If you decide to stick with it, a tent is one of the things you won't want to scrimp on. It's an investment you won't regret when it rains or gets windy! Everybody else has had great suggestions - for me, I think I would feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to cook the very first time - it's a lot of work and I think you would be better off to minimize and just enjoy the experience of being in nature as opposed to spending a lot of time hunched over cooking. What DH and I do if we're only going to be out for one night is to fill our big cooler with food we cooked at home beforehand - things that you can eat cold. For breakfast, we've packed some soy or rice milk (or plain old cow jiuce if you prefer) and brought along a couple bowls and some cereal. Fruit salad, pasta salad, rice and beans are great cold, especially if the weather is warm. We bring banana nut bread - you can just toss that in the car. No fuss, no mess, no trash to worry about since you can toss your dirties back in the cooler or into your car. Keep it way simple your first time... and I think it won't be your last!

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    Registered User Edna_E's Avatar
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    So how is it going? Or, if you've already gone, how did it go?

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    ITA about borrowing or renting the tent for this first time. You'd hate to sink a bunch of money into a single overnight trip just to discover you don't enjoy camping out. I hope you have a great time!

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    Registered User Stella's Avatar
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    I agree with borrowing a tent. Why invest if you don't know if you are going to like it. Since its the "off season" there will probably be plenty of people who will let you borrow their gear.

    We love to camp. We bought a pop up last year so we could upgrade from a tent. Just having a place to sit and a sink with hot water and fridge makes it more enjoyable. We bring our dogs and go for hikes and such.

    Camping is so relaxing to me. There is no hurry to do anything. I always bake lots of treats and we bring lots of magazines to read.

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    Registered User mombottoo's Avatar
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    I know I'm posting a little late to this thread, but we love camping at the DNR campgrounds. They cost very little, I think the last time we went we paid $7.50 per night. They are usually pretty rustic, but they do have outhouses & generally a water source.

    Borrowing gear is definitely the way to go until you know if you are going to like it...camping isn't for everyone.

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