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Budget Tips For Beginners

Common Items For Camping

You Don't Need To Buy Now

And What To Do Instead

Camping by its very nature is not a high-end holiday, but costs can still blow the family budget when you are just starting out.

That's why these 9 whopping cost savings tips will help you get a more cost effective camping setup in the long run, but a better one in the short-term as well.

Not only that, the longer these types of purchases can be delayed, the better informed you will be if and when the time comes to invest your hard-earned money in an upgrade.

You will also have less obsolete camping items cluttering up the garage and ending up in landfill.


1: Sleeping bags >>> Quilt / donna / duvet from your bed

If you are keeping your initial costs down, buying sleeping bags for everyone isn't necessary. In fact, I rarely use my sleeping bag, preferring the doona/quilt from my bed.

Savings: $100 + per person

Image of bed with stripped doona / quilt


2: Roof box for car >>> Strap directly to roof racks

While not as easy as throwing everything into a weatherproof roof box and locking it, strapping gear directly to the roof cross bars of your car has a massive cost saving benefit.

There are also potential long terms savings as well. Beginner campers are also usually unsure about their long-term camping plans and whether they would eventually prefer a roof box or tray. They might not ultimately even want either, preferring to stay as they are or to upgrade to something like a camper trailer or caravan instead.

Saving: $800 +

Image of gear secured to roof of vehicle


3: Mallet >>> Hammer

Camping mallets aren't particularly expensive, but everyone has a hammer lying around, which works just as well.

Saving $30

Image of mans hand holding  hammer


 4: Large tent or marquee >>> Tarp for extra shelter

Camping newbies often go for the large family tent or a separate marquee to provide extra living space for everyone. But the trusty old tarpaulin and a few poles can provide you will plenty of under-cover shelter for those rainy and hot days. Add a tent that has adequate space for everyone at night can save you dollars.

Saving $300

Image of dome tent and tarp shelter


5: Tent ground mats >>> Shade cloth

Product accessories can also significantly add to your camping costs, especially in relation to tents. Sometimes they can almost add up to the price of the item they are being accessorised with.

Accessories can really add value to your camping, and some might come in handy initially, but buy only what you need when you decide you need it. Consider cheaper alternatives as well, such as mesh style ground-mats or even shade cloth off-cuts from the hardware store instead of a tent floor saver accessory.

Saving $50

Image of tent with sheltered kitchen


6: Rain coats >>> rain ponchos

When camping, no matter what the weather forecast, everyone should have some protection in case of rain. But that doesn't mean everyone needs a proper raincoat. Simple rain ponchos work really well for camping.  They are easy to put on and take off, they are not bulky and they are really cheap. 

That said, we don't want disposable ones either. There are stores that sell durable ponchos that can be used multiple times. So you won't need to worry about the kids outgrowing them before you know it either.

Image of 5 children running wearing colourful rain ponchos


7: Kitchen unit >>> table(s) & separate pantry (not pictured)

All-in-one kitchen units are available that are popular in campgrounds. But they can be cumbersome to construct, are not particularly flexible and can cost hundreds of dollars. A simple table or two with some plastic containers work just as well and are much more flexible.

Saving $150

Image of camp kitchen


8: Kitchenware from camping stores >>> home/dept stores

Sometimes durable and long-lasting items are found where you might least expect it. When you are camping on a budget, rather than shopping for everything in specialised camping and hiking stores, look around the home and check out cheaper thrift, department, hardware and charity store. This is especially relevant for kitchen items.

Saving $300+

Inage of contents of kitchenware container


9: The trailer/caravan >>> camp trailer free

This point will be sacrilegious to many trailer and RV owners out there, but the main premise for this whole website is to camp without a trailer, and by that we mean standard trailers as well as all of the different types of RVs.

Our main issue about trailers is finding a place for storage when so many of us live in smaller properties, but cost is a big issue as well.

Trailers and RVs definitely have their place in the market, but they make a huge dent in the budget in terms of the initial capital outlay, storage costs, accessories, maintenance, insurance, fuel efficiency, and car size and towing capacity. If you must, the smaller the rig the lower your costs will be.

If you want to learn more about how to avoid the need for a trailer, check out our Camping Kickstart Program.

Saving $1500 for a trailer to $100,000 plus for caravans and RVs.

image of packed driving along road