Date on a Dime: Weekend Getaway (i.e. Camping)

This Date on a Dime is a little unique. Since it’s fall, and we just got back from California, we definitely have the adventure bug. We thought it would be fun to give you some basic tips from our “expert campers”, The Parrs, and a few tricks we’ve learned along the way. Keep in mind, these are not hoity toity camping rules, these are for the few and the proud that would dare to venture out into the wildnerness with nothing more than a thin plastic lining separating them from bears, raccoons, hail, falling tree limbs and any other kind of disaster nature might throw your way.

Sounds pretty romantic if you ask me! ;) Ok, Ok… honestly, I’m a little weird when it comes to “romance” cause as much as I love the snuggles and flowers, I also LOVE adventure. I don’t know what it is but there is something that just trips my trigger when I see our truck all loaded down with camping gear! Or when Cale get’s back from a weekend of camping with the guys (which he’s going on THIS weekend) and he’s all dirty and manly. I don’t know what it is but I like it!

So, here’s to roughin it together, snuggling up to a warm fire and reconnecting to nature and your mate even if that is out of fear from the sounds of creepy animals in the middle of the night! :)

STEP 1: Location:

Developed Tent Camping: $10-$25.00 a night depending on location and other amenities. The more primitive camp sites are the cheapest and less touristy. They usually do not have running water or showers but are typically toward the $10.00 per night range. Sites like KOA’s and other private camp grounds will charge you closer to $25.00 a night for showers, laundry, etc.

Dispersed Camping: If you are near a National Forest Land (not park) you can camp for FREE! This is very rugged camping since you basically are camping in the forest at your leisure. Unlike developed sites there are not designated camp sites, toilets or water. Simply put you walk into the forest and pick a place to stake your tent as long as it is a certain distance from the road, water source, and/or developed campground. Rules for this change per forest so make sure you check on your location specifics.

See what parks and campsites are near you by looking up your destination:

STEP 2: Shelter:

Tents: You can purchase great tents from anywhere between $35.00-$300. The cheaper ones are very basic but they are a great starter tent and allow you to find out what type of tent you want before you go a out and buy something really expensive. I’d also look for tents on Craig’s list or just borrow one from a friend if you are not an avid camper. A lot of local college student unions will allow you to rent camping equipment super cheap so check with your recreation center as another option instead of purchasing your own.

Hammocks: For comfort and minimal packing space a hammock is a great solution. Fold the sides over your body and you’ll be as snug as a cocoon. For only $10.00 a person you can find these at any local Wal-Mart or outdoor store. Just make sure you plan to camp around trees and that you bring plenty of warm clothes/blankets since you’ll be hanging free!

STEP 3: Warmth:

Fire: Who needs to purchase wood when you are staying the night in a forest? Look for small twigs as starter logs and then move onto the larger logs to get the fire really going. We’ve also used pine cones and paper trash from our meals (just make sure they are unwaxed plates, etc.) to keep the fire going. If it’s been raining recently plan a head and bring some lighter fluid to get the fire started and make sure you are not under any kind of burn ban in your area. You can usually find this type of information at the campsite bulletin board where you reserve your spot and leave the payment for the night.

Sleeping: It’s better to sleep on a foam pad, roll bed or air mattress to prevent direct cold air from the ground. Also, body heat is natures way of keeping you warm. In other words, sleep naked! :)

STEP 4: Food:

Since it’s getting cooler outside you can use the weather to your benefit. Bring food that can thaw out but still be ok for the weekend as long as it remains “cool”. For example… we brought almond milk instead of regular milk, purchased pre-cooked chicken patties, and chocolate of course since the heat of the summer is over with! I wouldn’t keep these around for a week of camping but outside of a freezer bag and little bit of ice, they stayed nice and cold for a day or two.

Extra Essentials: The stuff you always forget!
Bug Spray
Roll of Toilet Paper
Sharp Knife/Pocket Knife
Trash Bag
Old news paper
Dish Soap
Flashlights/Head Lamps
Propane (if you are taking your gas stove)

Also, if you know you are staying next to a cool river, just use that as your “ice box”. They work great to cool soda, chill wine, and even keep watermelon nice and fresh!

STEP 5: Water:

Water Jugs: Bring plenty of water to drink but also consider extra things like brushing your teeth and rinsing dishes. If you are camping for a weekend and don’t mind eating off of somewhat dirty plates, we usually just washed our plates without soap. Obviously if they got really dirty we would wash them thoroughly but mostly this will help save your water.

Rivers & Springs: You can also bring iodine tablets which make water bacteriologically safe to drink. This is obviously a last result kind of option but a good thing to have as a backup.

Whether it be a natural or man made water source here are some other ways you can purify your water.

Estimated Weekend Date Total: $30.00 for food + $15.00 for campsite = $45.00 per couple

Even if turns out to be a total disaster, aren’t those the moments you laugh about later? Come on, you know it’s true! Camping is about the experience and an inexpensive weekend getaway as long as you don’t mind coming home a little smelly…. which means you can save on water by taking showers together. :)

From the Farm



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About meg:

I like curly lines, and the simple joys of life. Good coffee and the perfect souffle.

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4 Responses to “Date on a Dime: Weekend Getaway (i.e. Camping)”
  1. 10.04.2011

    I love camping! I’m from Alaska, after all!

    • 10.04.2011

      Laura, we are so jealous that you are from Alaska! I’m sure you have a few camping tricks to teach us! ;)

  2. 10.04.2011

    I’ve only ever been camping once before in my life and had a great time! If I can ever get my city-boy boyfriend to agree to go camping, I will definitely review your suggestions again ;)

    • 10.04.2011

      You don’t have to “rough it” as much as we do and if you only go for a night or two, it’s really not that bad! Good luck convincing your man! ;)

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