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How to camp for under $300


Think you can’t have a holiday for under $300? Think again. Budget camping is the answer.

Family roasts marshmallows over a campfire

This family travel experience is cheaper than you think. Picture: Shutterstock

Chelsea Thomas is the owner and writer of the popular I Heart Bargains blog. She’s about to go on her first camping trip with her kids and, as with all her purchases, she’s sticking to a strict budget.

“I’m from a family of water skiers so when I was little, all of our holidays were based around the banks of the Murray River,” Thomas says. “My favourite part was hooking my feet into a rope that let us land in the river – my sisters and I did that all day long.”

That experience doesn’t need to cost a fortune. In fact, Thomas says she can do it for under $300.

Chelsea Thomas sitting on a chair in Bunnings

Chelsea Thomas from I Heart Bargains in BIG W. Picture: Chelsea Thomas

Her secret? Ditch the big camping stores and head to BIG W.

Thomas says $300 will get you a 4-person tent, one double and two single air mattresses, sleeping bags for four people, a table and four chairs.

“BIG W sells great value tents starting from $14 up to $149,” Thomas says.

“If you are getting started, you can get all of your family camping basics including air mattresses, sleeping bags, tables, chairs and eating utensils including knives, forks, spoons and plates.”

The first thing to consider is how large you need the tent to be. Do you want the kids in one tent and the adults in another? All in one room? Or a tent with two rooms so that the kids don’t wriggle and keep you up at night. The larger the tent, the more expensive it will be. But that extra room could be worth it.

Big W’s Hinterland four person dome tent with vestibule is only $59. The Hinterland six person instant tent with awning is $159.

The tent you choose also needs to be easy to use. There’s nothing quite so comical as watching people fail at putting up a tent. No-one wants to be struggling with poles and pegs in the dark with kids waiting on the site.

Thomas suggests families take a look at BIG W’s instant tents which are “super easy to use and very affordable”.

Kids in pyjamas camping on backyard budget camping trip

Yes you can go camping with the kids for under $300. Picture: BIG W

At Easter-time you won’t need a thick sleeping bag as it’s bound to still be hot. So you can afford to go cheaper. The Hinterland ranger sleeping bag from Big W will only set you back $12. But if you do want a little more thickness for cold nights, Coleman Dunns Creek sleeping bags are only $69 at BIG W.

Once you have the tent and sleeping bags it’s then all about the extra comfort.

“If you are looking to spruce up your site with extra comforts, some accessories to consider include a gazebo, camp kitchen, lantern, flashlight, wheeled cooler, mosquito repellent, portable stove and pans,” Thomas says.

Families should also look for tents with mosquito covers to keep out the nasties.

Camping tent from Big W, great option for budget camping

Yes you can get a tent like this one at BIG W for a really great price. Picture: BIG W

“Sleeping in a tent with the kids under the stars is such a wonderful way to get the whole family together,” Thomas says.

“Camping and being outdoors is an excellent way to bond with the kids through cooking and preparing food together and engaging in fun outdoor activities such as hiking or fishing.”

With a long weekend coming up… why not pick up some gear and hit the road?


Want some tips and tricks for budget camping? Read our camping guide for the clueless.

Need to know where to go with five to eight year olds? Read this guide. 

Love the beach? Here’s a story on the best beach camping spots in Australia.

View out of a tent into a field, person stretching in the morning

Camping is easy and cheap. Picture: Shutterstock


This story was produced with help from BIG W and Chelsea at I Heart Bargains. 


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