Urban camping—this used to be the realm of transients, gypsies, and hobos. However, as economic realities shift that which is affordable, urban camping is becoming a valid option for families considering a little vacation time. When barely decent hotels are around $100 a night, a week’s vacation is $700 for beds alone, excluding food and travel—and that’s under Sydney’s average.
Consider this. If you’re spending $50 a day for your family to eat, that’s $350 a week. If you’re spending $700 in hotel fees, you’re up to $1,050. If your total travel is around 600 miles for the time, you’re looking at between $100 and $200, depending on your vehicle’s mileage. That’s a spread of $1,150 to $1,250 for a week’s vacation, excluding souvenirs and additional unexpected expenses.
“Urban camping is becoming a
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Altogether, if you really want to have a good time on a budget, and still have a little cash for emergencies, you may want to budget $2,000 for a family of five taking a week’s vacation. That’s no small chunk of change! But what if you could cut that in half or better? This is where urban camping comes in.
You can buy a motorhome—an old one from the late seventies or early eighties—for under $3k. If you get two vacations without hotels out of it, it has paid for itself. You can additionally buy an RV trailer for even cheaper and perhaps get a larger space. You might just need to work with a towbar fitting service to make it possible for your vehicle to tow.
In this scenario, you bring the hotel room with you. Get your family a gym membership for showers, park near that gym—even in the parking lot overnight—and camp in the city. You can experience Sydney or Melbourne for a fraction of the visitation cost otherwise required, still enjoying yourself to the fullest.
Here’s the thing with urban camping: you need to have a bathroom in whatever trailer/RV/motorhome you’re using. People have to use the toilet in the night, plan for it. Additionally, you want enough blankets for everybody, and plenty of snacks, as well as water. From there, carefully examine parking restrictions.
The majority of places in a city will allow you to park overnight for one evening. More than a day and you’ll get noticed; but you can move around a half dozen times, park your trailer, then drive around in your car to the destinations you desire. If you move nightly, you’ll likely not be noticed by transients and other undesirables similarly living under an urban camping paradigm.
Next, you’ll need to figure out your black tank situation. An RV needs to have a toilet option for comfortable, socially acceptable urban camping. Five people using the restroom over a week will fill up the bilge tank. You’ll need to know where you can legally, safely empty it.
Ensure you map your moves out in advance and give yourself an hour time cushion around objectives to account for the unexpected. Traffic is crazy in bigger cities. Your best bet will be driving to and from camping spots at night, then traveling around to varying tourist sites on foot during the day. You can brave rush hour if you like, but it’s not going to be pleasant.
If you had a yearly budget of $4k for vacations, and you go the urban camping route, you can get four times the vacation for the same cost. That’s definitely considerable. So weigh the pros and cons. Do you want to keep your family in a roach motel for a week paying five times what the room is worth, or have some autonomy? Urban camping is a family option today.
Have you been on an urban camping trip?
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