How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping

Planning a camping trip? If you’re wondering how much it will cost, look no further. In this article, we’ll explore the different factors that contribute to the cost of going camping. From campground fees and equipment rentals to food and transportation expenses, we’ll break down all the potential costs to help you budget for your next outdoor adventure. So, grab a cup of tea and let’s dive into the world of camping expenses!

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping: Campground Fees

Public Campgrounds

When it comes to camping, one of the first expenses you’ll encounter is campground fees. Public campgrounds, which are managed and maintained by government agencies, are often the more affordable option for camping. These campgrounds can be found in national parks, state parks, and other recreational areas. Fees for public campgrounds can range from as low as $10 per night for a basic tent site to around $30 per night for sites with added amenities such as water and electricity. Some public campgrounds may also offer discounted rates for seniors, military personnel, or disabled individuals.

Private Campgrounds

Private campgrounds, on the other hand, are owned and operated by individuals or private companies. They often offer a wider range of amenities and services compared to public campgrounds, but these luxuries usually come at a higher cost. Private campgrounds can charge anywhere from $20 to $80 or more per night, depending on the location and the facilities they provide. These campgrounds may offer amenities such as swimming pools, playgrounds, hot showers, and laundry facilities. Some private campgrounds also offer rental cabins or RV hookups for an additional fee.

Reservation Fees

It’s important to note that in addition to the campground fees, some campgrounds may also charge reservation fees. Reservation fees are typically charged when you book a campsite in advance, either online or over the phone. These fees can range from a few dollars to around $10 per reservation. While reservation fees may seem like an additional expense, they can be worth it as they allow you to secure a campsite in advance, especially during peak camping seasons when popular campgrounds tend to fill up quickly.

Additional Vehicle Fees

If you plan on bringing more than one vehicle to your campsite, some campgrounds may charge an additional vehicle fee. This fee applies to any extra vehicles that you bring, such as an RV, a second car, or a trailer. The cost of additional vehicle fees can vary but is typically in the range of $5 to $15 per night per vehicle. Keep in mind that not all campgrounds charge this fee, so it’s always a good idea to check the campground’s policies before you arrive to avoid any surprises.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping: Equipment Costs


A good quality tent is essential for a comfortable camping experience. The cost of a tent can vary greatly depending on the size, brand, and features. Basic tents suitable for a few people can be found for as low as $50, while larger or more advanced models can range from $100 to $500 or more. It’s important to consider factors such as weather resistance, durability, and ease of setup when choosing a tent.

Sleeping Bags

To stay warm and cozy during your camping trip, investing in a quality sleeping bag is a must. Sleeping bags come in different temperature ratings, so it’s important to choose one that suits the climate you’ll be camping in. Prices for sleeping bags can range from around $30 for a basic model to $200 or more for high-end, cold-weather sleeping bags. It’s worth it to invest in a good sleeping bag that will keep you comfortable and warm throughout the night.

Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads are another essential camping gear item that provides cushioning and insulation between you and the ground. These pads can range from simple foam mats that cost around $10 to more advanced inflatable pads that can cost up to $200. Consider factors such as comfort, insulation, and portability when choosing a sleeping pad for your camping adventures.

Camp Chairs

Having a comfortable place to sit and relax around the campfire is important. Camp chairs come in a variety of styles and prices, ranging from basic folding chairs that cost around $10 to more durable and feature-packed chairs that can cost up to $100. Look for chairs that offer good back support and are made with sturdy materials that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Cooking Equipment

Preparing meals while camping requires some essential cooking equipment. This can include a camping stove, pots and pans, utensils, and other cooking accessories. The cost of cooking equipment can vary depending on the brand and quality. Basic camping stoves can be found for around $20, while more advanced models with additional features can cost up to $200. The cost of cookware and utensils can range from around $20 to $100 or more, depending on the materials and durability.


To keep your food and beverages fresh during your camping trip, a cooler is a necessity. The price of coolers can vary depending on the size, insulation, and additional features. Basic coolers suitable for short camping trips can be found for around $20, while larger, high-performance coolers designed for longer trips can range from $100 to $400 or more. Consider factors such as ice retention, portability, and durability when choosing a cooler.


Lighting is crucial when camping, especially during the nighttime. Lanterns and flashlights are essential tools for providing illumination in and around your campsite. Lanterns can range from simple battery-powered models that cost around $10 to more advanced rechargeable lanterns that can cost upwards of $100. Flashlights also come in a variety of prices, starting from as low as $5 for basic models to around $50 for high-quality, durable flashlights.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping

Food and Drink Expenses

Meal Planning

When it comes to food expenses while camping, proper meal planning is essential to stay within your budget. Before your camping trip, make a meal plan and create a shopping list accordingly. Consider the number of meals you’ll need to prepare, the ingredients required, and the cooking equipment you’ll have available at your campsite. Planning your meals in advance can help you avoid last-minute purchases or wastage of food.


