First, find a free destination near you. There are so many cheap campsites around the country, listed on FreeCampsites.net. Going in a warmer month and location will cut down on the gear you’ll need, so that will also save money. Bare minimum pup tents come cheaper than this one, but if you want flaps for a little privacy, this lightweight two-person tent will do the trick. Keep warm with an insanely cheap sleeping bag, if you don’t already have one. For food, you can do better than hot dogs. A dutch oven can help you make easy and inexpensive meals like stews and pastas, over the fire. And unless you’re a real pro, you’ll need some firewood, lighter fluid, and a fire starter for that. (I’ve also heard dryer lint makes good kindling, if you want to skip the fluid). Conserve your wood as much as you can, and gather more from felled dry branches if you can. Clean up your dishes and yourself with this natural soap that’s safe for everything. Also: smear it on the inside of your socks to prevent blisters. Keep bugs at bay with citronella balm and the dark at bay with a little lantern. For entertainment, pack books, games, and playing cards, and explore the terrain around you!
PRO TIP: Camping with kids? Check out this great post about How to Camp with a Baby or Newborn.
Any free campsite recommendations? What free stuff do you like to do while camping?
Lauren Johnson is a filmmaker/producer living in West Hollywood who enjoys a great foreign thriller, leisure beers, and non-primary colors. Lauren also writes the blog LOCONCEPTS.