25 GENIUS Camping Hacks Using Dollar Tree Items

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Here are some essential camping hacks!

light grey tent with green rain shield set up next to white truck with cooler

Oh, how we love Dollar Tree!

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 campfire, and telling ghost stories in the dark?

If you’re planning a camping trip on a budget this summer or fall, check out the following camping hacks using Dollar Tree items that will ensure everyone is truly a happy camper. 😊


Here are 25 essential camping hacks:


1. Use mesh laundry bags for drying dishes.

mesh laundry bag with cooking utensils camping hack

If you’re looking for a way to keep your dishes clean after washing them, consider grabbing these $1.25 Mesh Laundry Bags and placing your wet dishes in them. 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 its original intent – to keep dirty laundry in one place.


2. Place solar stake lights around the tent.

solar stake lights at Dollar Tree

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 fun, themed stake lights in-store (currently OOS online), depending on the time of year that you shop.


3. Put glow stick bracelets on tent ties at night.

glow stick bracelets on arm

Dollar Tree’s glow sticks are always fun for the kids to use while camping, and they make 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 when they’re exiting the tent.


4. Use pool noodles on tent lines.

Dollar Tree pool noodles

Another idea to keep everyone aware of those tent stakes is to grab Dollar Tree’s brightly colored pool noodles and cut a slit down one side of the noodle, then just wrap them around the poles. That way, if anyone does happen to run into them, there won’t be any injuries.

Hip Tip: You can also take this camping hack one step further and cut pool noodles into smaller pieces and place them on the tent lines so that they are easy to spot during the day.


5. Or use pool noodles to make your own camping toilet.

blue bucket with toilet paper

Make a simple and convenient camping toilet using a 5-gallon bucket and a pool noodle! Get the directions from PremeditatedSurvival.com or other various camping toilet directions here.


6. Keep paper plates from blowing away with cake carriers.

plates and utensils inside cake carrier on red and white table mat

Although Dollar Tree’s cake carrier may be a little flimsy to hold a heavy cake, it is perfect to store paper plates and napkins on the table so they won’t fly away on a windy day or get dirty.


7. Stay organized with stackable bins.

camping hacks - stacking organization bins in tent

These stacking bins are great to use 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.


8. Keep your tent clean with a small broom & dustpan.

sweeping up dirt inside tent with dust bin

Dollar Tree’s 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 smaller kids to use, too!


9. Store camping items & groceries in a hanging organizer.

utensils, sanitizer, and other camping items in shoe organizer

If your Dollar Tree carries a hanging shower caddy (shoe organizers from Walmart or Amazon will also work), you can use it 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.


10. Make S’mores with barbecue skewers.

camping hacks - roasting marshmallows with bbq skewers

If you’re planning to make S’mores, grill hot dogs, or roast other foods over a campfire, this 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.


11. Store grilling spices in Tic Tac containers.

hand holding tic tac mints at walgreens

Tic Tacs are the most classic, convenient little mints, and let’s be honest–a whole new pack will rarely make it through the day. 😅 If you’re a Tic Tac fan, you can totally get them from Dollar Tree and use the empty containers to store your grilling spices when you go camping since it saves space and waste!


12. Use candles to keep tent zippers from sticking.

using candle on tent zipper

According to REI.com, you can keep your tent zippers gliding smoothly by applying a little bit of candle wax from an un-lit candle. Dollar Tree sells 6-packs of emergency candles for just a buck 25!


13. Grab a clothesline with hooks for an easy cleaning camping hack!

clothesline with hook from dollar tree

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 hooks for just $1.25.


14. Keep the tablecloth down with jumbo plastic clothespins.

camping hacks - using clamps on table to hold down tablecloth

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).

Hip Tip: Bring an old, fitted mattress sheet from home and wrap it over the table – then just throw it in the washing machine when you’re done for easy cleanup!


15. Store eggs & food mixes in sealed containers with lids.

Dollar Tree Condiment Bottles

There are awesome condiment container packs at Dollar Tree that are great for mixing & storing scrambled eggs, pancake mixes, etc. Once they’re all mixed up, you can just squeeze them into the pan and you’re good to go!

oatmeal mix in mason jar

Or if you already have glass canning jars with lids at home, you could use those instead–just keep in mind that they may break more easily.

