Posted inGeneral Camping

Save Money While Camping – Part 1

Money SignWelcome to our first series on frugal camping.  Last year you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing a headline about the economic crisis in North America.  Everybody’s mind was on saving money as jobs were being cut by the hundreds of thousands.

The message now is that the economy is starting to bounce back, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop being frugal.  Saving money is something that everybody should be interested in.

This five part series will help you make the most of your family camping time, without breaking the bank.

Tip 1 – Take your own firewood.

A bag of firewood at the campground will usually run you $7-$12.  That same bag will probably not get you through an evening and night with a decent campfire roaring.  We used to go though two or three of those bags a day.  More if we were using the campfire to cook breakfast and lunch.  Bringing your own wood means that you can minimize or eliminate that cost.

Cord of woodYou can get firewood from a number of places.  Do you or a neighbor have a tree that needs to be cut down?  Check local classifieds to see if someone has had trees cut down and needs to get the wood removed.  I personally buy my wood in bulk, pre-split, and by the 1/2 cord.

What is a cord?  A cord is a large amount of wood that measures four feet wide by four feet high by eight feet long (4′ x 4′ x 8′) and has a volume of 128 cubic  feet.  That’s a lot of wood!

For around $100 (varies depending on area) you can get half a cord, pre-split, and delivered to your home.  All you need to do then is pile it, and load up some logs whenever you are headed out.

Working out the math for buying your wood onsite means that if you average two bags per day at $10 per bag – you can get five days of firewood for about $100.  Since those bags are usually about 1.8 cubic feet, you would basically consume 18 cubic feet of wood over the week (1.8′ x 10).  By comparison, you get nearly 4x that amount when you purchase a 1/2 cord for the same price.

Campfire4 weeks of camping firewood for $100 vs 1 week of camping firewood for $100…

It’s easy to see the savings on this one.  We went on several trips last year, each consisting of  between three and five days.  I still have 1/3 of the firewood that I purchased last year.  Did I mention that’s even after I gave a whole bunch of our wood away on one trip to a family that didn’t have any?

I did say that the price varies depending on area – don’t be discouraged if wood is expensive in your area.  Wood is usually a proportionate commodity, which means that if you are spending more in your area for a cord, then you would be paying proportionately more when buying a bag at the campground.

It’s still much cheaper if you know of a tree, or trees, that need to be cut down.

This is a great way to save some money while camping, however with the good comes the potential for bad.  Bringing your own firewood can also pose some challenges and isn’t applicable in every situation.  For example, some campgrounds don’t allow you to bring your own wood into the park.  There is a danger of spreading insects or disease into their forests.

Another issue might be the storage and transportation of the firewood.  You have to have enough space on your premises to store that much wood and your vehicle must have adequate space for transporting the wood to the campground.

So having said all that, there is a big potential for savings here.  It won’t make you rich, but it will keep some of your hard earned dollars in your wallet – where they belong.

Check out the next tip in the series: Making a list and checking it twice