Once you have your meal plan and shopping list ready, purchasing groceries for your camping trip becomes easier. When shopping for groceries, consider buying non-perishable items that can be stored easily and won’t spoil quickly. Canned goods, dry pasta, rice, and snacks like granola bars are good options for camping. Buying groceries in bulk can also help you save money in the long run.

Camping Meals

When it comes to cooking meals while camping, simple and easy-to-prepare recipes are often the best choices. One-pot meals, foil-wrapped packets, and grilled meats are popular options for camping meals. These types of meals require minimal preparation and cleanup, making them perfect for the outdoors. Consider prepping some meals in advance and packing them in sealed containers to save time and effort at the campsite.


Snacks are an essential part of any camping trip, providing quick energy boosts and satisfying hunger between meals. When choosing snacks for camping, opt for lightweight, non-perishable items such as trail mix, dried fruits, nuts, and energy bars. These snacks are easy to pack and won’t spoil quickly, even in warm weather conditions.


Staying hydrated while camping is crucial, so packing an ample supply of water is essential. You can bring your own water bottles or invest in a portable water filtration system if you have access to natural water sources at the campsite. If you prefer other beverages such as soda or coffee, consider purchasing them in cans or single-serve packets to minimize waste and convenience.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping: Transportation Costs


Transportation costs can vary depending on how far you need to travel to reach your desired camping destination. If you’re driving to the campsite, fuel costs can be a major consideration. Calculate the distance you’ll be driving and estimate the fuel consumption of your vehicle to determine the cost. Consider carpooling with friends or family to share the fuel expenses and reduce your overall costs.


If your camping trip involves passing through toll roads or bridges, be prepared for additional costs. Tolls can vary based on the distance traveled and the specific toll roads you encounter. It’s a good idea to research the toll rates and plan your route accordingly, considering any alternative routes that may have lower or no toll fees.

Parking Fees

Some campgrounds or recreational areas may charge a parking fee for day-use visitors or additional parking spaces. These fees can vary depending on the location and duration of your stay. If you plan on exploring nearby attractions or visiting other areas during your camping trip, budget for potential parking fees to avoid any unexpected expenses.

Rental Vehicles

If you don’t own a suitable vehicle for camping, renting a car or an RV can be an option. Rental costs for vehicles can vary depending on the type, size, and duration of the rental. If you’re renting an RV, additional costs such as mileage fees, insurance, and generator usage may apply. Consider renting from reputable companies and compare prices to find the best deal for your camping needs.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping

Clothing and Personal Gear

Appropriate Clothing

Having the right clothing for your camping trip can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment. Pack appropriate clothing for the weather conditions and activities you’ll be participating in. Layering is often recommended for camping, as it allows you to easily adjust to changing temperatures. Consider packing items such as a waterproof jacket, moisture-wicking base layers, comfortable pants, and sturdy footwear.

Hiking Shoes/Boots

If you plan on hiking or exploring the outdoors during your camping trip, investing in a good pair of hiking shoes or boots is essential. The cost of hiking footwear can vary depending on the brand and features. Basic hiking shoes or boots suitable for day hikes can range from $50 to $150, while more advanced models designed for multi-day hikes or challenging terrains can cost $200 or more. Look for shoes or boots that provide good ankle support, traction, and durability.

Rain Gear

Weather conditions can be unpredictable, even during a camping trip. Having proper rain gear such as a waterproof jacket and pants can keep you dry and comfortable in wet conditions. The cost of rain gear can vary depending on the brand and quality. Basic rain gear suitable for occasional use can be found for around $30, while more durable and feature-packed options can range from $100 to $300 or more.

Sun Protection

Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is important when spending time outdoors. Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are essential items to bring along on your camping trip. Sunscreen can vary in price depending on the SPF level and brand, while hats and sunglasses can range from around $15 to $50, depending on the style and features. Investing in good quality sun protection gear is worth it to safeguard your skin and eyes from sun damage.

Bug Spray

Mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance during camping trips, especially in wooded or humid areas. Bug spray or insect repellent is a must-have item to keep these pesky bugs at bay. The cost of bug spray can vary depending on the brand, size, and active ingredients. Basic bug sprays can be found for around $5, while more specialized options can range from $10 to $20. Consider choosing bug sprays that are effective against a wide range of insects and have a long-lasting formula.


