Tours From the Campground Up

For those considering a budget adventure this winter, economical camping tours operated by Trek America and AmeriCan Adventures will offer tours in the United States and Mexico.

Trek America, which has been operating tours for 24 years, conducts camping tours for travelers ages 18 to 35 in 13-passenger air-conditioned minivans. The company supplies most of the equipment, so all you need to bring is a sleeping bag. Four-person tents are shared by two travelers, and if you're on your own they'll arrange a roommate.

When stops are made in major cities and it becomes necessary to stay in hotels, expect to pay an additional $30 for a bed in a multi-share room or $40 in a twin share.

From November through March, the company will operate 14 tours departing from Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Orlando and Cancun.

For example, a seven-day West Coast highlights tour from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which includes stops in Las Vegas, Death Valley and Big Sur or Santa Barbara, costs $480 plus $35 for a communal food kitty.

The company also offers winter versions of popular summer tours, including coast-to-coast adventures and trips around the Yucatan area of Mexico.

AmeriCan Adventures' camping tours are marketed in 25 countries. The trips are geared to travelers 18 to 38, although people over 40 are welcome if they are fit and "young at heart." More than 40% of the passengers sign up solo. Roommates are arranged, so you don't have to pay single supplements. Travel is in air-conditioned 13-passenger vans. Participants share the meal and camp chores, and each contributes about $42 per week toward a communal food kitty. On nights when hotels are necessary, the average price for a bed in a multi-share room is $16.

The company's one winter program, which leaves monthly from November through March, is a 26-day adventure in Mexico. It circles out from Mexico City and includes visits to the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan, and a visit to the Pacific Coast. The cost is $1,099.

For a brochure on Trek America's winter programs, call (800) 221-0596. AmeriCan Adventures is at 6762A Centinela Ave., Culver City, CA 90230; telephone (310) 390-7495.

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