With the recession still hitting many of us in our pocketbooks, families are looking at alternative ways to travel that will provide a great vacation on a lower budget.
Rather than spend $150 per night on a hotel room on top of additional vacation expenses such as sightseeing and theme parks, many are opting to rough it – and with great reason. Whether you are hitching up a trailer to your car, putting up a tent, traipsing the countryside in an RV, or renting a cabin in the woods, ‘roughing it’ vacations can be cheap and fun.
The industry research firm IBISWorld recently looked into the cost of roughing it versus the cost of going four star resort style vacationing and found that those who chose to pack up the car and hitch up a tent were saving almost $4,000 over those families who chose to fly to a destination, rent a car, and spend their nights in a hotel room.
“Camping appeals to families of all income levels,” says George Van Horn, a senior analyst at IBISWorld. “Whether it’s boating, fishing, or soaking in some fresh air with your laptop at hand, modernized campgrounds can accommodate just about every need.”
I have to agree.
The family and I just returned from a week long trip to the mountains of West Virginia – where we roughed it in a campground cabin.
The cabin, priced well below hotel rooms in that area, offered a stocked kitchen (food not included, of course, but everything else was), wireless internet access (to deal with any emergencies that might occur – and one did, of course!), two bedrooms and a small bathroom.
At night we ate outside at the picnic table, watching the deer as they strolled close to our table hoping for a handout (which we didn’t give, sadly for our children). We roasted marshmallows on the fire (total cost about $5) and chased lightning bugs ($0).
During the day we packed lunches – thanks to the availability of a refrigerator in which we stocked breakfast, lunch and dinner supplies we only had to pay normal prices for these meals – and we headed out to the mountains, where we hiked along trails deep in the woods. We spotted more deer, a mouse, and a few birds. The cost for hiking? $0.
The memories, as they say on that well known commercial, are priceless.
Van Horn also says that aside from the cost reduction of camping-type vacations, families are enjoying returning to the simpler side of life.
I believe this. I feel that we are enjoying more time outside with our children now than we may have done five years ago, or even ten years ago, when the economy was bustling and people were dropping money left and right to take more exotic vacations.
On this vacation we showed the kids nature. We spotted blackberries and raspberries growing wild. We played at the river and watched several deer crossing upstream. We chased butterflies in the field, and observed them when they stopped to rest. And we have a camera full of memories that we’ll carry with us forever.