Do You Go Camping With Your Family?
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  1. #1
    Administrator Cricket's Avatar
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    Default Do You Go Camping With Your Family?

    Do You Go Camping With Your Family?-familycampingtrip.jpg

    Camping is a great way to spend time with family and it’s an affordable vacation option as well. Whether you’re camping in a tent or renting a pop-up camper, there are plenty of simple ways to save. Keep reading to learn some budget-friendly tips for family camping trips. Budget-Friendly Tips for Family Camping Trips
    Do you go camping with your family?

    What tips do you have for keeping it frugal?
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  2. #2
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    We just started planning a long trip today from here in northern Minnesota to Olympic NP and the PNW. We're estimating 5,000 miles and 20 nights. Gas is by far our biggest cost, which we calculate by dividing total miles by our truck's mpg and multiplying by anticipated cost of gas per gallon. For price per gallon, we use 2 or 3 different prices. Today, it was $3 and $3.50. This accounts for fluctuations in pricing for various reasons. Better to overestimate than under.

    Cost of campsites generally average around $25/night in state and federal campgrounds. I think that might be higher in the eastern half of the US. Private cgs are generally much more expensive. There's not much way to cut that. I think some cgs offer discounts for vets or active duty. There's a senior discount card available for federal parks.

    We purposely stayed with a hardside popup camper to avoid the drag of having to tow a full height trailer which helps keep fuel costs lower. Our Aliner is low enough to draft behind our truck, so does not catch wind. We lose 1-2 mpg when towing. Full height trailers can cut mileage by 25%. We don't drive over 65 mph for safety and fuel economy. More speed burns more gas.

    We eat pretty much the same thing when we travel as we do at home. Therefore, we don't include food in our trip costs, since we would not be fasting if we were home, so the expense is the same.

    I pack food for the first week of a trip using food from our pantry and freezers. Before leaving home, I create detailed menus for the entire trip. From the menus, I create detailed grocery lists for any additional weeks. We buy groceries once a week, generally. We like WMs when we travel, because they are usually easy to find right off of highways, have big, trailer-friendly parking lots, and have predictable products available. Sometimes we do shop smaller local stores. We stick fairly close to our list, but sometimes try local foods smaller stores may offer. Having detailed lists helps avoid buying too much food or the wrong foods, so it saves money.

    We bought our camper new because they're HTF, but it's been set up mostly using items from thrift stores and garage sales. Items which could not be found secondhand were purchased new, but on sale where possible. I have sewed a ton of stuff for all our campers to save money, including an Add A Room for our first popup. I currently am modifying an AAR for the Aliner. I purchased that on eBay NIP but deeply discounted.

    I think camping can be relatively inexpensive, but IMO it's hard to do it comfortably without spending a fair amount of money. A lot depends on your own camping style, but quality gear can be expensive. Once you have the gear, it can be fairly inexpensive to go, and it's a good idea to start with the basics and add more gear as needed.

  3. #3
    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    It seems to me that the initial costs for the camper and equipment would only be worthwhile if you did it fairly often.

    If you just wanted to try it once or twice, it would probably be cheaper to rent a cabin or stay in a lodge at a national park.

    If you are close enough to do it as just an overnight trip, you could probably do it with just a tent and some minimal equipment. You could just shower when you got back home.

    I have a coworker who goes to ski resorts in the summer. She says they are great places for hiking and the room rates are pretty low off season.
    KathyB

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  5. #4
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Camping is an investment, for sure.

    A lot depends where and how you live and how you want to camp. It's fairly easy to pick up used gear here at decent prices, if you're patient and go to rummage sales. Most of the outfitters here have annual fall sales of their used gear. Garage sales are also a great way to get cheap gear.

    Of course the costs go up if you move beyond tent camping. But it's still possible to camp fairly inexpensively even with a camper.

    If we drove our truck for the trip above but did not drag our camper along, we would save only about $250 on gas for the entire trip. Kennel fees alone here are $20/night/dog x 21 nights = $840 we don't spend because they travel with us. Our camper is slowly paying for itself, since we also save a ton on food, and camp fees are about 1/10 what an average hotel room would cost during tourist season. Places like Yellowstone are much more expensive for hotels.

