I’ll admit it. For the last five years I have resisted every one of Jeremy’s efforts to camp near our home at the Jersey Shore. It just seemed so silly to me. If I was going to go through the bother of packing up the camper, I wanted to get away. Away, away. Like, a minimum of two hours.
But this season, circumstances conspired and I finally agreed to a local camping trip.
The ironic part? I was already loving the whole ‘local camping trip’ thing before we had even hitched up and pulled out.
Planning, packing, departing, returning home…every step had a relaxed and mellow feel to it that I don’t normally experience during a weekend camping trip.
Between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, I had an epiphany: there really are some benefits to a RV Staycation. (Yup, I said it…)
So even though my favorite part of RVing will always be exploring places away from my home, I’m giving you 5 reasons why staying at a local campground can be a really great experience.
1. Dewinterize the camper in a low-risk environment.
A lot of RV experts recommend season opener trips–short trips near your home to test out the camper systems after a long winter sitting in the driveway. Although Jeremy and I recognize the value of this practice, we have never been able to squeeze in a camping trip prior to our Spring Break vacation.
Well, last year we opened up our RV down in Myrtle Beach only to find out that a pipe had burst. Yeah: big mess, far from home. We couldn’t use the RV kitchen sink for the whole trip. It wasn’t such a big deal doing our dishes at the bathhouse, but it certainly convinced us to make sure everything was working before heading out for a 10 day vacation.
2. More flexibility with arrival and departure times.
When we are going away for a weekend, departure and arrival times play a huge role in our planning. Friday rush hour traffic can be a nightmare, but we also worry about arriving too late at the campground. Likewise, Sunday return traffic can be congested, but we always want to get home early enough to get ready for the work week ahead.
Knowing that a campground is only 30 minutes away relieves that travel stress. I don’t have to worry about rush hour, and even if we are running late it is no big deal. This past Sunday, we got home right before dinner and I was still able to run to the grocery store without feeling much of a time crunch.
A little less time on the road turned into a lot less stress in the scheduling department. I was pretty impressed.
3. Test out new sleeping arrangements, schedules, or gear.
Any parent knows…just when you think you have everything down, something will change. We are continually adapting to the changing needs of our little guys and this camping season is no different.
Last weekend we moved Wes from a crib into the back bunkhouse with the big boys. We had no idea how this would go and it was a relief to know we could abandon the whole operation if need be.
Lucky for us, Wes slept like a champ in his bunk with bed rails. Now we can breath a little easier about our longer trip to Myrtle Beach.
4. Don’t miss out on important weekend commitments.
All it takes is one birthday party or t-ball game to keep many families from going on the weekend RV trip. We find that the spring weekends can quickly fill up with communions, graduations, BBQs, and more.
This past weekend helped me realize that we really could have the best of both worlds. Visiting a local campground means that we can have our campfire on Friday night and then drive back into town for a morning t-ball game. Camping close to home is the perfect option if you don’t want a single scheduled event to derail the whole weekend.
5. Be a tourist in your own backyard.
I’ve talked about this before, but its funny how many ‘local attractions’ you miss out on when you live in a place. Something as simple as parking your RV in a local campground can change the way you think about and plan your weekend.
Princeton is less than an hour away from our home, but we have never taken the boys there for a day trip. Last weekend seemed the perfect time to visit the downtown, and we had a wonderful day checking out an independent bookstore, coffee roastery, and children’s library. Now we can’t wait to return.
The bottom line?
After five years of resistance, I now can’t wait for the next time we camp close to home. It is a wonderful way to experience many of the benefits of RVing while avoiding the stress points of family travel.
So what’s your take? Do you camp locally? Tell us about your favorite hometown campground…