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Frugal Vacationing: Camping

When I was a kid, my family went camping for basically all our vacations. We’d load up the car and meet up with the aunts and uncles and cousins at a lake near my Grandma’s house and do the usual camping thing. Swimming, building massive fires, napping, playing catch, eating and then thinking about the next meal. And we actually slept in tents, on the ground. These days, I still really enjoy camping. There’s something about it that’s just so relaxing. Hours of time to fill, with nothing or anything, whatever you want.

Recently, I had a 5 day vacation here in Korea, so a couple friends and I loaded up my car and headed to a beach a couple hours away from where I live. And any way you add it up, it’s essentially the cheapest vacation you could possibly have. Here’s how I broke it down:

1. Gas/highway tolls: $60 (split 3 days-$20/person).

2. Food/ drinks. We brought most of it from home. And we’d have to eat at home anyway, so I calculate that as “free.” And actually, I just cleaned out my fridge/freezer/cupboard of all the beers and meat and veggies and snacks that had been lingering around for a while.

3. Miscellaneous snacks/drinks. On a road trip, of course you need a snack or two: $10/person.

4. Camping: free. A lot of camping places in Korea are free, with public restrooms, etc. And even more so if you camp on the beach, which Koreans don’t seem to like for some reason.

5. Gear. I had all of it already so I’d calculate that as free as well. And actually, with the exception of my very expensive tent and sleeping bag (used for ultralight backpacking), I just inherited most of it from expats who were leaving Korea.

If you’re looking to get into camping, don’t spend lots of money on gear. Usually the mid-range stuff is decent and durable enough for car-camping. Here’s some decently priced stuff that would work well for summer camping: 3-person camping tent, mummy sleeping bag, and a Therm-a-rest sleeping pad.

So total cost of the trip? Around $30/person for 3 days/2 nights.

beach camping

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