Don’t forget to pack your personal toiletries when camping. Items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, and toilet paper are essential for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. The cost of toiletries will depend on the brands and sizes you choose. Consider opting for travel-sized toiletries or reusable containers to save space and minimize waste.

Recreation and Entertainment

Fishing Licenses

If you plan on fishing during your camping trip, it’s important to check whether you need a fishing license for the area you’ll be camping in. Fishing licenses are typically required for anyone over a certain age, even for catch-and-release fishing. The cost of fishing licenses can vary depending on the state and duration of the license. Prices can range from a few dollars for daily licenses to around $50 or more for annual licenses.

Water Sports Equipment Rentals

If your camping trip includes water activities such as kayaking or paddleboarding, renting equipment may be necessary. Rental costs for water sports equipment can vary depending on the location and duration of the rental. Prices can range from around $20 to $50 or more per hour, depending on the type of equipment and the rental company.

Hiking/Climbing Permits

In some areas, hiking or climbing permits may be required to access certain trails or climbing routes. These permits are often necessary to manage visitor numbers and protect the environment. The cost of hiking or climbing permits can vary depending on the location and the duration of the permit. Some permits may be free, while others can range from a few dollars to around $20 or more per person.

Park/Museum Entrance Fees

If you plan on visiting national parks, state parks, or museums near your campsite, be prepared for entrance fees. These fees help support the maintenance and conservation of these areas. Entrance fees can vary depending on the specific park or museum, ranging from a few dollars to around $30 per vehicle or per person. Some parks offer annual passes that can provide cost savings if you plan on visiting multiple times throughout the year.

Other Activities

Depending on your interests and the location of your camping trip, there may be other recreational activities available at additional costs. This can include activities such as horseback riding, zip-lining, or guided tours. Prices for these activities can vary greatly, so it’s important to research and budget accordingly if you plan on participating in any of these additional activities.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping

Utilities and Amenities

Camping Stove Fuel

If you’re using a camping stove to cook your meals, factor in the cost of fuel. The type of fuel your stove requires will depend on the model you own, with options such as propane, butane, or liquid fuel. Prices for camping stove fuel can vary depending on the type and size of the canister or bottle. It’s a good idea to estimate the amount of fuel you’ll need for your camping trip and budget accordingly.


Campfires are a quintessential part of camping, but not all campsites provide firewood. If you plan on having a campfire, you may need to purchase firewood separately. The cost of firewood can vary depending on the quantity and the location. Some campsites may have firewood available for purchase on-site, while others may require you to bring your own firewood or purchase it from nearby vendors.


If you’re camping during warmer months or need to keep food and beverages cool, you may require ice for your cooler. Ice can usually be purchased at convenience stores or grocery stores near your campsite. The cost of ice will vary depending on the quantity and the location you purchase it from. Consider stocking up on ice before you arrive at the campsite to save on costs.

Laundry Facilities

If your camping trip is longer or you’re camping in an RV, laundry facilities may be necessary to keep your clothes clean. Some campgrounds offer on-site laundry facilities, which typically require coins or tokens to operate. The cost of using laundry facilities can range from around $2 to $5 per load, depending on the campground and the type of machines available.

Shower Fees

While some campgrounds offer free showers, others may charge a small fee to use the shower facilities. The cost of shower fees can vary depending on the campground and the duration of your shower. Prices can range from a few dollars for a quick shower to around $10 for longer showers. It’s a good idea to budget for shower fees if you’ll be camping at a campground that charges for this amenity.

Pet-Related Expenses

Pet Fees

If you plan on bringing your furry friend along on your camping trip, be prepared for pet fees. Some campgrounds charge additional fees for pets, which can vary from a few dollars to around $10 per night per pet. These fees usually help cover the extra cleaning and maintenance required for pet-friendly campsites. It’s important to check the campground’s pet policy and budget for any additional fees before you arrive.

Pet Supplies

Don’t forget to pack all the necessary supplies for your pet, including food, water bowls, leashes, and waste bags. The cost of pet supplies will depend on the specific items and brands you choose. It’s a good idea to bring enough supplies for the duration of your camping trip to avoid having to make last-minute purchases at higher prices.

Veterinary Care

Before embarking on your camping trip, it’s important to ensure that your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and is in good health. Schedule a visit to the veterinarian for any necessary check-ups or vaccinations. Be sure to budget for any veterinary care that may be required during your camping trip, such as medications or emergency treatments. It’s always better to be prepared and have your pet’s health needs covered.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping

Miscellaneous Expenses

First Aid Kit

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is crucial for any camping trip. The cost of a first aid kit can vary depending on the size, contents, and brand. Basic first aid kits suitable for camping can be found for around $10, while more comprehensive kits with additional supplies can range from $20 to $50 or more. Consider the activities you’ll be participating in and the potential risks to determine the appropriate level of first aid supplies you’ll need.

