Apr 19, 2010

Camping versus Parking

During the past few weeks we've stayed at RV parks and we've stayed at campgrounds. Comparisons are easy when both types are sampled repetitively in sequence. And this recent experience has confirmed our strong preference for "camping" over "parking". For us there's just no comparison. Camping wins hands-down. It just feels right.

But this isn't a one-size or one-type fits all lifestyle. There are times when camping isn't the best or preferred choice.  We're completely self-sufficient and self-contained (no hookups) for up to two weeks. It just makes sense to use that ability when you need to, or want to, depending on the circumstances. We may love camping in the true sense of the word, but we try not to be constrained by that preference when common-sense suggests alternatives. Here are a few examples:

We've parked overnight at Walmart or Lowes or other places when all we needed (and wanted) was a few hour rest during a long multi-day drive. This doesn't happen often, a handful of times in the past 3 years, but why not use the option instead of paying RV park fees when you don't need hookups or any other RV park amenities? There are thousands of places around the USA where this is possible including big-box stores, casinos, truck stops, designated highway rest areas, and some large chain restaurants. All you've got to do is look and ask. I should add that we always patronize the businesses where we park.

We've parked five city blocks, easy walking distance, from the French Quarter in New Orleans when we wanted a more complete experience that would include late nights and the possible consumption of adult beverages. It was the most we ever paid for RV parking, but the location, convenience, and the security was worth it.

We've parked in friends' and relatives' driveways when invited and when it meant we could spend more quality time with the people we came to see. If that wasn't possible, the nearest RV park made sense too.

We've parked for extended periods of time in RV parks, all lined up and packed together like soda crackers, when we wanted a more social and community atmosphere with a group of people we really like. Some people prefer the activities and amenities of large RV parks all the time, and that's OK too.

The point is that needs change, so why not adjust expectations and apply some common sense to each situation?

But, for us, when it comes to enjoyment of the place itself, camping is hard to beat. Being close to nature, perhaps under some trees or in a forest, along a stream or a lake, being more separated from other campers, having wildlife all around, having a campfire once in a while... it's good for both mind and body.

Thom

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