Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

LAmom

Roadtrip: camping vs hotels

Recommended Posts

What would you do? We are a family of 7. Kids are 8 and under. My husband grew up camping; I grew up going to Florida and staying in condos. :D.

 

We need to get to Indiana (our first longer term stop) from California. We normally would stay in hotels. I budget the price at $100/night and sometimes find them for about $80. I've been researching campgrounds and have found them cheaper! <shock> :tongue_smilie:

 

So, should I try it? I'm scared of all bugs (except ants and ladybugs...) and oh, my the thought of a bear or mountain lion or...

 

Yes, I stayed in a cabin once here in California. I did experience a bear. It snuck around the corner and was poking at a garbage. What did I do, well, I RAN, of course. Even though I knew I wasn't suppose to. :)

 

If you vote camping, what do we need just for sleeping overnight? We don't have much space and will have to pile everything on top or off the back hitch. A tent, pillows...and?

 

Thanks for your input. All my friends think it is a no brainier. I think it would be a huge challenge but a good and necessary one for me? Or not? Oh, the humidity, and mosquitoes, and?

 

:). And should it be KOA only or ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Make sure the campgrounds have shower facilities. Soem even have big shower rooms (private stalls) making it easy to wash them all at the same time.

 

Can you all fit in one hotel room? Some hotels have limits to how many can be in one room. Plus- 1 room = 1 shower.

 

But DH has allergies and I hate camping, so it would be hotels for us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

for a noncamper KOA makes things easy. All you would need to do is put up the tent. You could eat out. There's probably pizza delivery to most KOAs and the campstore sells food too. Plus while you are setting up the tent the kids can burn energy in the pool or on the playground.

 

So, if it were me I'd do it to save money.

 

If you were a camper you could hit some great state camp grounds on the way and see cool stuff. However, for basic utility a place like KOA would probably suit you just fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We like state parks and most have showers.

 

I would suggest

pillows

Tent

sleeping bags

towels

soap

washcloths

bugspray

A tarp for setting the tent up on and leave some hang out at the door for putting shoes and collecting dirt from outside

 

 

 

If you are planning on eating while camping you will need supplies for cooking. We travel with a small tabletop grill.

 

Even if you are going to mostly eat out, bring stuff to make s'mores for a night or 2.

 

Be prepared for cold weather depending on how you go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In your situation I would actually rent an RV. HOtel would not work due to sheer # of you. Camping with a newborn and a toddler in a tent does not seem right. Rent an RV, you may find it works out even in price with getting 2 hotel rooms nightly(which you would have to do), and you can have everything selfcontained for every step of teh journey. Easy to make snacks for the kids en route, nurse the baby, keep everything you need right on hand and not in the trunk etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In your situation I would actually rent an RV. HOtel would not work due to sheer # of you. Camping with a newborn and a toddler in a tent does not seem right. Rent an RV, you may find it works out even in price with getting 2 hotel rooms nightly(which you would have to do), and you can have everything selfcontained for every step of teh journey. Easy to make snacks for the kids en route, nurse the baby, keep everything you need right on hand and not in the trunk etc.

 

:iagree:

 

This is what I was thinking and we just got back this morning from tent camping since last Friday. Renting an RV or even a pop-up seems like a much better idea in your situation. Setting up an entire campsite with tents (I think you might need more than one) for just one night is not something I would want to do, even with just my 3 kids (and only my younger 2 usually come camping with us at this point).

 

You also want to think about how much it will cost to eat out every meal. An RV would probably have a kitchen set-up so you can prepare food yourself. We bring a coleman stove, a grill for over the fire, and get electric hook-ups so we can also bring a toaster and toaster oven (ds is a very picky eater so we need these) and my electric teakettle for hot water.

 

Dh has been camping most of his life and we have extensive equipment. We have a 9 person Coleman tent and the 4 of us (my oldest didn't come with us) take up more than 1/2 the tent. The little guys have child sized sleeping bags that we zip together for them to sleep in. Then dh and I are on either side. We have room for our suitcases and some space to move around but that's it. The number of people listed on a tent means you are packed in right next to each other with nothing else in the tent with you.

