Another Way to Fun Family Travel
Published: July 1, 2017
By: Carol Muse Evans
It’s an interesting proposition – not as rustic as tent camping, but sometimes a bit less luxurious than a hotel. It’s “RVing,” and more and more families with kids are trying it out and loving it, according to Go RVing.
“My husband and I grew up camping with our families and knew we wanted to share those experiences with our children,” says Nicole Yarbrough of Gardendale, mother of three young children. “We felt like they reached the age that it was possible to start camping, so we took the leap! Camping gives us the opportunity to get outside and away from the busyness that life with three young children can bring. We can just slow down, relax for a few days, and enjoy God’s creation. Watching them explore and have fun is worth everything that goes into planning and prepping for a trip.”
Brandy Sims of Florence, formerly of Birmingham, says they purchased their camper in able to travel more extensively and affordably. “The pros of camping are definitely affordability, more family/quality time and educational experiences,” Sims says, who is married with two children, ages 20 and 10. The Sims keep their food costs to a minimum because of the camper, they use minimal electronics and no TV when they camp, and they spend a lot of time reconnecting, Sims explains.
If you’re interested in the proposition, try a starter visit to www.gorving.com, and consider renting one to try it out. RV rentals can range from less than $100 per night to up to more than $300 per night, depending on the season, rental location and the type and size of the RV, according to the folks at Go RVing. For example, a family of four rents a 25-foot motorhome with full kitchen for seven nights in June in Delray Beach, Florida, and spends $1,000 for the week. Another family may rent an RV with a fully outfitted kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona, and spend $1500.
The average price to buy an RV varies. Pop-up campers start at $8,000, according to Go RVing, and nicely equipped travel trailers start at about $20,000 and go up, depending on size, age and amenities. Starting prices on a large motorhome can be as much as $80,000, though others can easily go up to $500,000 or more and may even have full sized appliances, king sized beds, more than one bath, washer and dryer and more, according to Go RVing.
Apparently there’s a price point and RV for just about everyone – it all depends on what you want and your budget. Need pet friendly so you can travel with your dog or cat? There’s an RV that’s perfect for that. Unlike a hotel, you can take your pet just about anywhere with you when you control/own your “motor home.” And there are campgrounds just about anywhere, at all types of price points and with many different amenities. And you can easily travel to multiple locations in one trip more easily, because you take your “home away from home” with you.
“Having an RV gives us a good “home base” to recharge, cool down, and rest before heading back out,” Yarbrough says. “My two oldest boys love sleeping in the bunk beds, and I love having a small kitchen to fix meals in. Of course with dirty sweaty kids, the bathtub is a MUST! My daughter sleeps in a play pen in the living room area, which works out perfectly…. I was worried about how everyone would sleep, since they all sleep in separate rooms at home, but it has worked fine so far!”
Sims says the cons of RVing are “definitely cramped quarters and parts of the vacation becomes work…there’s hauling, parking, setting up, leveling, hooking up utilities, then hauling out and setting up all our gear.” Then she has cooking and clean up, so it’s “definitely a trade off,” Sims adds. “But experience is the greatest teacher, and camping allows me to give my family amazing experiences.”
Prices to rent spaces at camp grounds can vary greatly. Rent at Fort Wilderness in Disney World with full hookups for water, sewer and cable, and you’ll spend approximately $121 per night in the summer. In Arizona, a KOA campground with full hook ups in summer will run around $53 a night, and some state parks will allow you to camp for free, while others charge a nominal fee. However, some of these may have no amenities except for their beauty and seclusion.
As for recommendations from the seasoned campers, Yarbrough says she would absolutely recommend a camper with at least one slide out. “We knew we wanted that going in, and it was well worth it! It really gives a lot of space in the living room/eating area. If you are even considering getting a camper, DO IT! My husband and I are so thankful we did. We were coming home from our last trip and planning our next one! We will never get this sweet time back with our babies, so we have to make the most of it!”
Carol Muse Evans is publisher of Birmingham Parent.
Camper? No Camper? Try Camp Gulf at Miramar Beach
I recently had the opportunity to “camp” at Camp Gulf at Miramar Beach, in the heart of Sandestin, Florida, and what a treat! I cannot wait to return.
This campground/RV park has been here for more than 70 years – long before a great deal of Destin and the growth around the park was ever even thought of. The O’Neills have managed the campground since 1995 and have kept a comfortable, up-to-date and very clean camp ground right on the beach with full beach access for all ages to enjoy.
I’m not a camper, but this trip sold me! I guess you would say I am a “luxury camper,” while certainly I didn’t rough it. You don’t have to at Camp Gulf. We stayed in one of Camp Gulf’s “Cabins on the Beach,” each with a living room, kitchen, bedroom, full bath and a sleep loft. The kitchen was fully equipped with full-size fridge, a stove and even a dishwasher.
Televisions were in the loft, living area and bedroom. The sleeping loft included sleeping mats, and all linens are provided. The private deck/porch was a great place for beach toys, chairs, towels and such, and each came equipped with its own picnic table, wagon for the beach and a little charcoal grill. Parking was right out front! Though it was a cabin and stationary, we were staying in another type of mobile home – beach front!
This amazing camp ground is not only super nice, beautiful and well located, but it is also gated, making visitors feel a little extra degree of security while staying there. We saw families, couples, elderly campers, etc. walking at night, many with their pets or small children, and the well-lit area is just a few steps from the wonderful beach front.
Two pools (one is heated and covered during the winter), hot tubs, a large water slide at one of the pools, a well-equipped and updated bathhouse, and activity building round out a great place for families to stay, whether they have their own RV or tent, or choose to rent one of the cabins, as we did. There are even planned activities and games to help keep children entertained during your stay, as well as fun rental items. Rentals include: golf carts, beach carts, segways, yolo boards, wagons and pedal carts.
Pets are welcome, and a few of the rentable cabins allow pets. Be sure to ask ahead of time for pet-friendly accommodations.
And, you are right in the middle of Sandestin – but secluded in your own campground. You are steps or a short drive from the Tanger Outlet Center, specialty shopping, other entertainment, great restaurants, markets and much more.
For more information about Camp Gulf, call 877-226-7485 or visit www.campgulf.com.