There are road trips and then there are camping road trips! Who needs a ton of money for overnight motel stays and fancy restaurants when you can camp all along the way to wherever you are going and back? People that own RVs and camper trailers do it all of the time, but just because you don’t own one of those doesn’t have to stop you from doing it too.
There is nothing like the freedom of the open road and when you have a road trip all planned out before you leave home, it can be one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences of your life. If you take your family along, camping as you go can save you a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean you will have less fun. Planning is the key to a very successful camping road trip.
When Should You Go?
If you can take your trip in an off season like spring or fall, you can still have some great weather to enjoy in most places. What’s good is that the peak tourist season will have not yet begun or be winding down and this can mean savings for you at campgrounds and other tourists attraction along your route.
Coupons and Discounts – If you have to take your camping road trip during a peak season, then scour the internet looking for coupons or places that are offering special deals for the times you will be in that area.
Campgrounds – You should also consider making reservations at the campgrounds along your route because during the peak seasons they can fill up quickly. The internet is the best place to plan your route, your camping spots, the attractions you want to visit, and even where you will eat except when you cook at your campsite.
Eating – Look for restaurants where kids eat free on certain days. Look for restaurants that have one price buffet meals when you are on the road between camping spots. You might also take advantage of roadside parks where a grill is provided and a picnic table even if you can’t camp there for the night. Buying your camp food at local grocery stores that have sales going on is a great way to save money too. Pick up a local paper before you reach your camping spot and pick up what you need that is on sale just like you would at home!
Fuel – When you are planning a road trip on a budget, having a cell phone with internet is important. It can help you check for the lowest current gas prices along the way and help you know where to fuel up.
Entertainment – One of the best ways to save money is by sticking to your itinerary. Unexpected side trips can eat into your budget. Try your best to include as many free attractions as you can along the way, sometimes they are some of the best and use any coupons you found before you left home for things you want to do.
Taking Your Camping Gear Along
If you have a family of say four, five, or more, then you are going to need as much space inside your vehicle just for people. There isn’t likely to be a lot of room left over to put in any of your camping gear. A great place to store gear is, of course, in the trunk if you have one and on top of your vehicle using a rack. If your vehicle is suitable, consider getting a trailer ball added if you don’t have one and investing in a small pull behind trailer. A little trailer can be an ideal solution and allow you to carry more stuff without being a big burden.
By the time you pack enough clothes for everyone, sleeping tents, sleeping bags or air mattresses, cooking supplies, a camp stove, and other camping essentials, you can be hauling a lot of stuff! The extra you spend on a little tow trailer and ball for your vehicle can easily be recouped by what it would cost for just a couple of nights in a motel for everyone and you would have the trailer for every trip you want to take from then on.
The Adventure Of It All
Setting up a tent or two at a campsite in the evening isn’t going to be that much more trouble than hauling luggage in and out of a motel room, but it’s going to be a lot cheaper! Camping along the way on a road trip just adds one more element of adventure to the whole thing.
If you plan it in your trip time line, pick a nicer campground or two along the way that offer things like swimming pools and other camp activities and stay there for a night or two. It can break up the trip and provide you with a little rest at the same time. People sometimes forget that a vacation is all about having fun and relaxing. Camping as you go can help to remind you of that.
The Trip Back Home
No one wants to do all of the exciting stuff on the way to a particular destination. That’s why when you plan a camping road trip, you want to make sure the trip back home is as much fun or almost as much fun as the trip to where you ended up. A great way to do this is to plan to use one route on the way and use a slightly different or an entirely different route on your way back home. If you plan fun stuff to do on your way out and on your way back, you are going to get the absolute most fun out of your camping road trip and get to see as many different things and places as possible!