 

We bought our dog with us this time so we ended up having to bring both our Suburban and my dd's Jeep Liberty. We bring a LOT of stuff when we camp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a no brainer.

 

GET THE HOTEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

No doubt. HOTEL!

 

Camping is fun when you are GOING CAMPING. But, using it for cheap sleep is for the birds IME.

 

HOTEL!

 

FWIW, if you decide to camp . . . you need a rain and bug tight tent, a ground cloth for under the tent, sleeping bags for everyone and sleeping pads (under the bags) for everyone. Also, a lantern and/or many flashlights. Those are the minimums for any reasonable sleep. Personally, I also like to have a sheet and/or a light blanket (in case it is too hot and sweaty to comfortably use the sleeping bag) and, for car camping, I bring pillows.

 

All that said, the last time to try out camping is on a huge road trip with a pack of kids.

 

Take the family to a weekend at a nearby state park to camp. Once you've done that at least a couple times and ENJOYED it, then you could consider using camping as cheap sleep, but I still think that is a crazy idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it were me (we have five kids, ages 2-11), I'd stay in a hotel. Traveling that far is hard enough without the hassle of doing the tent thing with a bunch of little kids. You never know how you are going to sleep in a tent and then have to get on the road again possibly not well rested.

 

If we are staying in a hotel for one night, we'll just get a regular room, put the kids in one bed or on the floor on blankets (they are not picky) and bring a pack and play for the youngest one. We aren't asked how many are in the room, and we don't tell. (Bad example to follow, yes.)

 

On the other hand, we've only traveled far enough to need a hotel for one night along the way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
for a noncamper KOA makes things easy. All you would need to do is put up the tent. You could eat out. There's probably pizza delivery to most KOAs and the campstore sells food too. Plus while you are setting up the tent the kids can burn energy in the pool or on the playground.

 

So, if it were me I'd do it to save money.

 

If you were a camper you could hit some great state camp grounds on the way and see cool stuff. However, for basic utility a place like KOA would probably suit you just fine.

 

Some KOAs even have those pseudo cabins now. Those are nice!

 

We grew up road-tripping from CA to GA and we would alternate- a couple days camping, a hotel for laundry and mom to wash her hair. You won't need anything for a hotel that you wouldn't need camping so it's not like you are burdening yourself to do a mix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would check out La Quinta hotels. They have the full breakfast which can save a lot. Im a camper - so I'd pick that - but you don't sound like you would enjoy it. Do LaQ - eat huge in the morning, enjoy the pools, etc. and drive a more to cut down on one hotel to make yourself feel better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have always tent camped on our vacations because we are a family of 7 and camping made it affordable. All of our kids have been camping since they were just a few months old and it's not a big deal, so I wouldn't let the age of the children stop me. KOA type campgrounds are great for what you want and you have access to showers, pools, and playgrounds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are not regular campers, I would skip it. RV's are great for family travel. Check out Cruise America. We have used them and it worked well. Everything you need is on board including the potty! You don't have to take time looking for a restaurant that makes everyone happy. You can even spend the night in Wal Mart parking lots for free. I would only do that every other night though because you still need to dump your tank and take on water. You may find it cost effective by the time you total up hotel costs, gas and eating out.

 

Another option may be a hotel chain like Residence Inn. We stayed in one a couple of weeks ago and had a suite which included two beds, a sleep sofa and a fully stocked kitchen including stove, fridge and microwave. You could freeze dinners before you leave and just heat them up when you get there.

