Dear Barb

Dear Barb:

My boyfriend and I are struggling students, but we still want to have a vacation this summer. I realize it is late in the season, but can you suggest something we could do that wouldn’t cost a lot, but would still be enjoyable?

Mary in Ontario

Taking a vacation is important for everyone. It is a chance to relax and clear your mind of the stresses of daily life. Of course when you are a student, finances are an important consideration in whatever you choose to do.

The first thing that comes to mind is camping. Camping can be both fun and relaxing, depending on the activities in which you participate. As well, camping helps you get in touch with your natural environment, something people seem to have lost track of in today’s hectic lifestyle. I’m not aware of what equipment you have access to. You will need some basic equipment, a tent, sleeping bags and a barbeque or stove, preferably a propane one. Perhaps you don’t own this equipment, but you may be able to purchase some of these items at a second hand store, or even borrow from family or friends.

Next you must decide what type of campground you want to stay in. For example, Provincial Parks offer a fairly unspoiled environment and are generally near a lake or conservation area. Consequently, boating and fishing may be available. Provincial Parks usually include hiking and biking trails, so wear good shoes and bring your bike if possible. Some of the larger parks, like Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend Ontario, have Visitor’s Centers where you can discover the wildlife and vegetation of the region.

Private campgrounds offer a more manicured environment. As well, they often have permanent campers who stay for the entire season. Private campgrounds frequently host dances, bingo and activities for children. However biking and hiking trails are limited.

Another option is a KOA Campground. KOA’s are located throughout Canada and the United States and are strategically placed near highways offering easy access for travelers. KOA’s are clean, well-groomed campgrounds, which also include planned activities. However, the most appealing aspect of a KOA, from the perspective of a prudent camper, may be that you can stay in a Kabin. This means that if you do not have camping gear, you can still enjoy the benefits of camping. KOA Kabins are equipped with beds; all you have to supply is bedding. Also, most include a gas barbeque or stove. Kabins are more expensive than a regular campsite, but still a good value for your dollar.

If camping doesn’t appeal to you, how about considering day trips? I bet you’ve never boarded the sightseeing bus in your own city or town. When was the last time you visited your neighborhood Art Gallery or Museum. Check out the local Tourist Bureau, you may be surprised to learn what your own city has to offer.

Finally, if none of the above strike your fancy, how about a weekend at a Bed & Breakfast? Most cities and towns have B&B’s. Perhaps you enjoy an evening at the theater. When purchasing your tickets ask about the Bed & Breakfast’s in the area. B&B’s are historic homes that maintain the charm and comfort of the era in which they were built. As the name implies they include a scrumptious home made breakfast. Staying at a B&B will cost you more than camping, but still less than most hotels. The cost of campsites varies depending on where you live, but I think a safe average would be $25.00 per night. Of course a stay at a Bed & Breakfast would cost much more.

I hope I was helpful and that you will be able to have an enjoyable and cost efficient vacation.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.