I love camping and the RV lifestyle ... and regardless of how much it may cost I still believe it is the best vacation value in America and one of the last places you can enjoy a peaceful, fun and engaging family experience. That's refreshing given the dangerous social climate we live in, not to say anything about the financial challenges we all encounter in our daily lives.
Having said that, a line in a press release from Hershey Highmeadow Campground caught my eye today. It read; "The deluxe log cabin rate starts at $143 per night. The cabins are fully operational from the beginning of May through Nov. 1. From Nov. 1 until springtime, the cabins will be winterized and will not feature running water, but will be available at a reduced rate."
Stay with me here, I'm not knocking this incredible campground and its close proximity to all the Hershey attractions. Regular campsites range from $42 to $57 a night in peak season here.
I decided to check on Fort Wilderness at Disney World, always a popular destination camping experience whether you are towing a trailer, driving a motorhome or staying in one of their park model rentals. In fact, I often recommend the cabins when friends are taking their families to Disney World, especially if they are not "campers" today, with the hope of converting them to the lifestyle we all love.
Disney charges $285 a night for a cabin in the off season, but it will cost you $405 a night in peak season. At that rate I'm going to have a difficult time convincing somebody to stay in the woods, especially if they have never gone camping in their life. Regular camp sites in Fort Wilderness (again, one of my all-time favorite campgrounds) will set you back $79 a night for a full hook-up in the off-season and $118 a night in peak season. We talked about escalating gas prices in our last blog, so adding gas to a 1000 or 1500 mile trip to Florida to play and relax at Disney World could get very expensive.
I realize these are the high end of the spectrum (I hope) but if non-RVers only see these rates because of the popularity of these destination campgrounds, will we never be able to move them into the lifestyle.
This reinforces the need for the industry to showcase the less expensive, but equally attractive, campgrounds in and around these areas where nightly rates may be in a more reasonable cost structure to make sure we fill them up and keep them in business.
I am not a campground owner and I am not trying to set prices for anybody in this business. I bring this topic up today to see how the price of camping may impact where and when you go camping this summer. I think it's topical given the 80 degree weather we have been enjoying in Boston this week and putting us all in the mood to get the RVs out of storage, clean them up, and head for the open road and some real family enjoyment this year.
How are rates at the campgrounds you are looking at for vacation trips or destination camping this year?
How far are from home are you willing to travel this year?
What is your upper limit on what you will pay per night for a full hook-up campsite?