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The world's easiest camping trip

Forget hiking into the back of beyond. Pitch your tent a little closer to home.

By Donna_Freedman Jul 16, 2010 1:12PM
Camping can be one of the cheapest vacations there is. Personal-finance blogger Lynnae at Being Frugal knows the perfect place for it: right behind your house.
 
"Even if you don't have the time, money, or inclination to load up the camping equipment and head to the woods, your kids can still experience the joy of a campout," she wrote in a post called "Recipe for a backyard campout."

And here's another good reason to try "roughing it":

"Time in the dark, away from the television and computer, is a great time to find out what's on your child's mind," says Lynnae, a mom of two.

No expensive gear needed
Don't have a tent? Improvise with sheets. This is another good reason to have a clothesline.

No firepit, or a burn ban in your tinder-dry neighborhood? Use a barbecue to cook the hot dogs (on sticks or straightened wire coat hangers) and roast some marshmallows. S'mores are absolutely essential.
This is an insanely cheap form of summer fun for those who have a yard. Or access to a yard: Maybe a homeowning friend or relative will let your apartment- or condo-dwelling tribe pitch a tent out back.

Obviously you need to use good judgment as to whether it's safe to spend the night outdoors. After all, even some manicured suburbs have crime problems.

Other places have bear problems -- and the smell of graham crackers, chocolate and melted marshmallows would definitely attract ursine attention.

7 more reasons

But by all means give it a try if you can. And here are my top seven reasons that a backyard campout beats a "real" one:

  • You don't have to drive somewhere and then hike somewhere.
  • No worries about someone breaking into your vehicle parked at the trailhead.
  • No need to carry heavy packs.
  • If it rains you can just go in the house.
  • You won't hike five miles in and then realize you forgot the can opener.
  • No noisy, beer-besotted fishermen in the next tent over. In fact, no next tent at all.
  • You don't have to pee in the bushes unless you really want to.

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