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20 GENIUS Camping Hacks Using Dollar Tree Items

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Camping can be one of the most fun, frugal “vacations” you can go on with your family IF you know how to plan ahead (I mean who doesn’t love gooey S’mores, singing by the camp fire or telling ghost stories in the dark?!). If you’re planning a camping trip on a budget this summer, check out the following camping “hacks” using Dollar Tree items that will ensure everyone is a happy camper. 😊

1.) Use Mesh Laundry Bags for Drying Dishes

If you’re looking for a way to keep your dishes clean after washing them, consider grabbing Mesh Laundry Bags and placing your wet dishes in it. Then just hang it up on a tree limb and the dishes will dry and stay clean from dirt or sand. You can also use the bag for keeping dirty laundry in one place.

2.) Place Solar Stake Lights Around Tent

A great way to make it easier to see around your campsite at night is to place these Solar Stake Lights wherever you would like more light (i.e. by the tent poles, near tent entry, close to the bathroom, etc). You may even be able to find patriotic or holiday-themed lights depending on when you shop.

3.) Put Glow Stick Bracelets on Tent Ties at Night

Glow sticks are always fun for the kids to use while camping (and makes them easy to spot in the dark)! They are also helpful to place around the tent ties at night so that no one trips on them.

4.) Place Pool Noodles on Tent Lines

Another idea to keep everyone aware of those tent poles is to grab brightly colored Pool Noodles and cut a slit down one side of the noodle and cut them into smaller pieces (can make them as big or small as you want). Then just place them on the tent lines so that they are easy to spot during the day.

(Photo Credit)

5.) Keep Paper Plates from Blowing Away with Cake Carriers

Although this Cake Carrier may be a little flimsy to hold a heavy cake, it is perfect for using to store paper plates and napkins on the table so they won’t fly away on a windy day or get dirty.

6.) Stay Organized with Stackable Bins

These stacking bins are great for using inside the tent to keep things organized or even for placing on the picnic table to hold games, lighters, hand sanitizer, flashlights, bug spray, and other items.

7.) Keep Your Tent Clean with a Small Broom & Dustpan

A handheld broom with dustpan is the perfect size for keeping inside the tent to sweep up the dirt, leaves, and/or sand that may creep in throughout the day. Plus, they’re great for littler kids to use too!

8.) Store Items in a Hanging Shoe Organizer

If your Dollar Tree carries Hanging Shoe Organizers (can also find inexpensive ones at Walmart or Amazon), you can use these to keep random kitchen supplies or toiletry items organized and in one spot. Then just hang it on the side of a tree, inside the tent or on a shaded structure for easy access.

9.) Make S’mores with Campfire Skewers

If you’re planning to make S’mores or roast foods over a campfire, these 4-pack of skewers definitely come in handy and are actually pretty nice quality. Plus, some Dollar Tree stores may even carry single skewers for $1 with rubber handles and poles that extend so you can make it longer if needed.

10.) Store Spices in 7-Day Pill Containers

An easy way to season your foods without bringing your entire spice rack is to grab these 7-Day Stacking Pill Organizer containers and fill them with different spices that you’ll need or want to use while cooking (salt, pepper, sugar, season salt, garlic salt, etc). Plus, the containers come apart too!

11.) Keep Bugs Away with Fun Fly Swatters

This isn’t really a “hack”, but Dollar Tree carries these cute 2-pack Fly Swatters or single flowery Fly Swatters for just $1. You may also find Mosquito Repelling Coils and Flying Insect Killer Spray (along with other bug repellent items and citronella candles) that will help keep those pesky bugs away.

12.) Make a Clothes Line with Hardware Poly Rope

If you’re planning to wash your clothes while camping OR if you just need a place to hang wet towels, socks, shoes, swimsuits and other apparel, be sure to grab a clothesline with hook for just $1.

(Photo Credit)

13.) Keep Tablecloth Down with Jumbo Plastic Clothespins

To keep your tablecloth from blowing away on a windy day, pick up these Jumbo Plastic Clothespins and clamp them over your tablecloth onto the edge of the table (they also sell smaller table clamps).

Another tip is to bring an old, fitted mattress sheet from home and wrap it over the table – then just throw it in the washing machine when you are done for easy clean up!

14.) Store Eggs & Food Mixes in Sealed Container with Lids

There are a lot of neat plastic storage containers with lids at Dollar Tree that are great for cracking eggs into and storing for making scrambled eggs, pancakes, etc. I found water bottles, mix and serve containers and more that would make transporting and storing food much easier. Or if you already have glass mason jars with lids at home, you could use those instead but they may break easier.

