We had a quick camping trip togeather over the weekend. Checking out free camp sites. This one was lovely, and importantly not a long drive away seeing as we were only nipping away for a weekend. At a place called White Cliffs. Beautiful river, lovely bushy area. We recently decided to commit to go camping one weekend a month, with the challange to do it as cheaply as possible, and as easily!
Our set up might not be fancy, but it does us just fine! We didn't bother setting up the annex, it was a short trip and we were not expecting rain.
Our big comfy bed, Henry often joins us. ;)
There are planty of ways to explore cheap/free camping. Looking at your states national parks is one, going to an powered or unpowered site of a smaller, simpler country caravan park is another. We have paid as little at $45/night for a powered site before in the off peak season, and had a lovely time. There is something so beautiful and invigorating about the beach in winter!
There are also RV friendly towns. HERE is a website to explore.
A camping set up does not need to be expensive. Ours has been built up over a couple of years. The van itself was $1000, and came with a working duel power fridge and oven. It was in a real state mind you. But then we spent another $1000 fixing it up, over a period of 6 months or so, buying things we needed as we went along. The little air con was second hand and works very well, the lino the end of a roll and out for clearance. The timber for the benches was old timber we slavaged from somewhere for free. The dining table is new plywood, cut around the old table shape and the old leg attached. Many things can be bought second hand over gumtree, the boys tent was. It was brand new with tags on for a fraction of the price it would have been to buy it new. It just takes a bit of patience and searching to find what you want.
You can spend a huge amount buying a van and setting it up - but the thing is you don't HAVE too. A bit of elbow greese, patience and thrift can do you well. Then you get to spend the money actually going on trips and enjoying your time off. I reckon avoid camping shows - they make camping look far more complex then it needs to be. It makes them plenty of $$$. ;)
Alternatively, you can camp with tents and keep it simple. Though I know people who have spent as much as we have on our van, by the time they have put togeather their camping set ups, and it takes them a whole lot longer to set up and unpack their camp. It depends on your season of life, your energy, your budget, and what you want to get out of it. It can be done on any budget, I do believe.
Also camping things make for wonderful, practical birthday/christmas pressie ideas. The boys swags have been joint gifts from Grandparents, same as torches, chairs etc. Corckery/pots/pans can easily be op-shopped.
By keeping things ready to go in the old van, or otherwise in big plastic tubs, it makes camping a quick and easy option. We can be out of the house and hitched up within 2 hours if we try hard from the time we start packing. For us it's about keeping it simple. By keeping the van stocked with it's own bedding, it means we are not in to rush to wash it all when we get back. An extra load a day until it's gone is all it takes. Then it all goes back into the van clean and waiting for the next trip.
It takes a few trips to get a pattern and routine down pat - but once you have there will be no looking back I promise. Paying for nice accomodation is simply not in our budget - but it is important for our family to get away and spend time in nature. In a time where modern lives are often dominated by technology, to be free of it, to sit around a campfire and talk, I mean really talk. It's a beautiful and powerful thing.