Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Help For Growing Families- Vacations Part 1

Mother Hen over a http://shipfullofpirates.com/ hosts Help For Growing Families on Tuesdays so I've decided to do a Tuesday series on How to Vacation Frugally with a large family. It is very possible to have great vacations with a bigger than average family. It just requires creativity, flexibility and planning. Today we'll tackle part one: Learn to love camping!

Whether you backpack, tent, or RV it, camping is the cheapest form of lodging around. Campgrounds range from back country to primitive to deluxe. You can find campgrounds that are privately run, State run or Federally run. In most states you can camp for free on public lands (no facilities though).

Many campgrounds allow one family (no matter the size) to camp in one site for one charge. Beware of campgrounds that consider a family 2 adults and 2 children- clearly those of us with larger families are not welcome at these places unless we desire to pay extra fees.

The general rule for campgrounds is the higher the overnight fee, the higher the amenities. Personally I don't mind camping with pit toliets and pumping water from a public pump. These types of campgrounds (usually state or national forest service parks) are very cheap.
I have found state parks to be a good bet. They usually offer clean bathrooms, flush toilets and hot showers (though some may charge a small fee for hot water) and playgrounds. They are also usually set on some form of waterfront providing swimming, boating and fishing opportunities.
Be aware that some of the more hoity-toity "resort" campgrounds only allow certain sizes and types of RV's in them. (Super expensive, flashy RVs). Lowly tenters and pop up trailers need not knock on their doors.

My husband and I tented for the first 12 years of our marriage. Only three years ago did we invest in a used pop-up tent trailer. ($2,500) We have really enjoyed not sleeping on the ground and having a dryer place to be in when foul weather hits. It does not have a bathroom but it does have a sink and a small refridge.

One other note: My in-laws belong to a members only camping group- Thousand Trails. These are nice camp grounds with lots of ammenities for adults and children. They even have lots of planned activities in the summer months. I don't know what it costs to buy a membership but my in-laws gave us a Christmas gift several years ago of a lifetime membership. Because of this, we can camp free at any Thousand Trails/Naco campground. You better believe we look for these when we plan our vacations. I think it is the best Christmas gift we ever recieved.

Camping is fun, exciting and an affordable way to take a large family on a vacation.


Mother Hen said...

Too cool! What a great gift. We love camping. Thanks for linking!

Phoenix said...

Very nice! My grandmother used to be a member of Thousand Trails. When my siblings and I were younger and all at home in PA, we used to all go with my grandmother to Hershey for the weekend of their Apple festival. Sooo much fun!