It's summer, the weather is being kind to us and we're having urges to get the tent out and get away. Camping can be really expensive before you even go due to the essential pieces of equipment that you'll need to buy if you don't have them already. If you go camping often, invest in decent gear and look after it then it's not so bad as after the initial expense it can be very cheap to book a campsite for a week and pitch up.
At Simply Hike we love camping and whilst we believe in quality equipment we still like to save money where we can, so we have put together a little guide about how you can make your money stretch further. We have included cheap campsites, cooking and cleaning tips, extending the life of your tent and creating more room in your tent without up-sizing completely.
Cheap Campsites in the UK.
The first way you can save money when going camping is to go out of season and to stay as near to where you live as possible, which doesn't sound great when all you want to do is 'get away'! But you'll be surprised at the hidden gems you can find close to home that will still feel a world away, make sure you use websites such as www.pitchup.com and search your postcode. It might be fun to explore an area near by that you've never thought of before and you'll save money on petrol/travel costs and time travelling. Realistically you'll probably want to be somewhere you'll be unlikely to bump into anyone you know from home and far enough that popping home isn't too easy. Maybe an hour to a hour and half's drive away would suit, try not to immediately choose the place you always go to or the obvious choices - especially if they are far away!
Also look out for special offers on pitches and book savvy, look out for sites with cheaper rates and consider using www.campingcard.co.uk for cheaper rates.
A couple of our favorite cheaper campsites are:
This is a very large campsite, the largest in Europe in fact, situated in North Wales. It is very reasonably priced starting from £6.25 per night for an adult and £2.50 for a child. and £2.00 per night for dogs. There are three beaches with beautiful sand dunes and if you're lucky you might see Dolphins! Activities include fishing, bird watching, boating, crabbing, village, shops, shells, bar, snack bar and lots more. For more information visit: http://www.shellisland.co.uk/
Ninham Country Holidays Campsites
Ninham Farm is situated on the Isle of Wight and has two camping areas which start from £5.75 in low season and £8.25 in high season per person per night plus pitch price and extras. Pets are allowed on one campsite only which is the Willow Brook site. You have the whole island to explore as well as walking, climbing, pool scuba diving and water-sports. For more information visit: http://www.ninham-holidays.co.uk
Swaledale Camping at Hoggarths Campsite, Keld
Hoggarths is a working sheep farm breeding pedigree Swaledale sheep. The campsite is very basic with no toilet or washing facilities which isn't for everyone though the owners are happy for people to bury waste properly onsite. Drinking water is available and fresh eggs for sale. You can get permission to light a fire and dogs are allowed as long as they are kept under control due to the sheep on the farm. If this sounds good to you, you can camp from £3 per person per night and there is no need to book in advance. For more information visit: http://www.swaledalecamping.co.uk/prices.htm
Debden House Campsite
Surrounded by Epping Forest it is not too far from London and Essex and has plenty of room for camping. You can hire a fire-pit during your stay to use for cooking and leisure and there are plenty of facilities and a overnight security team. Prices start from £7.00 for adults per night. For more information visit: http://www.debdenhouse.com
In the heart of Herefordshire's Wye Valley, this campsite is near a river and is great for canoeing and fishing. It is popular with young people encouraging Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh and Schools. Prices start at £6.00 per person for adults plus £1 for a car for the length of stay. Fires are allowed and wood is available for purchase from the campsite owner. For more information please visit: http://www.tresseckcampsite.co.uk
Prices can be very reasonable for example for a standard tent pitch for 6 people for 6 nights at £66.30 which works out at just over £10 per person for a 6 night stay! The park boasts some amazing facilities such as swimming, gym, spa, fishing, jet-skiing, wake-boarding, water-skiing and a outdoor cinema. Find out more here: http://www.tattershall-lakes.com
Alternatively have you heard of http://campinmygarden.com? This is a great website where people can rent out their spacious gardens to campers for a small part of the year. A exciting discovery especially as prices can be as little as £0 but are normally around £5 and there are participants all over the UK, Europe and America!
Another cheap alternative is Wild Camping, which is illegal in England and Wales but not in Scotland. Make sure you follow guidelines however which can be found here.
Cooking meals from scratch whilst camping can be really fun and adventurous and save you lots of money. The best discovery I've made recently is Pinterest which gives you so many amazing ideas about camping food for the whole family. Make sure you meal plan before you go and take items that can be used to make lots of meals and that keep well especially if you are going for a few days or more. Have a look at our Pinterest account for some amazing and fun ideas on how to store, cook and present food. Where possible cook on a fire and save money on gas.
Good foodstuffs for camping include:
Porridge, cereal, bread (if protected whilst travelling) eggs (broken into a container or bag) peanut butter, tortillas, pitta bread, canned foods, fruit, soups, noodles, pasta, hot dogs, dried/smoked meats, frozen bags of batter for pancakes etc..
Dinners made in foil using meat and fish with vegetables, potatoes, sauces and butters are fantastic for wholesome meals for all the family. Also steaming, grilling and barbecuing.
Pre-prepare vegetables into freezer bags before you go for easy clean fuss free cooking, this will help you meal plan also.
Extend the life of your Tent
If you have a fairly pricey tent then you'll want to look after it, often people do not take easy preventative steps to ensure the longevity of their tent. Here are a few ways you can protect your tent and make it last longer.
1. One of the easiest but often over looked ways to protect your tent and extend its life is to use a groundsheet or footprint underneath to protect the tent floor from stones, damp and grime. It is best if it is a bit smaller than your tent however so water doesn't pool underneath if it rains.
2. Protect the material of your tent by keeping it out of strong sunlight wherever possible, you can buy a Nixwax solar proof spray that prevents fabrics from degrading in the sunlight.
3. Make sure you have a bucket and sponge for cleaning your tent after use, make sure you use a specialist or technical tent wash otherwise you'll risk stripping protective qualities from your tent. You'll need to thoroughly dry it afterwards, take a dry cloth for drying zips etc..
4. Make sure the tent is completely aired and dried before packing away otherwise mould will form and certain components may rot or rust. Do not use heat to dry your tent, you may melt or damage the fabric.
5. Try and remove all debris from inside the tent before packing it away, keeping it clean and preventing organics from rotting or sharp stones damaging the tent material.
6. Repair any rips or tears in a emergency using some strong tape to prevent tears worsening and keep the tent waterproof.
7. Use a re-proofing product such as Nixwax to improve your tents waterproofing properties once they begin to wear away.
8. Store your tent in a cool, dry place away from sunlight packed loosely.
9. Use a reputable repairer such as http://www.lancashiresportsrepairs.co.uk/
Need more room?
By buying a canopy, a shelter, tarp or windshield you can extend your tent and create more space without having to replace a perfectly good tent for a larger one. These items can be just as costly as a tent but are excellent versatile additions to your camping kit, allowing you to create extra sleeping space, a sheltered area from sun and wind or extra room for all your stuff depending on what you require. Check out our range here, it is best to make sure the addition you buy is compatible with the tent you have but there are some universal additions available.