10 Fun Facts From Our Camping Vacation
We returned from our annual week-long camping trip and it was a wild ride as usual. The weather was great, travel was easier this year, and the beach was a blast. As usual, we have crazy poop and sleep stories to tell, as well as a few ways we saved and (accidentally) spent money.
In other news, check out my article “How Having Kids Has Improved Our Finances” on the Society of Grownups blog.
- Camping is a lot more fun when you don’t have a baby. Although I had great fun the last four years, I couldn’t believe how much easier this year felt. I wasn’t pregnant, nursing, or chasing a 1-year-old. It was awesome! By the final night I was quite tired and crabby, but I went to bed early and bounced back just fine.
- Camping is a lot more fun when the weather is nice. The last two years have been relatively cold or rainy, so we especially appreciated the dry, warm weather this year. We spent a lot of time on the beach, which is free aside from the excessive amount of sunscreen I lather on my fair skin (and the kids’). My daughter could scarcely be kept away from the ocean when it was time to head back to camp, and the boy built some awesome sand creations.
- Camping is a lot more fun with a playground next to your camp site. We’ve always picked a site next to the playground, but until this year, the playground consisted only of a swing set and some open space. This year brand-new playground equipment entertained the kids throughout the day, although it stressed me out at first because my son kept taking his toy light saber over and trying to battle strangers. Turns out most kids want to play Star Wars and it wasn’t much of a problem after all.
- Camping is a lot more fun with friends. About 150 people from our church camped this year, including around 20 friends our age, plus their kids. This makes for lots of free entertainment and good memories, from impromptu Disney song dance parties to conversation around the campfire. Neil enticed a group out to the beach one night to watch a rocket launch from Kennedy. They had a great view and everyone’s favorite part was Neil’s excited commentary on it. He loves space.
- Unplugging for a week is awesome. “What Happened When I Unplugged For a Week”–doesn’t that sound like a great post title? I wish I could pull it off, but it’d be utter click-bait because nothing happened. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t even realize I’d done this until the end of the week. I barely thought about personal finance or blogging or email. The kids didn’t ask me for TV. I did benefit from others using their data for directions or info a few times. But it was nice to be consumed with family, friends, nature, and survival (i.e. camp cooking and dishes).
- Camping with kids always involves some shenanigans. The bathrooms are a little bit of a walk, and when you’re four and distracted by playing Star Wars with your friends, it’s hard to get there in time. I’ll just leave it at that. Also, on the first day we discovered my daughter’s ability to escape her pack ‘n’ play. During her first tent nap time, she got out, took a brand-new bottle of sunscreen, and spread it on our clothing, toiletries, and part of our bedding. Luckily it was oil-free sunscreen and came out of everything easily.
- Neil loves camping so much, he goes a overnight backpacking trip with his friends. This annual tradition is also known as manhike or campception–that is, camping within camping. He always comes back with some interesting stories. This year’s involved lots of spiders.
- Reading on vacation is the best. The last couple years have been so hectic we barely got to read. This year was a marked improvement. Neil listened to the entire audio book of The Big Short and I read most of Raising Boys By Design.
- Traveling during Easter means you should book your free hotel stay ahead of time. We were debating exactly when to leave and waited until the day of to book our free Marriott stay. There were no rooms available—at least not free ones—and we ended up spending $95 to stay overnight. We didn’t really have another good option since we’d already packed up camp, it was around 1 pm, and we had a 14-hour drive ahead of us. And were tired from a week of camping! So it was money well spent in the situation, but we will remember this in the future and plan ahead. We often book from the car on the way back, an hour or two ahead, but this doesn’t work on Easter weekend.
- Renting an SUV doesn’t mean you’ll have a lot of space. We had a free rental at Enterprise, accumulated after about 10 years of renting for business travel—and decided to use it for the trip since our vehicle has had some lingering problems that would be very inconvenient to deal with on the road with two kids. We decided to pay the $50 to upgrade to an SUV so we could fit our camp gear, but they gave us a crossover with less space than our station wagon. We fit everything, though! Here’s the $ pie chart:
Anyone ready to try camping?
Camping sounds like it could be a fun adventure…only problem is I’m deathly afraid of snakes and if I saw one, that camping trip would be wrapped right up! I can definitely understand how frustrating it could be to do any type of vacating with a 1 year old. They are a needy little bunch of people:) I’m heading off to check out your article about how your kids improved your finances. Sounds interesting!
It is so much fun! I don’t ever remember seeing a snake, although I’m sure there’s bound to be some out there. I do find that camping is much more kid-friendly than staying in a hotel or nice rental home. But any vacation with a 1 year old is a lot of work in a different setting–and hopefully some fun family time.
Dang it now I want to go camping! Where did you guys camp? I normally camp in the Smoky Mountains, but would love to camp in Florida if it is close to the beach.
We have camped in Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine Beach. Both are beautiful and the campgrounds have access to wonderful beaches.
My husband’s family does “family camping” every summer but we haven’t made the trip up north in several years. Maybe this summer will be the year, sounds like you guys had a blast!
I hope you can make it to your family camping again this year; we think it’s a blast!
That sounds like a fun break from the norm! We might be more interested in camping if the kids were older.
I imagine two toddlers would make for a very busy camping trip! Maybe in a couple years.
I miss camping! With our 5-month-old, it just isn’t as easy as it was when we first got married.
Also, that story about your daughter and the Pack ‘n Play makes me so terrified for when my little goober starts walking and climbing (and smearing sunscreen) everywhere.
I’d encourage you to give it a try! Our babies have loved camping–though like any vacation with kids, it’s a lot more work than when we were newlyweds.
No liquids in the tent once they start escaping. I learned that the hard way this year!
Camping is SO much better when the weather is good. My boyfriend and I camp a lot in Colorado, and it often rains or snows where we camp. We always attempt to find a nice spot under trees, but also somewhere near an open piece of land.
Camping in Colorado sounds beautiful! I’ve never camped in snow, though.