 

What ever you do I hope you have a great trip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We camped across the country and back for 5 weeks and stayed mostly at KOAs. If you "belong" the price is cheaper and was worth the cost to join for us. We never stayed in a KOA that wasn't nice...though I cannot say the same for some of the other campgrounds we stayed at. We did spend 2 nights in hotels...one when we were just tired of camping and it was really hot and the other when one ds was ill with a 24 hour stomach illness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I vote for KOA cabins. Alternating with a hotel every few days! We have done that. The campgrounds are actually nice because kids can run around and burn off energy after being in a car all day. If you stay in cabins, you only really need sleeping bags and pillows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're pulling up stakes every night and moving, I wouldn't camp. The KOA cabins wouldn't be a bad option if you can find them on your route. Driving all day, setting up camp, and pulling up stakes early the next morning while trying to feed kids is SO much work. Especially when no one sleeps great. I know from experience. :glare:

 

I do love camping, if we're actually camping. But not as accommodations on a road trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not read all the replies. However, we are also a family of 7, children ages 9 and under. So, kind of in the same boat. And we just were on a long road trip (moving, but kind of similar). First, without lying, there are very few hotel rooms that will allow that many people, despite the fact that several of them are babies/toddlers. The ones that I did find were over $100, or you had to get 2 adjoining rooms.

 

However, that said, I couldn't imagine trying to camp with so many littles and with an agenda of trying to travel and get places. The only way I would do that is if we were staying in a cabin, so clean up and getting out in the morning was very easy. Also, we personally do not have enough cargo space in our van for all the camping gear we would need + all the things we need for the trip itself. And don't forget food, which will be much more difficult if you are not near home or near eatery places.

 

We looked at campgrounds, but in the end, we opted for hotels. I don't know what it costs normally as we get a military discount, but we got a marriott suite, 2 bedrooms, living room and full kitchinette, for $108/night, which was quite comfortable for our large family.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you're pulling up stakes every night and moving, I wouldn't camp. The KOA cabins wouldn't be a bad option if you can find them on your route. Driving all day, setting up camp, and pulling up stakes early the next morning while trying to feed kids is SO much work. Especially when no one sleeps great. I know from experience. :glare:

 

I do love camping, if we're actually camping. But not as accommodations on a road trip.

 

:iagree: I love road trips. I love camping. I don't like combining the two.

 

I vote for cabin or hotels.

 

Have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We love camping, but in this situation? No way! It is exhausting to set up camp, and then put it all away the next morning! I think really you need two nights in one place to make it worth it. And it sounds like a huge hassle to drive, camp one night, repeat.... Also, since you'll need to be hitting the road, you probably won't be able to enjoy camping like you normally would. I don't imagine you're going to want to cook a nice big breakfast and then wash all those dishes when you want to get going.

 

I looked at your kids' ages - heck no again. At least for the road trip, setting up one night at a time kind of thing. Camping is wonderful, but it is some work to get set up and cook, clean, etc. The only one who might be of SOME help will be your 8yo. It obviously requires two people to set up/take down the tent and that can take a while. So the kids are on their own during that time. You've got at least two kids whose ages make me nervous around the campfire, and honestly - they all might love the fire and if they're anything like mine, you'll be constantly telling them to move back, get that stick out of the fire, etc.!

 

I think you should try camping when you'll be plunked down for a few days. And maybe when the kids are a few years older? Or with another family who might help out.

 

Another option might be a KOA cabin, or some state parks also rent them. They often aren't a lot less than a hotel, but the kids will love it and get to experience "camping". Some of them have great amenities, woods surrounding you. You'll need to bring your own bedding and maybe some cooking/meal stuff. Or if you want to make it easier, just grab sandwich supplies at the grocery store when you arrive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We love camping, boys are experienced Scouts, etc., but it has to be at least a three night stay to make it worth all the unloading and setting up, for a comfy family trip. Its a lot. I'd opt for suite type budget hotel rooms (two queen beds, sofa bed, two TVs, kitchenette, free breakfast) and get really cheap on the food. You can do it on that $100 budget, esp if you carry a big cooler with food.

 

Off season, there are nice cabins in state parks, that are completely decent....in Virginia, I think $87 will get you two bedrooms, with a twin and bunks in each bedroom, and basic amenities, but no TV or free breakfast.

 

Go on a real camping trip another time and enjoy it....using campground amenities, and cooking all your food over fires, is really fun....can be amazing, but setting up and breaking down every day, esp since you are not used to it, sounds disasterous to me.

