Summer is in the air and the warmer weather beckons us to ditch those spring jackets and step outside into the sunshine. As the grass is growing green again, it inspires thoughts of camping in wide open spaces with nature close at hand. This is the perfect time to get a jump start and plan for an early summer outing.
If your vacation dollars are tight or you need just a mini escape, camping is a great solution, offering fun for the whole family without breaking the bank. Frugal families will benefit further by planning the camping trip in advance to ensure a prime spot and to take advantage of early season specials. By planning in advance, you’ll also have time to decide what equipment you need and shop for bargains, rather than suffering with high seasonal rates on cooking supplies, food, gear, and other essentials.
To begin your camping journey, check out the local camp grounds near your destination or those closest to you for weekend outings. You’ll find the average night’s stay to be a fraction of the cost of renting a hotel room, even if you choose to stay in a cabin, rather than your own tent or RV.
Your local forestry office, chamber of commerce, and state welcome centers can provide brochures and information about local campgrounds. If your trip plans include visiting relatives, ask them to find out the names of local camp grounds, or look up information in the online yellow pages.
If you are really on a tight budget for your camping trip, staying at a National Forest is usually cheaper than staying at a National Park, and on the up side, they are usually less crowded too.
You’ll find a listing of National Forest by state at http://www.recreation.gov/.
If you happen to be a little squeamish about camping (ie: the idea of sleeping on the ground makes you tense up with anxiety or the fear of missing your daily showers makes you cringe) keep in mind that many campground facilities are well equipped these days with showers, outlets for blow-dryers and many other conveniences. These facilities may also have playgrounds, swimming pools, snack shops, electrical outlets, and a lot of other creature comforts to offer. Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all conveniences.
As for sleeping on the ground, consider purchasing an air mattress. They are inexpensive, pack easily, and offer a pretty comfy night’s sleep.
Other things to keep in mind when keeping your camping budget down are to plan in advance for local outings and to make sure you have a good camping wardrobe established.
Planning in advance for local activities will give you a better idea of the dollars you’ll need for rentals, outings, food, souvenirs, and so on. Set a budget for each activity, then decide which ones will bring the most enjoyment. Also look for free activities. Many of the national parks have free attractions and a treasure of natural wonders to enjoy.
Take a good look at your wardrobe and make sure you have clothes you can layer, clothes you don’t mind roughing it in a bit, bathing suits, hiking books, comfortable walking shoes, and even a pair of flip-flops for the pool. On camping trips, it pays to be prepared! If you need a few more outdoor clothes or perhaps a good jacket to brave the elements with if you encounter any, before you rush off to spend a fortune on camping wardrobe staples, check out your local Goodwill or Red Cross, scan Ebay for deals, or ask relatives if they have items you might borrow. Also take advantage of winter-end sales for jackets, boots, thermals, and hats to use. You’ll be thankful you thought ahead and avoided last minute big dollar purchases.
So, now that you have your plan, what are you waiting for? Get ready to take your road trip and enjoy the great outdoors!