33 Dollar Store Camping Hacks You Need to Know
Camping is the most budget friendly form of travel and vacationing there is. Campsites range from free to a tenth of the price a budget motel will run you, and are often located in the heart of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the planet.There is nothing quite as exhilarating as hitting the trail and facing nature one on one, away from the comforted security of home and the convenience of having everything you could possibly need within easy driving distance.
There is also nothing quite as challenging as trading out the known for the unknown. While great disasters are usually the start of a great story, great camping memories can be created without having to suffer- or spend a lot of money. These camping hacks are all created from supplies you can easily find at any local dollar store, and are brilliant ways to diminish the hassle that so often keeps us from camping more often.
Don’t let cost or ease keep you from exploring the great outdoors firsthand! Whether you prefer to camp in a KOA campsite in this years latest RV or backpack out on the trail to find a good tree to sleep in, these camping hacks help you get prepared for the adventure ahead.
Speaking of camping, you may get the best and most affordable gear at this page. From hammocks to shoes, they've got a variety of camping and hiking products offered at bargained rates. We recommend their 70L pro hiking backpack, UniGear tent, portable cooking set, multi-function camping tool, and sleeping bag.
Camping Hacks for the Car Ride
A great camping trip starts long before you set up tent. The real adventure begins from the moment you start to pack the car. These camping hacks will help you stay organized along the road so you reach your campsite ready to go explore. You’ll love saving time and energy by being able to jump right into setting up camp without having to clean up the car first!
1. Organize your car with a shoe organizer
Organize your car with a clear, plastic shoe organizer. Hang off the back of the driver’s and passenger’s seats for an easy way to keep things organized and easily accessible for your kids. Include things like baby wipes, games, books, and coloring supplies.
2. Portable tray
Use small, plastic shower caddy to create a portable tray for each person’s meal. The sides keep food from sliding off the seats onto the floor.
3. Maintaining your car’s cleanliness
Keep your car clean by using an over sized plastic cereal container lined with a trash can to collect garbage during the road. Or use a cardboard cereal box instead; simply remove the top and line with a small plastic shopping bag. The cereal box will be slim enough to easily fit in the pocket of the driver or passenger door.
4. A penny holder
Use a separate tin can or plastic jar to collect spare change from gas stations and restaurant stops. Keep the jar in a cup holder so you can easily access it for toll stops. You can also use a clean disposable coffee mug from Starbucks or clean plastic cup from a drive through.
5. Cell phone holder
Buy an a few binder clips to hold your cell phone in place on the dash so you can easily follow the GPS without holding your phone or driving dangerously.
6. A make-up bag to organize your small belongings
Use a cheap beauty or make-up bag to organize papers, like camping passes, receipts, passports, and cash.
7. An empty tissue box
Stuff an empty tissue box with empty plastic shopping bags. These can be used for things like collecting recyclables, keeping wet clothes separate, or replacing used trash bags. The tissue box is small enough to fit easily underneath car seats so it won’t get in the way.
Camping Hacks to Use At the Campsite
Even if “glamping”, i.e. glamour camping, isn’t your kind of thing, you can still use these camping hacks add some ease and style to your campsite. Everyone from the weekend RVer to the dedicated backpacker can find a few uses from these dollar store makeovers that help organize the campsite, add some fun, and make camping just a little more relaxing.
8. iPod speakers that won’t cost you a fortune
Use the cardboard roll from a toilet paper roll to make speakers for your iPod. Cut a slit the size of your iPod or iPhone; use thumbtacks to make feet to keep your “speakers” from rolling over.
9. A trash bag
Line a collapsible laundry basket with a trash bag. This will give you a way to keep the campsite tidy and collect trash in a compact manner.
10. A portable night light
Fill an empty plastic container, like a milk jug or apple juice carton, with water. Wrap a headlamp around the jug with the headlamp facing in. The light filters through the water and gives you a portable night light for your campsite.
11. Coffee filters
Instead of just grabbing and packing the Folger’s coffee can off the shelf, buy some coffee filters and pour out individual size ground coffee bean servings. Use the can as a weather protectant for a roll of toilet paper.
12. Tic tacs
Fill tic tac containers with salt and pepper for an easy way to add flavor to your camp meals. You can also use it to bring other spices and garnishes as well, depending on how gourmet your camping diet may be.
Sprinkle instant grits around your tent and campsite to deter ants from joining the party. While the grits don’t kill the ants, for some strange reason ants don’t seem to like piles of strange objects poured on the ground.
14. Shower curtain clips
Camping in the rain is an inevitable adventure. If it’s pouring outside, use shower curtain clips to hang up wet socks and clothes to dry inside your tent. You can also run a string through the tent and tie it off onto trees on either side of the tent to create an indoor section of clothesline. Use shower clips to hang clothes off the line. You can even use a shower clip to hang a flashlight on the cord to illuminate the tent while leaving your hands free.
15. A cool washing machine
Use a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger for a makeshift washing machine to reuse clothes instead of packing more. Fill the 5 gallon bucket up halfway with clothes and place the soap on the clothes. Dry scrub the clothes to really soak the soap into the clothes. Fill to the top with water and plunge away to scrub the clothes clean. You can even place the top on the bucket and push the entire container down a hill for a good spin cycle.
16. Dish sponges
Cut up dish sponges into smaller squares before using them to clean your dishes. This will stretch out your supply of clean dish rags without packing and spending more.
