This week’s blog post is written by Explorer Family and soon-to-be Mom of 2, @becca_outdoors. Becca is exploring across British Columbia with her 2-year-old son. From hiking, to camping and backpacking — they are experiencing all that nature has to offer. Becca has written this piece on how to enjoy the outdoors on a budget. Are you wondering how to enjoy the outdoors on a budget with kids? Getting equipped to go outdoors can be expensive, and we fully understand that some people do not have access to outdoor gear. Becca has shared tips to help motivate those who may feel intimidated to be outside, due to being on a budget. We hope you find these tips helpful:
1. Look at what you already own
A lot of gear can be multi-use, which can help with your budget and save space. A great example of this is the poles that came with our snowshoes: we also use them in the summer as hiking poles!
2. Consider how often you’ll do that activity; weight out the pros/cons of renting vs buying
If you plan on doing the activity only a couple times of year, it may be more cost effective to rent rather than owning. This is really helpful to do, especially if you’re unsure if your child will enjoy the activity or not.
3. Borrow friends kids' gear
Kids grow so fast, so if you have friends with kids at slightly different ages this works great.
4. Purchase new items on sale/with a friend
We wait until sales to purchase more expensive items, or ask family members for gift cards as gifts that we can use towards more expensive items. Being in Canada, there are tons of great products from other countries but the shipping costs can be pricey. We ask our friends if they’re interested in buying the same product at the same time so we can either get free shipping or split the cost.
5. Buy used whenever possible OR consider resale value
We are huge fans of buying used for many reasons. It’s an easy way to be eco-friendly and used items are often in excellent shape and can be used for many years. We bought our hiking carrier used and it was essentially brand new, as the family before only used it a handful of times. We also bought our bike trailer used – it looks worn with a few tears here and there but still functions for what we use it for. Both of these items have great resale value. **Remember not to compromise safety! Some items you shouldn’t buy used, like helmets!**
6. Decide what's essential to have vs more of just a want
This one can be hard because it’s tempting to want all of the specialty gear you see other families have (especially with social media). I ask myself, “how often will we use it? Do we already own something that could be used in its place? Will it help us get outside more easily?” The other key question I ask is, “do these items make us safer?” If the answer is yes, then we buy it; we don’t cheap out when it comes to safety. I’m looking at you bear spray that expires every 3 years…
One item our family really struggled justifying paying for were merino wool base layers. It seems like everyone recommends them, but the idea of paying ~$60 for a shirt and pants for my 1 year old seemed so wild. So, this is what we did: we bought one new merino wool outfit, and after months of looking found another on Facebook Marketplace for half the price. We initially had our son wearing the one pair all the time, but he wore through them very quickly and we ended up having to patch them shortly after buying them. MY BUDGET FRIENDLY HEART WAS SO SAD when he wore through his expensive clothes so quickly. We now use these base layers for days when it’s really cold/hot because the merino wool gives us peace of mind, and use them on backpacking trips for bedtime. Instead of breaking the bank we own a lot of cost effective base layers made out of polyester or items with a mix of merino wool/polyester which makes them more affordable. Moral of the story, every family is different, it’s ok not to splurge on items just because other families are.
7. Decide on items that are worth saving up for
This will likely be different for every family depending on where your interests lie. For us, one item we wanted to save up for was an infant sleeping bag. When our son was 5 months old we took him camping and had him sleep in a bunting suit and homemade sleeping bag. It worked, but we didn’t feel super safe with this set up and weren’t sure he was warm enough. We looked for other alternatives because we LOVE camping and knew it was something we planned on doing multiple times a year. We found out about Morrison Outdoors sleeping bags through Kids Who Explore and knew this was an essential item for our family. We also knew this item would be passed down to any future kids we were going to have so we would get a lot of use out of it. We waited until they had a discount code (use code ‘kidswhoexplore’ for 10% off) and asked our friends who were also wanting to buy one to order together to split the shipping costs. We LOVE our Morrison Outdoors sleeping bag! Does this mean you need to go buy one? Depends! Ask yourself the questions above to help decide if it’s an essential item or not for your family.
Thank-you for taking the time to read this week’s blog post about how to get outside on a budget, written by @becca_outdoors. Stay tuned for an additional blog post coming this week!
Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures using @KidsWhoExplore and #KidsWhoExplore #KWE for your chance to be featured on our Instagram page!