Camping Will Save You Lots Of Money, But Is It Worth It?

I’ve always hated camping. I’ve only done it a couple of times and it’s always been a bit of a disaster!! Rain, mud, car breakdowns, arguments… name it….it’s always been crap.

Which has led to one of my favourite sayings…

“I’ll camp. As long as it’s on the floor of the Hilton!!

Let me tell you there are plenty of people who agree with me when I shout this pearler!!

Fast forward to our arrival in

North America.

Of course we hadn’t planned too much in advance – that’s just how we roll!

So when it came time to get a hire car we were horrified to discover that our previous investigations of $17 per day soon became over $55 once you added in a new, higher price than we had previously found plus insurance, taxes and fees. There are those that think this is one of the biggest rip-offs in the travel industry. I’ll let you be the judge of that but I certainly agree!! We then had to cough up for fuel on top!

There’s just no way we were going to be able to pay that!

We also discovered we would have trouble accommodating the 5 of us for less than about $80-120 per night. Our budget is $70!! Unless we fibbed and said there were just two of us and then all crammed in, it just wasn’t going to work. That really hurt after paying $30 per night in SE Asia!

So I jumped onto a travelling facebook group that I’m a part of and asked everyone what the hell we should do.

The overwhelming answer?



To cut a potentially long story short we bit the bullet and are now the proud owners of a giant Ford E150 van!

Plus 2 tents, 5 sleeping bags, 5 camp mats, a gas stove, plastic plates, cups, bowls, cutlery, 2 coolers, cooking pots, gas bottles…..and a fishing rod!! (That last one was to satisfy Jono’s urge to commune with nature!!)

Our camping expenses for the night range from the odd freebie (we’ve stayed at roadside rest stops in our tents!!) to around $45 per night. A big improvement on our previous figures and well within our budget!

And the verdict?

Camping isn’t as crap as I remember!! It turns out I quite like sleeping in the tent.

  • I like hearing the kids whisper and giggle in the dark.
  • I like the challenge of keeping the grass on the outside though it’s not always successful.
  • I like eating camp food.
  • I especially like eating it when Gert cooked it!
  • Doing the dishes in substandard conditions is really fun (who knew?)
  • I like seeing birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer just walking by. (I most likely would not enjoy seeing a bear close-up but that remains to be seen!)
  • I really like meeting other campers – some are lovely and normal – some are just completely mad!! (One had a gun!)

We’ve now camped in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico!

And tonight we are camping in Yosemite, California with our online friends Family Trek! We are so excited to meet them and their kids!!

We’re off to Walmart in a little while to stock up on supplies for our next 2 nights!! The kids are excited to be roasting marshmallows again and maybe we’ll have a Walmart story to add into the mix!!

Tune in for our next post on Friday, assuming we haven’t been eaten by bears at Yosemite!!

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Camping Will Save You Lots Of Money, But Is It Worth It? — 14 Comments

  1. Camping is certainly the way to go if you want to save money. If you’re on the lookout for free camping, most National Forests in the US allow dispersed camping and it’s free. There are some really pretty places you can check out that way. Just head into one, drive down a gravel road until you find a somewhat secluded pull out and camp away! You’re not supposed to make new fire pits but there’s usually plenty to be found.
    Beth recently posted..Big Agnes Sleeping Bags? Advice NeededMy Profile

    • Oohh great tip!! Thanks. I admit I really like knowing our accommodation bill is zero occassionally!!

  2. We never thought we’d like camping either. It was our budget that led us to start but having fallen in love with camping I think I’d say I’d prefer it even if we won the lottery!

    As you’ll see tonight, we don’t exactly rough it! Still working on making our operation a fine-tuned machine, but we have enough creature comforts to make us prefer it to another night at the Hilton.

    • Hahaha!! Well we are kinda roughing it! We didn’t buy chairs!! Going to sit on my pack or the coolers!! Lol. We are thinking about how to take our camping stuff home to Australia!!

  3. I’m glad you discovered the best budget friendly accommodation around – the nylon tent!

    One note on the car insurance for rentals. Use a credit card and your covered. Almost all credit cards cover this. Never get the insurance from rentals.

    You’ll love camping in Yosemite. It’s awesome! If you head up North, make sure you camp in the Badlands! And Yellowstone of course. Have fun with Family Trek!
    Justin recently posted..Introducing The Fun Fund: Your Budgeting Solution For All Those “Must Do” Travel ExperiencesMy Profile

    • Hey Justin, you need to hang out with Family Trek. We had the best time – it was not long enough!! And the tent is great – wish we hadn’t bought a summer one!! Beginner’s mistake!! lol

    • Oooh I know what you mean about a comfy bed. We’ve had 7 nights camping in a row now and we are ready for a comfy bed!!

    • Thanks for the tip Jen. Yosemite was lovely – and has inspired us to try out some other national parks!

  4. Welcome to the “‘happy campers” fraternity. I recommend a self-inflating camping mattress. Very, VERY comfy. They take up space though. Camping in sand is even more fun than on grass! Always remember to pack a dustpan and broom! All the good campgrounds in Aus have camp kitchens, so no need for your own stove. They even have a fridge and freezer, and electricity – very civilised.

    • Bahahaha!! That kind of sounds like cheating!! We have an air mattress at home for visitors and it NEVER goes back in the box – so we couldn’t carry 5 of those with us!! I think some of these have camp kitchens (Kamp!) but we haven’t bothered to explore since we have our own. Suspect we will be checking camping out when we get home!!

  5. I was never a camping sort of person. NEVER. So I definitely can understand your horror at the prospect. But because of camping, we can now go on more family holidays, or grab a quick long weekend here and there – because we don’t have to pay hotel or serviced apartment prices. And like you, there are some pleasures that you experience as a family, when you camp, that cannot be replicated in a hotel room!

    Mind you, I still love a warm comfy bed, clean private bathrooms and a proper roof now and again, but stepping out of my comfort zone a few years ago, really wasn’t that scary…..

    And to go camping in the USA – well, that sounds like a true adventure!
    Annie @ Go Camping Australia recently posted..Darth Tater meets The GrampiansMy Profile

    • Camping in the USA sure was an adventure Annie. You’re so right about spur of the moment weekends away. We plan to camp a lot more when we get home to Oz!

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