Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TIP: Want Good Cheap Fun? Try Camping

Last weekend I went camping for the first time in 25 years. We decided on camping because it's so affordable. I certainly had my concerns about rain, bugs, bathrooms, bugs, showers, bugs, snakes. Did I mention bugs?

I wanted to go because my daughter, who turned 13 this year, has never had the experience of sleeping in a tent. I spent many weekends camping with my family as a kid and they're some of the best memories I have. Campfires, hiking in the woods, the stars at night.

The campsite in Slade, Kentucky, was $15 per night including electricity and water. The cost of gas was $100. I bought some camping equipment - $100 for cots (well worth the money and I'll use them for my daughter's sleepovers), and $16 for old pots, pans and utensils at the Goodwill store. The biggest expense was food, but I would've spent money on food if I had been home anyway. I brought the dog along, so I saved on the cost of a kennel.

We had a great time. The hiking was fantastic...the campsite was shady and beautiful with big tall trees and a little creek running behind our tent. We slept to the sound of crickets and trickling water. It was a lot of work, but it was SO relaxing. At night I got up to walk the dog and the sky was amazing...hundreds of big, bright stars in the black sky. Gorgeous. And while I usually feel like summer is passing me by while I look out the window of my office each summer, I feel like I've already had a chance to really enjoy summer, and it's not even the Fourth of July - the half-way mark.

My fears were about the heat and the bugs and the rain. The heat wasn't too bad because we had a shady campsite. Sure, it was hot but we were dressed for it. Yes I had lovely "camping hair" for four days, but who cares? The bugs weren't bad, maybe because we used some bug spray, but not excessively. I came home with more bug bites on my trip to Puerto Vallarta where I stayed in a resort!

It did rain one night. That stunk. That's the thing about camping. You have extremes - moments when you love camping and moments when you're asking yourself why you ever dreamed about such a crazy activity. For me, the good aspects outweighed the bad this trip.

Here's what I spent:
Campsite for 4 nights: $60
Gas roundtrip: $100
Gear: $116 (reusable for next time!)
Food: $150 (I would've spent this at home)
Ice, firewood: $15
TOTAL: $381
REAL COST: $160 (excluding the gear and food)

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