27 GENIUS Camping Hacks Using Dollar Tree Items!

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Save these camping hacks and camping ideas before your next trip.

hand holding a dry erase board with best camping hacks written on front

You’ll be a happy camper with these hacks! 🏕️

Try our frugal Dollar Tree camping ideas to make every trip a breeze! They’re easy camping hacks that will save you time and money! Camping can be one of the most fun, frugal vacations you can go on with your family.

Watch these awesome tips come to life on YouTube!


1. Use a mesh laundry bag for drying dishes.

mesh laundry bag with cooking utensils camping hack

Grab a mesh laundry bag and place your wet dishes in them to keep your dishes clean after washing them. Hang it up on a tree limb and the dishes will dry and stay clean from dirt or sand. Plus, you can use your mesh bag for its original intent during and after your trip if needed.


2. Solar lights are one of the greatest hacks for camping if you want your tent to look like you’re glamping.

stacks of solar lights in dollar tree

Not only will this camping hack look like you’re glamping, but it’s also a great way to make it easier to see around your campsite at night. Simply place your solar lights wherever you would like more light. They’d be useful near your tent poles, tent entry, close to the bathroom, the wood pile, and more! You may even be able to find some fun solar lights in-store depending on the time of year that you shop. Plus, they’ll be just as useful in your yard once you’re home. Win, win!


3. Use glow stick bracelets on tent ties at night to easily spot your kiddos in the dark.

hand holding two glow sticks on blue and orange zipper tent

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! Plus, glow sticks are also helpful camping ideas to place around the tent ties at night. This means people are less likely to trip on them when they’re exiting the tent.


4. Pool noodles are great Dollar Store camping hacks to use for your tent lines.

woman using pool noodles on tent strings for camping hacks and camping ideas

Minimize tripping hazards by grabbing some pool noodles to place around your tent lines! All you have to do is cut a slit down one side of the noodle and wrap it around the lines. That way there will be less chance of any injuries if anyone does happen to run into them. Better yet, they’ll still be usable for the pool after your trip.


5. Or you could use pool noodles for another one of our camping tips to make your own DIY toilet.

blue bucket with toilet paper camping ideas

Make a simple and convenient camping toilet using a 5-gallon bucket and a pool noodle! You can get the full directions from PremeditatedSurvival.com. Many of our Hip readers also recommended using a trash bag, wood chips, dirt, or cat litter to make clean-up even easier. These are one of the best camping ideas you won’t regret having!


6. A cake carrier will keep all of your paper plates and napkins from blowing away.

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

We’ve heard Dollar Tree’s cake carrier can be a little flimsy to hold a heavy cake. However, they couldn’t be more perfect to store paper plates and napkins! One of these genius camping ideas will keep all your essentials from flying away or getting dirty. As a bonus, they’ll also be in one place when it’s time to eat!


7. Use a lint roller to potentially stop any ticks in their tracks.

hand holding a lint roller with bugs on it for camping ideas and camping hacks

Ticks are going to be bad this year, so taking extra precautions while you’re out in the woods is a good idea. A lint roller is an easy way to stop ticks from crawling on the outside of your clothing before they can cause harm. Just be sure to do a more thorough check once you’re undressed and while showering too.

As a bonus, this Dollar Tree lint roller even comes with a bonus mini roller you can stash in your bag if you plan to go hiking.

Hip Tip: Our favorite bug repellent is tick-resistant and so safe it’s considered edible!


8. Stay organized with stackable bins.

camping hacks and camping ideas stacking organization bins in tent

These Dollar Tree stacking bins are great to use inside the tent. There are endless camping ideas for staying organized with these bins! From holding games, lighters, hand sanitizer, flashlights, bug spray, and so much more! Best of all, you can pack them up before you leave so unpacking once you get set up is a cinch!


9. Keep your tent clean with a small broom and dustpan.

sweeping up dirt inside tent with dust bin camping ideas

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!


10. Store camping items and groceries in a hanging organizer.

utensils, sanitizer, and other camping items in shoe organizer

You can use a Dollar Tree hanging shower caddy to keep random kitchen supplies, games, or toiletry items organized and in one spot. Simply hang it on the side of a tree, inside the tent, or on a shaded structure for easy access. Better yet, it’s an item you can use once you’re home too.