Hip Tip: To keep things even easier, you can pre-mix some oatmeal blends, pancake mixes, etc. with ingredients that can be kept at room temperature, like dried fruits & nuts, dry milk, and shortening!


16. Make S’mores prep packs in plastic containers.

s'mores ingredients in plastic bin

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. Luckily, Dollar Tree has a lot of choices!

You can also use them to store clean plasticware or napkins to keep them from flying away or getting dirty.


17. Make your own charcoal grill with this foil pan camping hack.

dollar tree foil pan

Planning to grill food on your camping trip? Leave the heavy grill at home and make your own charcoal grill for just a few bucks, and then toss it in the trash before you head home!

According to Instructables.com, all you need for this camping hack is a foil pan, cooling rack, and charcoal (some Dollar Tree stores usually sell small bags of charcoal around holidays during the summer).

Hip Tip: You can also use these to make queso on the grill!


18. Make campsite scrubbing easy with bath sponges and mitts.

display of bath sponges and loufas at dollar tree

For convenient campsite scrubbing, cut pieces of bar soap and place them inside these cute bath sponges 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 slippery soap bar in the dirt.

Hip Tip: When the soap bar is dry, use a vegetable peeler to safely shave off the perfect amount of soap for each sponge.


19. Keep bugs off food with shower caps.

covering plate of grapes with shower cap

Use these 6-count shower caps to cover your plates and bowls to keep pesky bugs away. Dollar Tree also carries cute 2-pack Fly Swatters for just $1.25. What a fun camping hack to keep those not-so-fun pesky mosquitoes and bugs away!

shoes in shower cap

Since Dollar Tree’s shower caps come in packs of six, you can also use them to place your dirty shoes when packing up to keep any mud or dirt out of the car.


20. Make a first aid kit with essentials.

tool box with first aid supplies

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 $1.25 which would be great for storing your first aid items.


21. Pack rain ponchos… just in case.

hand holding rain ponchos in in bags

It’s not so much of a camping hack, but you can never predict the weather, so it’s always a great idea to pack a few rain ponchos in your bags in case it starts to rain (also, select Dollar Tree locations that sell umbrellas for just $1)!

These ponchos will help you from getting drenched when running from the tent to the bathroom in the middle of a rainy night or when you are packing up the car to head home and can’t hold an umbrella and bags at the same time.


22. Make a frugal camp lantern.

black strap wrapped around headlamp and empty water jug

Make an Instant camp lantern by wrapping an LED camping light around a jug of water! This works so well when you’re trying to move around at night.

Hip Tip: Headlamps are my favorite must-have camping tool because they make life so much easier when walking around and doing things in the dark! You can make a frugal DIY version in a pinch by clipping these LED lights to a headband around your head.


23. Use an empty toilet paper roll with dryer lint + hand sanitizer to make a fire starter.

dryer lint in toilet paper tube

Dryer lint makes an excellent fire starter! Pack some lint in empty toilet paper rolls to take on your next camping trip. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel to help your match or lighter flame catch your tinder on fire.

Hip Tip: Some of our Hip readers also suggested using cotton balls or pads dipped in some wax as an effective fire starter!


24. Grab a journal or planner to keep track of meals (and other cool camping hacks)!

amber's meal planning — notebook and planner for meal planning and grocery list

Planning meals ahead = a stress-free snack around the campfire! While you can definitely keep a list of everything you need on your phone, picking up one of Dollar Tree’s super frugal journals or planners will keep your vacation tech-free, and no one has to wonder what’s for dinner. 🙌

Not sure what meals to make on your camping trip that are easy and that everyone will enjoy? Check out our favorite camping recipes–many of which you can prepare ahead of time!

Hip Tip: Chances are you’ll want to pack snacks for the drive to the campsite, and we’ve got you covered with this awesome Hawaiian Roll sandwich hack!


