Planning to go on a hiking trip does not mean you have to become bankrupt by going on a shopping frenzy. Following some tips and tricks, you can still enjoy a wonderful hiking experience on a limited budget. Most of the time, try to plan your hiking trip first.
1. Town Stops - The Most Expensive of Expenses
- Share motel rooms
Everybody wants privacy which is natural.That’s why they tend to book an individual room for themselves in motels. No matter how rat infested the rooms are, the bigger issue here is the cost. You may want to save some money by sharing a room with your group members. Do this at least in town stops. It doesn’t really matter because you all smell the same awful!
- Instead of hotels, stay in hostels
Most of the time, hostels are less expensive than hotels and motels. You can rather have a cool experience staying in hostels. Some are donation based, so pay generously and enjoy. These hostels provide a good service to the hiking society.
- Hold on, it gets cheaper!
Stay in campgrounds instead of hostels and save more money. There are so many campgrounds you can avail in several towns. These campgrounds are infinitely cheaper than both hostels and hotels but still liveable. You may have to spend some cash to get a shower. Since you are already saving a lot, so it is worth it.
- Share laundry and transportation
Laundromat washers are very big and you probably just have a pair of crusty socks, a stinky shirt or a pair of dirty shorts. In this case, you can share your laundry by stashing in your stuff along with stuff of other hikers per round.
Thus you can save some bucks. Also, if you have to hire a transportation to go to town or some other place, you can share your transportation with other hikers and split the fair. Some towns provide free transportation for tourists, so added advantage!
- Slackpacking in tempting that can add up
There are several hostels who will offer you slack-pack for a 20 to 25 mile without any weight. Don’t get trapped in this kind of schemes. It will require you to return to the hostels that night or the next day.
- Beware of the trap of self-serve pay when you leave food
Some hostels allow you to keep a record of the cost of your food, just like a calorie diary. This may seem convenient at first, but hold on; this will eventually add up before you even realize anything. You may wake up from seeing a $80 bill of popsicles and frozen pizzas while the last thing you remember scribbling down the note is a $1.5 vanilla muffin.
- Instead of a zero, target for a Nero or a Hero
Attaining a Nero will offer you the advantage of a zero-day except for the extra food and extra night in town. In Hero days, you can hike to a road, delay in a town, resupply, and then come out before you spend too much money living in the town.
Even though there is not self-control involved but at least it helped you to go out of the town before you empty your pockets. This is the real agenda - avoid towns to save some money.
2. Post Offices - The Hidden Expense
- Bounce box is a great concept but is executed improperly
Some people on hiking think that if they don’t send the bar of soap to the next state, then they will never get any soap ever! Just think logically for a moment, if you avail a bounce box to ship simple items like toothpaste, soap, brush etc. from one place to another, you are not only paying for the items inside the box but also for the postal services and that too ten times more than usual!
Instead send the items home or don’t get supply from bounce box at all. Mailing items cost a lot of money and when you need to refill Aspirin, the box may not be even in that town and eventually you will end up buying it from the local shop. It is insane how much money is wasted upon mailing stuff.
- Why are you sending home your old hiking clothes?
Some hikers send their used stuff back in their homes but throw them out when they reach home. What is the need to sending the items to home spending lots of money if you throw them out on after completing the trip?
You can send unwanted gears which are still in good condition. Also, you can send cold weather items ahead of time so that you can use it by the time you reach home.
- Mail drops are hit or miss
There are some places where it is very convenient and expensive to resupply food items, so mail drop is the ideal option for those places. However, many hikers seem to be disappointed with their previous mail drops as they got the same food in every drop in each town for the last 1000 miles. These people constantly try to get rid of their food to other hikers and so they are great resources.
3. Food - You Need It and It Costs Dollars
- Until your next resupply, buy only what you need
If you have a lot of extra food waiting in the next town, you should not increase the weight of your pack by stashing tons and tons of food. It will taste the same all the time. You must keep your pack light.
- Use a mail drop if you get one
If you spend the money on preparing a mail drop and also for the postage, then eat the entire food! Resist yourself to pick up the mailbox to waste your cash to send just one thing.
- Restaurants are expensive
Except for Pennsylvania, all restaurants are very expensive. After eating stale trail food for a week, it is obvious to hog down a whole cheeseburger at one go.
A good idea is to eat one restaurant meal in each town stay and limit your craving. Then you can purchase food from a grocery shop for the rest of the trip. Eat anything that you can’t take with you on the trip and it will taste like a treat. For example, in a restaurant, if you eat Cheerios and half a gallon of milk it will cost you only $5. Since you can’t bring these with you on the trail, it will taste like a treat.
4. Gear - The Spending is Never Over
- Resist the desire to purchase the latest gear that conveniently appeared soon as you began your hike.
There may come a time that the same thing you already have, maybe with better packaging, you may end up replacing them within 500 miles as the other items look cool.
You may not even need it but still, you’ll feel the urge to buy new packs, new stove, new tent, new sleeping bag, and all another trendy gadget that you lay your eye on. Eventually, you will end up sending them away to your home and wasting a lot of cash. You should be happy with whatever you gear you got in working condition.
- Repair it, don’t replace
If the webbing on your pack gets torn, duct-tape it. It also looks cool since you can tell people about your experiences, how you were thrown off a ledge, how rats infested your web and so on. The shabbier your gear gets, the cooler it looks.
The exception is a shoe. You can’t walk 1500 miles wearing only one shoe or a torn pair of shoes. Your feet will get bruises and wounded. You can barely endure the stress on-trail, and so you should go for shoe replacements several times.
- Consider cheaper replacement for broken items
If your pack cover gets torn and starts leaking, then line the pack using a garbage bag.
- Congrats on the technical clothing of hiking
You may tend to feel the urge to buy most expensive technical hiking clothing at $90 or $100 from branded shops, but eventually, these will get torn and may have to buy from local shops which will look good on you too.
If you don’t need it, don’t buy it just for show-off. If you are going as a couple, don’t buy stuff double. Stay on a budget, follow the rules and enjoy the trip without any worry.
Just leave your car for a week to go on a walking trail. You will see the true beauty of nature. Strolling through the green canopy of wilderness also gives you more time to appreciate nature and will increase the chance to come across more wildlife than people. You can accompany your children, your friends, your dog and even your favorite fishing pole.
This may seem hard work walking through the rough edges of mountains with a heavy bag and it actually can be. However, the amazing experience you gather living amidst the majestic beauty of nature is totally worth all the hardships. If you have gone through this guide, you are all set to go on a wonderful hiking trip of your lifetime.