The great (and cheap) outdoors

Camping is an incredibly inexpensive alternative to staying in hotels, once you have some basic equipment, Hamm writes.

Robert Harbison/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Shelby Anderson plays in a tent at a campsite in Cabrillo State Park, Calif., in this May 2003 file photo. If you camp on vacation, you can go home well-rested and with money still in hand, Hamm writes.

When Sarah and I visited the Pacific Northwest for our first anniversary, we didn’t stay in a hotel for most of the vacation. We camped, using borrowed camping equipment, first on Mount Rainier and then in Olympia National Forest.

When we went on our first vacation after having our first child, we didn’t stay in a hotel for any of the vacation. We camped, using our own camping equipment, on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Almost every summer, we spend time camping. We camp in state parks. We camp on private land (with permission, of course). We camp in national parks.

It gets us outdoors. It gives us an abundance of time to enjoy the beauty of nature. It gives us an abundance of fresh air. 

It’s also incredibly inexpensive once you have some basic equipment.

You don’t even need that much equipment. The only devoted equipment you really need is a small tent and a sleeping bag for each person. Almost everything else we use when camping is repurposed from our kitchen or garage.

Very quickly, camping reduces our lodging cost for a night from a $100 hotel room to a $20 camping site. If we’re traveling, this is going to quickly become a major cost saver.

Instead of eating out for supper or breakfast, we bring our own food and cook it over a fire, saving us at least a bit of additional money.

When you’re camping, you’re often finding yourself at a state or national park that features abundant natural beauty or sights to see, so you’ll find yourself drawn naturally to those, which is an incredibly low-cost form of entertainment.

The end result is that you’ll find yourself finishing your vacation without the sad sensation of an empty wallet. Instead, you can go home well-rested and with money still in hand.

I enjoy camping enough that I would do it regardless of the savings, but the savings really provide some icing on the cake.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. 

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