The Pros and Cons of Camping – An Insider’s View of the Outside
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The idea of camping can be a polarizing concept. For many of us, the idea of getting away from it all and surrounding ourselves in nature is the ideal way to relax. It’s a way to reconnect with our true inner selves.
But for others, the idea is repulsive. Sleeping outside? In the cold? With the bugs? Apparently they feel that their inner selves belong inside.
While this can spark a huge debate between friends, we would like to help settle this once and for all. To do that, let’s weigh the pros and cons of camping.
We want to acknowledge the fact that others may disagree with our love of the outdoors. At the same time, we would like for you “indoorsy” types to consider some alternatives that you may find a suitable compromise. Who knows, you may even learn to enjoy it.
In this article we will consider the benefits and the drawbacks of camping. In some cases, they are one and the same…You’ll understand what I mean in a little bit.
The Pros of Camping
Camping is a great option for those who love the outdoors.
One undeniable benefit is that you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. When you pick the right camping spot, you can spend your trip in the middle of nowhere with no one else around for miles or stay in a campground that offers daily activities and tons of things to do. Many also provide water and power hookups, too.
Another benefit is that you can customize your trip to better work for you. There are RV parks and campgrounds in cities around the world. You might stay in one that offers tons of amenities in the heart of the city or one that is just a short drive away from the city.
Many national and state parks have sites you can book for one night or longer. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites are also available. Though they don’t have many amenities and usually limit your stay to no more than two weeks, you can often stay for free.
Do you love the idea of camping but worry that you need to spend a lot of money on supplies and gear?
Don’t worry because you can start out with just the must-have camping gear and slowly add to your supply. You need a minimum of a tent and a sleeping bag.
Once you have some more experience, you can add a camping cot or foam pads to make sleep more comfortable, or more equipment for cooking food over a fire. You may even want to upgrade your setup to include a pop-up camper or an RV, or upgrade your sleeping quarters to include a full air mattress.
Camping is also a great activity for any time of the year. While winter camping is chilly and not quite as comfortable, you can easily pack up your camping gear and book a flight to a warmer locale for a winter camping trip. Many parks and campgrounds are also open during the fall and winter when the temperatures drop.
☞ Check out our tips for how to stay warm by heating your tent in the winter.
As a bonus, you get the chance to focus on your family and friends. You won’t find yourself so busy with all of the things that you need to do that you don’t get to spend time with your loved ones.
As you look at the pros of camping, don’t forget that you can choose the type of camping that works for your family or friends.
The Cons of Camping
Before you spend money on a tent that is big enough for your group, consider the drawbacks of camping.
One major con of camping is that it is often expensive. By the time you buy all the gear you need and pay for food and a campsite as well as your transportation costs, you might find that you can book a hotel room for much less.
Depending on your activity level, you may find it hard to carry all of your equipment or discover that you can’t visit some sites. Your activity level can even limit some of the things you can do when you’re camping, such as hiking or fishing.
Don’t forget about the bugs, either! No matter how much bug spray you use or how you spend your trip, the chances are good that you’ll come across some bugs.
Mosquitoes are quite common and can bite you dozens of times. Those with allergies to mosquitoes can feel miserable and unhappy the entire trip.
You also risk your safety, especially when you venture away from your site. Many campers stumble across poison ivy and other dangerous plants in remote spots. You might fall into a hole or trip over a tree branch when you’re miles away from the nearest hospital, too.
The cons of camping include the discomfort you can feel as well as bad weather conditions. When you’re at a theme park and it starts raining, you can easily find a place to stay dry or head back to your hotel to enjoy the comfort of your room.
If you’re camping and a storm hits, all you can do is stay in your tent or vehicle. Unless you bring some games or other fun things from home, your trip can go from fun to miserable in minutes.
As for discomfort, even hard-core campers who invest in expensive sleeping mats don’t feel as comfortable outside as they do at home or in a hotel room.
Another thing to consider is that you don’t always have the comforts of home. Forgetting anything you need is a big hassle.
If you’re lucky, you might find a nearby store where you can pick up a new version. Campgrounds often have stores that sell the essentials but charge double or more than what you would pay at home.
With remote camping, picking up some extra supplies can take a lot of work because you’re so far away from stores.
