Leave Town, but Stick with Your Finances
By Jeff from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Fashionably Broke Blog Series
If you’re like me, you’re nose has been at the grindstone day after day, living that same old routine for some time. It’s not that you’re unhappy with your life, but who couldn’t use a change of pace? Variety is the spice of life. “But... Oh,” you say, “what about the money?” No one wants to spend all their hard-earned rent/grocery money on a vacation! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Well, do you like fresh air, having an excuse not to shower, or raccoons going through your garbage? If so, have you considered camping?
Pitch a Tent
It’s time to rough it. If you know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, you also know what it’s like to live in survival mode (if not, just pretend). Why pay for a hotel with all those things you don’t even need! Do you even want cable, running water, or clean sheets? I’ll tell you one thing, someone making my bed for me makes me uncomfortable. I’d rather sleep in the great outdoors!
Think of the adventures to be had! The car ride up, cooking over an open flame, swimming in a pond, setting up a tent: It’ll be a time you won’t forget! So, without further adieu, let’s get started.
Some campgrounds will have different prices during the week or on holiday weekends. Also, plan far in advance to avoid any snags in campsite availability. Don’t let full-occupancy campgrounds force your hand regarding where to stay, when to go, or who can join based on short notice.
Also, it couldn’t hurt to think about the meals you want. If you have your little heart set on something specific (s’mores? hot dogs? squirrel?), it wouldn’t hurt to plan your meals in advance. The same goes for activities. Planning appropriately ensures you do everything you want to, kind of like writing an outline before I craft a blog to make sure I don’t get sidetracked… Secret officially revealed.
Picking the Site
Be aware of the stipulations of the campground you pick. No one wants a fine for disregarding the rules when you could have chosen a place more in-tune with the experience you want. Feeling rowdy? Don’t pick a campground with early quiet hours or a strict alcohol policy - campgrounds that appeal to young families with children don’t tend to appreciate that kind of thing. Say goodbye to Yogi; Jellystone Park may not be your best bet.
On that note, be sure to check out what there is to do in the area, and keep in mind what the group will want to do. You may be fine building sandcastles all day, but not everyone likes sand in their crevices.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a tent tucked away in a relative or neighbor’s garage. However, setting up a tent can be one of the more frustrating elements of the trip. (There, you’ve been warned.) My advice? Bring an Eagle Scout along. Or, you could practice on a sunny day before the trip so that you feel a little more comfortable with the whole process before you have to complete the task at night/in the rain/under stress-induced criticism. This should help you get started:
- Don’t stake it down yet. Get all the poles in the “sleeves” of the tent before you try to attach any to the corners and turn this 2D tent 3D.
- All the poles in? Start attaching the poles to the corners starting with the one that lies on top. How? The pins at the corner of the tent go in the end of those collapsible poles.
- Now stake it down.
- See that extra sheet of canvas? It’s called the “rain fly.” Throw it over your tent and strap it down.
- Pat yourself on the back.
It’s time to add some fire to your holiday. If you have friends who like to inflate their sense of inner woodsman by using flint and steel, just sit back and wait. There’s no point in trying to stop them, so learn some patience. If you’re on your own for this one, charcoal isn’t a bad option, or just use propane. If you feel the need to use wood, remember that smaller pieces will light easier. Build up the fire by progressively, yet gradually, adding larger pieces of wood, starting with the smallest twigs and brush and working your way up to logs.
Now it’s time to cook some mallows and relax!
P.S. – Although poking a marshmallow with a stick right through the side may work fine over a campfire, poking a hot dog in the middle may not be enough to support it. You can try impaling the hot dog with the stick or, my preferred method, finding a stick with a forked end to support the dog at two separate points.