Car/tent camping is the most budget friendly option for a road trip. If you are a solo traveler, it can be a simple easy low budget option. Add a spouse and a couple kids or dogs and it becomes more complicated and requires a lot more stuff to unload, set up and reload. Depending on how long you will stay at each place, setting up and breaking down camp can be a bit of work. It just may be worth it to save money. With a little planning, tent camping can be a fun way to travel and save money. (Read more about my 3-week tent camping road trip with 2 kids, 3 dogs and an old lady.)
Free Camping or Boondocking
Who doesn’t love free? Free is great! But free camping is not for everyone. Free camping or boondocking usually also means dry camping – no hook ups, no amenities, no water, electric, sewer, shower house, etc. It may also require a bit more research to find the perfect spot for your trip.
Boondocking may be worth it. If you want to be more flexible, secluded, and closer to the nature you are visiting and don’t mind roughing it, boondocking on public lands may be a great option. Boondocking can also be staying overnight at a rest stop or Walmart along the way to your destination. Whether you are boondocking on public lands to get closer to nature or just need a quick stop along the way and don’t want to pay just to sleep, there are some great guides to free camping or boondocking.
There are extra challenges that you want to be prepared for if you are boondocking. Both of the guides I have listed here are focused on RVs, but the information is relevant if you are tent camping. You probably can’t pop up your tent in the Walmart parking lot, but you can sleep in your car in some places.
Check out RV Lifestyle’s Free and Cheap RV Sites. I also love Harvest Hosts’ Ultimate Guide to Free Camping. But you will have to sign up for their email list to get this excellent and detailed guide. Get 15% off your Harvest Host membership here. And, check out my youtube boondocking and free dispersed camping playlist.
Meals on the road
With a little planning it is possible to save money and eat healthier.
Meals In The Car
If you are eating while driving pack your meals ahead of time – look for sandwich type meals, cheese and crackers, hummus and carrots or any variation on this type of food. My mother and I often grab a foot-long sandwich from our favorite local deli for our road trip. Or consider mason jar or luncheable type meals- ideas for this type of meal prep have exploded with people trying to eat healthier and save time during the week.
If you are stopping along the way for your meals; plan on stopping at an area where you can picnic or even BBQ. There are many great options for meal preparation if you are getting off the road for meals. One of my favorite camping/road trip meals is walking tacos – Dorito or Frito snack bags loaded with taco fixings.