Is camping becoming too expensive?

It saddens me to hear of caravan parks charging $100 to $200 a night for a camp site. Whilst we’d never pay that sort of money for a patch of grass, people are, and camping has become a whole lot more expensive than it was in the past.

Today, even the national parks in Australia aren’t cheap to camp at. If you have two kids over 5 in WA, with two adults, expect to pay around $36 a night, giving you a weekly minimum of $252 just for ‘accommodation’, which is a fair chunk of money (and still much cheaper than some caravan parks!).

Stay at the expensive caravan parks and you can be up for a huge amount of money each week in accommodation, and that’s before we get to the cost of gear, and what is considered the minimum today.

Belair National Park Holiday Park camping
The cheapest unpowered site we could find around Adelaide was $53 per night, with many over $80 a night

Keeping up with the Joneses

You don’t need much to go camping, but the bar is being lifted every day. Induction cook tops, inverters, lithium batteries, caravans and the list goes on and on!

Don’t make the mistake of buying everything that other people have. You can get away with a swag, esky and a very basic pantry if you’d like, and often that gives you more pleasure than being in a 5 star caravan each night. 

Now, these comments might seem a bit silly from a family who has most of the above, but we live on the road full time and have spent enough time on the road to know what we are happy with, and what we are prepared to compromise on when its literally our house on wheels.

We don’t have the luxury of a caravan, but make plenty of amazing memories in our Hybrid Camper instead.

Beach camping at Wauraltee
You don’t need everything and the kitchen sink to go camping

Fuel prices

You don’t have to look too far to see the cost of fuel affecting the way people travel. Thankfully its coming down again, but for a good chunk of time we were paying $2.35 a litre for diesel, and that hurts the bank balance come refill time.

Fuel at Rawnsley Station
Fuel prices have hurt badly

How much do you go camping?

I often relate to the price of what you purchase for camping around the number of times you head away. If you do a few weekends here and there, then you don’t need state of the art gear, and maybe you like staying in caravan parks as its convenient and they have everything you need.

If you spend months of the year camping then a van or camper trailer might make more sense, and sometimes setting it up so you can camp off grid, away from the expensive caravan parks not only makes financial sense, but is more enjoyable too.

Camped at Nambung
If you are just doing the odd weekend away your camping setup can be very different to life on the road full time

Savvy people can save a huge amount of money

If you are smart with what gear you buy, and where you go, you can save a ridiculous amount of money. We do as much free camping as we possibly can, and we have a setup that allows us to make our own food easily and comfortably, and that saves a lot of money too.

We’re careful not to drive too far to reduce the fuel used, and we choose the activities and experiences that we go on carefully. 

If you want to see our costs so far, we’ve done a post on 100 day costs for our lap of Australia, that should be helpful.

Do you feel camping is getting too expensive?

Are you feeling the pinch of camping costs? Are you prepared to pay more than $100 for a camp site?

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6 Comments

  1. Hey Jerry,

    Yep, it’s getting a bit insane. I’ve seen prices as high as $250 a night.

    We have noticed NSW seems to be the most expensive so far, which is frustrating!

    Take care
    Aaron

  2. Prices are ridiculous. Almost $100 per night. On top of that if you have long weekend (3 days off) they ask for minimum 3 nights stay, why? Its a waste $100 and I would come late night to set up everything. One holiday park eve asked for 4 nights minimum stay. I get that they lost money during covid but so did everyone else.

  3. Hey John,

    Yep, I was thinking about this earlier today. Some sites in WA were free, then $5, and now their $15 per adult, plus kids on top. You can actually stay in some caravan parks for cheaper than the national parks; its a pretty sad state of affairs.

    Victoria was quite expensive until they halved the prices, and some of the NT is up there too now. What a world!

    All the best mate
    Aaron

  4. $25 per night for 2 people for a grass site in mimosa rocks national park NSW. we grew up here and it use to be free. then it was a small amount. and now…with 3 kids also costing extra its not afordable at all. its a real shame. an all parks pass on top of that. yeah…well done for ripping people off NSW.

  5. Hey Terri,

    It’s certainly an interesting discussion, and the prices have gone up astronomically. Seeing how it all evens out will be fascinating, as they’ll have to drop prices to get people to come back.

    A lot are justifying it on more expensive labour and costs themselves, but one has to wonder how honest this actually is.

    For us, its simple; we don’t need to pay that sort of money to camp, and we don’t want to either, so we just find alternative places. We did the entire Great Ocean Road without paying for a caravan park once, and spent about 3 weeks enjoying it all. When they want a minimum of $60 a night to be jammed in like sardines we just find somewhere else.

    Cheers for your thoughts, and all the best
    Aaron

  6. Terri Baker says:

    For years and years it was the grey brigade that kept caravan parks afloat especially out of school holidays, most of these people are pensioners. So a long comes Covid and we can’t travel overseas, more people buying caravans, prices pushed up unnecessarily. So now people can travel overseas,there will be a huge glut of vans for sale and eventually the caravan parks won’t be able to get their pensioners to come back as fuel prices and caravan park fees are unaffordable. If caravan park owners want to keep this cohort on the road they need to go back to pre Covid pricing otherwise miss out on 80 percent of their business out of the school holidays times. Just pure greed in my opinion!!!