And of course, keep in mind that one or more people in your group might find that camping is boring, too.
Different Types of Camping
The best type of camping for you depends on how much of an initial investment you want to make and what you like doing in your spare time.
While backpacking is a great option for people who are strong and in good health and who don’t want to carry a lot of stuff with them, car camping is a better option for those who want a spot that is easy to reach and lets them bring tons of things from home.
☞ You can turn your SUV into a mini RV with a modular bed platform!
RV camping is the best option for those who want to spend time outside but still have all of the conveniences of home. There’s also glamping that allows you to have a unique experience in the great outdoors.
While some people use the terms backpacking and hiking to describe the same activity, backpacking is essentially hiking with a camping element. You bring everything you need inside your pack or on your body.
Backpacks come in different sizes and weights that are suitable for a few nights away from home to a week or longer. Many backpacks even have straps and other pieces that let you attach your sleeping bags and foam camping mattress pads.
You can choose from remote spots located deep in state and national parks as well as fun spots in the jungle or wilderness.
☞ Check out our Wild Camping Essentials Guide if remote camping is for you!
Backpacking requires that you follow the Leave No Trace rule, which states that you should take out everything you bring to the site with you. Never leave behind food wrappers or any trash as they can interfere with the local environment and wildlife.
You also need to make sure that you bring enough food and water with you because there’s no guarantee you will find safe food or clean water in the wild.
Backpacking is a good option for campers who want to get away from crowds and big cities. You can camp for days without seeing a single person.
Car camping is a great alternative to tent camping. Why spend a lot of money on a new tent or invest in an RV when you can use your car as a place to stay?
Car camping can also refer to sites that offer drive-up access, which comes in handy if you want to spend a few nights in a tent but worry that you can’t hike to a remote location.
Many of these sites have an online reservation system. Not only can you view all of the sites from the comfort of your home, but you can also pick a site and book it ahead of time. Many state and national parks offer car camping.
Do you love backpacking but don’t love how much your gear weighs? If you want to go canoeing on your trip, you’ll find that it’s nearly impossible to carry your canoe to your campsite, even if you have help.
Car camping lets you strap the canoe to the top of your car and unload it when you arrive. Car camping even lets you bring a generator to some locations. With your generator, you can use lights, keep your cell phone charged, and even play music or watch TV.
☞ Check out How To Camp – The Ultimate Guide to Car Camping for Beginners
Before you decide that RV camping is the best choice for you, think about the different types of RVs.
Class A motorhomes are the biggest and often look like luxury tour buses. A Class B motorhome is a little smaller and easier to handle. As long as you can drive a van, you can drive one of these.
Class C RVs usually have a sleeping area above the cab and a table that turns into a bed. You can drive all of these motorhomes, too. Other types of campers require that you have a vehicle you can use to tow them.
Fifth wheels are quite popular because they have so many sleeping areas as well as a small kitchen and bathroom.
Toy haulers are around the same size but also give you space to bring an ATV or another small vehicle with you.
Travel trailers come in different weights that work with different types of vehicles. They usually have a bathroom and kitchen, too.
Another option is a teardrop trailer or a tiny camper, which is easy to tow but quite small. You can also snag a pop-up camper that has a double bed on each end and a living space in the center.
All motorhomes and campers require some setup when you arrive.
If the idea of camping sends shivers down your spine and makes you dream of a luxury hotel room, consider glamping.
Glamping is essentially camping with an upscale twist. Glamping sites offer all of the comforts of home and can have as many amenities as a four-star hotel does.
You do not need to bring anything from home because the owner will provide everything you need.
Glamping sites are suitable for couples who want a romantic trip away from home as well as groups who want to have some fun together. They’re also great for parents who want to gradually introduce their kids to the world of camping.
Glamping lets you choose how you want to spend your time and where you want to spend it, too. You can stay in platform tents that keep your bed off the ground or in a treehouse that puts you close to the stars.
With a dome or yurt, you get protection from the elements and a comfy place to sleep. You can also stay in a teepee or a camper van.
Some glamping sites are in the middle of nowhere and offer tons of privacy, while others are in more populated areas or close to the area’s top attractions.
