This fall weather has me itching to take a trip up to the Eastern Sierras, even if only for a weekend run (check out our video below for a quick trip to Convict Lake)!

Since I was about 3 1/2 years old, my family and I have been truckin’ it to Mammoth Lakes to take

our yearly camping trip–fishing, hiking, boating, card playing, bike riding, hot-springing’, photo taking, horseshoeing, and lots and lots of eating 🙂 Chase and I have been going since our freshman year of college, so it really feels like a home-away-from-home… A place we LOVE to go and go to LOVE!

Ok, now the money savings… Many of you can probably guess that camping in itself is probably one of the most inexpensive ways to squeeze in a family vacation (which is probably one of the reasons why we go camping so often!). It’s not necessarily luxurious, like staying at the Ritz (or even the Best Western for that matter, but it’s sure to provide tons of memories and an experience you will never forget).

That being said, I’d love to share some of the ways we save money on the road and when taking weekend camping trip…

First, the main expense with camping is most likely the cost of gas to get to your destination. For example, our trip up to Convict Lake is about 230 miles from our house, so divide that by Dakota’s (our Honda, Element) 22 miles/gallon average, and we are looking at about 21 gallons of gas (roundtrip) totaling about $60.

Now, most of you know that campsites often charge a nominal fee (actually, not so nominal in California) to stay within the campground–but did you know that often times you can avoid this fee???? Well, let me tell you, YOU CAN!

When we went up last fall, actually last-last fall, most of the parks were already closed for the season… But, no worries on our end because we got to stay for FREE! No, we didn’t have to break through any fences or cut locks to forge our way into the campsite… They remain open, they just don’t have a campground host and the bathrooms will (most likely) not be up-kept (so bring some extra TP :)).

On our trip, we were able to stay at each campsite for FREE, more money in-pocket and to spend on road trip snacks! Ohhh, road trip snacks… Another area to save money! Before going on your trip, plan out what you plan on eating and pack an ice chest!

Maybe you don’t want to bring the whole kitchen, but plan out your meals so you have an idea of how much you are going to spend. On this short trip, Chase and I didn’t want to spend additional time packing a lot of food, so we got a pizza from Costco, bagged it up, and threw it in the ice chest. YUMM! I don’t know about you, but I can eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner… But if you aren’t a pizza-all-day kind of family then find whatever works for you, but plan ahead! In addition, we also make one stop on our way for some hot food–we’ve made it a tradition to stop at Carl’s Jr. in Lone Pine, but we ALWAYS use coupons! Besides our main meals, you also want to get some tasty road trip snacks 🙂

Take the whole family to a cheap market (Walmart, WincCo, Stater Bros, etc.) and give each family member $5 to chose ONE snack they’d like to eat and share with the rest of the family–also, grab a pack of water to bring on the road. This way, you will have a good variety and won’t have to pay high prices to pick up a pack of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos while you fill up on gas (geeze–I’m not making us sound very healthy right know…  I promise we eat lots of healthy things!). Some suggestions I have are: trail mix, single serving applesauce squirt packs, dried fruit, low-fat jerky, Goldfish, grapes (and other hand-held fruit), yogurt covered raisins, and your favorite oat/granola bars.

All-in-all, the food on the trip should not cost you any more than it would if you were staying home for the weekend, which means there is ZERO guilt (and you won’t notice a difference in your bank account) at the end of the weekend!

Lastly, entertainment… If you don’t go camping, what other plans do you have? Mother-daughter mani/pedi? $60+; Movies with popcorn? $40+; Afternoon baseball game? $120+; Trip to Kohls? $80+; Trip to Costco? $100+ (if you can tell me how to get out of Costco for less than $100 then please, PLEASE, let me know how :))! But when you are out in nature, guess what?! Everything is either FREE or extremely inexpensive 🙂 Hiking? $0; Photography? $0; Fishing? $14 for a license; Relaxing dip in a natural hot spring? $0! Whoop, whoop!!!!

Feel free to watch the short video of our mini vacation from 2013. This was before I was even pregnant with Faith, so instead of setting up a tent we just slept in the back of Dakota (our Honda Element)–yes, my car is probably more BA than yours, but you don’t have to sleep in your car, that’s just my style 🙂

Much Love and Happy Savings from #TheTigertFamily

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