top of page

Car Camping

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Travel is expensive. It is a sad reality, but for those willing to sacrifice a little comfort, one that can be circumvented. During my college years, all I wanted to do was travel. Destinations far from home, however, seemed unattainable on my minimal budget. Then I discovered car camping, and realized I could go just about anywhere as long as I had enough money for gas. No airfare, rental cars, or expensive hotels. The world had opened up before me.

During summer of my Junior year, I hit the road for 6 weeks and traveled from Alberta to Arizona, and everywhere in between. The following summer, I hit the road once again for a fly fishing road trip. I fished the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Montana all from the comfort of my 2008 Toyota rav4. If you are on a tight budget, a college student, or just really cheap, this article is for you. Car camping is incredibly cost efficient. If you like adventure, convenience, and flexibility while traveling I would still encourage you to read on and see why car camping is so wonderful.

Cost Efficiency

Car camping is the most cost efficient way to travel. When I hit the road for a car camping adventure, I am essentially turning my vehicle into a small RV. I keep cooking equipment, a cooler, and a comfortable sleep system in my vehicle. Unlike owning a large RV, I am completely mobile on the road and not limited by the size of my rig. I also enjoy greater gas efficiency. Since I am not flying to my destination, I can bring more gear. Rather than spending money on gear rentals or limiting myself to just one fly rod versus two, I can pack all my extra gear I may need (within reason).


Even if you are no longer at a life phase where money is tight, I would encourage you to get in to car camping! Life gets busy, and a big trip can require extensive planning in order to maximize the experience. When car camping, I do not need to reserve hotels or even campsites for that matter. An empty parking lot that allows overnight camping will do just fine. BLM land? Even better. Most of the time when I am car camping, I don't know where I will be sleeping the next night!


I have listed a few tips in order to help get you started. I hope you find them helpful and make those far off destinations more attainable!

1) Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela's, and Camping World, along with a few other retailers, allow overnight parking. Walmart is my personal favorite because they seem to be located everywhere. I can also grab groceries easily. For obvious reasons, try to choose a well lit area. Pick up a cheap sun shade for your windshield to block out light

2) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, allow dispersed camping in most areas. My favorite area to camp when car camping is in these areas. Driving down a dirt road on beautiful public land and getting to choose your own campsite is the best! This method has served me well all over the United States, particularly in western states where public land is abundant.

3) Get a gym membership to a large gym network such as Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness. This will give you access to showers and a quick workout if you like to stay active on the road. You will also find that rivers and lakes are a great way to clean up...

4) Laundry - I like to take some 550 cord and attach it to the handles on the roof inside my vehicle to hang up clothes I hand washed. If you plan to do laundry in rivers or lakes, make sure you are utilizing a biodegradable, safe detergent.

5) A 3-Drawer tote - Organization can be really hard when you are living in your car. I have found that utilizing a 3 drawer tote really helps keep things organized and convenient

If you would like to see my rig in greater detail, check out this video that includes my setup for my fly fishing trip out to Wyoming.

As I wrap it all up, I think it's worth mentioning that I'm currently car camping in Florida (in January) and enjoying the free Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop to write this blog post. Convinced yet?

The links embedded through the article above are Amazon Affiliate links. By purchasing through these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you are interested in the gear and decide to buy through these links, it helps to support our channel which is much appreciated! Thank you for your support!


bottom of page