Around this time of year, I start to ask myself — is it too late?
To get Cubs v. Brewers tickets at face value? (Yep.) To get my kids into swimming lessons? (Not where we live, thank goodness.) To reserve a few campsites for this summer?
This year, the answer to that last one is hurry the heck up if we want to stay in a desirable area! Turns out the economy has driven many summer vacationers to the affordable territory of canvas lodging. Back in January, California’s Department of Parks and Recreation told the San Francisco Chronicle it had an unprecedented level of early reservations in 2009. And New York State Parks say reservations are up 6 percent over last year.
Camping truly is the best vacation value around, if it suits you. Last summer I spent a gorgous twilight in front of a twinkling Wisconsin lake, watching my children play with some friends’ kids on a well-kept playground near our campsite and thinking, “If this were a hotel resort, we wouldn’t be able to afford it.” (Of course, if it had been a hotel, the next day when it rained for 9 hours would have been a little more pleasant.)
So it’s not surprising that campgrounds are the only part of the travel industry actually making more money in the downturn. However, I wouldn’t expect to see them sprucing the places up with all their newfound cash. Since so many campgrounds are state, county and federal operations, depending on public budgets that keep shrinking, being fully booked can only go so far. In fact, despite the general upward trend of campsite bookings, New York State also closed several parks due to budgetary constraints.
Budget cuts are shrinking the number of campsites out there just as demand is rising. And it’s not pretty to think of this, but recreational campers will also be competing with newly homeless families as foreclosures send folks to find other arrangements.
So check out some campsite reviews on Uptake, then get onto ReserveAmerica and grab that site while it’s still open. Then count your blessings that sleeping outdoors is still a refreshing change of pace for your family instead of a new way of life.
Photo by rvaphotodude, used via Creative Commons license.