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How to Find Free Camping While on a Budget


Going camping often involves having a bit of an adventurous spirit and at times, a desire to simply get away from it all without spending a ton of money in the process. The truth is, camping is a great way to be alone with your thoughts and sort yourself out without all of the hustle and bustle that goes on in typical, daily life. It can also be a great way to experience new adventures without spending a lot of money. However, you can inadvertently end up spending more than you would ever believe possible on camping if you start buying all of the tools and gadgets that are available for sale. The question is, how do you stick to a budget when you're camping? More specifically, are there places that you can camp for free so you don't end up taking a hit with your bank account by paying exorbitant fees just to set up camp in a particular location?

Camping Without a Big Budget

As previously mentioned, camping can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be. The truth of the matter is that you can camp on a budget if you are careful about the way you do things. It starts with finding ways to minimize your costs associated with getting the tools and materials needed to camp in the first place. It ends with finding specific places that you can camp that won't cost you an arm and a leg in order to do so. Before we get too far into that, let's spend a short amount of time talking about how you can get the tools and other items that you need to go camping without spending an entire paycheck in the process. Perhaps the most obvious answer is to borrow a tent or something similar, along with a few cooking utensils from someone you know that tends to go camping on a fairly regular basis. That way, you know that the items you are using are in relatively good condition and it gives you a chance to see if camping is really for you before you start investing significant amounts of money in things that you may or may not decide to use again in the future. It's worth noting that it's easy to fall into a trap of buying every item aimed at campers, especially if you're new to camping. That's largely because you don't really know exactly what you need and what you don't until you've done it a few times. Therefore, it's very important that you talk to someone who can give you some sound advice about what you're going to genuinely need while you're out there. Most people are capable of making it with a tent, a few utensils for cooking, food, water, a good first aid kit, a lantern and some blankets. From there, all you have to do is worry about having enough gas to get where you're going. Your next big question involves learning where to camp so it won't cost you any money.

Can You Set Up Camp for Free?

If you look up free campsites online, the information that you find is going to vary depending on the location that you want to go camping in. In order to simplify things, let's assume that you want to go camping for free somewhere in the United States. When you start googling that, you're likely to find information that tells you that you can camp in parking lots of businesses and in back alleys for free, but common sense should be telling you that this is not a good idea. It's much better to camp in a genuine camping location as opposed to merely setting up shop in someone's parking lot or worse yet, some dimly-lit backstreet where anything could potentially happen without another person even seeing it. In that case, you want to check out places like the United States Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. These are the types of websites that you can use to figure out where you can go camping for free without getting arrested or potentially having your throat slit. It's also a good idea to check out websites operated by state parks in the state in which you want to go camping. You might be surprised to learn about the number of state parks that have certain areas set aside for the public to go camping and some of those are free of charge. It might require that you spend a little bit of time on your computer, but you can definitely find the ideal place to go camping without paying a fee if you're inclined to do so.

An App for Everything

It probably won't surprise you to learn that there is an app that can help you find free campsites. As a matter of fact, there are several of them available and the overwhelming majority of them don't cost you anything to download. In case you're interested, you might try adding a few of them to your phone so that you can use different sources of information to help increase your chances of finding just the right campsite for free. Apps like Compendium, HipCamp and are all free and can be used on your smartphone (Compendium is only available for iPhone users). iOverlander is another solid option that can be downloaded free of charge. If you’re willing to pay for an app, The Dyrt is a great option that lists more than 500,000 free campsites across the United States. It’s free for the first 30 days, so you have plenty of time to try it out and see what you think. As you can see, camping doesn't have to be expensive. If you're determined to camp for free, there are more than enough resources to help you find countless numbers of places where you can do exactly that. As a matter of fact, you might quickly find that camping becomes one of your favorite hobbies, especially when you're able to do it on a shoestring budget without feeling like you're giving something up in the process.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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