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Save money on your camping trip

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What better way to do family bonding than loading up some gear and going on a camping trip? The summer season is upon us, and many families will be doing just that. Communing with nature and hiking around enjoying some family time. Camping is an economical alternative to staying at a hotel. However, it is easy to spend quite a bit of money in preparation. Check out these tips to save money on your next camping adventure.

1. Borrow a tent: Tents are not very expensive, but if it is your first trip or if you are not planning to go again for a while, borrow a tent from a friend. This will also give you an idea of what tent size and type is comfortable for you and your family if you do decide to purchase one of your own.
2. Bring your own food: It is fun to try new and different restaurants that are close to where you are on a camping trip, however, three meals a day can get expensive quickly. Try to pack meals that are easy and similar to those you would eat at home. Consider thing such as sandwiches, cold cereal, powdered donuts in a bag or box and hotdogs or something to cook over the open fire. You can prepare a few meals ahead of time, place them in a cooler and simply cook them on your camping trip. You can get by with one skillet for most meals, or try a recipe that you can wrap in foil and cook directly over the fire.
3. Camp in privately owned campgrounds: Many campgrounds are part of the state so they are subject to State Park fees, which can add up quickly. It is like an admission fee to the park and it's charged per person per day during your stay and then you pay to camp on top of that. Privately owned campgrounds charge a flat rate that is easier to budget.
4. Bring your own firewood: Often, there are bundles of firewood for sale, however, this is something that you can bring along potentially from your own backyard. While not a huge expense, even a few dollars per day adds up over the course of a few days.
5. Use a checklist: If you are taking anything in cans, be sure to bring a can opener. Pack an extra sweatshirt for chilly evenings or in case one gets wet. Don't forget bug spray and sunscreen. While most items can be purchased on the road, you can end up spending lots of money on things that you already have at home and have simply forgotten.
6. Freeze your own ice: There is no need to buy bagged ice. The better way to do it is to freeze water bottles and use them to keep your food cold. If you are going for several days take frozen food that can defrost before you need to eat it. You can also freeze water in gallon zip bags. The larger blocks of ice will last longer than small cubes.
7. Camp in a group: If you go on a camping trip with friends you can share the price of the camping fees because a lot of campgrounds will allow at least 2 tents per site. Also, you can share meals and trade off cooking duties. If you go camping with friends they may have a cook stove or bring their grill. One bag of marshmallows is enough to feed at least 10 people so you can save money by not duplicating efforts or wasting food.
8. Camp in the off-season: Sometimes you can find deals during the slower periods for camping. Often outside of the summer months, there is a shoulder season that offers lower rates.
9. Plan smart: Keep in mind what you want to do for recreation. Many campgrounds have swimming pools and game rooms for the campers to enjoy. The prices vary greatly depending on amenities so compare everything and get the best deal. Plan to book early so you can get the time you want. Happy camping!

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