Outside of friends and family, camping is often your cheapest option. I’ve seen 8-10 people put 3 tents on one $20 camp site and literally pay about $2/each. There are some places you can even camp for free (Iceland and New Zealand are known for allowing people to camp for free on much public land and even the US has some free primitive sites). Being outside with nature is a travel experience everyone should have a least once a year if not much more.
Drawbacks to camping include, cold or hot nights, the need for camping gear, set up and take down, and limited facilities.
To avoid weather extremes, I’d recommend camping in the fall or spring. Bring proper warm clothing and blankets to stay warm. Plan to share a tent in cooler weather and perhaps sleep in a hammock in hotter weather.
Build a collection of camping essentials. These include (but are not limited to) a tent large enough for the group you wish to travel with, a warm sleeping bag, chairs, headlamps and lanterns, cooking utensils, fire starters, lighters, extra blankets, a tarp, a rain fly (if your tent doesn’t come with it), and a large cooler (for food to cook over your cozy fire).
Only camp if you have at least two days to stay at the site. Preferably 3 or 4 nights. While set up and take down may only take a couple of hours, this adds up significantly when you add cooking time and inconvenience of showering off site. If you must pay to camp, look for a spot that offers on site showers, has built in fire places with grills, and allows you to make reservations in advance.
One of the last times I went camping was in California in the Inyo National Forest. There were two of us and we stayed 3 days. It was about 45 degrees at night which was rather chilly, but we had 3 extra blankets and two sleeping bags which helped. Set up and take down was about 2 hours total. We did have a couple of fires and cooked our meals on them which was quite enjoyable. Cost was about $18/night plus $5/night for firewood. We already had all the equipment so that wasn’t a new expense.
If you plan on camping overseas and must fly equipment out there, make sure your cost of flying the equipment is worth the hassle. If you are only planning on camping a few nights and flying your gear is going to cost you $$$’s, you may find another lodging option is more affordable and convenient.
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