17. Swimming noodles as protective padding
Camping in an RV? Cut a slit along the long edge of a swimming noodle. Slip around awning poles for some protective padding to avoid injury to those walking alongside the camper.
18. Cheap fire-starters
Buying specialty fire starters can be expensive, and not all of them work well. Instead, grab a cheap bag of Cheetos, Doritos, or any corn based chip. They start quickly and make excellent kindling.
19. Match containers
Place matches in a small, plastic jewelry container or sandwich box to keep from getting damp or ruined. Glue a small piece of sandpaper to the inside of the box to scrape the matches against. Make sure you only use start anywhere matches!
20. Cheap padding
Use cheap, interlocking tiles to pad the floor of your tent for some extra comfort and insulation from the ground. Make sure you place the mats on the floor of the tent and not underneath the tent; the ground moisture will ruin the mats and create a nasty, soggy mess.
21. Hiding your valuables
If you are camping in a public or popular campground, hide your valuables out of sight. Use an empty chapstick container to hide rolled up dollar bills, or tie up bigger items in small garbage bags to disguise valuables as trash.
22. Water filter
To help filter water, collect water into a pail. Place a clean towel, sock, or other absorbent item on the water. Be careful to not stir the water around to encourage the sediments to settle. Place the soaking towel into a plastic bag and cut off a small piece from the corner of the bag. Squeeze the bag and towel above another bucket to catch the clean water.
Camping Hacks for Life the Trail
A lot of time spent camping isn’t actually spent at the campsite. These camping hacks are great to use for day hikes or multi-day hikes with camping out on the trail. Since you’ll be carrying everything you need, small items that can be re-purposed and are lightweight are key. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”- and make sure you have a few of these camping hacks along the trail.
23. Bring an extra garbage back
Use an extra garbage back to line your backpack before filling it up. The liner will act as a water shield and help protect your camping gear from the elements. While not entirely waterproof, it does help to keep your clothes from becoming damp by dew or light rain
24. First aid kit
Keep a first aid kit at the ready and organized in case of an emergency. Use a small candy tin or a prescription bottle to hold band-aids, cotton swabs, burn ointment, etc. Bandages can be rolled up around the case to save space without compromising emergency supplies.
25. Tick removal
In case of ticks, bring along cotton balls and some soap. Soak the cotton ball in the soap and place directly on the tick for half a minute. The tick will come up on the cotton ball for an easy no tweezers needed tick removal!
26. Duct tape
Wrap your water bottles in several layers of easy to remove tape, like duct tape. This gives you some tape for emergencies on the trail without taking up valuable pack space or weighing down your load. Duct tape can come in handy for replacing broken materials, wrapping up blisters, and even as a temporary cast for a broken finger.
27. Newspapers and coupon flyers
Grab some of those newspapers and coupon flyers at the door before you leave the Dollar Store. Pack a few to bring along; if your shoes get wet along the trail, you can simply stuff some newspaper into them to help absorb the water and dry a little faster.
Use Ziploc bags to organize your pack. Being able to see everything will make it easier to find what you need, and the bags will add another level of protection around your gear. Be sure to press the bags tight to get all of the excess air out before zipping up the bags. Extra air takes up valuable space in your backpack.
29. An emergency Poncho
Pack an extra garbage bag or two to use as an emergency Poncho in case of rain. Simply tear out holes for your arms and head, and put it on like a sweater.
30. Cheap key rings
Attach cheap key rings to zippers on your backpacks and tents to make it easier to zip without getting snagged on loose material. Using key rings also makes it easier to zipper items with gloves on in colder weather
31. Automotive paper towels
Bring automotive paper towels rather than regular paper towels. They are much stronger and can be reused, which means you need to only pack a few rather than an entire roll.
32. Deter ticks with this solution
Mix 1 part tea tree oil and 2 parts water in a small, travel size spray container. Spray on your pants, socks, and shoes to help deter ticks from attaching to your clothing. You can also spray your pets to help deter fleas and ticks as well.
33. Portion out items
Portion out items like toothpaste and soap into day size amounts. Cut up a soap bar into tiny cubes, and dry out pea size drops of toothpaste. Pack each into separate ziploc bags and use only 1 portion each day. This makes it easier to ration, is lighter to carry, and you don’t have to worry about losing your entire supply of soap at one time.
Before You Leave
Camping is the perfect vacation for whatever stage of life you are at. When you camp, your fellow travelers include everyone from all walks and stages of life; parents packing up their kids for the annual summer vacation, newlyweds honeymooning on a budget, family reunions, or single adventurers heading out to see the world on a dime. Using camping hacks to help make camping easier means you’re more likely to return out into the wild and see the world.
So grab your tent, pack up your sleeping bag, and go! Head over to Trekeffect.com to find your next campsite and plan the best camping trip you’ve ever taken.
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips & Tricks
Shop for Travel Essentials
Book your flight
Find cheap flights using SkyScanner. This search engine is are our favorite, making sure you get the best deal for tickets all over the world. They are great at aggregating flights from multiple providers.
Don't forget travel insurance
Protects yourself against illness, injury, theft, and even cancellations with travel insurance. You're buying comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. We never recommend traveling without it. We’ve been using World Nomads, a great company, with great service and highly recommend them.
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out our resource page for the absolute best companies to use when you travel! We list our favorite companies that save people the most money when they travel and we think it will help you too!
Disclosure: Some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. We only recommend products and companies we use and the income keeps the community supported.