Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
  1. Default Camping with two kids

    We are planning a cross-country camping trip next summer. We've never camped, but would like to show our two young girls the country. We are renting a camper to tow and would appreciate advice, routes, and any "must-sees" from Michigan heading West. Any information would really be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default details details

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It really is not possible for us to give you much in the way of advice for routes and attractions yet, as we just don't know enough details about your plans. "The West" is a massive place with millions of "must see" things and places you could visit. Without knowing your interests, where you're thinking of heading, how much time you have, etc, we don't really have a starting point.

    I can say a few things about the camping aspect of your trip.

    First, do you already have the trailer rental lined up? I'm not aware of many places that actually rent camping trailers - most only do self contained RV's. Second, what are you going to be using to pull the trailer? Camping trailers can be a lot heavier than you might think, and if you don't have experience towing or have the right setup, that could really be an extra challenge.

    If at all possible, I would recommend you try to go out on a weekend camping trip before heading out on your cross country adventure. That will give you a feel for how things work, what things you'll need, what you like and don't like, etc before committing yourself to doing it for weeks at a time. Camping can be a great way to see the country, and it is a great way to really get a feel for the places you are staying, especially if you are traveling through National Parks and other Natural Areas.

    But keep in mind, camping isn't the only way to do a roadtrip. If traveling by RV or Towing a Travel Trailer, it actually is likely to actually cost more than going by car and staying in motels. As I mentioned, there are plenty of advantages to camping, and I am a big fan, but a short trial run will help you make sure it is the right option for you.

  3. #3


    As Midwest Michael point out, "west of Michigan" is a big place. How much time do you have?

    Do you have any thoughts on what type of things you'd like to see?

  4. Default

    Thanks for your prompt response Michael. Being new to this, I guess I should've expanded. We will be starting in Michigan (where we live) & going north to some of the places we've already traveled to, but camping rather than staying at motels, which is what we've done in the past.

    Our plan is to head up into Michigan's U.P., then head west to the Dakotas (we'd like to see Mt. Rushmore), via WI and MN. Ultimately, we'd like to reach as far as Yellowstone. Our plan was to stick with National Parks- I've read that the parks sometimes offer more facilities, which seems like a better for plan for us since we're new to the camping experience. We really have no time line- we figured we'd be gone for two to three weeks.
    We are also considering going as far west as The Grand Canyon and have considered trying to visit Mesa Verde National Park as well.

    There are several camper/rv retailers in our area that also offer rentals. We considered rental of an RV, but figured we would still have to trailer a vehicle for daily trips, whereas if we tow a travel trailer, we can set up and then use our vehicle for day trips (I have a GMC Acadia with a hitch). We have researched the size requirements for my vehicle and know it cannot be a huge trailer- that's ok- our girls are still young- only 9 & 11. And we've towed wave runners & a boat before, so we have minimal experience towing- nothing like a travel trailer but at least we've had to drive and park with something behind us.

    Like you said- we really want to see the country. My hubby and I are both teachers so we spend summers on a lake here in Michigan, enjoying nature and spending the entire summer outdoors. We did a quick trip (5 days) up north in the U.P. last summer. Although we stayed in a motel, we loved all the adventures- hiking, climbing sand dunes, finding waterfalls. Northern Michigan is quite remote and it was just what we were looking for. We're hoping to have similar experiences on a much grander scale. I guess we aren't against staying in motels, but the thought of eating out for weeks at a time gives me heart palpitations! :) We really wanted to just sort of set out on a great adventure with no real schedule except for specific sites to see. Our kids are getting older and most likely won't have the time or desire to spend weeks with mom and dad for much longer, so we've figured a camping trip was right up our alley.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I guess we aren't against staying in motels, but the thought of eating out for weeks at a time gives me heart palpitations!
    Why not tent camp? You should have room for some basic cooking gear, and you can break this up with selected nights in motels.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    I agree that tent camping could be good option.... especially if the girls have a small tent of their own.... a bit like their own room. We used to camp with three hiking tents, one for our three sons, one for the two girls and the third for my husband and I.

    On the other hand, staying in motels does not mean you have to eat out all the time. There are many ways to cook a healthy meal in a motel room. Most have fridges and microwaves. Take along an electric frypan and sandwhich maker and you have all the makings of a healthy and enjoyable meal. You could even use disposable plates and cutlery for ease of cleaning up.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeGracek View Post
    We really wanted to just sort of set out on a great adventure with no real schedule except for specific sites to see.
    In my books, the best way to travel. Enjoy the spontenaity. You may also enjoy this article.

    Our kids are getting older and most likely won't have the time or desire to spend weeks with mom and dad for much longer, so we've figured a camping trip was right up our alley.
    I know exactly what you mean. Make the most of it. They grow up all too quickly, and before you know it are living their own lives, maybe half a world away. Now's the time to establish the 'ties that bind'.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default camping etc

    I'll certainly endorse the idea of tent camping, if that appeals to you at all. It certainly would be a big money saver at the very least.