25. Make some fun DIY games!

cut foam pool noodles on a tic tac toe board

Kids and adults alike will appreciate this cool camping hack!

You can create a fun, waterproof Tic-Tac-Toe board using just a few items from Dollar Tree. All you need are some foam pool noodles, a shower curtain, a marker, and some scissors. You can visit the Dollar Tree website for the full instructions.


Don’t forget to bring this amazing natural bug repellant on your next adventure!


About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.


Join The Discussion

Comments 58

  1. Amanda

    These are super nifty ideas that I would have NEVER thought of! Thank so much!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re so welcome, Amanda! Thanks for the feedback! Glad you are loving this list!

  2. April

    Love tips like these. Thanks for sharing

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re very welcome, April!

  3. Melissaan

    Great ideas!

  4. sne3103

    Do all Dollar Trees carry the hanging shoe organizers? What aisle are they in, normally?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi there! Inventory can vary by location. My store does have an aisle dedicated to home items such as hangers, storage bins, bags and light bulbs. Maybe check in that section of your store. Hope you find them!

      • Angela

        Dollar Tree hasn’t had the hanging shoe organizers for many many many years. I send them a request to add it back at least once a year !

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          Thanks, Angela! It looks like for that tip, we suggest the shower caddy from Dollar Tree or you can grab the shoe organizer from Walmart or Amazon to use as a hanging organizer as well. Hope this helps!

  5. elewis91

    Hmm… 🤔 I’m thinking the camping toilet would work nicely next to the pool for my toddler who needs to use the bathroom every 2 minutes while we’re swimming lol 😂

    • Heather

      Yes! My family has done this for years out by the pool!

    • Jackie Mullins

      I put a shovel full of dirt in the bottom to make discard easier later. Also makes cleaning the bucket easier.

      • RANDY WARRICK

        13 GALLON TRASH CAN LINERS MAKE CLEAN UP SUPER EASY. A HAND FULL OF DIRT , LEAVES OR SHREDDED PAPER HELP TOO.

      • Bernie Cronquist

        I also put a garbage bag in the bucket. Whatever size fits. Put 2 cups of kitty litter in the bag. Add another bag and kitty litter. I use about 6 layers total. When someone uses the bucket or after a few uses or overnight, just ran the top garbage bag and tie up and throw away. Scented litter helps with the smell and this way keeps the bucket clean.

  6. Brooke

    Genius!!!Thanks!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re most welcome! 😊

    • Bernie Cronquist

      I also put a garbage bag in the bucket. Whatever size fits. Put 2 cups of kitty litter in the bag. Add another bag and kitty litter. I use about 6 layers total. When someone uses the bucket or after a few uses or overnight, just ran the top garbage bag and tie up and throw away. Scented litter helps with the smell and this way keeps the bucket clean.

  7. beth-3

    I’ve tried the pill containers for spices. Definitely use the screw kind like pictured. I used the standard 7 in a row with the flip top lids and they didn’t seal well enough. Everything got hard.

  8. Connie

    Can also use the pool noodles on the canopy arms on your RV.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Love that idea, Connie! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Momma of 7

    Use a pop-up hamper lined with a trash bag as a trashcan. It works great and saves space when traveling.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Ooh! GREAT suggestion! Thanks for commenting!

  10. Peaches

    Loved the toilet idea. That is very creative!

  11. Lorie

    These are great however I would strongly recommend not using the dryer lint if you are a pet owner. LOL I did this it smells awful when you burn them.

    • Hope

      Thanks for the heads up!

  12. twomama10

    This is so awesome, thank you. If you have a clogged toilet this will work great until a plumber fixes it.

  13. Carol

    Instead of lint in a toilet paper roll.
    Cotton balls dipped in wax or in a paper egg carton put your lint in each hole pour a little wax over each hole . Then u. Have 12 fire starters. Cotton balls work too .
    Smelly lamp oil covering cotton balls and put in zip baggie will also quickly light a fire & alot of cotton balls fit very well in a baggy.

    • Timber

      With the last bit of wax left in the fancy candle jars, we melt it over pine cones or rolled up newspaper wads. They work well as fire starters and the little bit of wax gets a new purpose.

