Finding a Way to Frugal Car Camp

This trip is great because it’s opened up the number of different places which I can go. In prepping for my trip, I had thought of a few different ways to take on this sort of adventure: (from most expensive to least)

  • Hotels ($80+ per night plus travel)
    • Easily the most expensive, you get amenities, your own room, bed, bathroom, etc
  • Airbnbs  ($30-$70+ per night per average)
    • Varied experience, it can be awkward in a rented room sort of situation and shared bathroom, but can also meet neat hosts and and get a breakfast and local insight with it
  • Developed campsites ($25-$45)
    • These are the privately run KOAs, RV sites, and the like. Since I don’t have an RV, and don’t really need electrical and water hookups. Maybe on the higher end it ends up with other recreational access and showers included. A similar one which I may try if the timing is right, is, a sort of airbnb, but for campsites with a range of amenities.
  • Less Developed Campsites (<$20)
    • A place to set up a tent, water access, and restrooms. Probably a dumpster and place for trash as well.
  • Dispersed Camping (or full couchsurfing, which I haven’t tried yet)
    • Full dry camping, bring in your own water, and pack out your trash. Maybe a vault toilet (a fancy hole in the ground), but no running water.

Planning on being gone for 60+ days, let say I go for close to cheap option ($20/night) then I’m looking at $1200 for the trip. That’s not going to work out for me and unlike camping supplies, that’s lost money, as far as campsites, running water is nice, but I also got a 7 gallon water jug to take care of that.

On the road, you fill up on water whenever you can get.

Then I also came across, which is a crowd sourced site of free or very cheap places to camp. A lot of these end up being full dispersed camping on federal land, but there are still quite a few listings with BLM or another federal agency that maintain some vault toilets, campfire pits, and parking area.


Most of my camping and traveling is finding sites near the National Parks or wherever I might be going, and clicking around until I find a site close enough, but also with some sort of restrooms.

And it’s worked out pretty well, there’s bound to be some hiccups, but you get what you pay for, and that’s part of the adventure.

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