The Benefits of Car Camping For Your Budget

The Benefits of Car Camping For Your Budget

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Car camping combines the fun of tent camping with some of the comforts of home while still offering inexpensive options for recreation, sleeping, and eating.

Camping is a popular and affordable way for many families to spend their summer vacation. There are several types of camping, but car camping requires only basic equipment rather than an expensive RV setup.

Bringing A Few Comforts To A Camping Vacation

Additionally, the extra capacity afforded by camping out of a car allows families to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities while incorporating some additional amenities not available to backpack campers.

Less Expensive Camping Gear for Car Camping

Because space and weight limits are not an issue with car camping, the way would be with backpacking; campers can use sleeping and cooking equipment that afford a few more comforts.

Larger, family-sized tents provide more comfortable sleeping; some even offer separate “rooms” for larger families. Also, bringing along camping chairs makes sitting around the campfire more comfortable than sitting on the ground or crowding around the picnic tables usually available at most camping sites.

Additionally, more cooking equipment can fit in a car’s trunk than in a backpack. For example, a Coleman portable stove offers a two-burner option that allows for larger, more involved meals, and bringing a cooler makes incorporating perishable food into the menu an opportunity not typically available when backpacking. Even cups, plates, and cutlery are easier to bring along when car camping.

The Benefits of Car Camping For Your Budget

Wide Variety of Outdoor Activities

Car campers do not have to worry about carrying everything on their backs, so campsite entertainment can be a bit more extensive than when backpacking only. Day hikes are recommended to take full advantage of the outdoors.

Any needs for such hikes, like water, a small first aid kit, or even a picnic lunch, can be carried in a small book bag, rather than a full-gear backpack.

However, for a quiet day at the campsite, cards, board games, books, and many other activities that families can do in their living room can still be enjoyed while car camping. Additionally, during mildly inclement weather, the larger tents permitted by car camping allow families to enjoy these same activities “indoors.”

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More Options for Campsite Cooking

Since car camping permits families to bring more food and cooking equipment to their campsite, menus can be more extensive. Many meals can be adapted to cooking at a campsite just as they would be in a kitchen.

The following two meals are great for camping because they are high in protein and carbohydrate content, which provides energy for full days of activity.

Campfire Black Beans and Rice

This is a delicious, filling meal that can be easily adjusted to feed several people after a long day of hiking. It can be made in a large pot over the fire or on a portable camp stove.

Ingredients to serve 4:

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2 lb of kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 Tbs of oil


1. Prepare rice according to package directions.
2. On the second burner, saute onions and peppers in oil.
3. Add beans and kielbasa, heating until warm.
4. Season with oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to taste and combine with rice to serve.

Eggs and Leftovers

This is a hardy breakfast – great preparation for a day of hiking activity. It is also a great way to use leftover Campfire Black Beans from the night before and add extra flavor to standard scrambled eggs and potatoes.

Ingredients to serve 4:

  • 8-10 eggs
  • 5 medium potatoes, pared and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • leftover ingredients from Campfire Black Beans (optional)
  • oregano, salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs of oil


1. Boil potatoes in water until partially soft (not mushy) in a large pot.
2. Empty water, add oil and continue cooking potatoes until slightly crisp.
3. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
4. Remove from burner, but cover to keep warm.
5. Warm leftover Campfire Black Beans on one burner while cooking scrambled eggs on the second burner.
6. Top eggs with warmed Campfire Black Beans, add salsa, and sour cream to taste.
7. Serve with potatoes.

The Benefits of Car Camping For Your Budget

Family Vacation for Less

Car camping provides the opportunity to spend time together without spending a lot of money on activities, food, or accommodations. As long as campers resist over-packing (as that can take away some of the charms of the great outdoors), car camping can allow families to enjoy their vacation time together for less.

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