Let’s face it. Camping with little kids isn’t easy. No fridge. No bathroom No air conditioning. And it’s certainly no fun in a tent when it rains.
Don’t get me wrong, camping can be a great adventure—especially when the kids are a little older. But even the most committed backpackers opt for RVs when their kids are small.
I saw the pluses first-hand when I joined some young cousins on an RV trip in Colorado. We still had all the fun of being in a campground, complete with campfires and S’mores. The kids tooled around on the scooters they’d brought from home and made friends with other kids in the campground. We could still join in the ranger activities when we stayed in a national park.
But it sure made a difference having that fridge and bathroom. And the kids thought driving in the RV was an adventure in itself. We didn’t hear, 'Are we there yet?' once. Here’s what I wrote about that adventure.
RVs of course come in all sizes—from towable folding camping trailers to huge motor homes with every convenience including flat-screen TVs.
Sure the price of gas is high, but consider that you’re RV is your hotel, restaurant and transportation all rolled into one. And who wouldn’t prefer to pay a fee at a campground rather than a hotel every night? You’ve got more than 16,000 RV parks/campgrounds and RV resorts to choose from, many located near popular destinations, national parks, forests and beaches.
Many of these campgrounds are like resorts with pools—even water parks--and a wide-range of activities for the kids—everything from outdoor movies to bike rentals to mini golf and crafts. Some people call them “the last small towns in America.” Check out the campgrounds from KOA, for example
There’s another plus: You give the kids the sense of the outdoors and camping without the inconvenience. If you’ve got anyone in the gang who has food allergies, that’s especially important.
All that and plenty of bang for your vacation buck too. Rental prices typically range from $80-200 per night --depending on the season, the vehicle rented, how far it's driven, and how long it'll be rented. Average price for a campground is about $40 per night.
Figure that a family of four can save anywhere from 23 to 59 per cent on travel costs by using an RV. Not bad! No wonder the RV industry estimates there are 23 million RV enthusiasts on the roads today –including more who are between 35-54 than any other age group.
“You only miss as much of the outdoors as you choose,” one Colorado Campground owner told me.
I’ll have another S’more, please.
Eileen Ogintz is a nationally syndicated columnist and creator of TakingtheKids.com. Her new Kids Guide to LA is available online and from major booksellers, along with the Kids Guides to NYC, Washington, DC, Orlando and coming in December, Chicago.