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Whether it’s a weekend getaway, school holiday vacation or a long road trip the debate as to whether go camping vs staying in a hotel is always a heated one, especially if you have children involved. If you have very young children, babies or toddlers, it can seem to make more sense to stay in a hotel compared to roughing it up in a tent.
But this is not always the case and certainly not a must-follow rule. When there are young children involved it will come down to how you feel about taking the youngsters camping vs staying in a motel. When children are very little, the costs can actually weigh in favor of staying in a motel or a hotel as many places don’t charge extra for a baby.
On the other hand, camping is a completely different type of experience and one that children will gain valuable memories from, compared to staying in a room with 4 white walls.
So it can be quite tough trying to decide whether you want to stay in a hotel or go camping come holiday season. There’s a lot to weigh up such as cost, life experience, hygiene, food, temperature/weather, accessibility, and practicality.
To help you make the decision with more confidence, I have listed both the positives and negatives of staying in a hotel compared to camping. This covers a few of the main points that people consider and have difficulties deciding on before taking the plunge.
Quick Links To Info On This Page
- 1 Is Camping Cheaper Than Staying In A Hotel?
- 2 General Hygiene
- 3 Sleeping: Campsite Vs A Hotel
- 4 Room Size When Camping Or In A Hotel Differs
- 5 More Things To Do Camping Compared To Staying In A Hotel
- 6 Camping Creates Life Experiences & Valuable Memories For Kids
Why Not Do Both?
Here’s a thought, why not incorporate camping into your hotel/motel vacation. For most people, the deciding factor comes down to budget and cleanliness/hygiene. So if you’re dead set on vacationing in a hotel this year but want a cheap way to extend the holiday, why not go camping for a few days beforehand.
I have done this in the past and it’s a really neat trick to extend your holiday without having to pay hundreds per night. What you do is go camping in the same town or neighboring town to where you plan to take the vacation.
See if you can find a low cost or even free campsite and pitch the tent for a couple of nights. Sure you have to get down and dirty for a couple of nights, but the good news is a hot shower is not far away.
So you can get as dirty and as smelly as you like knowing that for the rest of your holiday you can take a hot shower every night. By doing this you are saving heaps on the cost of a hotel while extending the length of your holidays.
But if the idea of a camping hotel holiday is not to your liking, read on to see the positives and negatives of camping versus staying in a hotel.
Is Camping Cheaper Than Staying In A Hotel?
If you’ve spent any time in the camping forums then there is a good chance you’ve seen this question repeated time after time. People arguing over which is cheaper, staying in a hotel or camping in a tent?. There are a lot of advantages to going camping or staying in a hotel and neither choice is wrong, since people want different things from their holidays.
Things To Consider
The biggest argument I see against camping is the cost of it, which is hard to disagree with when you first hear it. Getting all the gear to go camping does have a fairly hefty upfront cost that does put a lot of people off.
Starting with just a tent for a family of 5, it can cost you the same as staying one or a few nights in a hotel. Sure it may seem like a tent is expensive, but the thing is once you have it in your possession, you can now go on camping holidays more often for cheaper.
Deciding between an air mattress or a sleeping pad can save you some money when camping, but ultimately you want to find something that is comfortable to you. Even if it costs more.
In my opinion, once you have gotten all the gear and paid for everything, camping will eventually become cheaper than staying in a hotel. This is because it’s generally cheaper to stay at a campsite then it costs for a hotel which is especially true if you’re taking kids.
Camping can be made even cheaper if you know people who will let you borrow their gear like a father-in-law or close friends. This can help reduce the upfront cost and let you get a feel for camping to see if you’re going to enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, you won’t mind spending the upfront cost as much.
For me, this is one of the biggest and most important differences between camping and staying in a hotel. There is a big difference between the two in my opinion and is something that you should consider before making up your mind on which one you’d rather do.
Camping has a few drawbacks with trying to keep your hygiene up that can make it difficult. Water access can be difficult at some campsites, especially if you go remote camping where getting water can be next to impossible. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of camping in my opinion.
To prevent this you need to put a lot of planning into camping before you go. By preparing beforehand you can make these issues far less of a problem. Taking things such as hand sanitizers and jerry cans full of water can help with staying more hygiene.
