Camping on a Budget

Let’s talk money, moolah, dosh, the almighty dollar! Well let’s face it we could all do with a bit more than we have right? So how do we make what we have go as far as possible?

A shortage of cash is often one of the main reasons why people start camping, and we were no exception. When the management and I first got together I wasn’t working after having been a long term carer for a disabled child, and Halys was working part time as a teaching assistant at a local school. So we didn’t have much but I did have a tent. Well an enormous ex keycamp eurotent to be exact. I’d bought it years ago for £150 and it was massive!

Despite her protestations that she hates camping Halys agreed to give it a go and soon discovered that she actually loved being under canvas, so she got the bug.

We camped only once a year in summer which was really all we could afford. Working in a school means that staff are also tied to school holidays which of course is the most expensive time to book a luxury hotel on a tropical island, with soft white sand… Erm sorry daydreaming for a second.

Anyway it’s not cheap and we couldn’t afford it. Our situation is better now but we still both earn less than the so called average wage of 26k or so that we hear quoted in the news almost daily. So how have we managed to go away 5 times already this year?

Well we budget well, don’t spend what we don’t need to and we bought a caravan!

The van is warmer, drier, totally self contained so it means we can go to sites with fewer facilities, what’s the point in paying extra for an swimming pool in February? It will probably be frozen anyway?

We joined the Camping & Caravan Club and got discounted insurance, discounts on their own campsites and automatic membership to a D. A. District Association, a kind of local branch. They organise social camping or rallies. The average cost being £7 a night per unit. So if you are a family of 2 or a family of 6 it’s the same price. The first one of these we went to was in a social club car park. So the self contained caravan was a must. But £14 for the weekend can’t be bad. And we had a great time!

Food costs money right. Well yeah but you would still eat at home? So we just raid the fridge & cupboard. You don’t have to eat out. There is something special about cooking and eating in the open air or as close as you can get in the middle of winter without freezing some important anatomical feature off. So no extra cost there?

Fuel costs, yeah you have to get there and back. I got into the habit of topping up my car every week on payday so I know I always have a full tank. That’s enough to get me to Paris from Manchester. All I have to pay for is getting back. In the past after a hard week at work I have txt the management at lunchtime on Friday and told her to pack for a weekend we are going to Paris as soon as we get home from work. Quick shower and we’re off. We found a hotel for £30 a night with breakfast and I booked online whilst at work and either the tunnel or ferry, whichever was cheaper. I have never had any argument from Halys if I whisk her to Paris. But even that is cheaper than a weekend in London only costing g around £150 with the added bonus of some food and wine shopping on the way back.

My philosophy is I work hard for what little I have I have earned the right to enjoy it so a weekend away the only costs are. Site fees & fuel. Everything else we would still spend at home anyway.

Fuel does not need to be mega bucks because you don’t have enough to go far for a great weekend relaxing. I know loads of people who travel only 15-20 minuets from home to the closest campsite and love every moment.

Site fees, you can book an all singing and dancing site with pools entertainment a restaurant etc…. But for a quick weekend break do you need them? Would you get chance to use them all anyway? Probably not. How many of us have given a child an expensive new toy only for them to make the box into a space ship?

If you can keep the site fees and fuel costs down its quite possible to go away at least once a month even on the most meager budget.

Our next trip is a C&CC THS (temporary holiday site) which is £11 a night as this site does have normal campsite facilities so it’s a bit more than usual but it’s still a substantial saving on the normal site fees charged by the campsite.