Would you do me a favor? Can you plan a three-week trip for our family of 6 up the coast of California? Here are some of our requirements:
1) Must have a kitchen at each stop so we can prepare our meals.
2) We want to stay half the trip at the beach. Beach locations must have an ocean view from our room. Also, we are unwilling to walk more than 50 feet to the water. We want to be able to open the door and put our feet in the sand.
3) We want to stay a few days at a winery. We prefer to watch the sunset over an unobstructed view of a field of grapevines. Wine tasting must be included and we need a huge jacuzzi.
4) We also want to stay a while in Big Sur. Our room must face the forest and I want to hear a river at night.
5) Oh, and lastly, I want to stay at least 2 nights at a resort made just for kids. It needs to have lots of activities. Obviously a kid friendly pool with little fountain thingies is required.
6) Psh. Sorry, forgot. I want it over Christmas and New Year, a notoriously expensive time to travel.
Your budget: $16,000.
Oh wait. Sorry. Added an extra zero there.
Can’t be done?
We are on day 18 of our trip. We haven’t hit $1,600 yet. Everything above is included.
We are camping in our travel trailer.
A little backstory…
Before we had kids, my husband and I loved tent camping at Doheny State Beach for a week each summer and occasional weekends throughout the year. We’d cook hot dogs over an open fire and snuggle in our tent listening to the waves crashing throughout the night.
When our first son was born, we realized the whole ‘tent camping’ thing wasn’t going to work. Living in the elements is not great for a six-week-old baby. Unwilling to give up our love for camping, we rented a camper that first summer he was born. The following year, we rented again…and every year since.
Renting wasn’t cheap. A small camper hovers between $70 – $100/night. Camping got less affordable each year. What was our second purchase after paying off debt in 2017? A used travel trailer. We committed to use it. It wouldn’t sit in the driveway and grow rusty.
In 2018, we camped 65 nights.
In 2019, we camped 89 nights.
My husband and I are natural explorers. We need to travel. In fact, a good chunk of the debt on our credit cards was from traveling. As a family of 6, traveling via hotel is horribly expensive. We usually have to book a suite or book two separate rooms. Campsites are cheap and the price is the same for 2 or 10 people.
Camping is AWESOME.
My fellow campers are probably furious at me for sharing our secret. Campsites are harder to book each year. Camping is becoming trendy again.
But I recognize that so many who are working to pay off debt are also looking to scratch the travel itch without breaking the bank.
Don’t know where to start? We love, love, love following this family and listening to their tips, tricks, and adventures: The RV Atlas
Go exploring this weekend. We’ll see you there.
Beks is a full-time government employee who enjoys blogging late into the night after her four kids have gone to sleep. She’s been married to Chris, her college sweetheart, for 15 years. In 2017, after 3 long years working the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps, they paid off more than $70K and became debt free. When she’s not working or blogging, she’s exploring the great outdoors.
Beks, I’m not familiar with your story. How are you and your husband able to travel for weeks at a time? I’m jealous, I don’t even get that much PTO at my job
I’m insanely fortunate. I work a 9/80 schedule so I have every other Friday off. In addition, my work shuts down for two weeks at Christmas and they let me work from home for a week at a time when needed.
My husband is a stay at home dad so his schedule is wide open.
It would be useful if you could put a price on the camper, and then work out the yearly or nightly cost. Sometimes this looks good and sometimes it doesn’t.
For example, I purchased a good quality seven person tent for $600 second hand three years ago. I took it camping approximately three to four weeks every year. I then sold it this year for $500. Total cost for $33.30 per year for the tent. Plus site fees for the total accommodation costs – varying between free and $50 a night for prizes destinations. Not all tents will keep their value like this, but buying good quality second hand is a good bet. My tent would have cost $1400 brand new so getting my money back second hand was easy.
My replacement tent was almost $1000 brand new; not as good a choice. I ran out of time to buy second hand despite doing my best. However if I keep it ten years and don’t sell it, it’s cost me $100 a year maximum. In reality I will still get a few hundred for it in ten years time.
On the other hand, my friends spent $8000 on a brand new but low quality camper trailer. Used it for five weeks of camping over two years, sold it for $4000 when they decided camper trailer was not ther style. That was not a cheap option, $2000 a year or almost $1000 a week.
I 100% agree with you! So many folks buy campers and don’t use them to make it a good ROI. My husband and I camped regularly before we bought the trailer and knew we’d use it enough. We camp now more than we ever have. I absolutely advise to make sure you’ll actually use the gear you buy!