 

Good, good luck with making your trip plan. Sounds fun any way you go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up camping. I've camped with newborns. I would NOT camp for one night only to break camp and move on to another place the next night.

 

is there a possiblity of renting a pop-up trailer or other camper/rv?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, all. I have looked into RVs and for a 5-week rental it was base rate $6000.00 plus whatever miles would be!! Another website was around $1000.00 a week! So that is not an option.

 

We bought a tent today and my husband and I tried putting it up in the living room. Ha, it might have been easier if it were staked....my 6 yo is actually quite helpful. But, it was a lot of work! It is a 10-person tent that Costco has right now. It would be fine and dandy if we put it up and had a few days of relaxing. But, to do that after a long car ride....all to take it down again! :confused:

 

BUT, it is kind of an adventure, right? The kids might have fun. Or be miserable because of not getting good sleep and being hot/sticky from the humidity.

 

Well, I will keep debating things through with my husband. He is up for the challenge. It sees the negative side of it, too.

 

Our main focus is 4 nights in a hotel being about $400 total and 4 nights camping the most it would be is about $160. Round trip: $800 vs $320. That is quite a savings. I guess, minus the $150 tent and whatever else we would purchase (but use again in the future, possibly). I've stayed in enough hotels to know the breakfast is not worth it unless it has a super fancy full breakfast buffet. We plan on fruit, nuts, cheese for breakfast or Pbj.

 

I don't know! Maybe the next step is setting up the tent in our yard and sleeping in it. And I'm scared of the bugs in our yard. We have found more than one black widow and have plenty of other critters around. But, setting it up after a long day and while the sun is beating on us....maybe that will kick my husband and me into reality! :D

 

Oh, and one KOA I looked at had a cabin to accommodate our family size and it was $133!! That is a lot for needing to bring sheets, not having your own shower, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you prepare and plan to camp but keep an open mind on ditching camping for hotels if it doesn't work out? Or maybe do a combination of both?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Could you prepare and plan to camp but keep an open mind on ditching camping for hotels if it doesn't work out? Or maybe do a combination of both?

 

I would also consider doing a combination of both. You will still save money, but you won't be miserable the whole time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another question: can we leave all our luggage/stuff in and on our car? Do you generally park next to your site and then trust all the luggage to be ok while down and the pool, etc?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went from Illinois to CA a few years ago and stayed at Motel 6's along the way. Not luxurious, but definitely way under $100 a night. I'm not a camping kind of person, so that would never be my first choice.

 

If I can help you plan your trip, PM me. We took I40 most of the way. I can guide you through St. Louis, central IL and into IN, depending on where in IN you're going. :001_smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stay in hotels. Yes, all seven of you can go in one room. Our family of seven has done so many, many times over the years ~ including the past two years, on two-week road trips. We most often go with Best Western though we have experience with some other chains. Make sure breakfast is included in the price of the stay. My guys fill up on that meal and that allows us to get by with minimal lunch.

 

For the record, I like camping well enough, but I want to go to one place, set up camp, and stay there. Camping each night in a different place with a young family of seven would send me over the edge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were coming north and staying in the incredibly clean and nice northern CA and OR state parks then I'd say camp. As you are not... Well, I vote for hotel. We camp some. We even (mostly) enjoy it. But my husband can't talk me into driving home with the kids (hotel OR camping) just based on the drive alone. I just KNOW we'd be coming home 500 miles into it if I was camping on top of the stress of driving there......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scratch that, I see you bought a tent! :D

 

'Kay. Now, go set it up again and spray it all over with Camp Dry. Do it again before you leave and pack a tarp.

 

Because, heading to the midwest, you probably aren't used to heavy rainfall and a wet tent is hard because you'll have to travel with it and set it up wet and ideally NOT sleep in wet sleeping bags. A BIG tarp could save you a miserable trip. These are important things that people conveniently forget to tell new campers! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're talking adventure, would camping then become part of the plan in including fun places to stop and see, or are you on a strict timeline? We are camping road trippers. We have been known to pull in at sunset, put the tent up, eat, sleep, break camp in the morning. Our tent was very easy to take up and down. When we traveled cross country a couple years ago, we did KOAs, the ones along I-90 were fantastic! I'd look at where your campsites are, what route you want to take and how compatible they are. I think $100 hotel budget would be very hard to maintain and you may want to have a list of possible places along the route to see if they'll allow you to stay in one room.

