When planning a family vacation, how can travelers stretch their budgets and maximize just a few vacation days? The answer for an increasing number of families is: Take a road trip close to home.
Driving vacations allow families to select scenic destinations that are nearby, reducing time spent in transit and fuel costs. In fact, the RV Industry Association says that a family of four can save up to 65 percent on a camping road trip, compared to other vacations, such as taking a cruise or traveling by plane.
"Families that are starved for quality time together don't have to take a three-week trek," says Jim Rogers, president and CEO of KOA Kampgrounds of America, the world's largest system of family campgrounds. "Parents and grandparents can plan several weekend trips close to home, yet still enjoy an authentic camping experience and save money too."
The size of the camping travel market in North America may be larger than you think. Private campgrounds accommodate 107 million overnight stays each year, and two-thirds of U.S. campers are RVers, according to KOA's comprehensive market research.
"People are prioritizing how they spend money," says Jim Lawrence of the Manchester Beach KOA, located three hours' drive north of San Francisco. "I've noticed an increased interest in families spending time together. If this is your priority and it costs $8 more for fuel this year, you're still going to take that RV camping trip."
Despite higher gas prices, RV sales continue to climb
on the rising tide of retiring baby boomers and their appetite
for active leisure time. There are more than 7 million RVs on
the road in North America, and seven out of 10 RV owners surveyed
by the RV Industry Association say they plan to use their RVs
more this season, compared to last year.
For those families planning to hit the road this year, the camping experts at KOA offer these common-sense tips for saving even more while on a camping vacation:
Tune up for the trip Vehicles that are well maintained reduce fuel consumption. While you're on the road, conserve fuel by driving at a steady speed, ensuring that tires are properly inflated and reducing the use of your air conditioner.
Kiss the cook. Plan to cook many of your own meals rather than always dining at restaurants. Not only does this strategy save money, but it also allows children to participate. Use this as an opportunity to come up with some creative campfire recipes that are fun for all.
Pack the pet One in three campers takes a pet, according to KOA's research. Most campgrounds welcome four-legged friends and even offer designated "dog walk" areas. Pets are part of the family, and bringing them along saves on boarding costs. Keep your pet's safety in mind while on the road, and be sure not to leave pets unattended or inside hot vehicles.
Take a hike Rather than pay for costly entertainment, stop at a state park or national monument. Ask the experts to recommend a day hike that matches your interests and fitness level. Get your entertainment and your exercise!
Rent an RV This is an excellent suggestion for those who don't own RVs but may enjoy this method of travel. Many of North America's resort areas are accessible by RV and can be enjoyed at a lesser per-night cost.