  14. Scouter

    Cottonballs with some petroleum jelly on it works great! Just store in zip loc bag. Try a Dorito, it works too. If you can get them away from the kids.😋

    • Timber

      We’ve used Fritos but never a dorito. Bet it works just the same.

  15. Betty

    I found large rubber bands that fit around the end of a picnic table. They hold down a table cloth great and take little room to store.

    • Charlene

      I used dollar tree 6 for a dollar elastic head bands.

    • Casandra

      I’ve used bungee cords across the ends also

  16. Annalisa Kuhlmey

    My mom is the boss of the Princeton Minnesota dollar tree

  17. Jeremiah2911

    So many great tips, I’m saving this!
    We used the 5gal bucket hack for a toilet when we were out of power for 5 days during in ice storm in February (well water + rural in Oregon)! Didn’t even have the pool noodle but we did use 2 layers of trash bags, and changed at least 1st layer after every use. Kept in our bathroom with a bottle of room spray and it was not a bad experience;)

  18. Foxy

    I would be very cautious with plastic containers from the dollar store. Most of the plastic cups and food storage containers are plastic #5 or #6 or worse, not numbered at all. Those plastics have BPA. Sometimes saving money is not worth a health risk.

  19. Evie

    I plant their marigold and impatien seeds every year. $1.00 for a big box. Marigolds are the easiest to grow from seeds!
    Store bought plants have doubled in price this year!

    • Kg

      I thought it was just me! I noticed plants several places were $$$

  20. Sara

    This is one of the best lists I’ve seen! Awesome Job putting this list together and the comments made it even better!

  21. Loudflower

    So many great ideas! Thank you.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You bet!

  22. Fredrik Medevik

    Very interesting and creative ideas. Don’t know if you are American or not but many of these are everything but environment friendly and thus also more expensive than buying something a bit more expensive once but is more than single use and lots of “small things to bring”. Use a headlamp for like 5 of these tips. Buy a small foldable fireplace in thin steel to grill on, or a steel pan for open fireplace. Use a rock or anything around to keep things in place when it gets windy…
    Buy a raincoat that you can use anywhere and of course reuse.
    Make it easy to pack, use for multiple purposes and makes the trash you need to bring back a lot easier:)
    Much love from a fellow nature and camping lover.

  23. Anne94

    Awesome ideas!! THank you so much!!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome!

  24. Casey

    Obviously I don’t camp but I’m curious the make shift toilet what do you do with the body fluids dum it in the water or ?

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Casey! Be sure to click through the step by step tips through the link for that option. It seems you can add an absorption medium to the bag and then dispose of it when done. Hope that helps!

    • Dix

      Use the clumping cat litter to line the trash bag, it will clump the fluids

  25. Aunt Jenny

    I bring clear shelf liner to cover the top of metal bear boxes. The liner provides a clean surface that is easy to wipe down and removes easily too.

  26. Frugal Camper

    These are some great tips. Thank you so much!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome!

  27. llc

    The 5 gallon bucket toilet could be great for hurricanes or other bad weather when we cant flush.

  28. llc

    Instead of shower caps, dollar tree sells food covers (that look exactly like a shower cap but come in multiple sizes). 17 per pack. I can live without them at home.

  29. Trineke

    Can we please move past all these posts that encourage non-recyclable items? So much trash!

  30. molly

    One tip we learned: never buy Dollar Tree batteries for camping. We did and they were useless in powering our equipment, and we didn’t realize it until we were out in the wilderness! Lesson learned 🙂

  31. Nana Donna 2 6

    Back in the 60s when my family went tent camping, we always had an inexpensive fishing tackle box specifically for our first-aid kit. When I had a family of my own and we went camping, I used a child’s size tackle box for our first-aid kit (my dad wasn’t ready to give his up yet 😁).

  32. IrishND98

    I don’t even camp and found this super helpful. Great ideas!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Yay! Thanks for the feedback. Glad you enjoyed these tips!

  33. Joe

    OMG have you seen the price of TP! Too expensive to burn it, I need it for my sensitive bear bottom!!

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