Filed under: Family Camping, Traveling Tips
What To Do When Fuel Prices Are High?
The Outdoor Recreation Association says there are now more campers than soccer players in the United States. That comes as no surprise for us because camping is easy on the toddlers and the grandparents, too, as long as families are realistic in their planning and expectations. But as gas prices top $4/gallon many camping families are forced to become resourceful in their search for affordable, wholesome family entertainment.
Where do smart families start when it comes to saving money while camping?
1. Consider off- season, off-weekend pricing if your work schedule permits. Many campgrounds are deeply discounted if you camp between Sunday and Wednesdays. Families save upwards of 40% and they have wide open site selection, not to mention easy use of amenities. If you are not using the swimming pool, but like to fish, the weeks prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day can offer ideal pricing and recreation tailored to filling these less occupied weeks.
2. Park it where you’ll use it. If you visit your favorite campground three or more times a season, consider why you keep returning. It may be the year to seek seasonal/permanent membership. Haul it once, stock it for the summer and return to the woods without factoring in high fuel costs.
3. Set a summer outdoor education goal and measure your progress. Have you been putting off learning about the hardwoods, flora and fauna of your region, identifying the wildflowers and wild mushrooms that grow under the pines? Use a library card to access book resources or stop at a used book store or thrift shop. You can tuck a reference book in the corner of your car’s trunk and have instant “edu-tainment” and an outdoor learning lab for learners of all ages. Offer incentives for families being “on the move.” Hiking is good for the heart –literally and figuratively.
4. Plan, plan, plan. Teachers will tell you which parents give children decision making responsibility during summer months. What better way to save money than to have your pre-teen make a packing list, a meal plan and associated grocery list. Teach organization where there are real world consequences, then reward kids with the money you saved because you remembered to pack the pancake syrup.
5. Look for fuel saver specials. Some campgrounds offer discounted packages for campers returning two weekends in a row. Many have safe weekday storage and incentives NOT to haul goodies home on Sunday afternoon. Check now, as often these specials are first come, first serve and dependent on storage space available.
6. Think of hidden vacation costs that camping vacations avoid. Have you checked into the cost of kenneling a pet lately? Keep them with you and not only will they be happier, you will, too.
7. Let the campground reservation folks know your wants and needs. If you tell whomever answers the phone that you are seeking inexpensive quality entertainment for your family, then not only can they tell you when the campground’s free fire truck rides are offered, but they might point you toward charming local festivals, celebrations and local attractions within minutes of the campground. Build a full vacation experience by being aware of “out of the tent” opportunities.
8. Summer birthday? In this day of over-the-top birthday celebrations, consider how you can make a lifelong magical memory by taking two or three of the birthday boy or girl’s best friends camping. Rather than 4 hours of noise, sugar and stressful planning, invite partiers to a camping overnight. You’ll get to know them and they’ll get introduced to a wholesome alternative.
Karen and the Lock 30 Woodlands Crew
About the Author:
Karen Brucoli Anesi, along with her husband, Frank, own Lock 30 Woodlands, Ohio’s only Best Park in America and the highest-rated campground in the tri state area of Ohio, PA and W. VA. She is a member of the Board of Regents and an instructor for The National School of RV Parks and Campground Management. Karen has a home in Durango, Colorado, where she’s a contributor, former columnist and special assignment reporter for the Durango Herald.