Dollar Store Camping: Part 2

Dollar store camping success stories… The tools in action!

We used it for two nights, and it was a perfect camping night light. $2 And we left it for the next tenters with this label.

There’s no point theorizing. If you don’t take it on the road, you don’t truly know. So… we went camping. Here are the things we bought from the dollar store/ Dollar Tree and how we rank them.

Paper plates: Huge win. Use, then burn in the campfire. You can have spiderman birthday plates, or 50th Anniversary. It does not matter. Theme your camping and feel extra special.

Re-usable plastic cups: 2 for $1. Big win. Think wine cup.

Cutlery multi-pack: Win. Much better than asking for extra cutlery with your baked potato at Wendy’s.

Cotton balls: Riley used them for sparking the fire, with his flint. Made him feel boy-scout-ish. So, personal win for Riley.

Deck of cards: Weak. Didn’t get used. However, I think if it were raining and the campground didn’t have WIFI it would have been a big hit.

Tablecloth: YES! So good. Picnic tables are old and beat up and have bird poop. Table cloth and you’re set!

Solar puck light: I could not believe how well this worked. We charged it in the sun on the car windshield as we drove. It glowed all night in the tent.

“Copper” bowl with handles: YES! Another great one. I cooked soup, water, and even sauted scallops and spinach over a camp fire. It held its shape. The handles were effective. WIN! $3

Fresh, off-the-dock scallops in garlic butter, cooked over the campfire in the $3 “copper” pot

Oven mitts: We used them once. Could have used a towel instead. And while we could have used them to lift up the copper cooking bowl, we chose to lift it with a marshmallow stick threaded through both handles, because it was more fun. So oven mitts….waste of $3.

Tin foil: Yes, the rolls are fairly short for $1.25 but they were perfect for campfire cooking. A no-brainer. Grocery stores charge $3 or more for the same.

Bubbles: For blowing. Lame. I should have bought dish soap with that money instead. Maybe with toddlers, they would be a hit, but a fail with my teens.

Giant marshmallows. They were gross. You could’t even cook them thru. Fail.

All things considered, the Dollar Store/Dollar Tree had several things that were very useful for camping. If I could only take 5 things, or $10 worth, they would be:

  1. Cooking pot
  2. Solar Light
  3. Paper plates
  4. Tablecloth
  5. Foil





$10 Dollar Tree Camping Challenge

Lately my teen son Riley has been talking about camping and wilderness “survival.” I listen intently and try to mold his thinking towards a family-friendly summer outing. I think, “camping could be fun, I went camping with my family when we were kids. I can do this.”

But he ups the ante in a very modern way. “Mom, I found this survival kit subscription on-line and for just $40 a month (US funds) I can get a surprise box of survival tools.”

As you might imagine, I retorted pretty sarcastically and with a big NO. It went something like this…. “give me 40 bucks, even Canadian funds and I’ll go get you a mystery box of survival crap from the dollar store. And I can do this every month until you beg me to stop.”

He laughed.

I said, “I’m serious.”

I think all he really heard was “go to dollar store, buy crap.”

“Let’s go now,” he says. “Let’s do this!

Since I’m quite willing to put my money where my mouth is, I offered up $10 for each of us. I insisted he use his math skills to solve the next step and tell us how much we could buy.

“Seven things!” he says. “We can each buy 7 things at Dollar Tree.”

True. At Dollar Tree, all items are $1.25, plus applicable taxes would get us to $9.90. So we each took $10. Literally, $10. No debit cards or any extra cash. This was a survival challenge after all. LOL

He suggested we meet at the register in 10 minutes. It was now a bit of a race too! On our way, we did agree that 3 things would already be included in our challenge…. tent, food & matches so no need to try to buy those.

The results….

Riley’s choices

He bought fishing lures, fishing line and weights. Plus twine, a pocket knife, cotton balls and birthday candles. He explained that he’d use a knife to harvest a stick to make a fishing rod. The cotton balls are to use with matches to start fires and the birthday candles were to keep the fire going and to transfer flames to multiple fire sites. I couldn’t help but laugh at the birthday candles. I suggested they would also be great if a spontaneous birthday celebration broke out at the campsite. We could even celebrate some stranger’s 50th and still have spare candles. His regret, after thinking it all through… was wasting so much on fishing gear, after all we did say food was included.

