You guys might not know it but I used to be an avid camper. The summer I moved to Virginia, Mike and I camped almost every weekend. It was our secret weapon to seeing the mid-Atlantic when we were still broke from paying for our wedding. As years went by, our camping trips slowed down until we got our dog and wanted to travel with him.
In fact, that’s the reason why I was searching for last-minute campsites to see the eclipse. I knew this was an event of a lifetime, which is why I booked a hotel 10 months ago. At the time, we were a dogless family (how sad!). And by the time I realized our hotel in Charleston wasn’t dog-friendly, every hotel and campground were 100% sold out.
My choices were to leave the dog at home or look for a more creative solution.
Enter Hipcamp. It’s basically Airbnb for campsites. Independent land owners list their properties for tent or RV campers, making a little cash on the side and offering access to private land for travelers.
Hipcamp caught my eye for a very specific purpose — but I’m glad I found it because it makes it so easy to search for camping reservations even on a normal basis.
Camping will always be popular. Being outside feels good. It’s affordable, it’s a way to disconnect, and it’s a fun way to change things up for a few nights. But there are a lot of campgrounds on public grounds already, sometimes free and sometimes with more amenities than a private landowner can realistically offer.
The good news is that Hipcamp makes it easy to book. You can filter by amenities (RV hookups, toilets, etc.) or by activity (fishing, paddling). That makes it really easy to find inspiration if you know you want to head out for Labor Day weekend but aren’t sure where to go. They also pull in public campsites as well, like state parks and regional facilities. It’s a heck of a lot faster than searching every website individually to find what you want and see if sites are available.
Need a Hipcamp promo code?
If you’re booking with a private landowner, it works just like Airbnb. They’ll receive your booking request but they have the power to accept or deny your booking. My first request was flat-out ignored, forcing me to start over and try again. Maybe that was bad luck, but I can see it being an ongoing issue.
There are a few private sites that caught my eye, but for the most part, there has to be a real hook for me to choose them over an established campground. You can wake up to the sound of gibbons at one California campsite or you can play with baby goats in New York’s Catskills. Unique campsites like those are pretty hard to find — you really have to stumble upon them, which is unfortunate.
For me, camping isn’t the only way I travel, but it’s one I love. It’s not just about saving money or bringing the dog. It takes you to places you’d otherwise never go (like my almost private island last year) and helps you to truly appreciate a place because you can’t get distracted by cell phones or work emails. Hipcamp is trying to make this easier and more accessible to add to your life — and it works like a charm.
Are you interested in camping while traveling?
First, sign up for Hipcamp to get $20 toward your first trip.
Second, join me on Facebook next week. I’ll be live streaming as I pack for my Alaska trip, which involves fitting my camping gear into a single bag I can check for the plane. Trust me, it’s an art.
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