Shoe organizers from Walmart or Amazon will also work and will cost just a few bucks more.


11. Use a laundry basket as a trash can and fill it up with stuff when you leave.

hand holding a laundry basket with trash bag inside in front of tent for camping ideas

You’ll need somewhere to put all of your trash during your trip. While you could hang a bag from any branch, this camping hack using a laundry basket will make it easier and more accessible for everyone. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the bag ripping if it gets heavy. Even better, traditional kitchen bags fit perfectly around the edge.

You could even consider getting two baskets and designate one for recycling and one for trash!


12. Store grilling spices in Tic Tac containers or other small containers.

hand holding tic tac mints at walgreens

First, enjoy your Dollar Tree Tic Tacs, then reuse them for storing your spices! Upcycling these airtight containers will allow you to bring a smaller quantity of each spice. Plus, it will be a space-savings camping hack too!

Hip Tip: Get the most out of all your trash with our other clever upcycling ideas!


13. Use stick 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!


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

hand holding three different color clotheslines in dollar tree

Be sure to grab a clothesline with hooks to have a convenient place to hang wet towels, socks, shoes, swimsuits, and other apparel. In fact, you may way to grab a few if you plan to wash your clothes while camping too!


15. Keep the tablecloth down with jumbo plastic clothespins.

camping hacks - using clamps on table to hold down tablecloth

Pick up this 6-pack of jumbo plastic clothespins and clamp them on the edge of your tablecloth to keep it from blowing away.

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!


16. Store food mixes in condiment bottles for easy meals. 

Dollar Tree Condiment Bottles

Grab some easy-to-pour condiment bottles if you see yourself whipping up some pancakes while camping. You can even pre-fill them before you leave if you have the time and a way to keep your mixes fresh and cool. Once you have them ready to go, all you have to do is squeeze them into the pan.

oatmeal mix in mason jar

Or if you already have some glass canning jars with lids at home, you could use those instead. Just keep in mind that they’re much more breakable if dropped.

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!


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

plastic container filled with marshmallows chocolate and graham crackers for smores

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 if you don’t already have something laying around! You can also use them to store clean plasticware or napkins to keep them from flying away or getting dirty.


18. Use a foil pan for one of our genius DIY camping hacks where you’ll make your very own charcoal grill.

dollar tree foil pan

Chances are you’re planning to grill food on your upcoming camping trip. In case you didn’t think of it, you can leave the heavy grill at home and make your very own charcoal grill for just a few bucks! Best of all, aluminum is endless recyclable so you’re not leaving much of a trace with this camping hack either.

foil pan with charcoal and steaks for diy camping hacks grill

Photo credit: Instructables.com

According to Instructables.com, all you need for this camping hack is a foil pan, cooling rack, and charcoal. Keep your eye out in the store as some Dollar Tree stores usually sell small bags of charcoal around the summer holidays. That means you can create a grill for just a few bucks!

Hip Tip: Our simple queso on the grill is a delicious snack idea for your entire camping group!


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

hand holding a blue microfiber mitt for camping ideas

Cut pieces of bar soap and place them inside a microfiber wash-mitt (found in the car section) or some bath sponges for convenient campsite scrubbing. 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.


20. One of our favorite Dollar Tree camping hacks is to use shower caps to keep bugs off food and dirt out of your tent.

covering plate of grapes with shower cap

Dollar Tree now has an 8-pack of shower caps which are genius camping ideas to cover your plates and bowls to keep pesky bugs away! What a fun camping hack to keep those not-so-fun mosquitoes and bugs away!

Tree also carries cute 2-pack Fly Swatters for just $1.25.

woman walking into tent with clear shower caps on shoes

Grab two packs of these shower caps to use for your shoes! Since Dollar Tree’s shower caps come in packs of 8, you can use one pack for up to 4 people to slip over their shoes. This camping hack will help keep dirt out of your tent and/or limit the need to take your shoes off. You can also use them to place your dirty shoes in when packing up to keep any mud or dirt out of the car or backpack.