    There are so many camping styles it's impossible to generalize costs and value.

    Many campgrounds offer showers, so no need to wait for home. Many campers have onboard showers. I added a shower to our last canvas popup myself. It's taken me a few years but I'm almost done figuring out and constructing an indoor shower for our Aliner. It already has an outside shower and we have a shower tent to go with it, but have never used it. Mostly we use the cg showers. There are also lots of methods and products for keeping clean with little or no water.

    Camping is like many other hobbies, and can be astronomically expensive or done on a shoestring, with lots of variations in between.

  6. #5
    Registered User Precarrious's Avatar
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    Camping is how we afford to vacation with our grandsons. We bought a travel trailer new and was able to pay cash because it was ‘last years model’. We enjoy the whole camping experience. Traveling to our destination is part of the fun too. We plan and prep all of our meals. It saves us so much time. We also have less food wasted. Packing is a breeze. We keep clothing and linens in the camper ready to go, the same with toiletries.

    So far this year we’ve went on two trips, one to a state park and one to a KOA. We enjoy state parks and commercial campgrounds, it all depends on the experience you are looking for for your family. My grandson had an appointment at Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh. We stayed at a KOA 45 minutes away. The cost for 3 nights was only $20.00 more than a one night stay at a hotel. We had the benefit of a mini vacation and my daughter could focus on just him while DH and I kept the other two boys back at the campground with us.

    In about 4 years we hope to upgrade to a class C RV. Probably a used one. We would like to travel across country with the boys.

  7. #6
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    One of the best things about having a camper is being able to keep most of our gear in the camper. It saves hours of packing and aggravation and we don't have to find other storage space at home.

    Our camper is part of our preparedness, in case we ever need to evacuate. We are self-contained, so could park anywhere. We would 1,000 times rather be able to stay in our camper than at a shelter.

    Since I posted above, I finished the shower and Add-A-Room, which adds more livability to the camper. I've done about 25 large and small mods to our camper so far this year.

    We won't make it to the PNW this year, but still love camping.

  8. #7
    Registered User Precarrious's Avatar
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    We keep water, canned good and vacuumed packed foods in our camper. We had a train derail in our town and had to evacuate immediately. The train was carrying propane and sulphuric acid. We hooked up to our camper and left. We were able to take our dogs because we keep dog food in the camper too. Many residents had to leave their pets behind. All we grabbed were our prescribed medications. My dad and grands have stuff in the camper too. They were with us. My and his girlfriend were not immediately evacuated but eventually had to leave as a precaution. They came out to the campground too. It was nice and peaceful. I felt bad for many residents who were sent from hotel to hotel for 4 days. It was confusing and crowded for them. Our stay at the campground was a lot less stressful.

  9. #8
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    We have 3 cats and 2 dogs and wouldn't want to evacuate without them, so it's a comfort to know we could all leave and have our own place to stay if we had 10 minutes to hitch up. Our camper is tiny but I think we could all squeeze in. We would probably have to board the cats somewhere though, once we got out of the danger zone. We don't keep water in the camper or much food. Our most likely disaster would be wildfire, so would have to leave the area. If that happened, we would just have to buy what we needed after escaping.

  10. #9
    Registered User Precarrious's Avatar
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    When the train derailment happened CSX offered $100 visa gift cards per day for food and such. We were able to get food we needed even though we have a little in savings. It was nice not having to touch savings. I hope we never have to evacuate like that again, it was scary. Disasters do happen.

  11. #10
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Yeah, you never know.

    Our homeowners insurance covers hotels in a disaster, but I don't know if that's only if the house is damaged or destroyed.

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    Registered User RABBIT's Avatar
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    We don't have a camper anymore but in the case of a disaster, I would NEVER leave my pets behind. They would go in the car with us and we would figure it out. My fear would be to be away from my house when a disaster hit and not be able to get to them.
    I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.[FONT=Arial Black][/FON

  13. #12
    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    I feel the same, Rabbit.

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