Friday, June 5, 2009

Time to Plan the Summer Camping Trip!

We try to go camping every summer, for at least one if not two weeks.  Being the frugal family that we are, we search for weeks to find the best campground that meets our needs, but in the best price range.  We look for places that afford us the opportunity to get out for free fun, such as the beach, an outdoor music festival, etc, so that the overall cost of the trip is held down.  Lately, we have found that our boys do not tolerate long (over 3 hour) car rides, so on top of being beautiful, cheap, and fun, we need a campground which is not too far away.  Lucky for us, we live close to the White Mountains (NH), the Green Mountains (VT), Cape Cod, the Maine Coast, and the Berkshires (MA), all amazingly beautiful areas to spend some quiet (or loud) family time.  
One problem we come across is that we have trouble finding tenting campgrounds.  Most places suit RVer's, which is fine - but do not tend to cater well to tenters.  We found a great place called Tully Lake in MA where you cart in your stuff (about a 5-10 minute walk to your site) from the parking lot.  It gets quiet and peaceful, with many sites are on Tully Lake.  Here are a couple of pictures:

It's a peaceful, tranquil place. 
However, after some crafty marketing, many other folks thought it was peaceful and tranquil as well, and the campground began filling up in April for July and August.  And a full campground is not necessarily a terrific thing if you want tranquility.  Beyond that, just getting a site on the water is next to impossible.

Here, we are at Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA, one of our very favorite places to go.  Only 45 minutes from home, we have been known to camp in the vicinity just so we can spend every minute of every day at the beach.  Love it there.

And another favorite spot is the Coast of Maine.  Nothing like it there.  Finding sandy beaches is tough, but the rocks are amazing.  And you can go lighthouse hunting, and never be disappointed.  Photo opps galore!  This picture is from Wells, ME:

And here, just to continue our water theme, this is Provincetown, MA, basically the top of Cape Cod for those of you not Cape-savvy:

This was a very special weekend away for my family.  It was unplanned, we called the day we left and found a hotel right on the beach for Labor Day weekend.  No, it wasn't cheap, and not camping.  I saw it as our last blast for the summer - our feet-dragging effort to return to the rigors of Fall.  And I would love to do it again.  I have started our summer trip fund - late, I know (Yikes!  It's June already!), but with the hopes that we will be able to save just a few bucks to offset any trips we take.  I hope that with a few little shifts in our regular purchasing and some other creative maneuvers, we will achieve $500 without too much pain - and more if I can swing it.  
Do you suppose people will sponsor me to walk around the block a few times?  
Or how about getting a few of my friends together to call strangers around dinner time to ask them for just a small donation - at the gold, silver or bronze level, in order to send my family on a vacation?
Or better yet, I'll put small jars at local stores to collect unwanted pennies for the next few weeks - maybe that will get me some gas money... hmmm.  The ideas are endless.

What are your plans for the summer?  How do you cut costs yet still have a great time?

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