My recent camping checklist is a great guide for the beginning camper or glamper. If you're just getting started with camping, it's important to have a fool-proof list of essential camping gear. If money and time are no issue, it's easiest to just order these items from Amazon or purchase from your local camping or sporting goods store.
But if you're like me, you're always looking for ways to DIY or cut corners. If I can avoid a trip to the store or save a few bucks by throwing together some household items, I absolutely will. Or, if you're not fully invested in camping yet and want some cheap alternatives to full-time camper gear, I have just the thing for you.
I've put together some of my go-to glamping and camping hacks for both avid travelers and first-timers. These will save you money and time by using everyday, household items instead of expensive camping gear.
DIY Camp Lighting
Besides a few flashlights, you'll want to illuminate your site with lanterns or string lights -- after all, lighting is one of the most important aspects of camping and glamping. If you don't have any of these on-hand, you can pull together a few alternatives. Strap a headlamp to a jug of water, or drop a few glowsticks in, and you'll have an instant DIY lantern!
You can also grab any convenient lighting you have around the house, like flameless candles and tealights, and place them in mason jars or tin cans with holes hammered in the sides.
DIY Camp Decor
Sure, that IG-worthy glamping aesthetic comes at a price: designer furniture and bedding can be pricey. But your camp decor doesn't have to be. Take a trip to Ross or Marshall's and pick up a few cheap items, or grab what you have around the house! In the past, I've decorated my glampsites with old Christmas decor and other random items. Everything in this photo, I already had lying around! Fake plants, bath and welcome mats, entry rugs, throw pillows and blankets, and little figurines -- it's all fair game!
DIY Camping Storage
I've used a variety of camping storage solutions in the past: duffel bags, plastic bins, backpacks, you name it. One of my favorite camping hacks is using a storage tower to transport and organize your camping gear. It's great for small items, like underwear and socks, snacks, hand warmers, flashlights, paracord bundles, plates and cutlery, etc. You might have a decorative one around your house that you could re-purpose for your trip, or even a plastic one.
Another camping storage idea that I love is using a laundry hamper or basket to transport your gear while traveling. Once you arrive, you can unpack everything and use the hamper for dirty clothes, or whatever other storage you would like
There are so many good DIY fire starters out there, but if you want to stick with what you have around the house, try that old bag of Doritos in the pantry. Yes -- Doritos are flammable! Instead of throwing away those stale chips, bring them with you to toss under your fire logs to get that flame started. You can also bring a baggie full of your dryer lint. There's a reason you empty your lint trap after every use -- that stuff is crazy flammable. Or, grab a handful of cattails from your yard (or your neighbor's yard?) to use as tinder. If you want something more official, DIY some tinder by dipping cotton swabs or cotton balls in wax; or take an empty egg carton and place lumps of coal in each compartment, then light it under your logs. Like I said... so many good fire tinder options!
DIY Coffee Pods
Some hardcore campers and glampers opt to purchase portable espresso and coffee makers. That's cool, but not necessary. For no-hassle morning coffee, just pretend it's tea. Prep coffee pods by bundling single (or double) servings of grounds in coffee filters. Tie off the bundles with dental floss, twine, or rubber bands, and trim the ends with scissors. There you have it -- DIY coffee pods! Toss them in a jar or Tupperware for travel, then pop them into boiling water to brew some instant, delicious fuel.
DIY Camp Stove/Grill
If you don't have a fancy portable camp stove, or if you're just doing some light backyard camping/glamping, create a cheap stove/grill by following this tutorial. All you need is a large tin can, foil, coals, and a cookie rack. It's totally easy and really serves the purpose!
Or, create a long-lasting cooking surface by carving a log, like this. It will burn for hours and keep you warm while you cook.
If you want to get glampy, spruce up your site with some furnishings. Take anything and everything you have and turn it into camping furniture: bean bag chairs, sack chairs, folding chairs, armchairs, small ottomans, rugs, end and night tables, etc. You can even bring crates and boxes to turn upside-down, creating makeshift tables or stands.
No sleeping bag? No problem! Grab all of your favorite blankets and pillows and create a soft sleeping area in your tent. Get creative -- look around your home and figure out what you can do with the objects and furniture at hand!
DIY Food Solutions
Cooking can be tricky while camping. Many people - including yours, truly - have resorted to just eating beans out of a can to avoid all the hassle and mess. But creating delicious camping meals doesn't have to be a struggle. For breakfast eggs, pre-crack and scramble your eggs and store them in a sealed, spouted container like this one or even a water bottle. When the time comes, just pour into the pan and cook -- no mess!
S'mores are a camping necessity, so you'll need camp skewers. You could buy some, or you could do what I did growing up: make some out of wire clothes hangers. Just grab some old hangers and twist them into shape with pliers. Here's a good tutorial for you.
Your hands are bound to be sticky after eating a few S'mores, so create a nifty hand-washing station using an old laundry detergent container, a bungee cord, and a paper towel roll. Add a bottle of eco friendly hand soap... or take your average bar of soap and place it into a pouch created by sewing together an old washcloth -- this creates a foaming soap loofah that won't slip into the dirt!
DIY First Aid Kit
I'm a huge safety advocate, and I do encourage everyone to keep a fully-stocked first aid kit with their camping gear at all times. But in a pinch, you can create your own with an old, empty prescription pill bottle. Just fill it with a few bandaids, a small vial of antibacterial fluid, cotton swabs, a strip of gauze, and some alcohol swabs. Voila -- easy, travel-sized first-aid kit!
And there you have it... all of my favorite camping and glamping hacks and DIYs. Comment below and let me know some of your personal camping tricks!