Camping Means More Vacations
by Sharon Stahl
My family vacations more now then when we both worked full time jobs! Here's how it happened. It was a hotter than usual evening for the middle of June, and the air conditioning felt like a crisp fall morning when we walked through the door of the restaurant. It was our fourteenth wedding anniversary and we were both looking forward to the evening alone together.
We ordered drinks and an appetizer, and immediately began our usual conversation about the kids, home, cars and money. But as those subjects quickly depleted, we were left with the topic of vacation. "It takes us 2 years to save for a vacation, and our biggest expense is food and lodging!" I said. And with 3 daughters, taking the family anywhere can be expensive! "Well," Brian said, "if you were willing to go camping, we could go away more often." The only memory I had of camping was as a Girl Scout in third grade. We went on an overnight camping trip to Mountain House, where we slept in sleeping bags on air mattresses on the large porch of the main cabin. I didn't have an air mattress, so my Mom thought sending an extra blanket would do the trick. It didn't, and that night I swore I was never going camping again. "Well, if I didn't have to sleep on the ground, I might consider it." "Well, we can't afford a motor home," he replied. "What about a popup camper like your sister has?" We agreed that after dinner we would look at new popup campers so we would have an idea what a good price was for a used one.
Our search started and ended at one place. The salesman made us a deal on a new camper that was about $1200 more than the nicest used one we'd seen, and we decided it would be worth the investment in the long run. We first went to a campground that we found in a camping directory, and although it was nice, it did cost us about $70. for the weekend. While we were unpacking the camper Sunday evening, our neighbor stopped by to see how our first camping trip was. They go camping too, but they camp mostly at State Parks. She gave me some information, and 2 weekends later we went to Promised Land State Park in the Poconos. It cost $11.00 per night, they had 2 beautiful lakes, campfire programs, hiking trails, 2 beaches for swimming and lots of nature! We knew then that camping at State Parks was the way to go, and go we went, every other week end!
Now before you crinkle up your nose at the thought of camping, let me tell you how we plan, so we're not working the whole time we're camping.
- There are certain items that we keep in the camper all summer long such as utensils, blankets, extra clothes, first aide kit, games, and cookware.
- We plan our meals so that most of the preparation work is done before we leave. Potato, macaroni, or pasta salad can be made in advance, so can breakfast cakes, and one pot meals. If you freeze your foods (not the salads) before you go, they will help keep things cold in the cooler and cut down on the expense of ice.
- We all take part in set up and fold down of the camper, this makes it easier and helps to teach the children how to work together.
Camping promotes family togetherness. We sit down together to plan where we are going, and what we will do there. Some of us may go swimming while another goes fishing, but we all meet back at the campsite at night for a time to sit down and relax by the campfire. (Don't forget the marshmallows!)
Campsites at State Parks cost from $12 to $17 per night, while campsites at private campgrounds cost from $19. to $38. per night. Either way, you'll save more money by going camping.
Our family now goes camping almost every other weekend from April to October, and we enjoy all the places we've seen. No more saving for 2 years for a vacation, now we take mini-vacations all summer long!
When I quit my full-time job 3 years ago to stay at home with my children, I read all the information I could get on living the frugal lifestyle, I also wanted to work a part-time job from home that would fit around my schedule. I started selling Avon and it snowballed. I've been selling at President's Club level ever since. And no matter how successful I become, I'll still live the frugal lifestyle!
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