Are you just getting started with car camping or backpacker travel? If so, I have good news! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to experience the joys of sleeping under the stars in your own personal tent or van. In fact, there are some great products and services out there that can help you get started on your journey without breaking the bank. Check out these eight affordable car camping essentials, along with additional resources and recommendations to help you plan your own trips in the future!
1) A Tent
Without a tent, you can’t camp—and you certainly can’t do it on a budget. A pop-up or dome tent is a relatively affordable option; just make sure you bring all of your own stakes, too. And if you plan to camp in any inclement weather, make sure that your rainfly is compatible with whatever other protection (like an SUV) will be shielding you from storms.
2) A Sleeping Bag
It’s a critical budget campervan necessity. Keeping warm and safe is essential to any budget traveler. Sleeping bags help keep you warm and comfortable at night. Plus, they are affordable! Budget campervans come with basic sleeping bags, but they aren’t always enough if you are trying to save money and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a sleeping bag that you might only use once.
3) An Air Mattress
Cheap, portable, and easy to store – an air mattress is a great way to make sleeping in your campervan or tent more comfortable. Even better if you can get one with a built-in pump so you don’t have to carry around an extra heavy thing that only serves one purpose. We really like SertA’s Queen Motion Air Mattress (read our full review here). It’s affordable, comfy, and can fit 2 adults comfortably.
4) Cooking Gear
Unless you plan on eating only fast food while you’re camping, it’s essential to have some cooking gear. Start with a camp stove and then add in extra utensils, cups, plates, etc. that can be used to make meals and store them as well. A good cook set will make all of your camp meals much more enjoyable than they would be otherwise.
5) Clothes and Shoes
Budget Campervan travel means that you’ll be on foot more than you’d like. It also means your clothes will wear out more quickly, so it pays to bring some durable items—like hiking boots and synthetic shirts—to reduce costs in other areas. The same goes for car camping: if you pack your clothes right, they can double as pillows or cushions on a car-camping trip.
6) Food and Water
If you’re budget camping in a campervan, you might not have room for a cooler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring food and drinks with you. Consider bringing collapsible bottles or containers with ice or frozen water packs to keep things cool. This is also a great way to help conserve water if you’re camping on-site.
Many car camping enthusiasts choose to not run their vehicle while they’re in camp, instead opting to relax and enjoy conversation with friends. An outdoor Bluetooth speaker (Amazon link) is perfect for those lazy afternoons when you want to listen to some tunes, but don’t want a full-blown concert going on around you. Alternatively, if you love group games, an outdoor deck of cards (Amazon link) is a great choice for impromptu games of Cards Against Humanity or Old Maid.
8) Other Essentials
A car campervan and a sense of adventure are not all you need to have a budget camping experience. Bring along these eight inexpensive essentials, including a lantern, water containers, and foam pads, to ensure you enjoy an affordable yet memorable outing. You’ll find them easy to pack in your vehicle or campervan when you head out for a campsite near or far.