The words “two campers” and “frugal” don’t necessarily go together. Believe me, I know. Regardless of whether I have 1 camper or 2 campers or when I had no campers I’ve always been fairly frugal, with some occasional splurges. I am one of those odd people who really love things used. Nowadays we call it upcycled, repurposed or recycled, but I keep it simple…it’s used. Aside from the normal mumbo jumbo you hear about how it saves things from going to the landfill and reduces pollution by keeping the manufacturers from making yet another thing for you to buy, I believe there are tried and true benefits. One is that if it’s already been used, you can see how it’s holding up to use. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about – that thing that looks super cool in the big box store and is reasonably priced so you bring it home and wind up utterly disappointed months, weeks or even days later.
I was recently talking to a couple who bought new silverware for their camper. They didn’t want to spend a fortune but didn’t want the absolute cheapest stuff either. (You know the fork that bends the first time you stab a piece of broccoli with it.) So they saw this set that didn’t seem flimsy, was priced right and was a bit flashy. It was charcoal gray, like a shiny beautiful platinum. (I saw it…it was pretty cool.) They had their choice between that or a rose gold looking set or a pearlescent rainbow set. They liked the platinum so they loaded up the cart, carefully washed and dried them and outfitted their camper with new silverware that was like none they had seen before. The problem? That pretty, shiny, platinum charcoal gray was just a coating. A coating that, over time, wears off to reveal a lackluster gray. But in a camper it didn’t take any time at all. Miles and miles of travel with the silverware bouncing/banging against each other quickly revealed the issue.
The other benefit is cost savings. Things that are used come cheap. And if you are looking for great quality, used is the way to go, at least for me. I’m not one to go to a big box store and overload my cart with camping Minnie Mouse stuff so that I can decorate instantly. FYI – if you are one to do this…more power to ya! I am not judging anyone elses behaviors or choices, but my creativity keeps me from doing that for the most part. I love finding old things, handmade things, locally crafted things and figuring out how to put them together to make our camper show who we are.
Our first camper was used, almost 30 years old. It actually seemed quite silly to buy anything new for such an old camper. We already knew we loved camping, but weren’t sure we would love camper camping so we weren’t interested in sinking money into new stuff, painting it or upgrading. We simply used our old camping gear inside the new to us camper. We just wanted to try it out and see. It was already parked in an RV campground on a lake and it turned out we did like it so we started looking for the “right” camper to have at the lake (because this was not it – photo below).
We wanted something big enough for our growing family and comfortable enough to spend lots of time in and not over the top expensive. After looking for a year we found a holdover that was in our price range and had everything we could’ve hoped for. Now we wanted to “outfit” this camper. Since it was new I didn’t have any interest in sinking money into painting. Painting is a great way to show your style, but good paint isn’t cheap. I figure someday it will need a remodel and we’ll spend the time and money on paint then. So that left me with accessories, bedding, linens, etc. to show my style.
One of the drawbacks is that this can take time. You’re not going to find every thing you want all in one weekend or week. I made a full list of everything we used in the old camper we sold and even included wish list items that we said we would like to have even if they weren’t necessary. It took me an entire summer of salvaging, rummage saling and garage saling to wind up with a camper that was decorated to our tastes and even longer to get some of those wish list items.
With all that said, there are things you are going to need before you get through an entire summer. Silverware, for instance. LOL I bought mine at thrift stores. I sifted through bins at 2 different stores in my local neighborhood and looked for used silverware that looked like it had stood the test of time. I also looked for patterns that complimented one another, since getting them all to match would be nearly impossible. I wound up with 32 pieces for a whopping $3.20 before tax (they were 10 cent each). Another thing you might need right away are towels. I liked the idea of these being new, especially since I needed them right away and the thrift stores didn’t have anything, so I started scouting stores online looking for good towels on clearance and lucked out paying $2.50 each for $18.00 towels in a perfect color. Then there are the things you don’t need right away, such as the silverware separator that fits inside a drawer – trust me, you will find one of these at every other garage sale you go to. Or even a shower caddy – I found one of these at a rummage sale. It hangs over the side of the shower and holds everything we need and cost me $1. (Same one on Amazon’s website was $22.90.) Below are some of my favorites that I got on the cheap or even for free. They were a great start to putting things together with a northern lake retreat theme.
At the end of the day I don’t anticipate spending my time inside the camper marveling at my decorating skills, but rather hope to be outside relaxing, exploring and making memories and keeping decorating costs down is a must.
P.S I absolutely love love love to learn about how others are being frugal so feel free to leave a note in the comments with your frugal happenings!