21. You can have all the camping tips and tricks, but a first aid kit should always be essential.

tool box with first aid supplies

It’s always a good idea to bring a first-aid kit with you when camping. Dollar Tree sells many first-aid essentials from Band-aids to hand sanitizer to medicines and more.

Also, you may find these black toolboxes priced at just $1.25 which would be great for storing your first aid items.


22. Pack rain ponchos for the whole family… just in case.

hand holding rain ponchos in in bags

You can never predict the weather! These ponchos may not be a camping hack, but they’ll keep you from getting drenched during necessary times like running from the tent to the bathroom or packing up the car when you can’t hold an umbrella.

Speaking of umbrellas, you may be able to find umbrellas at your local Dollar Tree if you want to bring one along.


23. Make a frugal camp lantern using a jug of water and a headlamp.

jug of water with headlamp around the body to create camping hacks lantern

Make an Instant camp lantern by wrapping a headlamp around a large jug of water. This works so well when you’re trying to move around at night and may help kids feel more safe at night too. *Note that 3 AAA batteries are required for this light, so this camping hack could be even more frugal if you already have a rechargeable headlamp at home.

Hip Tip: You can also consider clipping these LED camping lights to a headband around your head for a DIY headlamp alternative.


24. Use an empty toilet paper roll with dryer lint and 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 waterproof fire starter! You could even take your camping hack one step further by making them ahead of time and storing them in a cardboard egg carton.


25. Grab a journal or planner to keep track of meals, other cool camping hacks, and more!

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

Planning meals ahead means 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. 🙌

Check out our favorite camping recipes if you need more camping ideas. Many of them you can even prepare ahead of time:

sheet pan shrimp boil

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!


26. Use a dry-erase board for snapping pictures of your location and/or camping itinerary. 

woman holding dry erase board in tent with camping ideas information

Documenting your whereabouts and itinerary are always great camping ideas especially if you have worried family and friends when you camp. While not everyone will have the ability to send photos day to day, documenting on a dry-erase board and snapping a photo is a fun way to keep track of your days and what you did.


27. Make some DIY games and have some fun!

cut foam pool noodles on a tic tac toe board

Kids and adults alike will appreciate these cool camping ideas! 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.

Visit the Dollar Tree website for the full instructions or consider making your game even more frugal by drawing your board with chalk or masking tape!


Check out our top sunscreen recommendations for adults and the best ones for kids!


About the writer:

Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 8+ years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.


Join The Discussion

Comments 48

  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. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. Peaches

    Loved the toilet idea. That is very creative!

  9. 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.

  10. Heather

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

  11. 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.😋

  12. 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.

    • Casandra

      I’ve used bungee cords across the ends also

  13. Annalisa Kuhlmey

    My mom is the boss of the Princeton Minnesota dollar tree

  14. 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;)

  15. Sara

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

  16. Loudflower

    So many great ideas! Thank you.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You bet!

  17. 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.

  18. Anne94

    Awesome ideas!! THank you so much!!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome!

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. Frugal Camper

    These are some great tips. Thank you so much!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re welcome!

  22. 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.

  23. llc

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

    • Sue

      Just use your toilet and the camper saying, if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down. Prepare for your hurricane with jugs of potable water used for flushing the toilets. I went about 2 weeks with no power after Ian slammed us. No power, no well. In fact I was able to use the holding tank water from my well to help refill the potable water. Remember to not put your “yellow paper” in the toilet as to not clog it when you are able to flush. Fill any bathtubs with potable water before a storm for extra water too for washing and flushing.

  24. 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 🙂

    • Sue

      Most of the batteries there are heavy duty and not alkaline, which is why they probably didn’t work.

  25. 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 😁).

  26. 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!

  27. Hope

    Thanks for the heads up!

  28. Jonica

    These are so so good! Best I have seen! Thank you for sharing.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re welcome, Jonica! 💗 Happy to hear you enjoyed the tips in this post! ⛺️🤗

  29. Anne

    Don’t forget to pick up some small votive candles to use with your homemade “hobo” stove.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the helpful suggestion to have some on hand, Anne! 🥰

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