The Pros and Cons of Backpacking
One of the major pros of backpacking is that you have the chance to set your own schedule. You don’t need to check in or out by a certain time or worry about breaking any of the rules that a park or campground has.
Though you do want to avoid leaving anything behind, you can hike as long as you want and settle on a site that you like. Many of these sites don’t have a limit as to how long you can stay and are open year-round.
Another bonus is that you don’t need a lot of money to start out. You just need a backpack and a few supplies to set up your camp.
Looking at the drawbacks can help you see why many people prefer other types of camping.
Backpacking is not safe for those with physical limitations. You must be in good physical shape to reach some of these sites. It can take a lot of time to reach them and require that you hike for several miles, too.
As you become more involved in the hobby, you also need to spend more money on your gear.
Backpacking is also risky because you’re so far away from doctors and other people that you might not have a way to get the help you need. You also risk drinking dirty water or starting a wildfire.
The Pros and Cons of Car Camping
Looking at the pros and cons of cap camping is a good way to see if this is the best type of camping for you or your crew.
One of the biggest advantages is that it lets you bring luxury goods and creature comforts from home. While you probably don’t want to drag along a mini fridge, you can easily bring a small TV or a laptop to watch movies.
As you don’t need to drag heavy equipment to a remote site, you can pack bigger or heavier things that you can’t use with other types of camping such as air beds with pumps, coolers, and grills. Car camping is also a good choice for beginners who don’t have a lot of camping experience.
But if you’re looking for a chance to get away from it all, car camping might not be a great choice.
As these sites are developed and easy to reach, you’ll likely have some neighbors during your stay. They can make a lot of noise and stay up until all hours of the night or wake up early in the morning and ruin your trip.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to clean up at the end of your trip. Anything you bring and set up, you will need to break down and put away.
The Pros and Cons of RV Camping
A big pro of RV camping is that you have everything you need right at your fingertips. Many of these vehicles have a kitchen with a fridge, stove, and oven as well as a prep area and several cabinets.
Thanks to the included bathroom, you can easily take a shower or use the restroom whenever the need strikes without waiting in line or hiking to the bathroom.
You can choose an RV that has enough beds for your whole family and choose a model that fits your budget.
Another benefit is that you have the option of using your built-in amenities when boondocking or staying at a remote site and then heading to an RV park with full hookups.
It’s important that you consider all of the cons of RV camping, including the high cost. Motorhomes can cost much more than you may think, even if you pick an older model.
RVs and motorhomes also require a lot of maintenance. For example, you need to make sure that the plumbing and electrical systems work, and you need to take care of the motor.
If you don’t have enough storage space at home or live in an area that doesn’t let you store your RV, you need to pay to store it every month that you don’t use it.
RVs can also limit some of the places you can visit because they are so large.
The Pros and Cons of Glamping
Glamping gives you the freedom to plan a camping trip without worrying about what you need to pack or how you will get there. You can pack the same things that you would pack for a stay in a hotel room.
Most sites have the same amenities you would find at home such as outlets for your phone and other devices as well as a TV that lets you watch your favorite shows. You might even book a site with WiFi and a stocked fridge.
One of the biggest benefits of glamping is that you get to share an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Try glamping in the middle of a popular zoo or next to a safari filled with wild animals.
There are some drawbacks of glamping though such as the high cost. In some cases, glamping sites charge even more than luxury hotels in the same area do.
Some people find that glamping is more like staying in a hotel than camping. The people you travel with may want to stay inside 24/7 and play online or watch TV instead of enjoying the outdoors.
Keep in mind that glamping destinations can be more highly populated places, leaving you to deal with your neighbors every hour of the day.
Plan the Perfect Camping Trip
While you should consider all of the cons of camping, don’t let those cons turn you off from having a great time away from home.
There are so many different types of camping that you’ll have no problem finding one that is suitable for your group.
You might plan a car camping trip that includes a canoe ride down the nearby river or a glamping trip where you can watch your favorite movie under the stars. Or, if you prefer getting away from it all and don’t mind carrying a loaded pack, backpacking is a good choice.
Many people also like RV camping because there are so many RV parks that offer full hookups along with seasonal activities such as arts and crafts classes for kids or free movies on the weekends.
No matter which type you pick, make sure that you consider the pros and cons of camping and the advantages and drawbacks of each camping option.