Trip Planning 2018

Growing up, I traveled out west with my family each summer.  One summer, driving across Texas my sister and I fell asleep with our feet in the windows and woke up to sunburned feet.  What family vacation memories are burned into your mind forever?  Is it a National Lampoon series of unfortunate events or the trip of a lifetime that you feel that you can never recreate?

What are your expectations and ideas for the camping trips you have on the horizon?  When you start planning for the campground, you are in control of creating the "Camp-Go-Some-More" or "Camp-Go-No-More" teams. Setting realistic expectations can greatly impact your success factor.  It can also mean that your family refuses to go camping with you anymore. 

We originally planned for 10 trips this year with January and July being downtime where camping was off the table.  Then, we had the opportunity to camp in California in July during a trip out west to my sister in law's wedding.  I had been following Inn Town Campground on Instagram for months.  My husband and I both love this area of Northern California and have so many happy memories of the Sierra Nevadas from our early years of marriage.  We had decided that we could work in two nights to rent a glamping tent and enjoy this area with our son.

We were also making plans to spend some additional time with our family while there.  They also love to camp.  It would be perfect to take advantage of the time to camp together.  So exciting!  But, sometimes planning is hard and can turn those plans into an emotional roller coaster.

Every camper has a different idea of what camping should be, where it should take place and what they want out of the experience.  For our family, we thought a simple rented glamping tent where other families could join us and camp with their gear would be amazing.  Quickly I learned that each family unit had a different idea for this short camping trip and what was easy and well mapped out in our minds became difficult with lots of negotiating.

We have managed to plan a group camping trip in spite of differing expectations for this trip.  I'm looking forward to camping in July with our family out west.  And, I have also learned that before any planning with a larger group begins there should be a conversation about possible locations, activities, and attractions for that area along with any other helpful information.  When everyone lays their cards on the table at the beginning, it is much easier to sort it all out.  Planning is much harder when each person has determined their own plan before including the other parties.

Our July camping trip in California will be our biggest endeavor as a family in several ways.  We are flying across the country to attend a wedding for half of our trip.  During the second half, we are camping and completely switching gears.  I am packing for all of these activities, flying out of multiple airports and mapping it all out to make the most of a long trip.  It's a lot of planning and variables.

We have never rented a glamping tent or camped without our own gear.  I'm both excited and nervous about doing this.  But, I want to step outside of our comfort zone and do something more spontaneous and fun while we have the chance.  We will have new trails to hike.  There are new swimming holes to dive into and so many firsts to experience through the eyes of our son.  The anticipation of experiencing these firsts with him is electrifying.

We are not ready for lengthy, cross-country hauls with Peggy Sue.  A five-hour drive from home is about our max for a long trip.  And, we are anticipating 3 possible long treks this year.  We already have plans to camp in Southern Illinois with my cousin and his family.  This is a halfway point between his family and mine.  I can't wait to catch up and have our children spend time together around a campfire.

Easter and Thanksgiving weekends are reserved for our friends in Alabama.  We are trying one new state park with them and going to another for our third time.  Long weekends with this bunch is never enough time and so much fun!  This is an easy group to plan and travel with, and I know that we will have a wonderful time during my two favorite seasons - spring and fall!

My husband requested a trip once again to Buccaneer State Park in Bay St. Louis this year.  Despite cold, rainy weather, this was a treasured excursion last year.  I already have the exact same spot that we reserved last year.  It is a perfect campsite with trees just right for hanging my hammock!  And just maybe, the weather will be less rainy and cold.  But, if not, I know we will have an outstanding time.

Successful camping isn't necessarily magical.  The realistic expectations and planning allow that magic to happen at the campsite no matter where you are.  The charm of distance campgrounds may be calling your name but is it may not beckon everyone in your tribe.  Compromise can be king in camping and keep you from getting burned.

If you are trying to create a little more "Camp-Some-More" vibe at your house, take a cue from these recommendations.
  1. Join a camping group through social media and ask for recommendations.
  2. Check the reservation window and make your reservations early at prime spots so that you won't miss out on places to camp.
  3. Explore campgrounds within a couple of hours of your home and plan to camp more often in places nearby.
Hit the open road with an open mind.  My parents were a mixture of 'open-to-adventure' and 'keep-a-schedule'.  There were reservations and schedules to keep.  And, there were roadside shops selling homemade fried pies with summer peaches found on an unexpected wrong turn.  Open your travel plans to the unexpected and wonderful this year.  Peach pie isn't always the sweetest reward, but it is always a bonus.


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