While hygiene is an issue for camping, it’s far less of an issue for people who choose to stay in a hotel. They have numerous precautions that help with this such as cleaners who will help keep the room clean and easy access to water for things like showers and brushing your teeth.
Access To Bathrooms & Toilets
A lot of people I’ve talked to about camping who haven’t been before often find this to be one of the most difficult things with camping and as a result, puts them off camping altogether. So they don’t attempt to camp and just stick to going to hotels because they don’t want this issue.
There is no secret that when you go camping that access to bathrooms and toilets can be an issue since it’s rare for a campsite to have both. So unless you find a campsite that has both you might be stuck without one of them or both which can be an issue.
To help with making this easier there are things you can get that can make choosing a campsite easier. Things like portable toilets and bringing your own hot water shower systems will go a long way in helping you with these issues, but of course they do add to the upfront cost of camping. (Well worth it in my opinion)
This really should go without saying but hotels don’t have this issue in general or at least most hotels I’ve stayed in. They all will have a bathroom or a toilet so there is no need to do anything extra beforehand which is a nice advantage of going with the hotel option. At the very least, you can get communal bathrooms.
Sleeping: Campsite Vs A Hotel
Camping Sleeping Options
Sleeping when you go camping is one of the most important things as if you don’t get a good nights sleep it can ruin your day in my opinion. Thankfully there are a number of different options that you can go with that will make it feel like you’re sleeping on your bed at home.
This is one of the most common beds that people take when camping and for good reason. They’re some of the most comfortable night’s sleep you can get when you go camping, especially if you get one of the models designed for camping conditions. One thing to remember is to clear the ground beforehand and put a tarp underneath the bed to prevent a puncture.
If you don’t like the idea of sleeping near the ground when camping then camping cots are a great option for you. It’s a good way to avoid things on the ground and they allow you to store things underneath them saving room in the tent.
The main disadvantage of a camping cot is that they are bulky and heavy. So they can take up precious cargo in your vehicle compared to an airbed. The other thing to consider is the walls and height of your tent. As cots are raised as high as 20 inches from the ground, you need to ensure the tent has enough clearance for you to comfortably sleep on it inside your tent.
If you’re trying to keep the cost down then a sleeping pad is a good way to do this as they’re generally the cheapest of the beds for camping. They do have the drawback of them not being as comfortable as some of the other options. If you don’t mind spending a little extra for a sleeping pad you can go with a self-inflating sleeping pad which are more comfortable.
This can be more expensive but in my opinion one of the most comfortable ways to get some sleep when camping. That is to use a combination of a camping cot with a sleeping pad or air mattresses. This will get you off the ground which makes getting on and off easier and can be more comfortable overall.
Versus Staying The Night At A Hotel
When most people stay in a hotel they don’t put a lot of thought into what they’re actually staying in. The number of people who have stayed in that bed before you can be something that once you consider can actually put you off them. This is especially true if you’re someone who is very hygienic.
The number of times I’ve seen hotel rooms not have their bed sheets changed when different people have taken over the room has made me nervous about hotels. This is not to say all hotels are like this but it makes me think twice before just jumping into the bed of a hotel room.
While there are those risks involved with staying in a hotel room it’s hard to argue the comfort of a hotel bed. It’s going to be the closest you can get to the feeling of staying in your own bed so this does give hotels this big advantage over camping.
I’m not saying ever hotel bed you will stay in hasn’t had its sheets changed or is dirty. It’s something that you should consider beforehand if you’re worried about such things. Otherwise, the comfort of a hotel bed is really good and will give you a good night’s sleep.
Room Size When Camping Or In A Hotel Differs
People often overlook the amount of room they will have when they’re on their next holiday which is something you shouldn’t do. Having the right or wrong amount of room on your next holiday can make or break your trip. Whether it’s not enough room for you and your kids and everyone is on top of each other, or just not enough room to store all your gear is frustrating.
Camping offers a lot of variation in the amount of room you can have on your next holiday, which is something I really like about camping. Having this level of versatility will allow you to find something that will suit the amount of room you will require.
The size of a camping tent is determined by the number of people it can fit. This can be misleading if you’ve never spent time camping in my opinion. If a tent says it’s a 10 person tent it can actually fit tent people so it’s not wrong but it doesn’t mean the 10 people are going to enjoy it.
