3 Ways Camping Can Cost Way More Than You Expected

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Don’t assume hiding in the woods won’t cost anything.


Key points

  • Camping can be a great experience for families and friends.
  • It’s important to budget appropriately for a camping trip, especially if you’ve never done one before.

Camping is one of those things that is definitely not for everyone. For some people, the idea of ​​having to sleep on the ground in the woods is extremely unpleasant. But if you’re the nature type and love being in nature, camping can be a rewarding experience for you (and a great bonding experience for your family). And often, it’s a much cheaper vacation option than staying at a resort or hotel.

But that doesn’t mean camping won’t cost you anything. In fact, you might be surprised at the different ways the costs associated with camping can add up. Here are a few reasons why your first camping trip might end up costing more than you expected.

1. You’ll spend a lot of money upfront if you don’t have equipment

Years ago, my husband and I invested in a bunch of camping gear, like a good tent, stove, and all-weather sleeping bags, knowing we were planning on camping a lot. Over the years we have purchased additional gear for our children such as sleeping bags and extra lanterns.

At this point, it is possible for us to make a camping trip at a very low cost. But that’s because we have everything we need to go camping. If you’re new to camping, you’ll need to buy the right gear for a successful trip. And that could mean a pretty sizable credit card tab.

Now the good news is that once you have all the gear you need, your next camping trips won’t cost as much. But be prepared for that upfront expense (and ideally, save up front so you don’t have to carry over a credit card balance).

2. You could pay more for a campground with more amenities

Some people like the idea of ​​boneless camping – you walk to a certain point and set up your tent for the night. Others need a campground with amenities like washroom facilities. And some campgrounds offer a wider range of amenities, like playgrounds, kayaks, and more.

If you’re ok with camping in the deep woods, you might not have to pay a dime for an overnight stay. And if you’re staying at a state park, camping fees can be minimal. But once you start asking for amenities, the cost may increase, so be prepared for that.

3. You might end up paying a premium to bring your dog.

Some state parks do not allow dogs to camp overnight. This is the case in my state, so to camp with our dog we either have to travel to a different state or pay for a private campground that allows pets. But these private campgrounds can cost a lot more. It’s something we know how to budget for, and if you’re planning on camping with your pet, you may need to do the same.

Camping can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important to budget accordingly. Keep these points in mind when planning your first camping trip so you don’t get caught off guard.

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