15.) Make S’mores Prep Packs in Plastic Containers

Avoid having to search around for S’mores supplies by prepping ahead of time and keeping all the items together in a plastic container with a lid – and Dollar Tree has a lot of choices! You can also place clean plastic-ware or napkins in these containers to keep them from flying away or getting dirty.

16.) Make Your Own Charcoal Grill

Planning to grill foods on your camping trip? Make your own charcoal grill using a foil pan, cooling rack and charcoal (some stores usually sell small bags of charcoal around Memorial Day or 4th of July)!

(Photo Credit)

17.) Make Campsite Scrubbing Easy with Bath Mitts

For convenient campsite scrubbing, cut pieces of bar soap and place them inside these cute bath gloves or a microfiber wash-mitt (found in the car section). Then just get the gloves wet when you are ready to wash and you won’t have to worry about dropping a slipper soap bar in the dirt.

18.) Keep Bugs Off Food with Shower Caps

Use these 8ct Shower Caps to cover your plates and bowls to keep pesky bugs away. You can also keep your dirty shoes in these shower caps when packing up to keep any mud or dirt out of the car.

19.) Make a First Aid Kit with Essentials

It’s always a good idea to bring a first-aid kit with you when camping in case someone gets hurt. Dollar Tree sells many first-aid essentials from band-aids to hand sanitizer to medicines and more. Also, you may find these black Tool Boxes priced at just $1 that would be great for storing your first aid items.

20.) Pack Rain Ponchos… Just in Case

Because you can never predict the weather, it’s always a great idea to pack a few Rain Ponchos in your bags in case it starts to rain (also Dollar Tree sells Umbrellas for just $1)! These Ponchos will help you from getting drenched when running from the tent to the bathroom in the middle of the night or when you are packing up the car to head home and can’t hold an umbrella and bags at the same time.

Did YOU See These Additional Camping Tips?

Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off running long distance, bargain shopping, warm weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Join The Discussion

Comments 90

  1. Charlotte's Mom

    These are great! I am saving these ideas for the future. Thanks!

    • Colette

      The black meat trays also can be used as trays for food, covered with shower cap to keep bugs off.

      • Sue

        You should never reuse meat trays.

        • Melody

          The “meat” trays from the dollar store have never been used. They are to put lunchmeat or cheeses, etc. on.

        • The L Train

          Oh, Sue.

  2. Jill F.

    Great post! Lots of clever ideas!

  3. mamasweetpea08

    great ideas. thanks for sharing!

  4. Traci

    I have found actual picnic table tablecloth clamps in the kitchen area of our dollar tree several times. They came in a 4 pack and I actually keep a set on hand in our camping box!

    • Tessa

      I have used the eight pack of clamps for table cloth covers, hanging wet clothes and towels, too holding towels on to beach chairs while at the beach. I always pick up a couple of packages for every trip. They also hold strands of Christmas lights with out any damage.

    • Sandie

      I use flat bungees, one on each end of the table to hold the table cloth on picnic table. I think I use a 36 in but could be wrong on the size. I think they are green. It works as well or better than any clothes pins or other things meant to hold the table cloth on. NO wind will blow the table cloth off.

      • Dmitri Scolnoffigus

        just use thumbtacks

    • Catsco

      Doesn’t anyone make a picnic table cloth that is “fitted” like a sheet?

      • Jeanne Willige

        I use a table cloth and put a twin fitted sheet over the top of it. Where we go camping there are 2 different types of tables, some are thick concrete and some are metal with a lattice type pattern which has holes in them.

      • Jerrilee

        Great idea! You should invent one and I would buy a dozen.

        • Dhquilter

          I bought two matching plastic coated tablecloths. On one I sewed casing on both ends with cotton clothesline inserted (strings long enough to reach under the table and tie in a bow). The second tablecloth I cut in two pieces lengthwise and sewed casing with cotton clothes line on both ends to wrap around the benches.

  5. Susan

    LOVED this post! Thanks, Mary!

  6. Lolie

    Such great ideas! Thank you!

  7. Nicole

    These are great ideas! Thanks!

  8. Heather :)

    Awesome-thanks for sharing!!

  9. Nina

    Wow, some brilliant ideas! Thx 👍

  10. Steph

    Thanks for sharing these pinterest posts. I had already pinned a few but now I’m really set for our upcoming camping trip!

  11. Leslie Ramey

    Great ideas!

  12. Suz

    The shower caps are good for leftover foods too at home

  13. Laura

    I really like the shower cap idea


    Tons of helpful stuff!!

  15. Vivian

    Awesome post

  16. MaddMomma

    Great ideas! Taking the kids camping soon for the first time. Hitting t he dollar store first!! Thank you!

