About a year ago, we bought a camper.
The reason behind it began in the brain of our second son, Sidge. After spending most of their life overseas, we had often discussed that we wanted to spend some time once back in America, seeing America.
JB and I had done many cross-country trips before we had kids. In fact, we have both been to nearly all of the continental USA. (We are both missing North Dakota and Idaho and I think JB is missing one other.) I am hoping to actually go back and do posts from my scrapbooks of these trips that we took out to the west coast and along the east coast when we lived in Kentucky ... someday.
Anyways our kids really haven't seen much of the USA. We left for Turkey when the boys were just two. We hadn't had a chance to do much. Sidge got this idea that we should see America in an RV. And somehow, we started listening. That would be a fun way to see America.
However, while we listened to Sidge, financially the camper idea just made sense. If you are a family of FIVE, you are allowed to get one hotel room. But once you move into SIX, that is no longer the case. Anytime we stayed in a hotel as a family we had to get a suite or two rooms. We found that we were spending close to $200 a night to stay in a hotel.
In addition, when staying in hotels, you have to eat out ... and everyone knows how expensive that is. It costs our family $30 to eat at Chik-fil-A. Make it a sit-down restaurant and you can easily double that. Add a child with an egg allergy, and you are really feeling the stress.
So, like a said, about a year ago, we decided to buy a camper. Sidge wanted an RV, but they are way more expensive. In addition, we really wanted to buy an older, used camper to try this out and see if it fit us. An RV has an engine which complicates the used idea. We found a couple locally that was selling their 2001 Dutchmen 34' camper for a great price figuring we could "pay for it" in two or three family vacations. So we bought it. And other than a quick weekend getaway after we first bought it, we hadn't used it yet.
Until this last week when we pulled out on our almost-maiden camper voyage!
Our camper comes complete with a back bedroom (for JB and me) that has a queen-sized bed. A little small for us, but we are making it work. It is a very cozy room, and really brings me peace. It has a good sized closet as well. There is a full bathroom that is very spacious. And then there is the living room/dining room/kitchen area that you can see the kids eating dinner in below:
At night, the kitchen table converts to a full-sized bed. The couch also pulls out and you can put a full-sized air mattress on it. For this trip, we opted to put one child on the dining room table bed, Hannah on the little couch without pulling it out, and two other kiddos on camping mattresses on the floor. After busting one-too-many air mattresses, we have thrown in the towel on those things.
Over the next few days I will tell you about what we did on our first camping adventure as a family, but here are the quick facts about this experience:
- This fits our family PERFECTLY! Not just the camper size fits our family, but the whole experience. We don't enjoy eating out very much, and we like a slower pace. This is it! WE HAD A BLAST! We are made for this, and we absolutely LOVE IT.
- We figure (rough estimate) that we spent one-third what we would spend on a hotel/driving/eating-out trip. This vacation cost us roughly $800. We figure if we had to get hotels and eat out, we'd be closer to $2,400. The vast majority of that $800 was gas costs and the cost of staying at different campground (roughly $20-40 a night).
- Good weather would be nice, but it isn't mandatory. Our weather was not great (it was under 50 degrees and rainy sometimes too) but we still just loved being together. We played a ton of board games, went to bed early, and just reconnected as a family.
- Pulling the camper with the Ford F-250 works, but it is a tight squeeze with three people in each row of the truck. Our plan is that, when my old Honda Odyssey van finally kicks the bucket, we will buy a van that can pull the camper. But for now we are making it work by trying to keep our driving time under six hours per day.
- I have not tried driving while pulling the camper. Not sure I would do it unless we were on a very long highway run.
I will be writing more about our adventures in the posts to come. For now, I will leave it at this: WE HAD A FANTASTIC TIME TOGETHER! I will treasure these memories ALWAYS!
(But in honor of keeping it real, make sure you know, we all still lost our mind a few times!)