All climbers should know how to plan an affordable climbing trip. When the weather starts to warm up, spring temperatures hang around, and birds come back out as snow melts and frigid air floats to the back of your mind, you know it is the season for packing up, grabbing your climbing buddies, and heading outdoors. Everyone is ready for epic outdoor climbing, but no one wants to blow a hole in their pocket. As good as sending your project at the crag might feel, being down a couple of hundred bucks might hurt the next time you grocery shop or rent is due.
So how can you satisfy the desire for the most epic outdoor climbing trip while keeping it affordable? There are plenty of ways to cut costs (and that doesn't necessarily mean car camping on the side of the road and eating rice and beans for every meal). We've broken down a few of the best options for planning an affordable climbing trip.
1. Set a Budget
Before we give you options, set a budget. If you don't have a maximum amount you are willing to spend, you will likely spend more than is ideal. Instead, set a maximum number and stick to it! That way, you can immediately rule out options above your max price.
Now that you've set a budget, you can plan the trip. The highest potential cost will be lodging. You will generally have three options: car camping, camping at a campsite, or staying in an Airbnb. (There is technically a fourth option - stay with a friend who lives in the climbing area - but we know that is a specific case, so this is the only time we'll mention it.) Each of the three hospitality choices has pros and cons that vary the price.
This option is likely the cheapest if you can find a nearby hotel parking lot to crash in or a campground. If you found a hotel nearby, you'd likely not have to pay overnight fees. However, do so at your own risk. Otherwise, campground fees can be anywhere in the general range of $5-$30 per night, but if you're sleeping in your car, you won't have to purchase any camping gear like tents and could save some money.
However, car camping has a limit to how many people can sleep comfortably in the vehicle. Instead, a better option is to pack your car with climbers and camp. Yes, the good-old-fashion, camp-in-a-tent kind of camping.
Ultimately, car camping is a great budget option, but only if you know where to park for free and only 1-2 people are sleeping in the vehicle.
As mentioned, campground fees are generally $5-$30 per night. So, to make this option as cheap as possible, load up your car with climbers. Let's say your trip is Thursday through Sunday, and the campground costs $20 per night. If your carpool has five people, that breaks down to less than $15 per climber. If the campground charges per person, say $10, then each person would still only have to pay $30 per night. Overall, that's a price you can't beat.
The final lodging option, potentially the priciest, is staying in an Airbnb. However, Airbnb comes with more comfort. So if you decide you're willing to pay a little more, we suggest hunting around for the cheapest AirBnb and inviting as many climbers as the host allows to stay. Then split the cost to make it as affordable as possible.
3. Food and Gas
After lodging, your remaining costs are food and gas. Regarding gas, our answer could be more impressive, but it's the most effective, budget-friendly option: carpool. Like with lodging, splitting the cost among more people makes it less costly. Now, we aren't promising to pack a car full of climbers, and all their gear will make for the most comfortable road trip, but if you're looking to cut costs, there's no better option.
And finally, there's food. While it may be tempting to skip the hassle of packing in and eating at McDonald's every night, the budget-friendly option is to pack food from home. You could even make a big grocery trip with everyone and split the total amount afterward. However, the most significant benefit of bringing your food is controlling the price! You know your go-to grocery store and where to get the best deals on food, so why wait until you're in an unknown town with one overpriced grocery store to purchase sustenance?
Alright, have you been taking your notes? Ah, well, if you haven't, we'll cut you some slack. Here are the top three takeaways from our tips to plan the most affordable climbing trip.
Summary: How to Plan an Affordable Climbing Trip
Set a budget and stick to it.
Get a large group of climbers to come - and split as many costs as possible.
Pack your food from home, and don't eat out.
Ultimately, all it takes is some research and planning; your climbing trip will be as inexpensive as you'd like. Hopefully, these tips make the whole planning process more approachable, and let us know if you make it on your trip! We'd love to hear how you saved money and had a great time in the comments below!