Though the economy has gradually begun to rebound, families with fresh memories are still reticent to commit to costly vacations. One of the more affordable and family-friendly vacation options is camping. Families get the chance to experience some of nature's most idyllic settings at a fraction of the cost of expensive resort vacations. But before venturing out in the great outdoors, a family should consider the following tips to ensure their camping vacation is a swimming success.
* Research the weather. Before choosing a campsite, get a firm grasp of what to expect from Mother Nature while you're there. Research weather patterns and how much the weather can vary during the time of year when you will be vacationing. Does the weather fluctuate significantly during the daytime and nighttime hours? Is rain likely or unlikely? Weather conditions will dictate which gear is necessary for the trip, and families might want to avoid campgrounds that are frequented by rain. Adults might be able to cope with a rainstorm or two, but such conditions may make everyone miserable.
* Find an activity-friendly campground. When looking for a campground, look for one that boasts a lot of activities. Adults might enjoy the simple relaxation of camping, but kids will likely need more to do. Look for a campground that can offer activities the children will like, such as hiking, kayaking, rafting, or even mountain biking.
* Determine who you are as campers. Not all campers enjoy the rustic life of camping. Some need to combine camping with the amenities of modern life, including running water and toilets that flush. Campers should be honest with themselves in regards to their needs in amenities when researching campgrounds. If you and your family will need a shower, consider renting an RV for the trip or choose a campground with accessible showers and restrooms. Veteran campers might scoff at such amenities, but families would likely prefer some combination of roughing it in the wild and modern day living.
* Get the right gear. Entry to many campgrounds is free or nearly free. However, camping gear could cost money. The good thing about camping gear is it's reusable. If this year's camping trip is a success, then next year's trip won't cost nearly as much. Visit a local camping store and explain your situation, including what you hope to get out of the camping trip and where you'll be heading. An associate should be able to help you find the right gear for your trip, including a tent, lights, a water filter, cooking materials, and inflatable mattresses. The materials needed for a successful camping trip are many, but again these materials are reusable and can last a lifetime if families choose the right gear.
* Stock up on the essentials. Once you have purchased the right gear, don't forget to stock up on the other essentials. Particularly during the warmer months, campgrounds can be very hot and insects abound. Be sure to bring adequate amounts of sunscreen and bug spray and apply each liberally every day. Even if the sky is overcast, apply sunscreen to avoid painful sunburn. Other essentials include toilet paper (bring more than you expect to use), bottled water, plates and utensils, and garbage bags. Be sure to bring extra garbage bags to avoid littering in the campground.
* Don't forget to have fun. Families should emphasize having fun when visiting the campground. Because camping is not a resort-style vacation, it's up to Mom and Dad to entertain the kids. Bring along a guitar for a campfire sing-a-long, and pack a few board games the family can enjoy under the stars at night. If a nearby park is known for being especially family-friendly, consider it as a campsite. Kids might meet fellow campers their own age and make some new friends.