Camping can be a great way for a family to have a wonderful outdoor vacation on a low budget. You can avoid the hustle and bustle of the city, the cost of holiday resorts with their expensive shows and carnivals, and get back to nature to experience what is real. Family time together away from crowds and noise can be a great bonding time and will leave you with great memories.
In the United States, as in many other places in the world, there are lots of campgrounds. National parks, state forests, and even some beaches have camping sites. These can make great holiday destinations.
You do not even have to go too far from home, as there is probably a great range of places you can go to near.
In the US, depending on the facilities offered, you can look at spending between $12 and $25 per day/night. This is far less than hotel accommodation for an average family would cost. There are, of course, plenty of more expensive sites, charging up to $50, so you will need to decide on your budget and do some research ahead.
The sites in state and county parks are often excellent and can be a great option for a low budget trip. These sites are usually organized and administrated by park rangers who also provide a level of security. In these campgrounds, you will typically find a designated area in which to pitch your tent, a grill, a fire pit and a table. The site will have public washroom and toilet facilities. Drinking water will be available. There are also trash bins and places where you can wash your dishes. Make sure you get the family involved in doing chores outdoors.
You and your family will most certainly have plenty of things to do while camping, and there are many activities that won’t break the bank, too. Many parks have lakes where there are opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. There may be the possibility to see some local wildlife as well. There are often playgrounds with swings and such, basketball hoops, and other amenities are often provided.
You can bring along your bicycles if the site you are visiting has places to ride. Make sure you bring Frisbees, balls, and any other outdoor games, and include some cards and board games. Stargazing is another activity that the outdoors offers which is way better than the city version.
If you have not done any camping before, the basic equipment you will need can be bought for about $600. There is also an option to rent the equipment. You may want to think bigger rather than smaller when it comes to your tent, as more space will always be appreciated. You can visit a camping store to buy all the stuff, or a cheaper option would be to purchase online.
Sleeping bags are a must have. As a beginner camper you are probably going to a summer camp (this will be preferable for your inaugural camp). A three season bag will see you through all types of weather and may be a wise purchase in the long run. A sleeping bag of good quality will set you back about $50. These bags unzip if you get too warm. They can also be zipped together for couples.
If you expect only mild, warm weather during your camping trip, you could consider just taking along some sheets and blankets instead.
A pad to sleep on will lend comfort and some insulation from the ground. Sleeping pads can be found for under $30. When pitching your tent and organizing your bed, clear away stones and pine cones, otherwise your sleep may not be as comfortable as you would like it to be. Lay down a tarp before you make up the beds. These cost about $10 – it will protect the tent floor and add a layer of waterproofing to your space.
A 9-volt battery lamp is a good option for lighting, as it does not get too hot and attract thousands of bugs. Use these lights sparingly and enjoy the night sky while having a conversation in the dark!
You may discover that your campsite does not have a grill facility. A propane two burner stove, however, will set you back anything between $30 and $80, and along with $3 worth of propane, you will be guaranteed a hot meal. Do some research on camp stoves before you buy one. A cooler box is also recommended to prevent food spoilage. Choose one big enough to carry all the food you will need for the duration of your stay. These can cost between $30 to $100.
Of course, if you have camping gear, your low budget holiday is set to go! The only paying out that you are in for is the campground fee. The incidentals like ice and charcoal are a negligible cost.
Other items to bring
Some of the other things you will need to pack will be found in your home or bought at little cost.
The main camping gear is a one-off expense, and subsequently, you can enjoy low budget holidays year after year. Who knows, you may even become a seasoned camper.
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