Camping VS Motel

This decision is a thorny one. I recently read an article in the Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20111004/SPORTS10/110040439/Experience-outdoors-Camper-RV-Take-look that claims that the RV industry is set to increase more than 7% and you can save up to 60% camping over moteling. I wasn’t convinced so I decided to do some quick calculations and comparisons for myself.

My husband and I pay about $370 per month (including insurance) for our 26’ Travel Trailer that we purchased new in 2009. Considering that “camping season” is traditionally reserved for the 90 days that the kids are out of school I felt it only fitting to use that as the annual budgeting factor. So, $370 X 12 months is $4440 divided by 90 days comes to $49.33 per day….oh, don’t forget the new Discovery Pass Fee (in Washington State anyway), brings it up to $49.66. Washington State Parks camping fees range from $22 to $28 per night depending on whether you want full hookups (water, power, septic) or just a plain-Jane, no amenities site. I opted for the full meal deal, so that brings the total nights average stay up to $77.66. That sounds pretty good compared to the fees decent motel rooms run for two or more people and you get the added reassurance of clean sheets and no bed bugs. However, don’t forget about fuel costs.

I found a handy site called gas buddy.com http://gasbuddy.com/GB_Price_List.aspx?cntry=USA that lists average fuel costs by state and city. The average for Washington, for those who haven’t figured out where I live yet, is $3.80 per gallon. Pulling our trailer, we might average 10 miles per gallon (when we are not driving over mountains), so a round trip of say, 600 miles would cost us about $228 versus driving our car that gets about 25MPG, which would cost only $91.20 in the same distance.

Anyway, there you have it. The decision is yours, but it really boils down to preferences. Some people like the quick, clean (?), uncomplicated motel experience, while others like braving the out of doors, setting by a campfire, breathing the fresh air and trying to make peace with the mosquitoes. My husband and I temper our decision to time and destination. If we want to run up to Victoria and take in the colonial sites of their beautiful city, we grit our teeth and pay the inflated tourist-season motel/hotel rates. If we want an out-of-doors adventure and plan on spending a couple or more nights, our home-away-from-home is the only way to travel.

No Vacancy!

Tired of full campgrounds, expensive resorts, long range reservation planning? Most summers are lucky if they last 12 weekends (weather permitting).  With 312 million potential travelers in the U.S. alone, competing for prime camping sites is getting more and more aggravating every year.

During these stressful times, getting away for the weekend is important. Finding out you thought about the idea late and no vacancies are available is disappointing. My husband and I like to be spontaneous. We dread having to plan ahead for months to reserve a camping spot at our favorite get-aways. Invariably, some last minute issue causes a change of plans and we have to cancel our reservation, knowing that another spot is unlikely to come available for weeks, if at all, for the season. With more and more baby-boomers retiring, along with the general increase in our population, the current amount of camping sites at State Parks, National Parks and even public and private resorts are very limited.

Often times we have family and friends that want to come over and visit. Our house is rather small, but fortunately, we have room in our yard to accommodate a visiting RV (or two). We just run an electrical extension and hose out and we even have a long coax so they can watch television. It was after one such visit that we began thinking about how to extend this arrangement to others.  In these difficult economic times, reasonable compensation for such amenities could be advantageous to the travelers as well as a homeowner, but how do you start such a process? Get people talking. Provide a forum and let them be creative. I am sure there are plenty of homeowners along the way to Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Disneyworld and the Smithsonian, to name a few, willing to share a comfortable spot for a reasonable fee.

From interstate travel, we expanded our thoughts internationally. I am from the Philippines. When my husband came to visit me before we were married, he made traditional reservations ahead of time. At that time, the exchange rate was 52 Filipino Pesos to 1 American dollar. Using the Internet my husband reserved a room at an advertised hotel in the area and paid the tourist rate (much higher than the local rate). I quite easily found him suitable accommodations in the spare bedroom of a very nice home at a fraction of the cost. This made us think about all the students out there that would love to travel, but have limited funds for food and lodging. It would be quite simple to arrange bed-and-breakfast type accommodations through a social connection site. After all, life is all about socializing, all we need to do is provide the appropriate venue.

Please share your thoughts. We would like this site to evolve into a useful tool to world travelers. There is already a site called CouchSurfing.com and probably others that promote the theme of hospitality hosting. However, we would like to combine interstate RV/camping alternatives with the more personal international hospitality service, onto one connective site.