Camping with Young Kids – Travel Tales

Who’s schooling who here?

We had no idea how educational and fun homeschooling would be! I could write a thousand posts about ways that Kim and I have been made better as a direct result of homeschooling our boys. We love it and I really can’t say a single negative word about it.

One of the reasons we started home schooling is because we wanted to be able to travel on short notice, sans crowds. The only way to get away from crowds in the best parts of Florida is to get away while the crowds are busy doing something else, like working, or going to school.

As it turns out, the travel made more of a difference than the rest combined. We didn’t know this going in, it’s just been a wonderful surprise!

I have one skill in particular in mind today. One that travel has taught us in a way that nothing else can. here is the word:


I looked up the word improvise because I thought it would make for some awesome blog post fodder. I was right!

Who knew that there was a musical element to the word? I didn’t! In fact, the real root of the word is more in performing and speaking than I knew. I thought it was more like a mechanical thing, like the time I used a 2-liter coke bottle for a water reservoir on my ’51 Ford Pick-Up. But read this:

ScreenHunter 01 Mar. 14 23

I love the way the musical element changes my thinking on the word. Make music, sing, on the spur of the moment, making use of whatever you have…invent! That is a life skill I want to have and I want to teach!

It makes me think of a Travel Tale! One that I hope encourages anyone who is thinking of staying home for all the various reasons people stay home. The most common of which are that:

  • they think it’s too hard to travel with kids (especially young kids)
  • they think it’s too expensive to travel with kids (or without them!)
  • they don’t know where to go, or what to do.

I think this story illustrates that, if you improvise, you can have an amazing time…right now!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Aspen, Colorado – June, 2000

This is going way back! AJ was five and Jacob had just turned two! We flew from Tampa to Denver and rented a Jeep. We had no itinerary, no reservations, nobody to visit, no schedule at all other than a return flight in about a week! That is definitely how we roll and we recommend it highly!

We’ve never thought much about traveling with kids, we just do it and it’s fine. In fact, it blows “fine” out of the water; it’s sublime! Sure we deal with problems on airplanes, and we’ve had our challenges with connecting flights. We’ve had the long road trips with the “I need to pee.” and “are we there yet?”

That’s why we go by motorhome now. But the move to a motorhome was just a slightly better (in some ways) mode of travel. The travel itself is the goal, the transportation is just part of the fun! Bringing the kids and seeing their faces when they see something incredible for the first time is absolutely amazing, every time, even when they get bigger than you! (that is a whole other subject!)

Back to Aspen…

So, we wound our way through a few towns and ended up in Aspen. I think we spent a night on the way, and then we got to Aspen. I had been there once before during ski season and I wanted to see it in summer.

I was also very much looking forward to the extremely rare pleasure of showing Kim some place that I had been and she had not. Her mom is the Travel Agent, not mine.

Aspen was great, but we had a problem. The hotel rooms in Aspen are the ones with the $$$$ next to them in the guide book. We wanted one with the $ or maybe the $$ designation. Not going to happen in Aspen. We found a great room, but it was $300 a night and we had a few nights to go! Not in the budget.

We had to improvise. Here is what we did:


Y’all got a Wal-Mart around here?

Our travels have a long standing relationship with Wal-Mart and this is where it all began. We headed to the local Wal-Mart and made a bee-line for the camping gear!

We had not planned on camping, we had never been camping as a family, we didn’t know what camping areas were nearby but we had a map and we were in the middle of some of the most incredible natural beauty on earth, so we figured we’d find a spot.

We grabbed the essentials, it was all right there. We picked up a huge tent, sleeping bags, pillows, lanterns, folding camp chairs (another lasting love), towels, food, plates…everything. We got everything for about $200.00 and loaded up the Jeep and rolled out searching for adventure.

Cool RV

We couldn’t afford one of these, so we got a tent!

Marble, Colorado

We found that adventure in Marble, Colorado! What an amazing area! Marble is a tiny little town and we followed a mountain dirt road after the pavement ended, heading into the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area.

We had already had some fun off-road experiences in Aspen, but these roads were nuts! Just wide enough for the Jeep and a long way down! After a few hair raising minutes, we found our way to a huge and beautiful riverside campsite.

We set-up camp next to the river and had a blast! We roasted marshmallows by a huge campfire and took baths in the icy river water. AJ is still traumatized by the memory! 🙂 We hiked around and did a bunch of exploring by Jeep.

Crystal Mill

The road in was a huge part of the fun and we keep trying to find better and better places to drive off-road, like Moab, Utah. While in the Marble area, we explored deep into the wilderness and saw the much photographed Crystal Mill, near the mountain ghost town of Crystal. Tons to see and do in this area.

We stayed three nights and finally packed-it up! It was a blast and we would recommend it to anyone! You have to get out there, have to leave the pavement and the roadside Motels. Explore, find adventure, improvise!

Visit Monday Memories at Planet M Files for more memorable posts!

9 thoughts on “Camping with Young Kids – Travel Tales”

  1. This is definitely my way to see travel! I love to improvise, and having a kid didn’t change that, all the opposite, you always have to improvise with kids! And that’s what is exciting. We chose homeschooling for the vary same reason than you, because we usually travel a lot between Spain, France, and the USA. Traveling is part of the education of our daughter, so much to learn!
    have a nice day!

    Elodie’s last blog post..The Jesus Film Project

  2. That sounds so awesome! I wish I had more of a sense of adventure. I’m such a worrier and planner. This summer will be our first real adventure vacation! We are going to rent an RV and go! Where? I don’t know!

    Thank you for participating in my second Monday Memories! You guys are the best!

    Gayle’s last blog post..Monday Memories: The Second!

  3. How inspiring! We just started homeschool this year and I’m just learning the meaning of “improvise.” I can’t wait to apply it to family travel!
    P.S. I’m participating in Monday Memories, too.

    kerri’s last blog post..Dating Days

  4. What an amazing tale- I’m wanting to go buy a tent at WalMart right now- and I’m a city girl at heart- but you make it all sound so doable…

    gina’s last blog post..Building Art

  5. I always love hearing camping stories. We usually camp every year and have even toyed with the idea of doing a cross country rv trip. I can’t wait to do it!!!

    Shannon’s last blog post..First Times

  6. Love the post! I have told my husband, if I had to do it over again and several variables were different, I would have homeschooled – but traveled with it. I think this is a great post!

    LMerie’s last blog post..I AM A FINALIST

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