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The Next Best Thing to Glamping Isn’t a Cheap Hotel Room

“RVE Summit: Lodging Options & New Speakers!”

I had my ticket for the February 2018 RV Entrepreneur Summit. But to be honest, the e-mail subject line above wasn’t as compelling to me as it might have been had I not still felt a little bummed out about my lodging choice.

After buying the ticket, I reserved an inexpensive hotel room about 15 minutes away from the Jellystone RV resort where the event will be held. I was glad I’d decided to attend. But my enthusiasm was tempered by thoughts of being separated from other attendees and having to make numerous trips between hotel and event venue.

When Brian and I attended the Porcupine Freedom Festival, we stayed off-site at a hotel that was only about a half mile away. I had a good time at the festival, but going back and forth was a hassle. While we did chat with at least a few cool people, we never really hung out enough to connect with anyone except Eric, who you may remember from earlier in our journey.

Side note: We’ll be seeing Eric again, I’m sure. He and his wife and kids are selling their house and going nomad, too. Can’t wait to meet up with them on the road 🙂

Even though going solo to the RVE Summit means I can stay as long as I like without worrying about what Brian is up for, I need downtime, too. I don’t want to have to drive a half hour because I need to chill out for a few minutes. Or because I forgot something, or need a jacket, or whatever. And if I feel like hanging around the campfire chatting until the wee hours, I don’t want to drive to a hotel room at o’dark-thirty.

Since I knew where I was staying, I didn’t open the Summit organizers’ e-mail until late the following morning.

There was info about two new speakers, who sounded as compelling as the bunch they’re joining. Then there was info on the overflow lodging the organizers had arranged. And there was this bit:

If tent camping is your thing, there are plenty of tent sites still available at Jellystone! Or, if you prefer no hook ups and staying on site, there are limited boondocking sites available.

Right. Too bad tent camping is not my thing. You can never rake all the rocks off of your site, tents are a pain in the ass to put up, and I hate waking up…damp.

But if I did camp I could be on site. That is a biggie. The sites have water and electric, so it’s really not roughing it. Plus it’d cost only $240 for the week. Small problem, though. Except for my oldest son’s 15-year-old sleeping bag and a few items from our emergency kit, I have no camping gear.

I wonder: Could I get a campsite and sleep in my SUV with the seats folded down? I think better of that idea; it’s not even big enough for me to stretch out in and there’s not enough privacy to suit me.

What if I did tent camp, but got a kick-ass mattress pad? One problem, besides no mattress pad: no tent. That might break the bank.

I go back and forth like this for a few minutes. The idea of camping won’t get out of my brain. If I had the right gear I think I could be comfortable enough. I could spend as much as $300 on comfort-related gear and still come out ahead. More importantly, I’d be where the action is. Can I do it on $300 or less?

I jump on Steep & Cheap and Amazon for an hour, researching and reading reviews. Here’s what I came up with:

Total: $263.23 – $321.23

Hmmm…maybe. I’ll have to be strategic, but I have ideas.

Don’t worry, honey – I have it all figured out

When Brian gets home that evening I tell him about getting a campsite instead of a hotel room. He thinks I’ve lost my mind.

“I spent plenty of time sleeping on the ground in the Army, and I’m never doing it again,” he declares. “You have this big, romantic notion about camping that’s more than a little unrealistic. Just stay in the hotel room,” he tells me. “You’ll be more comfortable.”

“But it’s away from everyone and everything, and connecting with other RVers is the whole point of going to this summit,” I argue. “Besides, camping is cheaper, and with the money I’d save on staying at the campground instead of the hotel, I can get some gear to make it more comfortable.”

He knows my mind was made up long before he got home.

“It’s an adventure!” I tell him, grinning from ear to ear. He just rolls his eyes.

Survey says…

OK I didn’t really take a survey, but the feedback I got when I posted to the Summit attendees group about tent camping made me feel even more so that it was the right choice.

Honestly, the tent sites are really nice. The facilities are right next door and tenting at that time of year will hopefully be nice weather.

I tent camped last year and it was awesome. And if I don’t have [an RV] by Feb I’ll be tent camping again this year. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

I stayed at a motel in town for the 1st summit and felt like I missed out on half of the fun by not being able to hang out and meet a lot more people. You’ll love being there, no matter what your camping in! 🙂

I lived in a tent for a year (when I was in my 30’s) and loved it. But 20 years later, my back doesn’t like sleeping on the ground. The best investment I made was an inflatable mattress!

Good choice being on site for sure! And we are all here if you need a couch to crash on!

Brian’s concerns about my waking up immobile or in pain will be legit if I don’t stay on top of my fitness routine. So that’s job one for me.

Job #2 is to get the gear without breaking the bank.

Strategic shopping

As much as I love Steep & Cheap for deals on quality clothing, Amazon seems to be on par with them price-wise for gear, with better availability. Some of the things I put on a price watch at Steep & Cheap are no longer available there, but I can get them on Amazon. Amazon also offers reviews, which are lacking at Steep & Cheap.

Finally, when I shop Amazon I can easily get price history and set up alerts if an item I’m interested in hits a certain price. I use Camel Camel Camel for that, and have alerts set up for the sleeping pad and pillow.

When I saw the price on the tent I wanted had dropped, I bought. Today it dropped by another $5. Oh, well. I still feel like I got a good deal on a great tent. I cannot believe how much tents have changed since I last camped in one. What a chore it used to be, lugging around all those huge poles and heavy canvas!

Here’s me setting up and breaking down the new tent in 11 seconds – whee!

Would you camp instead of glamp?

Willingness to consider roughing it a little opens up more possibilities without spending more money.

Without camping, I’m 10+ miles away in a hotel room and still spending over $550 for the week. Staying onsite in non-camping lodging would cost double that, at least.

The Jellystone tent sites have water and electric and cost only $240 for the week. Fredericksburg’s February weather is well within the range my tent and sleeping bag are designed for, and the resort has plenty of buildings for shelter in the unlikely event the weather turns bad.

I think if I have the right gear I will be comfortable enough. I won’t know until I try, and if it’s absolutely unbearable then I was wrong. End of story.

Or, it will be once I get all the kinks worked out of my body 😉

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