RV in the woods

Trip Planning

5 Reasons To Camp Close To Home

We purchased our first RV seven years ago because we had a serious case of wanderlust and a set of brand new twin babies. An RV seemed like the most affordable and comfortable way to keep traveling, even with all the complexities that these little guys had brought into our lives.

That pop up camper purchase ended up being the perfect decision for us, and we have been able to travel more than we ever dreamed possible when we initially decided to test out the RV lifestyle. Over the years, we kept going farther away from home and spending more time on the road.

To be honest, it rarely occurred to us to camp where we live on the New Jersey shore. If we were going to plan a getaway, pack up the gear, and hitch up the RV, we thought the bigger the trip the better. It took us awhile to realize we were missing out on one of the best RV experiences there is – camping close to home.

Once we spent our first weekend at a campground about 30 miles away from our house, we were completely hooked. While big RV trips far from home are exciting and energizing, shorter RV trips close to home are relaxing and peaceful. And let’s face it…they are a lot easier to pull off for working parents with busy kids!

Here are the five reasons camping close to home has become one of our family’s favorite things to do.

1. We can de-winterize the RV in a low risk environment.

Many RV experts recommend testing out all your RV systems after a long winter of sitting in the driveway. It took us awhile to realize the value of a ‘season opener’ trip close to home, where we could de-winterize, easily replace a blown fuse or light bulb, and stock up on necessary supplies.

Now we love booking a nearby camping weekend in early spring devoted to getting the RV into tiptop shape for the season. It’s like our version of spring-cleaning, but we get to sit around the cozy campfire at night!

2. More flexibility with arrival and departure times.

When we are taking the RV out for a weekend trip, departure and arrival times play a huge role in our planning. Friday evening rush hour traffic can be a nightmare, and we also worry about arriving too late at the campground. Likewise, Sunday return traffic can be congested, but we always want to get home early enough to prepare for the week ahead.

Knowing that a campground is only 20 to 30 minutes away relieves all of that travel stress. You can leave after work on Friday and still be sitting around a campfire that evening. It’s also easy to return home on Sunday afternoon and throw in a load of laundry or take a trip to the grocery store. A little less time on the road can mean a lot less stress in the scheduling department.

3. Test out new sleeping arrangements, schedules, or gear.

Parents know that just when you think you have everything down, something will change. We have loved the way camping close to home allows us to see if our little guy really is ready to move from the pack n play into the bottom bunk, or if we will be able to stagger bed times for the kids at night.

You can also test out that new solar panel set-up or water heater. If something doesn’t work out, you are just miles away from home where a hot shower awaits. Did you just get new kayak or bike racks, or install a weight distribution system? There is no better way to test out new gear than by taking a short drive to a familiar campground.

4. Camp even when important weekend commitments are on the calendar.

Once our boys started to participate in organized sports, unscheduled weekends became a distant memory. Add in birthday parties, graduations, and family BBQs and we began to wonder how we would ever fit in our next camping trip.

Camping close to home means that our family can still attend any sports games or functions and still squeeze in some valuable campground time. We set up the RV on Friday evening and unwind around the campfire, then head off to a baseball game at 10 AM the next morning. By Saturday afternoon we are back at the campground fishing and playing catch.

5. Be a tourist in your own backyard.

We all know the story of having great activities, festivals, and parks in our hometowns that we never get around to enjoying. Real life gets in the way, and sometimes our weekends can be consumed with playing catch up on chores, errands, and yard work.

Camping close to home takes us away from the demands of daily life, and encourages us to look at our area through the eyes of a traveler. What would we do if we were visiting this region for the first time? Where would we eat? Getting away from the busyness of our everyday lives helps us to enjoy our home even more.

It took us years to discover the pleasures of camping close to home. Now, every spring, we look forward to sitting down with our family calendar and setting aside weekends where we will enjoy quick, simple getaways in our own backyard. Give it a try, and it may become a favorite part of your RV experience, too.

family camping

The RV Atlas

Jeremy & Stephanie Puglisi

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the weekly RV Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts and the RV Atlas blog. They are also the authors of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations, and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop-up camper more than 10 years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) over at RV Atlas.