5 Reasons to Camp Close to Home

I’ll admit it. For the last five years I have resisted every one of Jeremy’s efforts to camp near our home at the Jersey Shore. It just seemed so silly to me. If I was going to go through the bother of packing up the camper, I wanted to get away. Away, away. Like, a minimum of two hours.

But this season, circumstances conspired and I finally agreed to a local camping trip.

The ironic part? I was already loving the whole ‘local camping trip’ thing before we had even hitched up and pulled out.

Planning, packing, departing, returning home…every step had a relaxed and mellow feel to it that I don’t normally experience during a weekend camping trip.

Between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening, I had an epiphany: there really are some benefits to a RV Staycation. (Yup, I said it…)

So even though my favorite part of RVing will always be exploring places away from my home, I’m giving you 5 reasons why staying at a local campground can be a really great experience.

1. Dewinterize the camper in a low-risk environment.

A lot of RV experts recommend season opener trips–short trips near your home to test out the camper systems after a long winter sitting in the driveway. Although Jeremy and I recognize the value of this practice, we have never been able to squeeze in a camping trip prior to our Spring Break vacation.

Well, last year we opened up our RV down in Myrtle Beach only to find out that a pipe had burst. Yeah: big mess, far from home. We couldn’t use the RV kitchen sink for the whole trip. It wasn’t such a big deal doing our dishes at the bathhouse, but it certainly convinced us to make sure everything was working before heading out for a 10 day vacation.

2. More flexibility with arrival and departure times.

When we are going away for a weekend, departure and arrival times play a huge role in our planning. Friday rush hour traffic can be a nightmare, but 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 get ready for the work week ahead.

Knowing that a campground is only 30 minutes away relieves that travel stress. I don’t have to worry about rush hour, and even if we are running late it is no big deal. This past Sunday, we got home right before dinner and I was still able to run to the grocery store without feeling much of a time crunch.

A little less time on the road turned into a lot less stress in the scheduling department. I was pretty impressed.

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

Any parent knows…just when you think you have everything down, something will change. We are continually adapting to the changing needs of our little guys and this camping season is no different.

Last weekend we moved Wes from a crib into the back bunkhouse with the big boys. We had no idea how this would go and it was a relief to know we could abandon the whole operation if need be.

Lucky for us, Wes slept like a champ in his bunk with bed rails. Now we can breath a little easier about our longer trip to Myrtle Beach.

4. Don’t miss out on important weekend commitments.

All it takes is one birthday party or t-ball game to keep many families from going on the weekend RV trip. We find that the spring weekends can quickly fill up with communions, graduations, BBQs, and more.

This past weekend helped me realize that we really could have the best of both worlds. Visiting a local campground means that we can have our campfire on Friday night and then drive back into town for a morning t-ball game. Camping close to home is the perfect option if you don’t want a single scheduled event to derail the whole weekend.

5. Be a tourist in your own backyard.

I’ve talked about this before, but its funny how many ‘local attractions’ you miss out on when you live in a place. Something as simple as parking your RV in a local campground can change the way you think about and plan your weekend.

Princeton is less than an hour away from our home, but we have never taken the boys there for a day trip. Last weekend seemed the perfect time to visit the downtown, and we had a wonderful day checking out an independent bookstore, coffee roastery, and children’s library. Now we can’t wait to return.

The bottom line?

After five years of resistance, I now can’t wait for the next time we camp close to home. It is a wonderful way to experience many of the benefits of RVing while avoiding the stress points of family travel.

So what’s your take? Do you camp locally? Tell us about your favorite hometown campground…




  1. JP

    Cool ideas, we always travel a distance, but that West Chester experience that we had last year with our grandchildren was good, we forgot something and could drive home and get it and not miss any pool time! We just got some free passes to Longwood and a few other places in the Wilmington area…near the the West Chester KOA.

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      Yes, we got this really loosy, goosey kind of attitude, like ‘who cares if we forget something…we can just go right home!’ I was so amazed at how laid back we felt…

  2. Kris B.

    We almost always camp close to home, never more than a couple hours away. We’re planning on picking up our new to us camper in a couple weeks and until we upgrade tow rigs, this will not change. While we love our local spots, I am really anxious to try a beach and mountain trip! Love your podcasts, keep up the good work!

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      We don’t have amazing camping destinations right nearby, so that is one of the reasons we haven’t done this in the past. If we were surrounded by amazing state parks, we probably would have tried it a lot sooner!

  3. C Llewellyn

    We live in Opelika Al . Chewacla State Park is in Auburn Al….a mere 15 min from home.
    We go out year round. It is a lovely small Park with ALL amenities . We feel like we are hundreds of miles away. But the convenience of a short trip home if anything is forgotten. We never get tired of our special Lil-Park!

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      We do wish we had a magical location that close to our home. You are very lucky and it is great that you are enjoying it!

  4. Christy M

    We are big fans of weekend trips near to home. Most of our trips are within an hour from our house (which is out in the boonies anyway). One nearby trip that proved VERY useful was when we accidentally locked all of our camper keys (spare set included) in the camper – it was only a 25 minute drive home to get the spare, spare set. 😉 We do take one large week long trip a year right now, and plan to do a year long trip in the fairly near future.

    Loving your blog and social media accounts I’ve recently started following. Happy Travels! 🙂

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      That’s what I quickly realized…nothing is that big of a deal when you are so close to home. Wow! A year long trip? Keep us posted.
      Thanks so much for reading (and following:-). If you haven’t had a chance to check out the podcast, you might enjoy it!
      Happy camping:-)

  5. Brett

    We try and do a short (overnight) shakedown close to home after breaking out of winter. We are fortunate enough to have several nice camping option that are under 70ish miles from the house. One of our favorite (Granite Flat in Utah) is only 30 miles away but when we were there we felt like we were much further away because it is so tucked into a canyon. We seem to do one longer distance trip and many shorter weekend trips each season. Looking over the KOA report for 2014 this seems to be the exact opposite of the general trend.


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