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?” Some of my fondest memories were camping with the family. I think my family went on camping trips because it was cheap (which I totally get now that I’m a dad), but regardless of cost I remember having the best times when camping. But, is camping the best activity for your family?
I remember that my parents used to bring me and my brothers to the Lake Tahoe area and we did a lot of exploring and trout fishing. My parents would also bring us to the bay area to go crabbing/clamming. Sometimes we stayed in my dad’s friend’s permanent travel trailer on the beach, but later we went tent camping on the beach (you have to have a very high tolerance for cold if you go tent camping anywhere near a beach in northern California). We would throw crab nets off of a campground pier, wait for a little bit, then pull up the nets and typically it would have crabs in it. We would also go clamming on the beach using shovels (really hard work) during low tides. And my brothers and I would play in the sand dunes imagining we’re on another planet.
Where ever we camped, we always enjoyed cooking and eating outside, exploring the surrounding area, roasting marsh mellows over a camp fire…good times.
So, whether or not your fondest childhood memories were from camping trips, you’ll want ask yourself is camping the best activity for your family? Below are three questions that may help you answer this question:
For me, there is something special about being in the outdoors and its a great way to unplug from daily routine/stress and reset myself. If you answer yes to this question, then continue on with the questions below. If no, then stop now to save your time.
A lot goes into preparing for a regular trip when you’re staying at a hotel, but camping trips take even more planning. With camping, you’ll need to find suitable campgrounds, research the campground amenities, read campground reviews, reserve a campsite, research the area around the campgrounds for amenities/services/activities, plan the drive (it’s much more involved when you are pulling a travel trailer or driving a large mobile home because you need to find gas stations that can accommodate the length of your RV), buy/test camping gear, maintain camping gear, store camping gear, plan/pack meals, etc. It’s not for everyone. But, once you’ve found your favorite campgrounds and have all of the camping gear you need, planning/preparation becomes much easier.
Camping is typically much cheaper than planning a trip to an amusement park 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 nights, 3 days) typically cost around $300. Campsite rates are typically $35-$55 per night. Food for your camping trip is typically food you bring from home and food that you would already have on hand. Other things included in this camping cost estimate are car mileage (gas and wear/tear), firewood, bait for fishing/crabbing, other miscellaneous expenses. So, you could go on many more camping trips throughout the year if your and your kids schedules allow it.
For my family’s situation, the answer was yes to all three questions above. So, we try to go camping as often as our schedule allows. What do you think, is camping the best 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 they other two kids yelled “Yes!” If it were only that easy…
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