How to Make the Most of the Ultimate Getaway

Is a Family Camping Trip the Perfect Post Quarintine Vacation? Here's Some Tips and Insight on Enjoying the Great Outdoors.

Camping has always been the ultimate in outdoor family fun. At a time when we are still dealing with COVID-19 it may be the best bet for a family to vacation. Kids can learn about nature, from plants and animals to the weather and skies. Historical landmarks and different regions offer lessons in history. And parents get a break from daily responsibilities. Not to mention, camping is an affordable way for families to get away from it all.

Choose from a variety of camping options. If you love the experience of roughin' it, pitch a tent and haul the bare necessities. Tents come in many sizes and styles, some with dividers for separate sleeping quarters. When purchasing a tent, remember the listed capacity doesn't include luggage space. If you plan to keep belongings in your tent, opt for a larger size. Most importantly, don't forget padding or a blow-up mattress to sleep more comfortably.

If you want more of the comforts of home, a pop-up camper may be for you. The canvas sides and pullout sections of pop-ups are surrounded by screens and give the feeling of sleeping in the outdoors. Pop-ups come in several sizes and often include an icebox or mini-refrigerator, heater, air conditioning, portable toilet, shower, kitchen sink, stove, cabinets and storage space, dining table, and other necessities.

Some families opt to go in style. Travel trailers and motor homes offer a luxurious nighttime retreat after a day of fun. The ease in loading and unloading these shelters is excellent for moving from campsite-to-campsite, making cross-country camping a bit easier. Motor homes and travel trailers often have a full kitchen, living room, and separate bedrooms for comfort and privacy. Look to lease before buying, too.

Experienced campers with older kids might try a hike-in shelter for a real wilderness experience. Check with state and national parks for shelters that are sometimes set up along extended trails. After a day of hiking, roll out your sleeping bags under one of these small shelters to sleep under the stars.

The cost of travel can make family vacations a rare treat, but the affordability of camping may allow for more frequent getaways. Overnight fees range from a free night's stay at some state park rustic sites (no showers, toilets, electricity, or water) to $50 or more per night at many of the top KOA and Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. The more expensive campgrounds are loaded with amenities from built-in swimming pools to live entertainment.

State park campgrounds vary from place-to-place. Still, these are often the best deal for families interested in experiencing all that nature offers. Fees for overnight accommodations in state parks typically range from $15 to $40. Many state parks have modern facilities, including flush toilets, showers, grassy or gravel sites, playgrounds, park stores for firewood and ice, and more. Furthermore, state parks frequently offer extensive hiking or biking trails, natural wonders, historical sites, and more that can’t be found at private camp resorts.

Camping also helps keep other vacation expenses to a minimum. Many families prefer cooking over the campfire to eating out. Additionally, most outdoor camping activities are free or available for minimal cost.

Whatever your family's interests, there is plenty to see and do. Trails offer ample activities such as collecting rocks, leaves, or insects, scouting for wildlife, learning about plants and trees, and practicing survival skills. You can also go on hiking excursions, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams offer fishing, swimming, row boating or canoeing, sunbathing, and more.

Wildlife viewing is often a highlight. Look for animals early in the morning or at dusk on dirt roads and trails, in open fields surrounded by woods, and near water. Be patient, walk slowly and quietly, and bring binoculars.

Other activities include nature programs, historical sites, flying kites, rollerblading or bicycling on paved trails, and more.

When you are ready to relax, light a campfire, and enjoy reading or storytelling, play cards or board games, watch the sunset, stargaze, and roast marshmallows.

We’ve provided a short list of what to take. Make your own personalized list, then weed out items you don’t really need. Portable televisions detract from outdoor fun, so leave yours at home. Think twice about bringing a pet. Some campgrounds don't allow pets, and even if they do, pets cannot be left unattended. A pet can hinder many activities, including beaches, where dogs often aren't allowed.

When it comes to eating, doesn’t everything taste better outdoors? Bring a gas or liquid fuel camping stove. If electricity is available, a crockpot or electric griddle works well. You can also carry a charcoal or small gas grill or cook over an open fire.

Meals should be simple to minimize packing, preparation and clean up. Easy choices include hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, sandwiches, eggs, bacon, sausage, sweet corn, baked potatoes, canned foods such as beans, tuna, chicken, spaghetti, fresh fruit, vegetables, bagels, English muffins, cereal, fruit juice, and instant hot cocoa.

On the other hand if you enjoy cooking then make the most of mealtime. With all the options for cooking, you can easily put out a big spread.

Camping is a learn-as-you-go experience, but the following suggestions can alleviate hassles and help keep your family safe.

Protect your food from animals and animals from your food by blocking access. Animals can find their way into nearly anything. Raccoons are known to lift lids right off coolers to snatch a treat. A cooler that latches is usually a safe bet. Any food that isn’t tightly contained should be stored in your vehicle overnight.

Poor weather can strike at any time, and insect infestations also make for a miserable experience. Make additional shelter (such as a screen tent, or tarps and rope) part of your camping gear.

Arrive at your camp destination ahead of the crowd. Every campsite is unique, and early arrival can assure a site that satisfies your needs. When selecting a site, look for proximity to restrooms, playground, electricity and water. If you have young kids, make sure the site isn't too close to a river or lake. The amount of shade you'll want may depend on the weather. To avoid mud in the event of rain, choose a grassy or rock site. Also, stay away from a site that backs up to outhouses.

Know what animals are found in the area and teach your kids animal safety. Wild animals usually want to avoid humans as much as we want to avoid them. Still, they can pose risks. In the West, mountain lions have been known to snag children and smaller folks. In bear country, those accustomed to people sometimes get too close and result in injury. Even small animals when threatened may attack.

For a comprehensive directory of private, state, and national campgrounds throughout the US and Canada, visit USCampgrounds.info before leaving to enjoy the great outdoors.

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