When we were kids we went camping every year. It was a highlight of the summer that we looked forward to with great anticipation. After all these years, I still see the two years we camped in Kamas, Utah, as some of the best vacations every.
Our folks found a campground right on the river. We learned to fish there (even catching enough fresh trout to feed the family a couple of times), we explored, we made forts and houses under enormous pine trees, we cooked on a Coleman stove, we fell in the river, we roasted marshmallows, and we sang every folk tune known to man while Mom played the autoharp.
My sister and brother and I each made up a “secret” call to tell each other where we were. Mine was my best impression of a wolf howling at the moon.
As we got older — and, more to the point, as our parents got older — we “graduated” from tents, sleeping bags, and blow up pads, to tents, sleeping bags, and cots. Then we moved up to travel trailers. Then motorhomes. Finally, it was condo “camping” in the mountain or on the beach.
As much as I have a soft spot in my heart for tent camping — and as much as I love it, in theory — in practice, I find it to be just a heck of a lot of work. It makes for the kind of vacation that requires a vacation afterward to recover from. Tent camping — for parents — is pretty much like doing all the stuff you usually do, only harder. Cooking over a fire or stove with lousy utensils and a tiny stock of food from a cooler. Doing dishes in a basin after heating water on the fire. Showering in…oh, yea, not showering. Ack.
As Sam and I look into the future, we're thinking about jumping to the trailer mode. Having a trailer is advantageous for a number of reasons:
- Comfortable, protected sleeping quarters
- Cooking facilities that don't require setup/take down
- Toilet that you don't have to walk across the campground in your skivvies to use — and that is actually sanitary
- Access to a private shower
- Ability to drive you car or truck away from the trailer to do sightseeing, hiking, or other activities without having to pull up camp
If you are also thinking of moving up to a travel trailer, consider all the ramifications.
Make sure you have adequate insurance (called caravan insurance in the UK) that will cover damage. A dear friend of mine had a boat come unhinged and go careening off through a fence company lot. Another had a camper literally blow right off the truck and go rolling off into the desert.
Before investing, make sure the unit you can afford will really comfortably fit your family and whether you will actually use it enough to warrant the expense. Trailer camping can be a great way to make memories, but if you only use it a handful of times, you're better off renting a trailer or staying in a hotel.
With summer coming, what vacation plans do you have?