Adventures in Retirement: Camping

Among retirees’ dreams, hitting the open road and camping outranks at or near the top. Camping as a pastime is incredibly popular for people of all ages, but for retirees, an adventure like this means something truly special. Nearly everyone has met an older couple who purchased an RV after retirement and now spends their time exploring the country. It is a popular dream because of the freedom it represents. After working 9 to 5 for an entire career, many retirees want nothing more than to do something on their own terms…rising when they want, seeing what they want, and experiencing all the country has to offer, free of constraints. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

When you learn that camping can be quite economical, it becomes even more appealing to retirees. Stretching those retirement savings as far as possible makes good financial sense, and with camping, it blends adventure, travel, and economy all in one.

Places to Go, Things to Do

Camping in places across the country is a very real possibility for anyone who takes the time to go on an adventure. The National Park Service alone has over 400 parks and sites, most with options for RV or tent camping. Another organization called the National Recreation Reservation Service boasts 1700 locations and over 45,000 reservable camping spots in the U.S. Add to that the thousands of private campgrounds, state parks, regional parks, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangelands and there are enough destinations to fill several lifetimes.

At most of these camping spots, there exists a range of activities for visitors, from hiking in the mountains to swimming in the ocean and everything in between. Many travelers tailor their itineraries to focus on the activities they enjoy most. And, by camping at different areas all around the country, travelers may be exposed to new things on a nearly daily basis. Ever wanted to try waterskiing? There’s a campground near the shore with skiing instructors on staff. Want to do some horseback riding in the canyons? There’s a spot for that, too.

The Economy of Camping

Depending on what sort of camping you envision, there tend to be some upfront investments before one can get started. If you choose an RV, obviously you’ll need to purchase one before you can hit the road. Similar considerations exist with car camping or even backpacking –you probably already own a car but may need gear like tents, sleeping bags, and cooking implements prior to getting started as a camper.

Once you have the gear you need, you may be surprised to learn just how inexpensive camping can be. There are expenses like food and fuel, but campsites across the country can be found for just a few dollars a night. RV park and car-camping rentals usually include water and electric hookups, WiFi, and amenities like bathhouses and pools. A camping spot for the night with your RV is a fraction of the cost of a hotel!

More ambitious travelers who plan to hike in the backcountry are often pleased to discover that camping permits in state and national parks can be as low as $5 a night. That’s right – if you’re willing to travel with your home on your back, you can explore nature’s beauty for just a few dollars!

No matter what sort of camping you decide to embark on, rest assured that the economy of it can help stretch retirement budgets for years. If you’ve invested wisely in retirement plans, selling your residence and hitting the road represents a freedom that home ownership and a full-time job simply cannot match.

RV, Car, or Hiking Boots – The Choice is Yours

There are three primary ways that people choose to camp. The choice depends on the luxury each traveler wants, their fitness level, and their ability to handle challenges.

The top of most retirees’ lists is the Recreational Vehicle or RV. RVs can range from spartan trailers pulled behind a truck to luxurious “resorts on wheels”, with multiple bedrooms, upscale amenities, and even tiled floors. An RV, especially a luxury model, can be a sizeable investment. Once that investment is made, however, things get economical from there. All you need is food, fuel, and a bit of money for park rentals.

The next choice is to go car camping. This is probably the way many people were exposed to camping for their very first time – bundling into the car with the parents and exploring new areas. Car campers need basic camping equipment, such as sleeping bags, a tent, and food storage and cooking equipment. When choosing to camp by car, it’s possible to carry along a few luxury or comfort items as well as any equipment needed to enjoy outdoor activities. Like to fish, ride bikes, or surf? Pile that gear in with your camping equipment and hit the open road!

Fitness-oriented retirees often choose the simplicity and economy of backpacking. With a backpack and a good pair of hiking boots, it is possible to reach destinations that most people will never see – the backcountry is a wonderland of animal sightings, breathtaking night skies, and abundant wildflowers. People stuck in cars and RVs will never experience the joys that backcountry camping offers. Just like with car camping, basic equipment is needed before you can begin, and this also represents a fairly sizeable investment. Backpacks don’t leave a lot of room for comfort items, but they make up for it by providing a truly inexpensive way to see the country.

Final Words

After a long and successful career, many retirees are ready to do the things they always wanted but never really had time to try. Camping and traveling are some of the pastimes that were put off; families concentrated on raising children, taking care of the home, and punching a time clock. With RV and car camping, retirees can finally have the freedom to explore the world around them. With a small investment in gear and a willingness to try something new, camping can represent an inexpensive way of scratching the travel itch while remaining frugal, helping to stretch that retirement nest egg for as long as possible.

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