Summer is right around the corner. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many areas of life, embracing the great outdoors through camping has proven to be a great option to get outside, find solitude and also stay socially distanced.
According to Travel + Leisure, 2021 will be a busy year for camping at state and national parks in the U.S. as more people are choosing outdoor open spaces for their vacations due to the coronavirus. There were record-breaking numbers in 2020 for campers. Based on the 2021 Annual North American Camping Report published by KOA, people who camped for the first-time in 2020 was five times greater than what was recorded in 2019, with a projected increase in 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Use these tips to plan an unforgettable camping getaway this summer.
Start dreaming of your camping getaway.
Let the planning begin for your upcoming camping adventure. First things first, set the stage for the type of camping you’ll do so you can dive in and plan the rest. Ask yourself: What type of camping fits us best?
There are several types of camping to consider for your upcoming getaway, so be sure to find the kind that matches your family’s needs and expectations. And, don’t forget weather. This certainly can play a big factor in your camping getaway, especially in the Midwest.
While the list of options is longer than you’d expect, there are a few common varieties to get you started.
- Tent camping: Tent camping is the most basic type of camping. This style allows you to disconnect and fully embrace all that nature has to offer. This is a great option that won’t break the budget, especially if you are a beginner camper and want to try it out. Another bonus—tent camping is great for teambuilding with your family, providing extra bonding time, and allows everyone to work together to setup camp! One thing to consider is that weather can significantly impact your getaway if staying in a tent, so it is critical to be prepared for all circumstances.
- RV or camper camping: An RV or camper offers more accommodations than a tent as you and your family embark on your camping getaway and it is less dependent on the ever-changing weather. There are many places you can rent RVs, too, such as Cruise America. You may also consider using RVshare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace.
- Glamping: Short for glamorous camping, glamping combines many hotel luxuries with camping. An increasingly popular option for those seeking tranquil with nature while not leaving all of their amenities behind. This nationwide trend includes options such as staying in yurts (a fully enclosed circular tent featuring rigid walls), tree houses, villas or more. Some amenities common with glamping include real mattresses, electricity and running water.
After you’ve figured out your camping direction, dive into planning, and do so early. Campgrounds fill up quickly, especially with the increasing demand over the last year. If you are having trouble finding a site that fits your needs, consider looking for one-night openings (especially if it’s your first camping trip) or weekday reservations.
According to USA Today, campground and park officials at state and national campgrounds say book early. Some campgrounds do not open their reservations until 90 or 120 days before your date of arrival but will fill up quickly. Planning in advance is especially important during popular summer months when most campgrounds are full on the weekends.
Visit Recreation.gov to review up-to-date campground availability and information, including thousands of federal properties.
Select a campground that fits your needs.
While summer is a key time to plan a camping getaway in the Midwest due to weather, the demand for campgrounds increases significantly as people tend to take more vacations and kids are out of school. Campgrounds in popular destinations, such as national parks, will likely have higher crowds in the summer and may be sold out, so consider expanding your campground search to state, county or private campgrounds near a national park.
When selecting a campground that fits your needs, read reviews. Narrow in on regions or places you’d like to visit and select a campground nearby. Is there topography of interest or natural sites you’d like to explore?
While there are 63 National Parks to add to your family’s travel bucket list, consider closer destinations for your camping getaway. Wisconsin and Illinois are packed with 300 campgrounds in Wisconsin alone.
Research more through Travel Wisconsin or Enjoy Illinois to get started. Dive further into State parks – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
You’ll find campgrounds that provide the bare minimum to allow you to explore and be at peace with nature, whereas other campgrounds feature a multitude of activities for people of all ages. Some campgrounds offer activities—such as tie dying or crafts for kids—as part of your stay and others offer low and reasonable rates.
Not only is it important to read reviews about campgrounds, but research the campground maps. Are specific campsites more appealing to you? Are you seeking a lakefront campsite? Do you prefer to be close to the restrooms? Is distance to hiking trails or swimming important? Traffic tends to be heavier near the entrance of the campground. Keep this in mind when selecting your campsite, too.
Prepare your menu and list of gear for your camping getaway.
There can be a lot more preparation and gear needed for your camping getaway—sometimes more than a standard vacation with one suitcase.
Many campgrounds come standard with a few things: a picnic table, space to park your car and an area to pitch your tent or park your camper. While there is little you actually need to enjoy camping in the outdoors, pack items that will make your experience comfortable and enjoyable.
Plan your packing list well in advance before you depart. Consider this camping checklist from REI Co-op to get you started.
Planning meals in advance will help minimize prep work once you are at the campground. This can be helpful if staying in a tent or space without electricity or running water. There are countless menu ideas available online but check out this Grab & Go Camping Menu from KOA to get things started or check out this Simple Guide to Camp Food from The Dyrt Magazine for camping food inspiration.
If you’re new to camping, consider borrowing gear from a friend or shopping a secondhand store. Test your interest in camping before investing in your own gear. Then, consider setting up a separate savings account for your camping purchases.
Warmer days are getting closer. Read reviews and plan ahead for a successful camping getaway this summer. Officials suggest that campsites will sell-out as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and families seek summer vacation alternatives. Whether a first-timer or skilled camper, embrace great adventure with a camping getaway this summer.
Camping not your thing? Check out our more travel tips here.