It's hard to getaway alone or with the family without spending some money, but truth be told camping at a resort campground is not that expensive. Where else can you stay overnight with your entire family or group of friends for less than $50 - and still have a great time?
There's a little investment in getting your camping equipment for that first camping trip, but once you have it then it can last for seasons over. Camping beats any amenities at home or at a hotel at half the price!
There are thousands of campgrounds in your region, no matter where you live. Private campground, state parks, public tent and RV campgrounds, resorts, etc. are among your choices. A good first time stop would be a campground that offers a lot of diverse amenities as well as local attractions.
Keep in mind that more popular campgrounds and resorts with a lot to offer tend to fill up during the busy camp seasons and on weekends. This might make it tough to get a last minute reservations so you'll want to plan at least a month ahead if possible to ensure you can get a campsite.
You don't need an RV or a 5th wheel to go camping. A lot of families use them for comfort and ease of camping but tent camping is still one of the most popular ways to enjoy the outdoors. Most campgrounds provide enough space at your campsite for a vehicle, so load your gear into your car/truck/SUV and you're good to go.
If you're trying to sort out what type of camping equipment you need, this is where you'll face a hard choice - what type of tent should you buy?
It depends on who is going. Ultimately you want the most comfort for your family, you want to keep bugs out and you want to stay dry.
Tents come in three shapes: An A-frame, a dome, or a cabin style. A-frames are typically smaller tents meant for one or two people - maybe three. Dome tents are highly stable structures with flexible poles built to withstand the elements. They tend to be the most popular tent shape due to spacious interiors, but with sloping walls they cut down on head room considerably.
Lastly, the cabin-style tents look like little cabins or condos. These are great for tent camping with a family or kids. They're typically large with interior fabric walls and doors to create multiple rooms. Many larger cabin tents can sleep up to 10 people (or more) comfortably and offer plenty of head room.
All modern tents are designed with mesh screen windows to keep pests at bay - so no sleeping with the no-see-ums.
Unless you want a long term investment, choose a starter tent for yourself and your family that is easy to setup. You want a nice novice shelter with good stability in strong winds that won't feel like you're building IKEA furniture without instructions the first time you get to the site.
There are a lot of ways to enjoy a meal while you're camping, and you don't have to buy an expensive camp stove. Most campgrounds provide fire pits on site and there are few things more enjoyable than cooking dinner over an open fire.
To make your first camping trip easy, try preparing some foods ahead of time that can be easily heated. Fresh fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, and snacks are good choices for your first overnight. If you're more adventurous, bring some meats (hot dogs, brats, burgers, kebobs) that you can cook over the fire.
Small camping stoves and small portable charcoal grills are readily available at stores like Camping World, Gander Mountain and Cabela's if you want to have the comfort of a fresh, hot meal.
Remember to pack your utensils, paper plates, some herbs and drinks (stay hydrated!) to make each meal complete.