Archive for February, 2009

Camping with Young Children

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Camping can be a lot of fun for younger children – however, you’ll need to prepare differently than you would for a camping trip with your buddies. If you’re thinking about taking your children on their first camping trip, read on for more helpful tips on camping with young kids:

Start with Short Trips

Even if you pride yourself on the month long wilderness adventure you recently took, it’s best to start young children on shorter camping trips – no more than two to three days at a time.  Camping trips – as fun as they may be – are stressful on young children, who aren’t yet used to being out of their comfort zone for an extended period of time.  Young children may feel uncomfortable when they’re away from their usual routines, even if you believe the natural world is infinitely more fascinating than the host of television programs and video games that seem to constitute a normal day in your house.  Start small, and when your children start begging to stay longer, go ahead and up the length of your trip.

Plan Your Days Wisely

However, don’t think that you need to pack more activities into these few days, just because you’re taking a shorter trip.  Camping should be a relaxing activity for you and your children – and you won’t achieve that if you plan something for every moment of every day.  All those fabulous attractions and learning opportunities will still be there next year, but if you try to shuttle your children back and forth to all of them over the span of a weekend, you’ll end up with some cranky children – at best.  Instead, shoot for one or two attractions a day, and be sure to leave plenty of time for bumming around the beach.

Look for Campgrounds with Family Amenities

Campgrounds vary widely in the amenities they have on site for families with young children.  While most have at least a playground for younger visitors, some campgrounds also feature waterfront access, picnic facilities and sports fields.  Some campgrounds even host special programming for children.  These programs are typically free to campground guests, and may include everything from identifying local plants and wildlife to junior ranger programs that teach children outdoors skills.

Get Feedback on Potential Campgrounds

So how do you tell if a campground is family friendly?  First, check online.  More and more campgrounds are setting up websites that enable visitors to look up their amenities before you make a reservation.  If you aren’t able to find a campground’s website, try giving the campground a call.  The person staffing the check-in office should be able to give you a good idea about what resources exist for families at the campground.  In addition, you might find it helpful to ask friends and relatives for recommendations – parents with first-hand knowledge of a campground may be able to tell you whether or not the campground is as family friendly as it claims to be!

Wherever you wind up going, remember to stay flexible during the trip. If bad weather hits and your children are miserable, don’t be afraid to pack up and go home. It’s far better to reschedule for a better weekend than to leave your children with a bad impression of camping!

RV versus Tent Camping

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Drive through any campground and you’ll quickly see that camping equipment runs the gamut from $20 pup tents to $400,000 motor homes, complete with satellite TVs and Astroturf.  But how do you determine whether RV or tent camping is right for you?  Read on for more of the advantages and disadvantages of each:

RV Camping

Some of the benefits of RV camping jump out immediately – if you encounter any bad weather or overwhelming insect populations on your camping trip, you’ll be able to take shelter in your home away from home.  The beds you sleep in will be more comfortable and the electricity hookups on your campsite can be used to power a television or computer in the event of bad weather.  In addition, if you suffer from any kind of back or knee pain, you may find that kneeling down and sleeping on the ground in a tent will aggravate your injuries.

Of course, the major downside associated with RV travel is the expense.  RV travelers have two options – to purchase their own RV or to rent one for the duration of their camping trip.  Renting is obviously less expensive, but there are a few hidden expenses you should take into account.  The first is the cost of the gas needed to run the RV.  Although gas prices have recently dipped, it will still cost much more to drive an RV than a small car packed up with a tent.  You may also find that RV camping spaces cost more than regular tent sites, due to the extra expenses associated with paving RV sites and providing electricity hookups and waste dumping sites. Learn about these 11 Tips To Buying A Quality Used Rv Are Revealed By Kirkland Rv In Recent Article online.

Purchasing your own RV should only be considered by the serious camper.  Even simple pop-up campers can cost several thousand dollars, so you need to be certain that you’ll actually get enough use out of it to justify the cost.  Are you an avid camper who’s out every weekend in the summer?  Or do you think of camping as something that sounds fun to do when you actually get the time?  If you aren’t 100% committed, rent first until you’re ready to buy. 

