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The Economics of Camping
June 12, 2010 by Donna Carol · 6 Comments
I almost didn’t write this blog entry, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to do it. After my last entry about our backyard test run, there were some comments from experienced campers about the quality of our tents. I have read similar comments on various forums and blogs. Some experienced campers like to lecture new campers about the “quality” (read this as expensive) equipment they should own. Through the experience of preparing to tent camp, I have learned to keep the main thing the main thing. Enjoying time as a family, not owning expensive equipment, is the main thing.
Just before the Woodall’s blog launched this year, my husband, the sole wage earner in our family, found out that he would be losing his job. Before getting this news, our intention was to purchase a pop-up camper or lightweight travel trailer and hit the road every chance we got. Yes, we want to see God’s great outdoors, and yes, we want to enjoy the amenities that campgrounds have to offer. (I mentioned in my very first post that we are citified, and I meant it!) Because of the turn of events in our lives, we had to find a more economical way to do those things. Tent camping has been the answer.
I didn’t include these personal details for sympathy. So many others are in the same position. We have shifted gears and adjusted well. We are totally okay with the fact that our vacation this year may very well be spent in a tent. (Fees for a tent camping site are so much less expensive than a hotel room.) I tend to be a “pull yourself up by the boot straps” kind of gal. I can see that half-full glass almost every time. I see this situation we find ourselves in now as a blessing. Through camping, we will spend more time together. We are already learning to work better together. When we got our new tent recently, and we were putting it up for the very first time, my husband and I didn’t get agitated at one another at all. I didn’t even get mad when he refused to read the directions. That is a miracle!
I have been pleasantly surprised at how little money we have had to spend to get started camping. Granted, we already had a tent and sleeping bags to get us going, but we haven’t had to spend a whole lot of money to round out our camping gear. Is our new tent of the finest quality? No. We got the best one we could afford. It will keep us reasonably protected from the elements so that we will be w...
Tips for Camping on the Cheap ;)
For many of us, our camping trips are, at least somewhat, shaped by our budget. Whether it is the length of time that we are able to get away, or the destination that we choose, money has some impact on our trip. No matter what kind(s) of camping that you prefer, there are always things that you can do to make your trip a little more affordable.
If you prefer to resort camp, most of your expense will probably be in your camping site fees. Many people don’t realize that there are a lot of campgrounds that offer: deals for things like staying a whole week (either a special week-long rate or sometimes deals like 7 nights for the price of 5), printable coupons for discounts like a percentage off or upgraded sites, and even special rates for park amenities if you purchase a package deal (this is not a deal though if you are not going to use those extras!). If you don’t see anything mentioned online, call and ask if they have any current specials/deals.
When choosing any campground, it pays to call and inquire whether or not they charge extra fees for dogs, extra vehicles, or per person fees above ‘x’ number of people (if any of these apply to you). These can add significantly to your overall resort bill. For instance, right now I am sitting in Round Top Campground near Gettysburg, PA. We had actually driven by a competitor, and, hoping to stay there, we had called the other campground, who charges a per person fee above 2 adults and 2 kids. The per person fees would have put us up at $90 per night! A little more than we want to spend unless the campground has a waterslide or other extra activities. We called around, and got a site for less than half of that here since they are a ‘family rate’ campground – no extra fees if it is your immediate family. That one phone call saved us nearly $150 over the 3 nights that we are/were here – and this campground ended up being nicer anyway! LOL!
Another way to save money, no matter where or how you camp, is to prepare ahead of time when purchasing items for your excursions. For instance, we seldom buy plain Hershey’s chocolate bars except for s’mores when we are camping. If I see them on sale at a good price, I will buy what I think that we will use for the entire summer – besides saving money, I don’t have to hassle with remembering to purchase them before we go each time...