Tips for Saving on Summer Adventures

Millions of Americans will be traveling this summer – and we hope you’ll be one of them. After all, what are all those hard-earned vacation days for if you don’t use them on…well, vacation? The problem is traveling can get expensive, but don’t worry, that’s what this post can remedy!

If you’re looking to stretch your dollars a bit further this season, use the hacks below to save on all of your travel adventures.

The more the merrier (and cheaper)

One big advantage of booking a group site on Hipcamp is that many of our hosts charge a flat fee rather than a per vehicle or camper fee. This means the more friends you invite, the more you can all save! A bigger crew also means more friends to split gas with and less gear each individual person has to bring. Win-win-win’s all around.

Pro tip: Read our 5 Step Guide to Planning a Big Group Camping Trip for a flawless trip.

No gear? No problem

Sleeping bags, tents and stoves…oh my! Putting together your arsenal of camp gear can be a daunting task. But while lots of gear can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Used gear shops, eBay and Craigslist are great first places to hit for essentials before big brand name stores.

If you’re not ready to make an investment in camping gear, you can also search for gear rental companies near you. Or, you can choose a campsite that already offers lodging, like yurts, glamping tents, cabins or outfitted vans and busses.

Pro tip: You’d be surprised how much “camping gear” you already have that is disguised as everyday items, like duct tape and eggs cartons. Check out our favorite Camping Hacks for some more ideas.

Camp, but make it homey

The definition of “camping essentials” changes depending on what type of camper you are. Are you a rugged minimalist or foodie glamper? Light-weight backpacker or cushy car camper?

Whatever your threshold for comfort is, taking a few extra measures to make your basecamp homey will make you more willing to spend time there rather than unnecessarily splurging at hotels or restaurants. Comfortable camp chairs, battery-powered fairy lights and a high-tech coffee grinder are all examples of small camp enhancements that can go a long way.

Gas…there’s an app for that.

You may have noticed that as temperatures go up, so do gas prices. Gas companies know that more people hit the road in the summer, and that whole supply-and-demand thing means you can expect gas prices to get hiked up from Memorial Day to Labor Day. GasBuddy is a really helpful app to help you find the cheapest gas stations near you.

Buy and split a National Parks Pass

If you’re planning to go to three or more national parks in a given year, it’s worth the money to buy an annual America the Beautiful Pass. For $80, the pass gets you — and one other co-holder — access to all 58 national parks in the US. Cut that cost in half by sharing the pass with a friend or frequent travel companion.

Pro tip: if you’re prone to losing your important things, leave the card in your glove compartment rather than your wallet…

Channel your inner camp chef

Cooking for yourself is almost always cheaper than eating out or buying pre-packaged meals, and the same is true while you’re camping.

If you’re not well-versed in cooking outdoors, take solace in the fact that everything tastes better cooked on a campfire. Better yet, meal prep at home so all you have to do is unwrap, assemble or heat up your food at camp. This can also help you cut down on the number of things you have to pack in and pack out.

And let’s not forget road snacks! Don’t settle for gas station candy bars. The possibilities for in-transit snackage are much, much greater than that.

Pro tip: Fill-up and freeze reusable water bottles to use as ice in your cooler. You will save money on $3-5 bags of ice, avoid all of that plastic wrap, and drink the water once it’s melted later on during your trip.

If you’re traveling by air…

Flying adds a whole other set of expenses to your trip, but we’ve mastered some tricks to help keep costs down.

1. Dollar Flight Club. If you haven’t used this email subscription service to track cheap flights, you’re missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. The service was created first for international flights, but this spring DFC launched a new program, called Weekend Warriors Deals, that caters to domestic travel. Right now the service is just for those with a premium membership, which costs $40 a year. If you travel a lot, it’s totally worth the sticker price.

2. Turo. Turo is a car-sharing app that lets you rent a car from a real person, rather than a car rental company. It’s always worth checking out all your options before you book, but more often than not Turo allows you to rent a car for much, much less — and avoid all those hidden fees that inevitably crop up with the big names. The best part? Most Turo owners will coordinate drop-off and pick-up right from your arrival and departure gate.

3. Travel during the week. We’ve heard that Tuesdays are the cheapest day to travel. If you can afford to take more days off during the week, you can save money on airfare and miss the weekend crowds.

Julie Kukral

Julie is a journalist currently traveling the North American West.

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