Campsite Decorations

Adding a personal touch to your campsite can enhance the overall camping experience. Consider bringing campsite decorations such as string lights, flags, or small outdoor rugs to make your camping area feel cozy and inviting. The cost of campsite decorations will depend on the specific items and your preferences. Look for affordable options that are lightweight and easy to transport.


If you’re visiting a national park or a unique camping destination, you may be tempted to purchase souvenirs to commemorate your trip. Souvenir costs can vary greatly depending on the items and the location. It’s a good idea to set a budget for souvenirs and choose items that are meaningful and won’t break the bank. Alternatively, you can opt for collecting small mementos such as stickers or postcards as a more cost-effective option.

Repair/Maintenance Costs

Sometimes unexpected expenses can arise while camping, such as gear repairs or equipment replacements. It’s important to budget for potential repair or maintenance costs to avoid any financial surprises. Consider carrying basic tools and repair supplies with you, such as duct tape, rope, and spare parts for your camping gear. If you need to replace any gear, research affordable options and consider buying used equipment to save money.

Budget Camping Tips

Research Campgrounds

Before embarking on your camping trip, take the time to research different campgrounds and their associated fees. Look for campgrounds that offer affordable rates and amenities that suit your needs. Reading reviews and checking campground websites can provide valuable information about the facilities, cleanliness, and overall experience of the campground.

Consider Off-Peak Seasons

Camping during off-peak seasons can offer significant cost savings. Campgrounds often have reduced rates during less popular times of the year when demand is lower. Additionally, camping during off-peak seasons can provide a quieter and more serene experience, as campgrounds tend to be less crowded.

Use Discount Programs

Check if you qualify for any discount programs that offer reduced rates for camping. For example, senior citizens, military personnel, or members of certain organizations may be eligible for discounted camping fees. Be sure to bring any necessary identification or proof of eligibility to avail of these discounts.

Rent or Borrow Equipment

If you’re new to camping or want to try out different equipment before making a purchase, renting or borrowing gear can be a cost-effective option. Many outdoor gear stores offer equipment rentals, allowing you to try out gear without committing to a purchase. Additionally, consider borrowing gear from friends or family members who already own camping equipment.

Plan Meals in Advance

Planning your meals in advance can help you avoid impulse purchases and reduce food waste. Create a meal plan and a shopping list before your camping trip to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients. Preparing meals ahead of time and packing them in sealed containers can save time and effort at the campsite.

Buy Groceries in Bulk

Buying non-perishable food items in bulk can save you money in the long run. Consider purchasing items such as rice, pasta, canned goods, and snacks in larger quantities from warehouse stores or online retailers. Be mindful of expiration dates and portion out food items to avoid wastage.

Opt for Free Activities

While some recreational activities may come at a cost, don’t forget that nature itself provides plenty of free entertainment. Hiking, swimming in natural bodies of water, birdwatching, and stargazing are just a few examples of free activities you can enjoy while camping. Take advantage of the natural beauty and serenity of the outdoors without breaking your budget.

Pack Light

When packing for your camping trip, bring only the essentials to avoid unnecessary costs and bulky gear. Consider multi-purpose items and compact gear that can serve multiple functions. Packing light also helps reduce fuel consumption if you’re driving to your campsite.

Choose Low-Cost Destinations

Research different camping destinations to find areas with lower costs of living and camping. Some regions or states may have lower campground fees, grocery prices, and overall cost of living compared to popular tourist destinations. Choosing these low-cost destinations can help stretch your camping budget further.

Share Costs with Others

Traveling and camping with friends or family members can help spread out the costs. Sharing the expenses for campsite fees, groceries, and transportation can significantly reduce individual costs. Additionally, sharing cooking duties and equipment can add to the overall enjoyment of the camping experience.

By considering these various expenses and budget camping tips, you can have an unforgettable camping adventure without breaking the bank. With proper planning and research, you can create a camping experience that is not only affordable but also enjoyable and memorable for years to come. So grab your gear, pack your bags, and get ready to embrace the great outdoors!

How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping


  • William Grello

    I'm William an outdoor enthusiast who grew up hiking and camping in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. At, I aim to inspire and help you by providing valuable insights and tips on making the most out of your outdoor adventures. Grello William

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