 

As far as food goes, don't buy fom the KOA/campground stores, those are usually very pricey. We pack cereal for the mornings and sandwich fixings for another meal. I'd assume with that many kids, you'd be driving with a cooler anyway.

 

Considering you bought a tent, I'm sensing you wanting to go that route. It's definitely cheaper. Good luck in your decision. Sounds like it'll be fun. I have very fond memories of road tripping across the US as a kid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What would you do? We are a family of 7. Kids are 8 and under. My husband grew up camping; I grew up going to Florida and staying in condos. :D.

 

We need to get to Indiana (our first longer term stop) from California. We normally would stay in hotels. I budget the price at $100/night and sometimes find them for about $80. I've been researching campgrounds and have found them cheaper! <shock> :tongue_smilie:

 

So, should I try it? I'm scared of all bugs (except ants and ladybugs...) and oh, my the thought of a bear or mountain lion or...

 

Yes, I stayed in a cabin once here in California. I did experience a bear. It snuck around the corner and was poking at a garbage. What did I do, well, I RAN, of course. Even though I knew I wasn't suppose to. :)

 

If you vote camping, what do we need just for sleeping overnight? We don't have much space and will have to pile everything on top or off the back hitch. A tent, pillows...and?

 

Thanks for your input. All my friends think it is a no brainier. I think it would be a huge challenge but a good and necessary one for me? Or not? Oh, the humidity, and mosquitoes, and?

 

:). And should it be KOA only or ?

My sister and her family did this trip yearly for many years. They pulled a popup. BUT I did it with my toddlers many years ago with a tent. KOA campgrounds were the best. Always close to the freeway, camp store, clean showers, a pool for the kids and sometimes they served breakfast too. They usually have camping cabins too but you'd have to reserve those in advance.

 

A tent, sleeping bag & pillows, warm sleeping clothing, easy breakfast food, plastic food bowls & silverware, water bottles, and a shower bag & shower shoes. It's always good to have quarters for showers & laundry machines.

 

Tenting is a bit dirtier always. But the kids are happier because they can burn off their energy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, and several of the KOAs did have laundry facilities which was nice. I'd do laundry and dad took the kids to play. If you have a local KOA I'd go check them out, maybe even do a test run, and get their directory. Depending on where you are and when, you may need to make reservations--although most usually always have tent spots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you just need a tent, sleeping bags, pillows, and a tarp for under the tent.

 

I wouldn't worry about cooking equipment and planning on cooking. For someone who never really camped that is just more hassle. Bring a cooler with some basic stuff.

 

The thing that I really like about KOA for a trip like this is the playground and pool. When my kids get to a hotel they turn on the tv first thing and find cartoon network. Then, because they've been stuck in the car they take their energy out on each other.

 

With camping you will have to pull off the highway sooner, but the kids can go burn some physical energy at the playground. Last summer I stayed at a KOA that had this thing called a "jumping pillow" It was a giant moonbounce. It was great. Anyway, dad can set up the tent while you take the kids to play and then break out some sandwiches. Then you take turns getting through the showers. In the morning the kids can hit the playground again before hitting the road. In the summer, KOAs often have different activities planned at night that you can choose to do or not do (movies, campfire story telling, basket ball games, etc.).

 

Since you asked, I never worried about leaving my belongings locked in the car while I went to the playground or pool at KOA. I do worry at hotels/motels. I've been on road trips where I witnessed other guests finding their car had be broken into in the hotel parking lot.

