Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran at camping resorts throughout the country, planning family camping vacations can be a daunting, overwhelming task. Below is a checklist of action to help make all your family camping vacations a success, at least on the front end. (We can’t guarantee that your camp resort will have running water or that your local camping sites will be as historical as you hoped).
1. Decide on your style of camping.
this might sound hopelessly hipster but truly, it’s relevant. For example, one in 10 young campers prefer cabin camping, the majority prefer established camp grounds to striking out on their own, and some people really like to rough it with their tents in the mountains. Some people go camping for the simple sake of being in nature, while others use camping as a jumping off point for a number of outdoor activities like hunting or fishing. When planning family camping vacations, a family meeting to discuss the goals and objectives of the trip will be useful as you begin the planning process. It will also cut down on any after-the-fact whining about being bored!
2. Once you have your itinerary, make a materials list.
Once you know roughly what you’ll be doing on your trip and how long you’d like to stay, go through the days chronologically in your head or by activity and make a list of things you’ll need. This project design process makes it much less likely that you’ll forget the sunscreen, the tackle box, or the capture the flag flags and have to deal with the belly-aching on the long road up the mountain.
3. Once you have your ideal itinerary and activity list, prepare a budget (and be conservative).
By conservative we mean, assume higher prices for things you’re not sure about and shop around for the best deals. Campgrounds especially can be price-flexible depending on the location and the season, so don’t just go with the first place you see.
4. Crunch the numbers.,
When you have your budget, start doing hard research. Compile a list of expenses for the trip and account for an emergency fund for things like broken down cars, an ER visit, or a night in a motel. If you find that your expenses run over, play with your itinerary a bit and start prioritizing experiences and equipment. Have everyone rank their “musts.” If you follow this systematic strategy every time you go camping, chances are you’ll show up to the camp grounds, the cabin, or the open wilderness prepared and ready to take anything that comes your way.
Try to branch out on family camping vacations, especially if you’re a repeat camper with a routine. The memories of that one lake two hours away will no doubt serve your kids well, but every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to be adventurous. We especially love the idea of themed camping trips, or trips with overarching goals such as nature exploration, plant collection, bird watching, pioneer living, etc. Building your trip around an idea rather than simply around the cheapest camp ground or the most convenient route off of I-90 is almost always a better bet.