It’s easy to imagine an epic adventure, one that includes everything that’s been brewing on your to-do list for years. However, if that epic adventure ends with an empty bank account, you’ll be hard-pressed to do anything similar for a long, long time. We don’t know about you, but we need regular doses of dirt. We’ve found after lots of unscientific study that a steady dirt diet makes for a healthier off-roader. Binging and purging? No thanks.
Cutting down the distance automatically makes almost everything cheaper. You’ll spend less on fuel getting there and back. If you break down, getting towed (you have an Auto Club card, right?) will cost less.
New Finds, Familiar Vistas
We’re willing to bet you’ve got an unexplored trail in your backyard. It might be well-known to your buddies, but if it’s unexplored by you, then it’s an opportunity to try something new without multiple fill-ups. Is there a destination or trailhead you’ve habitually bypassed? Now’s the time to check it out.
Mix it Up
OK, “mix it up” is a cliché that needs to be defined in order to mean anything. In this case, we mean running familiar trails in a different order, or running them in the opposite direction from what you normally do. While you won’t want to go against the flow when the trail’s crowded, seeing a trail in reverse can make it all seem like new dirt.
Ha! Another cliché! By this we mean to blend different outdoor activities into one outing. Chances are you’ve already got the gear for another favorite outdoor activity, so bring it along. Whether it’s a camera, hiking boots, a mountain bike, guns and targets, or a canvas and brushes, you can sometimes get more out of a trip by packing more into it.
If you’ve already got the gear, camping is one of the best ways to keep things cheap. If you’re visiting BLM land, a national forest, a national park, or a state park, campground spots are usually reasonably priced and are sometimes even free. If you’re going to a popular place, you’ll usually need to make reservations well in advance.
Stay With Friends/Relatives (but leave before your welcome’s worn out)
Show gratitude, bring a gift and/or figure out a way to return the favor. ’Nuff said.
Fill More Seats
If you’ve got an open seat in your rig, consider inviting someone new along. For the person who’s thinking about getting into off-roading, going along in someone else’s rig is a cheap way to sample the fun without investing in a vehicle. Odds are they’ll offer to help with food or fuel, but it’s in the best taste to let them volunteer to help. Nobody likes to feel like an ATM.
Sounds obvious, right? We’ve seen people go out on hardcore runs, always trying to see how much stuff they can break, and then enjoying the challenge of fixing it in the field. This can be a great way to block the trail and is also an expensive habit. If your wallet’s feeling skinny, leave the hard lines for those with bigger budgets. Who knows? You might be able to make a few bucks running to get parts for them.
Eating out adds up fast. It’s often part of the fun and it cuts down on the hassle. However, bringing your own grub is an effective way to save cash.
Maps and Guidebooks
If you can navigate for yourself, you’ll save cash and gain confidence. The flip side of this is it can cost a pretty penny if you have to get rescued. Know your limits and use good judgment.