Tent Camping

Ask just about any tent camper and they’ll immediately jump to the defense of tent camping as the “only pure way to camp.”  In fact, tent camping has a number of significant advantages over RV camping.  First is the cost – even a top of the line tent will cost much, much less than an RV.  Tent camping sites are generally cheaper and you’ll find that you have more flexibility in terms of location when you camp in a tent, since most back-country or wilderness camp sites don’t allow RVs.  In addition, tents are much easier to set up and store – you won’t have to give up a parking spot to store a tent or deal with the sometimes excruciating process of backing an RV onto a campsite.

However, if you’re considering camping in a tent, you should be aware of their negatives as well.  Pop-up tents – despite their advertisements – can be difficult to set up, especially if you’ve lost the instructions.  In bad weather, tents can leak or even blow over if the winds are strong enough.  You’ll also have less protection if some unexpected cold weather appears during a spring or fall camping trip.  You may also find that, since you’re lower to the ground, more creepy-crawlies find their way into your sleeping area.
If you still aren’t sure which method is right for you, ask around to see if any of your friends have camping equipment they’d be willing to lend you for a weekend.  Try out both a tent and an RV – at the end of a weekend or two, the answer should be clear!

Traditional vs. Rustic Camp Sites

Friday, February 6th, 2009

An increasing number of campgrounds are offering visitors the choice of both traditional and rustic campsites. But how do you know which one is right for you? In the following article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each to help make your camping trip a success.

Traditional Campsites

For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to a traditional campsite as the most popular type of campsite – the small, 20′ x 40′ patch that comes equipped with a fire ring, electrical hookups, and possibly even a concrete pad for parking a camper or motor-home. Depending on the campground, these sites are typically organized around paved roads and are numbered sequentially as you progress through the park. These campgrounds generally have restroom/shower facilities and water faucets located at intervals throughout the site.

For some campers, the advantages are obvious. If you’re driving a large motor home or are compelled by your caffeine addiction to bring along your coffee pot, a traditional site with electrical hookups is a must. Or if you’re the type that needs a hot shower every morning just to wake up, you’ll need to stay in a campsite that has access to restroom facilities. In addition, some traditional sites are designed for campers and pop-up trailers, including a concrete pad for level setup and pull-through access to prevent the sometimes difficult task of backing a trailer onto your site.

However, these sites do have one major disadvantage – the crowds. If you’re camping on a popular summer weekend, you may find that every one of the hundreds of sites at your campground is occupied. Because these spaces are often quite small, you could find yourself privy to your neighbor’s late-night conversations or subject to the constant noise of cars driving in and out of the campground. If you’re particularly unlucky, you could find your family vacation interrupted by a fraternity’s summer blow out – leaving your children with some uncomfortable questions!

Rustic Campsites

For many campers, rustic campsites offer a solution to many of the problems plaguing traditional campsites. Typically, rustic campsites don’t offer running water or electrical hookups – instead, you’ll find hand pumps for water and latrines for restrooms. Although these conditions may not be ideal for everyone, they do offer some surprising advantages.

First, because fewer people tend to take advantage of these spaces, the lots are often much larger. And because people aren’t camping in trailers and motor-homes, the campgrounds don’t need to clear away trees to accommodate these large vehicles, leaving more beautiful, private campsites. In addition, because these sites rarely sell out, the campsites are much quieter – especially considering the reduction in noise from the electric TVs and stereos some people bring with them on their camping trips.

The disadvantages, however, are obvious. For some campers, flush toilets and running water are must-haves. Having to pump your own drinking water and forgo the conveniences of modern technology are enough to convince these campers to stick with traditional campsites. However, many of the campgrounds that offer rustic spaces allow these campers to use the facilities on the traditional side, so you may be able to duck over once a day or so to take a shower or fill your water jugs. And since rustic campsites are often half the price of their traditional counterparts, they’re definitely worth checking out.