This is a guest post by Trisha Wagner
Does the economy have you down? Don't worry you are not alone. Many folks are wondering how they are going to swing a fun get-away this summer for their family. If you haven't yet discovered the joys of camping or even if you are a seasoned camper, this year is a great time to get outdoors for a vacation your whole family can enjoy. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where camping was part of each summer and I have many fond memories of trips with my parents. My memories start out with camping in a tent, then eventually my parents bought a pop-up camper and even later in life moved on to a self-contained pull along camper. Things sure got more convenient and the sleeping arrangements certainly improved, so I thought my mother would be a great person to ask for tips to save money while camping. With more than 30 years of experience she came up with some of the following that might make your trip just a little easier and keep money in your wallet instead of the camp store.
Take your own wood
Now this might not be possible for everyone, but if you are camping relatively close to home and have the room having some of your own wood can save you big bucks versus paying for it at the campground. We normally traveled by truck and having some of the bigger pieces that keep a night fire going saved us considerable money.
Check your list twice when packing
If you have ever forgotten a necessary item and had to purchase it at the camp store you surely know how expensive it can be. Make sure when packing for your trip you consider all the things you might possibly need to cook, eat, bathe and protect yourself from elements such as the sun and insects. If you are camping at a campground that has public bathing houses you will need your own soap, shampoo, washcloths, towels and shower shoes. If you have kids and are going to have access to either a pool or lake make sure you have water shoes, swimming suits, sunscreen and safety gear for younger children.
Take advantage of travel memberships
When making reservations or arriving at a campground be sure to mention travel memberships such as AAA to see if you qualify for any discounts. Many campgrounds also offer memberships for seniors so if you or a traveling companion have AARP you may also be eligible for a discount.
Check your equipment before you head out on the road
Make sure you have everything you will need to set up camp whether traveling with a tent or camper. If you have propane tanks on your camper make sure they are full before leaving and also check to make sure all your lights are working. Check tires, chains and hoses to ensure your camper is safe for travel and everything is in working order for hook up upon arriving at the campground. There is nothing more frustrating and expensive than having to pay for costly repairs while on the road.
Be prepared to entertain yourself (this tip doesn't save you money but is important nonetheless)
Sometimes mother nature can throw a wrench in the best plans. Be sure to pack something to entertain yourself if you find the weather is uncooperative for outdoor activities. This is especially true if you are traveling with children who can easily become miserable stuck inside a tent or camper for hours on end. If you are expecting to have access to electricity while camping do not assume it will be available all the time, so pack traditional things such as board games, playing cards or books in case the power goes out.
Clearly these are just a few tips for saving money while camping. Luckily camping is essentially a relatively cheap way to vacation in the first place but in an economy where every dollar counts it is important to save money where you can; making it easier to enjoy your vacation and the fun that comes with enjoying time with your family.