Camping is one of the best ways you and your family can enjoy the outdoors this summer. Although camping is relatively inexpensive, it can still take a big chunk out of your wallet if you’re not mindful of costs. Have you visited an REI lately?

Before heading out on a budget camping trip, it can be wise to find ways to save money before you even go. Here are 5 ways you can cut costs on your summer camping trip without sacrificing quality or safety.

RELATED: 20 Amazing Camping Hacks

Start Saving Early

Budget camping starts long before you even hop in the car and head to the campground. For instance, when gearing up, you can save a ton of money by purchasing used equipment instead of all new gear the week before. You can find a variety of used gear—pots, boots, tents, etc—at local thrift stores, online or at gear swaps and garage sales at stores like REI.

Opt for Versatility in Your Gear

Instead of picking up a specific piece of gear for each need, buy multipurpose items. Picking up gear, clothing and food that can be used for more than one purpose will save you a ton of money and space. For example, I like ground chicken as a meat option because it works great in tacos, burgers, or simply mixed with vegetables or pasta. Bonus Tip: Look around your house for things you already own that can be used at the campsite, such as pots, pans, or even a yoga mat instead of an expensive sleeping pad.

Close to Home

It can be wise and money-saving to choose a park close by, especially if it’s your first family camping trip. This way you’re still “getting away” without going too far, which can be good when you’re camping with young children. Many parks 20 miles from your home offer the same activities and outdoor experiences as a park 200 miles away, so consider saving some gas on your first trip by sticking closer to home.

RELATED: 10 Household Items That Double as Camping Gear

On-Site Savings

When it comes to choosing a site, it’s much cheaper to opt for a primitive site without electricity or running water. Be honest with yourself about you and your family’s ability to handle such a rudimentary location, though; they’re not for every family. Also, keep in mind that some primitive sites are walk-up only, so you’ll want to call ahead to check on their accessibility before booking your stay.

Mind Your Gear

You’d be surprised at how much money you can save by simply keeping an eye on your gear. For instance, rain can swiftly render a stack of firewood obsolete, so keep a tarp on hand in case you need to cover your wood bundle. Also, it pays to keep your cooler in the shade, especially during this hot summer. Leaving your cooler in the sun means you’ll likely have to replace your ice more often, while keeping it in the shade allows you to get the most out of your ice.  

Photo credit: Pixabay