Beat the shaky economy: Slash your camping expense

By Bob Difley

With camping season now  fully underway but the economy struggling to get a grip, joblessness refusing to fall, campground prices reaching motel levels, and gas moving above three dollars again, you may be thinking about cutting back on your camping trips this season to save money. But, you might be able to find ways to stretch your camping dollar, do just as much camping as you would like to, while not breaking the recreational piggy bank. And . . . explore some places you haven’t been to yet.

Some of the ways you can cut your camping expense are:

  • Camp closer to home to save on fuel and to spend more time camping than driving to the campground.
  • Keep your speed below 55 mph to conserve fuel–10% to 15% savings from 65 mph.
  • Search online for camping or boondocking possibilities in local, regional, and county parks, on public utility and water district lands, at fishing access points,  fish and game department recreational areas, state parks, wildlife refuges, national grasslands, and at Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers properties that you may have previously overlooked.
  • Pull out your maps and search online for national forests and BLM locations near your home that you haven’t yet explored.
  • Try boondocking to save on campground fees.
  • Start camping in popular boondocking areas where there is help and advice if you need it.
  • Remember that boondocking areas do not have advertising money to let you know they are there. You have to find them, but once you do, they become your secret campsites.
  • Talk to other RVers about where they boondock–they might even reveal their secret camping spots.
  • Make meal preparation a fun family activity by enlisting everyone’s help.
  • Take hikes and go birdwatching rather than go to expensive theme parks or other fee-charging  activities.
  • Cook fresh veggies as well as meat on the barbecue, rather than expensive pop-in-the-oven prepared or packaged meals.
  • Turn your bathtub into a grape stomping pit to make your own wine. OK, maybe that one’s a bit over the top.

There are many ways to save money and have fun also, if you unleash your creative genie. But if your creative genie is on strike, (here’s the commercial) consider my helpful dirt-cheap, but loaded with info. ebooks : BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, and 111Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck.

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