I often find that you need a tent that will fit more people than you need. So if it’s 4 people going I would opt for an 8 person tent if possible since this will give all of you a bit of room to relax and store your gear. This is something that I highly recommend doing as it will make your next trip more comfortable.
It’s hard to ignore the amount of options hotels can give you when it comes to space which can make them an excellent option. Hotels work really well if you have multiple people as some can offer separate rooms so you’re not all close together which is something that I really like.
There is one big drawback to this that is a fairly big issue in my opinion. That is if you want a good amount of space in a hotel then you’re going to have to pay for it. This can get extremely expensive and make it almost impossible for larger families who want to stay in a hotel room.
This is why camping is such a popular choice for families of 5 or more. The cost of staying in a hotel can really explode with more guests. Whereas camping you can keep the cost down dramatically. Plus you get a huge open playing field for the kids to explore and spend quality time together.
Technology is a double edge sword when it comes to holidays as they can make your trip more enjoyable but it can also make it feel like you’re just at home. So there are pros and cons to technology and holidays and it doesn’t matter whether you go camping or stay in a hotel in my opinion.
Depending on who you are and what you’re goals are when going camping, technology might not be something that concerns you. Camping is a great way to escape the inner-city rat race and get away from all the technology allowing you to relax and unwind for your next stint at work.
But what if you want to camp and like to bring technology with you I hear you ask? This is also a possibility as some campsite offer power which can help with keeping things like phones, laptops, and tablet charged. This is really handy if you can’t detach the phone from certain members of your family no matter how hard you try.
Not all campsites are in the middle of nowhere and get no mobile phone service. So you can still be attached to the internet to help keep you informed if that’s what you like. A good option that certain services offer allows you to download shows to watch in offline mode so you can still watch your favorite shows when out camping.
Hotels Have The Technology Advantage
When it comes to holidays and technology you can’t go past the advantages of hotels. They’re far better equipped for modern technology and often have things like cable, and wifi to help keep you entertained. This makes them a great option for someone who likes technology and understands it’s not actually a bad thing.
They also offer a number of other things that let you keep your normal lifestyle when on a holiday. Some hotels have gym rooms which I know a lot of people who refuse to go a few days without getting a workout in and is something that is made a lot easier by staying in a hotel.
More Things To Do Camping Compared To Staying In A Hotel
When on a holiday it’s important to not only relax but do things that you might not usually do when you’re sitting at home. So no matter which you choose there are a number of things that you can do that will give you an enjoyable experience on your next trip.
There is a lot you can do when you go camping which is one of the reasons it makes it a great option for family campers who want to create some life long memories. How often do you play a card or board game when you’re at home? Most people rarely play them, but there is something about playing either when camping which makes it more enjoyable.
Camping is great for those who like nature and want to get out and about and enjoy it. Things like fishing and hiking are much easier to do when camping and are a great way to relax and just take it all in which is something you can’t do at home.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do while camping is to have a fire and socializing around it. There is nothing quite like this feeling just hanging out around a fire having a drink and having a good time with friends. It’s hard to beat this feeling in my opinion. Most things you can do while camping is free or relatively low cost.
Hotel Activities Can Be Expensive
Hotels are such an interesting idea when it comes to things that you can do in them. Depending on where you’re staying will really affect what you’re able to do and makes it hard for me to put it into words. The best bet would be to look up the area your staying and seeing what there is to do in the area.
Sadly this can get expensive when you’re searching for new things to do which makes it tough for larger groups. You may have noticed this has been a constant theme of when staying in a hotel is that they’re expensive when you stay in them and cost more then most people think.
Camping Creates Life Experiences & Valuable Memories For Kids
One thing that can’t be ignored is the memories you will create when you go camping compared to staying in a hotel room. This is not to say you can’t create memories staying in a hotel but they have less impact. How many of you remember going on a holiday when you were younger and remembering the hotel the most?
Camping has a lot to offer compared to staying in a hotel room and since most of the time you don’t have your head in a phone, you’re more likely to remember it. Which is why I consider it to be the better option for those who want to create those new experiences and memories.
So if you’re looking to create some good memories for not only you but also your kids then camping is one of the best ways. It’s something that I highly recommend you do since it will get them away from there phones and let them experience things like nature, wildlife, human interaction and much more.