    I will say that even if you like the idea of an RV/Trailer better, I still would think twice about the choice of a trailer. Based on what you've said, I think a self contained RV could be a better choice. Pretty much any travel trailer, with the possible exception of a pop-up, is going to be putting you at the top end of your SUV's towing capacity. Throw in the fact that your trip is going to involve lots of mountains, and you're going to be putting a significant strain on your vehicle. At the very least, adding oil and transmission coolers, if not already installed will be a must for a trip like this. I also disagree that you really would need a "toad" (car being towed) behind an RV if you went that route. I would see the need if you were planning to spend long periods of time in one spot, or planned to be doing lots of visits to cities where an RV can be difficult to get around, but the trip you're looking at will require you to be on the move. Realistically, you're not going to be spend more than one or two nights at most of the places you stop, and even the places you do spend extra time, you can still pretty easily use the RV as your transportation and re-set up camp at the end of the day. Some places like the Grand Canyon, will also have shuttles within the park, where you wouldn't even have to move the RV.

    Speaking of time, if you want to do a loop that hits the UP, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, I think you're going to need to push up into the 3 to 4 week area, especially when you consider the slower travel of an RV or Travel Trailer. If 2-3 weeks is your max, I think I would skip the UP for now, and focus on getting west. Don't get me wrong, I love the UP - it really is one of my absolute favorite places to visit and I go there frequently - but you've already spent some time there, and it is close enough where you can easily go back when you've only got time for a short getaway. Instead, I would focus the time you've got on places in the west that are farther away, and give yourself time to see some of the other great parks between Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, like Grand Teton, Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, and Bryce Canyon just to name a few.

  8. Default

    Wow! Amazing advice and comments on here- thanks so much everyone! It seems now my dear husband is hesitant to tow a travel trailer such a long distance (Michael- you are spot on with your concerns!)- he's worried about the wear & tear on the vehicle. This may change things in terms of traveling, but we're still planning to visit the same (or more) locations. I appreciate the other attractions offered & we will consider adding them to the list. I had to laugh about tent camping! I'm as far from a tent person one could find, but I'm willing to give it a try- that may require a "backyard" testing though! It also eases my mind to think about doing a combination of tent camping and motels. I think half the fun of an "adventure" like this road trip should include staying in the parks & being as close to nature as possible without being attacked by bears! :)
    Michael- I also appreciate your information about considering an RV. That was always my first choice to begin with- I may do some additional research to see if that's feasible with our budget.
    Thanks everyone for your helpful advice. Any other "must see" locations, parks, or programs are still helpful as we plan this vacation. We're really just at the start of the research stage so every comment helps!

  9. #9


    If I had only two weeks, I believe I would just try to go as far as Yellowstone - all the way to Grand Canyon would really be pressing it in two weeks. If you can make it three, it can work.

    The drive across South Dakota can get monotonous, especially for children who really can't appreciate the wide-open spaces as an adult can. To break up the trip a bit The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD is a fun stop the kids would enjoy.

    As you approach the Black Hills, you will definitely want to take the drive through Badlands Nat'l Park. This is something the kids would enjoy because it would afford them the opportunity to do a little rock climbing.

    Leaving Badlands, you want to be sure and stop at Wall Drug. No trip to South Dakota is complete without a stop here - especially for kids.

    You'll of course want to do Mount Rushmore Nat'l Memorial but there is also Crazy Horse Memorial.

    Custer State Park is a great place to visit. The Iron Mountain Highway (US 16A) from Kestone to the park is a great drive with several tunnels and some unique "pigtail" bridges. The tunnels are all laid out so that as you look back through them, Mount Rushmore is framed. The kids will greatly enjoy feeding the wild burros which will show up along the road and more than likely, you'll run across a herd of buffalo in the park. There is a great deal to do in the Black Hills/Badlands area especially if you are traveling with children whose attention span for just scenery is very limited. At Keystone there is a steam engine driven train that runs up to Hill City. At Hot Springs, there is a huge spring-fed indoor swimming pool. If you're in the area and like caves, Jewel Cave Nat'l Monument is one of the best.

    As you leave the Black Hills for Yellowstone, a trip to Devil's Tower Nat'l Monument would be another kid pleaser.

    Have A Great Trip!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    When my husband and I were doing some research, we found that renting a travel trailer or fifth wheel was near-impossible! There were no reputable agencies with rental towables. ONE had a tent-trailer, which is not our style. Everyone had motorhomes. Even the Navy base, which used to have little 16 and 18 foot travel trailers to rent, no longer has them. So when I read the post about renting a TT, I wondered, "where????"

    To reassure you, I grew up in a family with a travel trailer. When I was first married and my husband suggested, 'tent camping', I said, NO, NOT ME. Guess what? For about 14 years, we had tents. At first, one tent for just us, then a bigger tent, and finally TWO tents so that our daughters had their "own room"! The hardest thing for me was learning to cook outside, especially when it rained. It also helped to plan to stay in a motel with showers every few days, and 'eat out' when it was raining. Somehow, sleeping in the rain wasn't so bad (as long as the campsite wasn't on the side of a hill), but cooking in it was another matter. If I can do it, others can too.


Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-05-2013, 11:29 AM
  2. Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-08-2011, 11:12 AM
  3. Camping.....
    By galaxie50059 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-09-2007, 01:03 PM
  4. camping?
    By cool in forum Saving Money on Your Trip
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-13-2005, 11:45 PM
  5. Camping in NYC
    By matthewauline in forum Saving Money on Your Trip
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-09-2005, 07:29 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name