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Getting Away The Old Fashioned Way
Written by Cathy Reed

*Reprinted from the May issue of Trail Blazer Magazine

With the downturn in the economy and the upswing in fuel costs, more Americans are choosing camping as an inexpensive getaway. The great thing about camping is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. For horse campers who don’t want to cut back on their camping but also don’t want to face a big increase in their camping budget, Cathy Reed tracked down some options for keeping a lid on rising costs.

ReserveAmerica, the folks that take reservations for over 350,000 campsites and cabins in the US, announced in January that camping popularity is proving to be stronger than ever in the weakening economy. In fact, on January 2, they booked 79,000 camping nights for the upcoming camping season, an 11% increase over the single-day reservation record for 2008.

With the downturn in the economy and the upswing in fuel costs, more Americans are choosing camping as an inexpensive getaway. The great thing about camping is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. As for horse campers who don’t want to cut down on their camping but also don’t want to face a big increase in their camping budget, what are some of your options for keeping a lid on rising costs?

Since the high cost of fuel continues to be a major concern, perhaps the first question to tackle is destinations. Rather than targeting the long-distance trips on your list, this may be the time to choose rides closer to home.

Traveling in a group can also save money. Can you take two horse trailers instead of three? Can you vehicle pool? Though you may be accustomed to taking your RV or LQ, what about researching trail destinations that have attractive cabins or tenting sites? You could take no RVs and rent cabins. You could take one RV, in order to have some amenities, and several tents. You could take no RVs and no LQs, and go primitive—tents, tarps, a cookstove or two, and a big campfire.

I checked in with seasoned endurance rider Natalie Herman in California. She says when it comes to budget camping, “Sharing is a big thing. I couldn’t do endurance without my friend. Most times we take her rig (we can take an extra horse or fit lots of hay/feed in the third stall), but sometimes we take my trailer as it’s lighter (less gas guzzling). We always take her truck as she has a camper and it’s cozy...much cheaper than an LQ trailer and gets into tight spaces more easily too.”

With the price of fuel, RVs are more of a luxury than they used to be. If you’re going to take an RV, here are some tips on RV economy, courtesy of www.RVTravelPro.com The same tips would apply if you’re towing an LQ or driving a truck or car.

Tips to save on gasoline:
• Know which nearby stations offer the cheapest fuel (gas or diesel).
• Fill up on weekdays because prices usually rise on the weekend.
• Fill up at night(semicolon) pumps deliver more gas when temperatures are lower, and some gas stations offer a lower price in the evening/night hours.
• Fill up at busy gas stations because fresh gas has more power.

Tips to get more mileage:
• Keep your engine tuned—according to some mechanics, a poorly tuned engine, depending on what’s not working efficiently, can use up to 20 to 40% more gas.
• Using a grade of motor oil that’s not recommended can cause bad fuel economy.
• Cut down on A/C—it burns fuel.
• Cut down on extra baggage—rooftop carriers detract from fuel mileage.
• Drive at steady speeds—braking and accelerating use more gas. Use overdrive and cruise control.
• Plan your trips and driving routes to avoid traffic congestion.
• No pedal to the metal. Each 5 mph you go over 60 mph is equivalent to paying 10 cents more per gallon. So if you’re traveling down the Interstate at 75 mph, add 30 cents per gallon to the price at the pump!

If you decide to leave the RVs and the LQs at home and go all-out for the tenting option— “Sacrifice sinks and sofas for tents and tarps,” as RV/camping author Mick Pflug puts it on www.woodalls.com. You’ll probably need to make a list: tents, tarps, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, flashlight, hatchet, etc.

Check in with your fellow campers to see who has what. This could be the time to do some sharing, swapping, borrowing or renting, especially if you want to have a trial run before you make any purchases. If you decide to invest in some tenting equipment (and support the economy) do some netsurfing—including manufacturers that sell directly to customers online—or do some armchair shopping from outdoor equipment catalogues. Or you may prefer the retail store route, but since the object is to save money, don’t drive around too much!

Economizing on food goes back to the sharing theme. Instead of several people doing grocery shopping expeditions, make a list together and have one person do the shopping. Better still, do your grocery shopping on the way out of town—way less effort, way less gas.

Plan an overall menu. The great classics of camp food have never been expensive. Whether you’re cooking in an RV or a cabin or on a cookstove or campfire, big pots of spaghetti and meatballs or chili or beans and bacon is satisfying food after a day on the trail. Of course, nothing beats cooking over a campfire. Many campgrounds have fire rings with cooking grates, or bring a large cast iron griddle for cooking bacon and eggs, pancakes, hamburgers or steak. Ask if someone can bring wood from home.

Says Natalie: “As to group type meals, I love to make shish kabobs over a grill fire pit...just skewer whatever veggies and meat you like and grill...then make baked potatoes in tinfoil (just toss in the coals to cook) and you’re all set.”

After dinner, there are limitless possibilities for entertainment. If you still have lots of energy, play Frisbee or bocce ball. When it gets dark, we always have a propane tank on the ground with an extension and a lantern—very bright and lasts forever. Bring out the cards or the board games or Sudoku. Our favorite has always been Pictionary—nothing beats it for great laughs. Everyone loves songs and stories around the campfire, or tell spooky ghost stories, or read ghost poems like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”.

When you look back at your trips and figure out your budget, hopefully you’ve saved some money, maybe you’ve had some different kinds of adventures, and it’s very likely you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. Go cheaper, go greener!

Courtesy of TrailBLAZER Magazine & TRAILtownUSA
www.trailblazermagazine.us - www.trailtownusa.com

For 31 years, Trail Blazer Magazine has thrived on blazing new trails in the equine publishing world. Each year, the staff creates an editorial direction that is unique and innovative. We are passionate about our editorial content, and strive to give our audience educational, readable articles that inspire them to get out and ride. Articles are from recent issue of Trail Blazer. All articles are protected by copyright. It is illegal to reprint without permission of Trail Blazer Magazine.

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