  17. JA

    I love number 5. I don’t like the shower caps to cover food though. They smell really chemically and plasticy to me.

    • Kristy

      Check $ tree by the sandwich bags/foil etc. I’ve found 24 packs of assorted sized food covers. They look just like the shower caps but I’ve never noticed a funky smell. They work great!

  18. Tera

    My husband travels for work and I always ask him to bring home the complementary shower caps for me 🙂

  19. SJ

    Here’s a camping HACK…DON’T…

    • K

      Why not? If you hate camping then don’t camp but if you like it why not make it a little easier/more organized?

    • CB

      Camping can be a lot of fun. My husband and I started out 27 years ago tent camping then bought a pop-up, then a 5th wheel. Now we own a campground. Through the years we have met some of the nicest people we have ever known in the various campgrounds we have stayed in. Our kids also love camping and couldn’t imagine a life without it.

  20. Laura

    We just got back from an AMAZING 3 week vacation to visit National Parks in a rental RV, and we used a hanging shoe organizer on the outside of the bathroom door to keep handy items contained and easily accessible – everything from flashlights, scissors, lighter, bug spray, super-compact picnic blanket, aluminum foil, extra trash bags, etc . It was SO helpful! We told all the kids to mentally number the pouches in order like you’d read a book, then we could quickly send them to the right spot to get something or put it away just by calling out the number (e.g. Sunscreen in #5, walkie-talkies in #17). Worked great.

    • MommySpendsLess

      I do the same thing at home on the laundry room door. Maybe not the bug spray and sunscreen but a lot of the other misc stuff that ends up in a junk drawer like batteries, flashlights, tape, lighters, lightbulbs, etc

  21. Nina

    Wow sounds like an Awesome trip! And for 3 weeks! Cool 😎

  22. Sally

    great ideas on the cheap! thanks for the posts!

  23. Len

    These are great ideas. Thanks for sharing. Love seeing posts like this.

  24. Teresa

    Whomever wrote this is a genius, and I’m going to tag along with her wherever she goes, because I never remember half the things I need to just go to the pool, not to mention camp with kids! Brilliant!

    • Thomas Pfizenmaier

      Right on, genius.

  25. Kellie Jones

    Yeah, the Dollar Tree is awesome for crafting supplies and random stuff on the cheap. I once grabbed the supplies for a science experiment for my niece’s 3rd grade class there for under $20 and had plenty left over.

  26. AnnieL.

    I’m going to attempt the homemade grill. Does anyone have any ideas on what to set the foil tray on?? I don’t have any cinder blocks

    • roadtrippin2017

      I know that some campgrounds have concrete picnic tables. That would work as a safe spot for the grill. Although most of them also come with a charcoal grill. I suppose this great grill hack is for those remote camping spots vs state parks. Love the idea.

    • Mary

      Might try setting on empty vegetable cans.

    • Kellie

      If you have a cooling rack you could set the grill on that. Or maybe the broiler rack from your oven. Anything really that would take the high direct heat.

    • Lorraine MacGowan

      Look at second hand stores for the old metal tv tray tables. Put a large rectangular foil pan upside down on it. You can tape it down using aluminum duct tape (not the fiber type). Put the charcoal grill on top of that and a cooling rack on that to cook on.

  27. Shara J.

    Never use shower caps to cover food! They are not made of food grade plastic and can leech chemicals into your food. If you look on the aisle where plastic wrap, bags and foil are you can find food grade covers that work the same way. Betty Crocker used to make them but now the dollar store sells a generic brand.

    • Stacy C

      Foil actually leaches chemicals as well.

    • marta

      beeswax resealable covers work fabulously

      the shower caps work great over your shoes when you are packing up

      On our last trip (we camped from PA to Ontario, Canada.) I was thankful for 1) travel bags to organize clothes, 2) the “pop-up” or collapsible laundry holder.

  28. Brandy

    I’ve been camping and researching how to organize, hack and all around make our adventures be more frugal and, well, more fun and less work for mom. This is one of the best posts I’ve read. Well written. Great job and thanks for the brilliant ideas! I’m going to Dollar Tree TODAY!

  29. Cathy

    Not sure about using a fitted sheet for a tablecloth. When we have camped there is always dew on the table in the a.m. which can be dried off quickly from a picnic tablecloth before breakfast. A sheet would stay wet.
    My idea (stolen from a more experienced camper friend) is to get 2 matching picnic tablecloths using one for the table. The other is cut in Half lengthwise and covers the bench seats. Easily dried off if/when it rains.

    • wanda

      And you could also get a third one to spread over the entire table at nite before retiring ,,then just remove in the morning,,wow everything will be dry

    • Kari

      We used to cover the seats as well. Just keep in mind when you put sun block or bug spray on you take the color of the table cloth off. Then your dealing with everyone staining their skin and clothes. Try to Find a white one if possible.

