Guest post from Jackie of Mom on a Mission
Our family loves the great outdoors! Three years ago we bought a pop-up camper through Craigslist to make lasting family memories. My husband bought it off season and got it way below book value.
A year later we began to look for a camper with a bathroom, knowing we were having a little one on the way. Our friend found a used hybrid Jay Feather during the winter — we got a great price and begin to look for ways to save at the campground before the Spring.
Here are just a few of the ways we came up with:
Use membership discounts.
Good Sam RV Club and Passport America both offer discounts through a reasonable membership fee. Passport offers a whopping 50% off nationwide participating campgrounds. KOA offers discounts on special weekends. We camp at KOA when they run buy one get one free nights.
Some campgrounds offer free nights. For instance, Adventure Bound in Gatlinburg, TN offers all military, police, fire, nurses, EMT and teachers free camping for two nights on a designated weekend of the year. KOA offers buy one night, get one free on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekends.
Google “free camping”, “discount camping” and “complimentary camping” to see if there are any local campground deals in your area.
Dovetail your camping with local attractions.
We bought season passes at Dollywood in Tennessee this year so we will coincide our camping trips with our trips to Dollywood and Spash Country, use our Passport America discount, and save money on food by eating in our camper.
We live in a gorgeous area where there are plenty of hiking trails, natural water falls, slides, fishing, kayaking, and natural beauty. Different areas offer museums, parks, playgrounds, and more.
Pack your freezer food and plan a menu.
You would think in the great outdoors, you could easily scrounge up something tasty. This is true when you only have one meal to plan, but most mommas would agree a healthy weekend requires some planning ahead to avoid last-minute purchases from the overpriced camp store.
This momma plans a camping menu just like our home menu — complete with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. I like to write it down and make as much as possible ahead of time. Salads, snacks, and fresh veggies can easily be stored in ziptop bags to fit inside a compact camper fridge or cooler.
I like to make a healthy homemade trail mix with nuts as a protein snack. I often make freezer breakfast burritos or breakfast bagel bites for easier clean up in the camper. A fresh fruit basket on the table is a perfect way to implement grab-and-go for the kids.
Just like Crystal, I’m an avid freezer cook and I pack a cooler of freezer goodies right before we head out.
Many times camping can be just as costly as a motel visit. However, when you take these money saving ideas into consideration, you may find camping a frugal, family fun adventure like we do!
Jackie Brown is a Mom on a Mission, freezer cooking for her family while serving the poor and needy in her community.