|Gas (~250 miles @ 23 MPG)||$43|
|Campsite (2 nights)||$44|
Our family, The Rock Garden, spent the weekend at Hickory Run State Park in eastern Pennsylvania. I wanted to chronicle our expenses so that you could get a first had look at how inexpensive car/tent camping can be. The $157 total for the whole trip covers all the costs from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. Admittedly, the trip was a little short, but that didn’t stop it from being a blast.
For our little trip we are looking at $62 a day for everything. There aren’t many other vacations that you can accomplish for anywhere near this price, unless you stay with friends or family. As a percentage, the gas cost will become smaller with each day that you stay. Realistically, $60-70 dollars a day is a good estimate assuming you already have the essentials: cooler, tent, sleeping bags/air bed, stove, and lantern.
Now a little bit more on the trip. My wife, two sons(2 1/2 and 5 months), and my mom left Friday afternoon and arrived about 7:30 to heavy thunderstorms that were supposed to pass quickly. If quickly means three more thunderstorm cells ending at almost 11:00, I agree. We ate at Arby’s and then moved to Denny’s to wait out the storms. We finally got to the campsite and decided to sleep in the car. Not as bad as it sounds since we have a Murano, but definitely better than setting up a tent at midnight on wet ground. Over the next day and a half we enjoyed the customary camping activities: hiking, napping, relaxing in nature, eating, having a campfire, and cooking smores. On Sunday we found a great little waterfall to eat lunch under while we watched rafters and kayakers float down the Lehigh river(picture above). It did thunderstorm as we tried to pack up which makes the tent quite a mess, but that couldn’t put a damper on a great trip. We will make sure the next trip is a few days longer! If you think it sounds like too much hassle, I would just say that is part of camping’s appeal. The perspective and mental shift that comes from making due with whatever you have and whatever comes your way is a large part of the draw of camping. Sleeping in your car because of the rain isn’t a hassle, it is part of the story, part of the bonding, and eventually the nostalgia of a great trip.