Cathie’s choices

I bought a tin foil cooking pan and a long handled bbq fork. I also chose a tarp, a first aid kit, a little hacksaw and a tropical scented jar candle (What I really wanted was bug repellant or a citronella candle but I couldn’t find anything and was running out of time so I grabbed this one.) My last choice, or my luxury item as I call it, was either going to be a bubble blower toy or a deck of cards. I went with the bubbles to be a bit of a rebel, plus it was in a Star Wars package. Hours of campfire enjoyment I thought. Riley agreed the tarp was a good choice, very versatile. He laughed at my Dollar Tree hacksaw and suggested the first aid kit was well paired with it. I tend to agree. Regrets? I have none. I stand by my Star Wars bubble blower and thin blue tarp.

It was a fun experiment. The best part was the show and tell session when we got home with our loot. We laughed a lot!

As you can imagine, Riley is planning the next step. He wants the Dollar Tree hacksaw to see some use. He’s currently in the other room searching out campsites on-line. So, I guess this chapter and this little adventure, is to be continued!

To Columbus Ohio!

The Columbus Blue Jackets are on quite a roll these days! A legendary season for certain. If you’re a big hockey fan and would like to see them play in person you have a few options, even on a small budget.

  1. Use Air Miles for the flight. 2500 Air Miles and $146 cash (taxes) will get you a return flight from Winnipeg (YWG to CMH)
Dates & availability will vary

2. Use Air Miles for your hotel instead.  Or, use your Marriott/SPG points. The Courtyard Marriott is the closest hotel to Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

3. See them on the road. The least expensive Canadian city to see an NHL game is Ottawa. And if you’re a Brandon Wheat King’s fan, you’ll know that Mark Stone plays in Ottawa. So, you can see two former WK captains with one game. (March 4, 2017) Air Miles flights to Ottawa are 2000 points or less. You just pay the taxes, about $130

March 3-5, 2017 from Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW)

(You can even go this month for 1600 Air Miles, if you have some time off right away.) Columbus plays in Ottawa on Sunday January 22nd. Their winning streak could still be alive.

January 21-23rd, Winnipeg to Ottawa (YWG to YOW). Availability subject to change without notice

Tickets to the games can be purchased through Ticketmaster or for as low as $30 each.

If you are a hockey fan and love the big game, you’ll see why this could be an epic road trip.

No Air Miles? No problem at all! Air Canada and Delta both have flights on sale right now, for about $400 (Canadian funds and taxes included.) Hint…. or buy your Spring Break flights now (to most any NHL city) and catch your favourite team just before playoffs.  

If you’re a Winnipeg Jets fan, and believe this is their playoff year, you’ll want to plan ahead for April 6th in Columbus. It could be an intense game in their quest for a playoff spot.  Air Canada, April 4-7th flight is just $400.91 at today’s price.

January 4th screenshot

Or finally, you can bundle the April 4th to 7th, with hotel, through with the above noted Air Canada flight for $685 with a downtown (near arena) Holiday Inn. Tickets for that Jets’ game are currently $28 & up (US funds on

It pays to plan ahead! Especially for your Spring Break hockey trip.

Albuquerque, New Mexico $1K

What a fun word to write! Thank goodness for spellcheck. I can’t think of another word that has three “U” and two “Q.”

And until my time-killing search on a -30C night in January, I didn’t realize that you could fly to New Mexico, from Brandon, in one day. Thanks to I took this info and rolled into a vacation.

Flights, 7 night’s hotel, and breakfast included $1022 per person. That’s pretty cool and suddenly, you’re 55 degrees warmer than at home, eating authentic Mexican cuisine and exploring the Rio Grande.

If you’re ready to start your research, click here for the Albuquerque Tourist Bureau and a link to order a travel guide.

And here’s their blog to keep you up to date on current events. Lots of great photos featured here as well.

From hot air balloon rides to golfing and sightseeing in Old Town, you could definitely stay busy and stay warm for a week.

Screenshot January 3rd. Prices and availability subject to change without notice.
Breakfast and free parking included.

Think Honolulu on Wednesdays, Brandon!

Before you say, “that’s not the best bargain I’ve ever seen,” stop and look at the flights!

You casually drive up to YBR, Brandon’s convenient little airport about 11AM and hop aboard your Westjet flight just after lunch. One stop in Calgary for a plane change and then you’re directly off to Honolulu. You’re there that evening. Extremely convenient.

Now look at the way back. No over night in Calgary.  Like it now? I feel like you can see the savings adding up. No gas to Winnipeg, no parking fees and no overnight in Calgary.

There are hotel packages less expensive, but I like the location of this one. We were there two years ago and stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki which is just about a mile further on this same stretch of beach.

This package from Westjet Vacations. Many other hotels available, some as low as $1700pp from Brandon
Sunset over the iconic Diamond head
View of the hotels along the Waikiki beach on a November afternoon