Camping: A Weekend Getaway on a Budget

We all need to getaway sometimes, especially as a family. Vacationing is great for family bonding, especially when things are hectic during the week and you don’t have time to really appreciate being a family. However, with the cost of fuel and hotel prices, it can get expensive fast. Forget a weekend at Disney World, where just the resorts cost upwards of $500 and park admission fees are over $100 PER PERSON. That’s not even including transportation or food, where just bottled water will cost you $5. It’s outrageous! But don’t let that stop you from planning weekend trips with your family. There are ways to take the family away even when you’re on a budget. For my family, our favorite way to take a holiday away from home is to go camping. Not only is accommodation cheaper, but you don’t even have to travel far from home. Moreover, you can stock up on groceries and cook your own meals which won’t cost you much more than a typical weekend feeding the family. And the best part is, camping provides tons of free entertainment.

We have a great campground about 45 minutes from our house. This is very convenient because we feel like we are leaving town, yet it doesn’t take too long to reach our destination. When the kids get out of school on Friday, we still have time to get to our campsite and set up before dark and we can still spend the majority of the day on Sunday at the campground without worrying about travel time. While we may not be going too far from home, camping in the woods makes us feel like we are in another world. We do away with our technology for the weekend and, for once, appreciate the great outdoors.

The campground we visit most has plenty of hiking trails, bike paths and even a swimming pool. We are also on a lake that offers boating, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. There really are plenty of activities for everyone. We always bring the kids’ bikes along, and they enjoy being able to bicycle around the camp ground together and we don’t have to worry about traffic. My husband can usually be found fishing at the lake, and I enjoy lounging at the pool with a book. Sometimes we take canoe trips on the lake together, and we always prepare our meals together. Every night we have a bonfire, roast marshmallows and catch up as a family. The best part is, these activities are free. They are included with the camp ground fees, so the kids are able to entertain themselves and it doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg. We can even let the kids bring friends along on these trips. We set up their own tent next to ours and they think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

If you’ve never been camping before, just make sure you come prepared. Sometimes a grocery store can be miles away, and sometimes more expensive, so do your grocery shopping before you leave home. If you are traveling far, you may want to wait to stock up on refrigerated items however. We always pack a cooler with plenty of lunch meats, soft drinks and water, fruit and any condiments we might need, such as ketchup and mayo for grilled hamburgers. Hamburgers are always on the menu! Grab some kielbasa and eggs for breakfast over the fire, and don’t forget the marshmallows for roasting at night. Bring along some flashlights or lanterns for light at night and don’t forget matches or a lighter. They are helpful if you need to make a trip to the bathroom, which could be a little ways away. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent to keep those annoying pests away. The last thing you want is for them to ruin your trip! We have a propane mosquito trap we absolutely love. It works wonders. If you are interested in purchasing one before your trip, check out the Mosquito Magnet Executive. Keep in mind any tools you might need for setting up your campsite, or getting wood for the fire. I would recommend bringing an axe with you. Don’t forget towels for showering and/or swimming. Toilet paper may also be a necessity depending on the campground facilities. It’s always safe to bring some along. Pack up any cooking utensils, pots or pans you might need, along with plates, cups and plastic ware. Sunscreen is a must since you will be spending the majority of your time outdoors. And last but not least, a first aid kit should always be on your packing list. There are plenty of detailed packing lists online that are very helpful. For example, Love the Outdoors has a huge list. They may not all apply to you, but give it a quick read.

The best part about camping is you don’t need to plan too far in advance. Once you have your tent and camping gear, all you need is a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up for the weekend. Load up the car, pick the kids up from school, and be on your way. You don’t have to break the bank to take a family getaway. Are you making plans for your next camping trip yet?