I can’t remember when I was asked this question or why I was being asked this question, but the question posed was “What are your fondest childhood memories?” First place was the time spent at my grandparents farm. A close second place were the camping trips with the family. But, is camping a good activity for your family?
Do you and your family enjoy being outdoors?
My wife and I both enjoy camping. Campfires, cooking outside, hikes, fishing/crabbing, beaches, etc. I believe we both believe there is something special about being in the outdoors and and close to nature. Also, it’s a great way to unplug from our daily routine/stress and reset. Most of all, it’s relatively inexpensive if compared to other family entertainment options. So, if your answer to this question is yes, then you should consider camping, whether you prefer backpacking, tent camping, or RV camping.
Do you have the time and energy to plan for camping trips?
Planning for a camping trip and planning for a trip to Disneyland both have the same basic requirements, such as identifying the trip date, researching various hotels/campgrounds, making reservations, making arrangements with your work for vacation, making arrangements for someone to pick up your mail/packages, packing your toiletries and clothes, checking your car’s tire pressure, printing directions, packing food and drinks for the drive, etc.
But, a camping trip has an extra layer of planning and preparation because you will typically pack all of your food and drinks for the entire trip (more planning, but cheaper), pack towels (bath and beach), fully charge RV batteries (if there are no electricity hookups at campground), purchase firewood for campfires, purchase gas for the generator (if no electricity is provided at campground), maintenance check your generator, pick up your RV from storage facility (if you don’t keep at your house), check RV tire pressure, and restock RV supplies (plates, paper towels, utensils, toilet paper, soap, batteries, etc.). Note, some RV storage facilities will check tire pressure, wash your RV, etc., but usually the monthly storage fee is higher.
You’ll also want to factor in the additional time and money it will take to maintain your RV and to address any issues that come up along the way. Driving your RV in to the dealership or repair shop for regular maintenance and repairs can be time consuming depending on where you store your RV and where the dealership/repair shop is located.
Camping is typically much cheaper per a trip as compared to a trip to an amusement park, resort, or cruise. I’ve heard from friends that they spend from $5,000-$10,000 per a trip to Disneyland if you include airfare, car rental, gas, food, lodging, activities, etc. When my family drove to Disneyland for a 4 day vacation, we spent around $2,500, but we went the cheap route on everything in terms of food, transportation, hotel, etc.
Once you’ve acquired/paid for all of the camping gear upfront, weekend camping trips (2 – 3 nights, 3 – 4 days) typically cost around $200 – $300. This amount includes our cost for a RV campsite rental. RV campsite rates range from $35 – $50 per night on the cheaper end for state and regional parks (and some private campgrounds) and up to $150 – $200 per night for most private campgrounds. We typically stay at the cheaper campgrounds, like state and regional campgrounds.
The $200 – $300 also includes costs like gas, firewood, ice, bait for fishing/crabbing, and other miscellaneous expenses. We bring food that we already have at home for our camping trips. Note, this amount does not include your RV monthly payment (if you finance your RV purchase), maintenance, and storage costs. And, there will be an upfront cost for purchasing equipment you’ll need for your camping trips. I’ll go over these costs in a separate article.
So, based solely on cost, you could go on many more camping trips throughout the year if you and your kids schedules allow it. We try to go camping as often as our schedule allows. What do you think, is camping a good activity for your family? Below are some pictures from our camping trips. I remember the first time we took our three kids camping in the foothills of northern California, my middle daughter said we should sell our house and live in the woods and the other two kids yelled “Yes!” We didn’t sell our house, but we go camping as often as possible.
I hope you my article “Is camping a good activity for your family?” helped you figure out if camping may be a good option for you and your family. If you decide it is, happy camping!