Vacation expenses adding up? Think: outside. You may be surprised by how many opportunities are light on the pocketbook but long on enjoyment.
Conservancy supporter Kerry Crisley has always enjoyed spending time outdoors, even braving short camping trips with her young family. That’s why, a few years ago, she decided to take the plunge: spending her week-long summer vacation in one of nature’s notable parks — Acadia National Park in Maine — with her husband, their two- and three-year-old children, and her husband’s mother and sister.
Kerry envisioned “seven carefree days outside.” What she enjoyed was a vacation every bit as relaxing and memorable as more traditional trips she had taken in years past…and at half the cost. Here is her story:
A Family Adventure
By skipping air travel and opting to start their vacation with a short road trip instead, Kerry’s family avoided long lines and early wake-up calls and still arrived at Acadia with enough sunlight to pitch their test-run tent. Toddler Ben, over the moon to be camping, packed it in by 5 p.m.
Over the next week, the family frequently was awakened by the buttery scent of Dad’s homemade pancakes. Once full, the group would amble to Echo Beach for fishing and rock-clambering or to Carriage Drive for biking. Naps happened. Sometimes Grandma bird-watched with the kids, while Kerry and her husband biked alone.
“We slowed down, stopped multi-tasking. Our children noticed chipmunks,” remembers Kerry.
Her family vacation was missing many of the traditional accoutrements of summer — such as ferris wheels, souvenir shops, video games and hotel stays — but Kerry found she didn’t miss them at all. Bicycle rides, hand-drawn memories, board games and nights in the cabin or tent sufficed just fine.
The Price is Right
With travel and food costs on the rise, Kerry estimates the cost of her six-person, seven-day, two-cabin Acadia stay at $1,250. Cabins started at $107 per night, with tent sites just $20. No airfare was required for the approximately 500-mile round trip, and picnic food ran cheap.
A Lifetime of Memories
Four years later, Kerry still cherishes the bright pictures her kids crayoned of the family skipping stones and biking in Acadia National Park. Ben and her daughter Erin have mostly forgotten the details of buttery pancakes and furry chipmunks, but both are now veteran campers committed to exploring, creating and connecting with the outdoors.
If you’re eager to get away from it all, don’t overlook nature. There is a meaningful family vacation to be enjoyed in a nearby state park — or even in your backyard–and it might be less expensive than you think.
For all that nature gives you, won’t you give back? Click here to find out what your average nature vacation savings could help us to fund.