 

I think since you bought the tent, you should look at it as part of the vacation--the adventure of putting up a tent, etc. Your perspective will make a big difference in how the trip goes. If you think "gross, hot, bugs" the whole time it won't go well. If you think fun and focus on the fun for the kids it will help you a lot. It's like any activity, you can see it as a chore or you can look at the adventure of something new.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would find it easier to keep an eye on the young kids in a motel. I would NOT enjoy camping. After a long day's drive the last thing I would want to mess with is setting up camp etc. Adjoining motel rooms every time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We travelled in a van and my father made a rack out of metal (he welds) that plugged into the back hitch receiver. We filled the rack with stacked plastic bins of stuff we needed (it fit 6 large bins then locked with a metal bar that went over the top of the bins which kept them closed and safe. This setup kept everything dry, safe, and out of the way of inside the van so it wasn't so crowded.

 

The van was a conversion van with a seat that turned into a bed in the back. Three of us could sleep in the bed and two on sleeping bags on the floor if were too tired to set up the small tent. The boys slept in the tent most nights.

 

Yes, you will generally park your vehicle right at the site next to your tent. The only place we found that we couldn't do this was at a national park in the mountains of Colorado somewhere. We were looking to stop and there were signs about bears then we would have to park the van and haul stuff to the campsite which was down a path. The tent was too small for everyone and we didn't feel safe being so far from the boys so we went somewhere else that night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you do tent.....

 

Get an easy-up tent so you don't have to mess with poles and such when you're tired. When I went with my kids, no dh, I got a tent that basically snaps open when you shake it. I can't remember the name but it was a huge blessing.

 

Practice putting it up & down once before you go too. Give each of the kids a "set up camp" job to help them stick around until you're ready to be distractible. KOA's aren't huge and I didn't find it overwhelming in regards to kid watching. They were pretty much into the playground and we always got a site near it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to camp. But for one night at a time and then pack up in the morning, I'd do a hotel. For the longer stays, I might camp though. Setting up and breaking down camp for one night just isn't worth it to me.

 

I like the RV idea though. They aren't cheap and when I've priced them, they don't work out any better than a hotel room. BUT I have few enough that it's no problem to get a suite and fit into one room. Or sometimes they will let us with a roll-away. If you have to get 2 rooms, you beat the price.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't sleep well tent camping and neither does DH, so there is no way we could tent camp and get up and drive safely for days on end.

 

I vote RV or hotels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Another question: can we leave all our luggage/stuff in and on our car? Do you generally park next to your site and then trust all the luggage to be ok while down and the pool, etc?

 

We've camped all over and we've always had our car parked right on our site. No problem with leaving stuff at the site while going to the pool or playground. I did lock my purse and my laptop in the car when we were away this last trip but just because we had a very large, very rowdy group next to us. Just avoid campgrounds that are described as "walk-in".

 

Having water and electric hook-ups raises the price slightly (it was $4 per night where we just camped) but makes it a LOT easier. We bring an extension cord and plug strip, utility lights (the kind with a bulb in a plastic or metal cage with a hook) so we can play games or read around the table even after dark, a toaster oven so we can make waffles, pizza bites and other easy foods and my electric tea kettle to boil water for tea or coffee.

 

Definitely set-up the tent ahead of time and spray it with waterproofing stuff. Bring bug spray - both stuff that can be sprayed directly on the kids and one that is intended to be sprayed around outside (yard fogger). We spray underneath where we are setting up the tent and around and underneath the picnic table. If you are careful about shutting the door when you go in and out of the tent, you shouldn't get too many bugs inside.

 

We have a 9 person Coleman tent with poles and dh and I can set it up in about 10 minutes. Take down takes longer since you have to work the air out and wipe it off if its very dirty or wet. Make sure you have the windows slightly open when you take down. Personally, if I was just taking it down to drive somewhere and put it up again, I wouldn't even attempt to squeesh it back into the storage bag. That is sometimes the worst part.

 

We bring a small child-size dome tent with us as well for the kids to play in. It takes about 2 minutes to set-up and cuts down on them wanting to run in and out of our tent and it's a convenient place to put their toys (coloring books and crayons, sidewalk chalk to decorate trees, the picnic table, rocks, etc.). I always have my laptop along and it can be used to watch dvd's if the kids are tired or the weather is bad. I would include comfy chairs for everyone since the picnic table benches are uncomfortable. We have the folding chairs that go into their own pouches.

