Want to have an inexpensive but fun vacation this summer? Camping's a smart option. Compared to cost of accommodations offered by hotels, the cost of camping is much lower. Despite its relative affordability, however, make sure you don't get carried away with the excitement; exercise caution so your total expenses don't get out of hand.
Investing in a Tent
When planning for a camping trip, the equipment, primarily the tent, is usually the first concern. It isn't always necessary to buy a new tent. Get your old tent out of storage and air it out for a couple of days or more. Check if it's still good and serviceable. If it isn't, consider borrowing a tent from friends or relatives. If you must buy a new tent and your budget is limited, check online offers for used tents on eBay or Craigslist, or the classified ads in your local newspaper.
However, if you plan to go on camping trips quite often, you might as well invest in a high quality tent. Look for tents on sale at department stores, sporting goods stores, discount stores, and even online outlets. Compare the prices first and get the best deal. Large family tents can sleep five people and are usually sectioned so you can have "rooms" inside. If your teenager, however, insists on sleeping on his own, outside the family tent, you can perhaps get the smaller tents, which are cheaper (around $25 each).
Where You'll Camp
Your next concern is the campground. Wherever you want to go, your best options are state parks that allow camping or campground parks. It shouldn't be difficult to find a camping location if your destination is a rather popular vacation area. Again, compare the rates and you can use the Internet for this purpose. Still, you have the option of setting up a camp in your own backyard. Don't think you're being cheap that way; you can have a lot of fun and save money at the same time. The key is in lining up activities that are enjoyable and will engage the whole family. Using Outbound Family's database of outdoor destinations is a great way to find places near you to camp.
The great thing about camping is the activities you get to do. No matter where you decide to camp, you should be able to do a lot of things. Depending on the location, there are camps that have hiking trails, playgrounds, basketball courts, swimming pools, or a beach. To know more about what a campsite has to offer, search the Web for the attractions and activities available at your chosen destination. It's up to you to make the most during your summer vacation.
Don't Forget the Food
Another aspect of camping you need to prepare for is food. You should have a barbecue pit. Keep a good stock of ice, drinks, and meat. Make sure you bring along the condiments you need. Buy your food stocks from the local grocery store where prices are sure to be lower. If that's not possible, shop along the way before reaching the campground. Remember that prices are higher at convenience stores and more so within the campground. Of course, you can always eat in restaurants nearby, but try to limit this if you're on a budget.
In a nutshell, camping is your best choice for summer vacation when budget is a huge consideration. Even then, you can take other steps to keep your costs down further. The secret is in the planning. Whether your camp is a few steps away from home, across the street, or all the way on the other coast, have fun with the whole family!