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I’ve mentioned before that I hate camping, as in sleeping in a tent without A/C or any sort of conveniences. I’ve done my fair share of it as a kid (that’s all most families in Soviet Union could afford), and I hated it even then. But there is definitely something appealing about staying close to nature, especially if you are doing it in style, aka tricked out RV. Needless to say, we do not have a tricked our RV.
One campground that I’ve been wanting to take my kids to is Lion Country Safari KOA Ever since we visited the adjacent park, I’ve been looking for ways to do it that wouldn’t involve sleeping in a tent. One of the things that drew me to the campground is the fact that you can hear lions roar in the morning. How cool is that? Can’t afford to go on an African safari? This is cheaper and just as good. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
In addition, there is a heated pool on premises, a huge plus for families with young kids. They do have cute cabins (fit four), that come with air-conditioning and a set of bunk beds. However, there are two things that are problematic. There is a full bed for parents which me and my husband are just too big to share, plus, there is no bathroom.
Is it cute or what?
Regular cost per night for a family of four is $130, not exactly dirt cheap. You also have to bring your own linens, so it’s really only an option for those who drive their own vehicle. We live in Florida, so it’s not an issue.
I’ve looked into renting an RV, and even wrote about it in this post However, that option is a bit complicated since we don’t live near one of Cruse America renting locations. That means I would have to ask my in-laws to drop us off and pick us up, and I hate to do that. Plus, the cost is significant once you factor in rental and campground site fees. Not to mention, neither one of us has experience driving an RV.
There is a relatively new website called Outdoorsy It’s an interesting concept, basically an AirBnB of RV rentals. You rent it from the owner directly, but Outdoorsy offers some protections to make sure the transaction goes smoothly. I think it’s a brilliant idea, as so many people only take their RV out for a spin a few weeks per year, if that. The rest of the time it just sits there, depreciating and rusting away.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of options in our surrounding area. I saw one listing that showed a dog tied to the RV, and the inside was full of junk and old newspapers. Sheesh, could you make it any less appealing? I imagine it was something along these lines:
Wife: Honey, I’ve heard of this new website called Outdoorsy. Can you list our RV since we are not using it anyway?
Husband: But I don’t want to deal with strangers.
Wife: Just do it! We need the money.
Husband: Fine. I’ll “advertise” it.
I’m willing to forego having a bathroom (for the right price)
I was poking around the website and saw the page listing specials:
Hmm… The tickets to Lion Country Safari park would cost around $130 all-in for the four of us, and here we’ll have admission for two days. Assuming we would only want to go once, it means the cabin will technically cost $50 per night. Now we are talking!
I’ve looked at the map of the campground and it appears that the bathrooms and showers are located very close to cabins. Most TripAdvisor reviews indicate that all the facilities are very clean, something KOA brand is known for. But what about tiny bed? We will bring a padded cot for my husband that we bought on GanderOutdoors website few years ago. We paid $150 for it, and used it only a few times. My husband actually thought it was a great plan. Sure, it will be tight in the cabin, but we will make do.
It’s definitely not an ideal arrangement, and perhaps I’ve lost my mind. But I feel like we only have a few years until my kids think this type of vacation is lame rather than cool. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when we enter the cabin. I’m certain they will be thrilled. And if the trip turns out to be a bust, well, at least I haven’t spent a fortune on it. We don’t have to fly anywhere, and visiting Lion Country Safari park is something we have been wanting to do again as a family anyway.
We’ve gone to some exotic faraway places, but visiting this park is truly one of our favorite memories.
Offsetting the cost of campgrounds via credit card bonuses
As you’ve probably guessed, you can’t use hotel points for this type of a trip. And I’m afraid your elite status won’t come in handy. But there are a few bonuses that will help “erase” your campground costs. I checked, and my $150 deposit did code under “travel” category. If you have a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve, your $300 annual travel credit should come in handy here.
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, two are a good fit:
1)Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Get 60,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first ninety (90) days of account open date and after the annual fee of $89 has been paid. The miles are actually points redeemable towards travel expenses, and 60,000 points are worth $600 in credits. You also get 5% rebate on redemptions. The card earns 2 “miles” per dollar.
2) Capital One Venture Rewards
Be aware, this bank usually pulls all three credit agencies. Get a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. You can also redeem 50,000 points for a $500 gift card to various retailers, including Target.
Both cards pay us commission if you wish to support the blog. There are other offers on the market, of course. Some, like PNC Traveler Premier Visa are restricted to certain states, and others offer cash back, which can be used for anything, including campground costs. Capital One Savor card is a great option and Nancy wrote about it not long ago.
This trip will involve a lot of work for parents, no doubt. We will also have to make do without en-suite bathroom and other conveniences. And yet, I’m excited. These days, I crave simplicity and being close to nature. This is no Hyatt, but something tells me that my kids will enjoy it just the same.
P.S If you are looking to visit Disney World in a near future, make sure to check out Nancy’s post Renting an RV at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.