 

A table cloth and cleaning spray will help make the picnic table someplace you are willing to eat.

 

A trick that dh's family has used for the campfire - we put chairs an appropriate distance away for sitting at the fire and then the kids are told they must walk around the outside of the chairs at all times. No getting up and cutting across the middle. DD and ds were able to follow this rule by the time they were 2 years old. Most campsites we've been to have a metal ring that you build the fire in so it is pretty contained as long as you don't try to build it too high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did the set up and take down part of the time on our drive from AK to the east coast. You can keep it simple and it doesn't have to take that long. We would have camped more than we did but the weather was just too cold at times even in June, but that was in the northern part of the country. After setting up and taking down the tent a few times it is much easier. I don't have a slew of kids, but I wouldn't have to think twice about doing it with my 2 yo dd.

 

Buy a $30 table top propane grill for making hot dogs, hamburgers, etc. Sandwiches are quick and easy. We take a box that has matches, lighters, trash bags, disposable silverware and paper plates, ziplock bags, a roll of paper towels, a spatuala, a knife, salt & pepper, a vinyl tablecloth, off bug spray.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have AAA you can order campground guide books from their website for free. It will have phone numbers, list of amenities, ratings and prices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are going to camp it (which I don't recommend and I love camping), I second the large tarp. Picture yourself breaking down a wet, muddy tent and getting everything into your car in the pouring rain. Picture that wet muddy tent getting everything else wet and muddy in your car. Then picture trying to set up the wet, muddy tent that next night. Even better, picture trying to carry your sleeping bags etc. into the tent in the rain without everything getting soaked. Imagine your little ones running around getting muddy and then running in and out of the tent, getting little footprints on the pillows and sleeping bags.

 

If it doesn't rain, moving from campsite to campsite every night is a lot of work but need not be miserable. Add rain and it is miserable. If you have a very high tolerance for dirt, you might not lose your mind!

 

If you can figure out a way to tie a large tarp over your tent, you can break things down without everything getting soaked and muddy (well, as soaked and muddy anyway). This is easier if there are trees to tie it too. Just bring a big trash bag to stuff the tarp into when everything else is packed. If it rains though, you still need to count on that high tolerance for dirt to get you through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love to camp, but based on the info you've given, I wouldn't do it on this type of trip. I also like to save money, and I still wouldn't do it. I would try to do whatever I could to save money going the hotel route.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If it rains though, you still need to count on that high tolerance for dirt to get you through.

 

Depending on the campground, it doesn't even need to rain for this to be true. :D

 

Some campgrounds have sandy rather than grassy sites. Our last one was sandy and my feet weren't clean for the entire 5 days we were camping, even though I showered. Dd had the same problem basically from the knees down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Friends of ours did this last summer. They camped from Texas to Oregon. I think they had a hotel stay in there once just to have a good a/c & shower. The wife really wanted to do it so they could save money and when they came back she said it wasn't worth it. It just wasn't comfortable enough for the number of nights they had to do it and the set up and take down was draining. If you're going to do it, and it sounds like you are, you might want to figure in a hotel every once in a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Theoretically you could do the trip in less time if you stayed in a hotel....no need to set up a tent...not that driving more hours in a day is great, but we've done equivalent-distance road trips in 3 days (2 nights in a hotel.) The thought of sleeping on the ground at night and sitting in a car all day makes my back hurt. Add in dirt and no A/C and it's a no-go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would look for state parks and such along the route and see which ones have cabins to rent. But do this sooner than later because some are booked up months in advance. Packing and unpacking camping supplies is a royal pain and can take much longer than expected, especially if you have to repack it a certain way thanks to space limitations.

 

Also, camping in a tent on the ground is not restful, at all. I would consider how extra tired and sore you are going to be from sleeping on the ground nightly. It will make a long trip that much longer and more stressful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...