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Camping
A Cost Saving Vacation Option

5 Reasons to Consider Camping as a Cost-Saving Vacation Option

As a mother of two, Kate Sorenson understands how costly vacation can get with kids. From Kate's experience, camping is a fun and frugal vacation option, and allows for kids to spend their time outside, away from their electronic gadgets. Big thanks to Kate for this article!

Fun doesn't have to be expensive. Nowhere is that more true than on a camping trip. Basic equipment can be attained inexpensively, the nightly lodging fees range from cheap to zero, the fresh air makes everything taste delicious, and the entertainment is endless and free.

Equipment

Inexpensive camping equipment is easy to find. You can start your search at online coupon sites to find discounts new items.

Good equipment is an investment that will last for years. You can outfit a family of four with tent and sleeping bags for less than $300, according to the Wall Street Journal . That investment will last through many vacations.

But there are other options for equipping yourself. Ask friends and relatives if they have underused camping equipment stashed in their garage. You can find good used equipment at thrift stores or Craigslist. Many towns have stores that specialize in used or discount camping gear.

And if you're not ready to buy, you can often rent equipment from your local sports store.

Fees

Is an overnight fee of $0 cheap enough for you? The site FreeCampsites lets you search state maps to find places where you can camp for free. Most are on Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management land, but city and county parks also make the list. Amenities vary, but are listed with each entry.

Tent and RV campers will find low-cost campsites in beautiful destinations at local, state and federal campgrounds in every state. You might pay less than $20 for a tent site with a fire pit, and water and restrooms nearby. RV sites with hookups will cost a little more. Search state park web sites, or Recreation.gov for federal sites.

Private campgrounds are abundant in popular recreation areas, and include a variety of amenities such as playgrounds, swimming pools and rental cabins. Prices will be higher than on public lands, but still cheaper than a resort or motel.

Food

Everything tastes better when you're outdoors. Food for camping is as easy and cheap as you want to make it. And when you cook over a campfire, the cooking itself is part of the entertainment.

Hot dogs, chili from a can, spaghetti and meat sauce, or salami sandwiches assembled in the open air are all easy camping meals. Pancakes, eggs or instant oatmeal make a simple breakfast. S'mores baked in the coals are an event that kids and adults will look forward to all day.

But camping is a great time to cook something more elaborate. Allrecipes has campfire recipes for everything from scalloped potatoes to panzanella salad skewers.

Entertainment

When you're camping, the entertainment is all around: building a campfire and watching it burn, exploring the woods and beaches, identifying birds and plants, searching the sky for constellations at night, singing songs around the campfire.

The small roads in public campgrounds are often safe for kids to ride their bicycles.

Homemade

Camping equipment needs to be useful, not fancy. Often you can make your own. Positively Splendid explains how you can make your own citronella candles that repel bugs more efficiently than the store-bought kind.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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