      • Kimberly Andren

        2 clear shower curtians, one for the picnic table, cut the other for the seats.

  30. Janelle Larsen

    We used the cut down pool noodles over the tent peg idea and for the first time none of the kids ( 9 kids in our group!), tripped over the ropes, we packed them around the gas bottle in a crate and in between anything we didn’t want bouncing around in the trailer while we travelled, thanks for the brilliant idea!

  31. Nicole S.

    A old knee high with soap tied inside hanging off a hydrant makes it easy to wash your hands and a small yard flag holder will hold your paper towels.Crystal lite containers are great for holding plastic silverware and a creamer container is really good to pre mix pancake mix or to use to hold your eggs for breakfast. The solar lights also are great to bring inside the tent at night as we used them like this after a hurricane to save our batteries and they worked great and no fear of a fire with kids either as with candles or oil lamps.

  32. Pam C.

    Thanks for posting!
    #6 Stay Organized With Stackable Bins is a great idea however if you are tent camping in an area where bears or other animals are present, you shouldn’t store anything scented in the bins. This includes fragrant soaps, lotions, toothpaste, etc. Bears have a keen sense of smell and may enter your tent. While most people know you should never store food inside a tent, sometimes we (especially kids) might forget about a wrapper or a small piece of candy accidently stuck in a pocket.

  33. Heather

    Love these ideas! We totally stocked up on Dollar Tree items for our last family camping trip! Didn’t even think about clamps to keep the table cloth on! Though we DID buy the table cloth from Dollar Tree ;P

  34. Ann

    I keep shower rods from dollar stores and place one in front and one in back (class b and have used in class a with each end on a cupboard shelf) to hang whether towels, use as divider between front and back so heat stays in one place when boon docking, etc. Come down in a minute and store easily

  35. ChivaLoz

    I use pencil boxes to make my first aid kits & to put plastic utensils in & also for bar soap & wash cloths

  36. Justin

    Awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Tim Hendren

    Some great ideas! For the bar of soap, I use my wife’s pantyhose – the ones she’s discarded, with runs. Hang it from a tree, or anything you can tie the leg to. It dries a lot faster, too!

  38. Tim Hendren

    Thanks for the great ideas!
    For the bar of soap, I use my wife’s pantyhose – the ones she’s discarded, with runs. Hang it from a tree, or anything you can tie the leg to. It also dries a lot faster than cloth!

  39. Dotcom

    Place washed (but not yet rinsed) dishes in the net laundry bag. Now take it to a large pot of boiling water and dunk several times. This is the US Army standard operating procedure for sanitizing individual mess kits , in a field operation. Boiling water will kill lingering bacteria. Then hang the net bag full of dishes to dry. Never a bad idea to take exrtra disinfecting steps while out in the woods.
    Also-for a hanging bar of soap, try the plastic net bags that onions n other produce come in….the plastic netting will help scrub away camp grunge on hands. Just wet the bar of soap under the hanging water bag and srub while it remains in the net bag. Then leave hanging to airdry.

  40. Bamavickie

    Dollar Tree has so many items regarding camping. Tarps, carabiners, lighting, paracord, binder clips, small throw rugs. You can basically waterproof your tent by spreading out tarps around the outside and clipping them to the tent poles with binder clips. Plus you can place them under the tent as footprints to protect the tent floor. Plus grilling utensils, etc.

  41. Denise

    WOW what great ideas thank you for sharing this

  42. Laura

    Great ideas!!! I love them. Just one question.. do you think there are any chemicals or the shower caps are made of a toxic material?? I’m a little hesitant to use on food if they aren’t made for that. Thanks for feedback.

  43. Heba

    Great ideas, very helpful post.

  44. dealzgurl

    I miss camping! Great tips, thanks!

  45. Tlow

    I use shower caps to wrap shoes/sandals. Keeps the sand/dirt/mud down to a minimum.

  46. Kathy

    Last October we went camping at Niagara Falls pour down rain instead of storing food in containers I put all leftovers or what food we took in big large food plastic bags. This saves a lot of room storage and was very convenient .

  47. Shanna

    These are great tips!!! Thank you so much!

  48. Donna

    I have used empty detergent bottle with dispenser for hand washing station. Just add water and there’s enough soap left in bottle to use for washing/ rinsing hands.

  49. Kathryn Nelson

    You can use bungy cords to hold down tablecloths also, use discounted shower curtains for table cloth the wipe off easy.

  50. Kathryn Nelson

    I use the food bags that you can put over leftovers they are just like shower caps.

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