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Sometimes making a big initial investment is a smart choice in the long run.


Main points:

  • Paying for accommodation on vacation can be expensive and I wanted to keep my family’s travel costs down.
  • I decided to buy a campsite, which came with a large upfront cost, which should pay off over time as we no longer have to pay for accommodation at the campsite.

Over the past few summers, my husband and I have discovered that we really enjoy going to camp. We can bring our dog with us on holiday when we stay at the campsites and our children enjoy being outside and participating in all the activities available without us even having to leave the premises.

However, one thing we didn’t like was paying for the cabins. We tend to prefer resort-style campgrounds with plenty to do on-site, so we’ve sometimes spent $400 or more per night just to get a cabin with a few basic amenities (and, in one case, to our surprise, no indoor bathroom! ! ).

I decided to look at ways we could cut back on our spending so that we wouldn’t have to exercise our credit cards so much when paying for accommodation. Surprisingly, however, my quest to cut costs ended up spending over $100,000. That’s why.

A large initial investment will hopefully save us money over time

When I considered our options for cutting our housing costs, none of them seemed great. One thought I had was that we could stay in cheaper hotels near the resort-style campgrounds and just pay for day passes to visit them. The problem was that the day pass was so expensive that it didn’t save us much money at all, other than hotel fees.

I also looked into skipping the camp experience entirely. But while we were paying for lodging that allowed dogs and other kid-friendly activities to make up for what we lost by giving up camping spots, we would have spent the same amount or more.

In the end, the only solution that presented itself was to buy our own campsite instead of staying in cabins. RV sites at campgrounds we like cost about a quarter of the cost of a cabin. So we would save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on each trip.

Of course, buying a camper isn’t cheap. We didn’t want to buy a truck to tow, and we needed something big enough to fit four people and at least one dog, so we were looking at a C or A class. Class C garages. turned out to be a better deal and a better fit for us, but we had to spend over $100,000 to get a reliable new one that offered the features we wanted.

Be willing to discuss non-objective solutions

Deciding to spend $122,000 on a camper was not on my agenda when I went looking for ways to cut down on vacation expenses.

But the reality is that camp should last decades. And because we vacation so often, the cabin savings should more than pay for the value of the RV over time, even after factoring in gas, insurance, and maintenance costs.

The whole process taught me not to be afraid to look for unconventional solutions and not to be afraid to spend money up front to save more later.

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