Here in NY in the winter, the idea of “camping” is something we just dream about and plan for doing when the weather warms.

We typically close up the camper around Thanksgiving by pulling almost all of the gear out of it and putting it into storage inside the house. This is a good opportunity to get everything cleaned up well and an early sort on what may need to be updated or replaced. We put moisture wicking treatments into the camper and get it settled into the spot off the side of our drive where it can be clear of any snowplow danger as it gets snowy. We cover it with a big custom canvas cover to protect it from the elements.


And then we settle in to spend our evenings by a fire in our fireplace in the house instead of around a fire pit at a campsite. Using some of our camping know-how, we find that we head to bed earlier in the winter because it is so dark out. We occasionally get to whip out the camping skills and gear when storms get bad or we lose power. Winter is a time to relax and recover and PLAN.

At some point in early February, we start thinking about the spring, and the summer, and where we want to camp during the next season. We think about whether we are going to plan a Memorial Day trip or maybe something over the 4th of July. Those are both holidays where you need to get your reservations in early. Letting those go until mid-February or into March means you will definitely be unable to find one of the “best” sites and will be scrambling to find accommodations.

We end up spending hours pouring over trying to find the right campground and the right spot. We have a couple of good sites for checking photos of each campsite that we also refer to in order to figure out if the one that looks good on the map is actually as good in real life. It’s always a bit of a crap shoot because you never know until you get there, but it does help us quite a bit to not end up with that tiny rutted exposed site next to road when there is another that might be better for us.


Once we have those big holiday trips settled, we start working on the big vacation trip. That is typically a 2-week trip and something that long has to be carefully arranged and settled and often involves going from place to place. This is a much more convoluted set of planning and often involved lots of maps and looking at driving distances and thinking about what place is going to “anchor” the trip. There is a LOT more discussion to get this one planned.

Once we have the general timeframe and the anchor location, we book that camp so that we can ensure we get the spot we want. Sometimes this means adjusting days in one direction or the other. Often this anchor is somewhere we have been before where we have sussed out all the good spaces and know our favorites. Once that is set, we start to fill in the days/nights around it. We like to mix going somewhere familiar with trying out some new places too so that we have a nice balance of comfort and adventure.


After that vacation is settled, we start back into making sure we have at least a few more weekend trips booked or at least possible weekends identified in the calendar. Sometimes we go ahead and book some local state park or DEC camps knowing that we might change the reservations or even cancel, but also knowing that the money goes to the good cause of ensuring that these cost effective camps stick around as good options for everyone.

As we work through all of this, we talk and talk about what we want to do with the next camp season. What our goals are. What we learned from camping last year. We reminisce about trips we’ve loved and about the bad ones too and the funny things that happened along the way.