Camping is expected to become a popular vacation this summer, as families look to save money and stay close to home.
As more and more families are tightening their budgets and looking to stay closer to home this summer, many are considering shaking the dust off their tents and sleeping bags and heading out for an old fashioned camping trip.
According to a recent poll by the U.S. Travel Data Center, 85 percent of Americans said that spending time together as a family is the principle reason for heading out on a camping vacation. No matter if you have old equipment or need to get new gear, camping vacations cost a family less money overall. For beginners or those of us with antique camping equipment that hasn’t seen the light of day since the 70s’, many places rent equipment, which is often a great way to try it out before making the investment on new gear. Tents come in many different styles and sizes. Larger families may need a cabin-style tent, but the majority prefers a smaller umbrella style because it’s more compact, easy to assemble and has plenty of interior space.
There are many options both in equipment and in experience. If you prefer some modern conveniences, many campgrounds have showers and restrooms right on the premises. Some have playgrounds or a swimming area to entertain kids. And there are a number of campgrounds with tent sites on the shores of lakes or streams for fishing and canoeing access.
If you prefer the rustic experience, there is a tremendous amount of free entertainment right at your feet, even in the most remote wilderness areas. Often, kids will have fonder memories of a nature hike or a night around the campfire than a busy tourist area. Or learning how to navigate in the wilderness with a compass can leave them feeling more accomplished than an afternoon of playing video games.
Meals cooked outside also are more memorable for kids. Hectic home schedules make it difficult for families to gather for meals. But there are few, if any, interruptions at a campsite. Kids are even willing to get involved with the cooking and less likely to complain about what there is to eat. And there’s truth to the adage that everything seems to taste better coming from a campfire or a cooler, versus the kitchen table at home.
Remember that camping is flexible and can be tailored to your desires. A family might combine some options on their vacation, taking advantage of the hiking trails and wildlife of a slightly secluded campground, yet visiting some of the local tourist sites and occasionally eating out.
Contact your state tourism department, game and fish department or parks and recreation department for information on camping facilities and locations. For out of state information, contact the National Park Service at 202-208-4747, or the U.S. Forest Service at 202-205-0957 for a list of national forests and campgrounds. State highway maps are another good source of campground information. Time spent with your family experiencing the natural world together is rewarding for everyone.
The most important thing is to relax, bring what you think you need and don’t fuss over items that you may have forgotten. Keep a mental record of what you brought, should have done and need to do, so the next time you plan a camping trip, it’s much more enjoyable and will be a source for many happy memories.