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What Type of Camping Road Trip is Right for You?

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Long desert road disappearing off in the distanceBefore you set out on the road, you need to consider what is the best style of camping for you. Typically a camping road trip can involve tent camping, RVing or staying in a rental unit such as a cabin, yurt or trailer. Have a look at these suggestions to ensure you pick the right style for you and have the best time possible.

Personal Tastes and Preferences

Probably the first thing to consider is the kind of person you are and what you enjoy doing. This will inform not only whether you chose an RV, cabin or tent, but also what kind of campsite you might enjoy best and the whereabouts of this.

For example if the thought of walking to a shared bathroom in the middle of the night and having to cook meals over a one burner stove or campfire fills you with dread, then a trip in an RV might be a better option for you. However, if you can't get enough of the outdoors and the thought of sleeping in the wilderness fills you with excitement, you will probably find camping in a tent more enjoyable.


Your budget is another very important factor in deciding which type of camping road trip is for you. Driving your own car and spending your nights sleeping in a tent is significantly less expensive than buying, or even renting, a large, luxury RV. Staying in cabins if they are rustic and basic is a good option if you're on a tight budget and do not want to buy a lot of new equipment. However, rental units/cabins can vary significantly in terms of luxury and equipment and therefore in terms of price.

Another thing to point out, traveling out of season is a good way to minimize spending for those on tight budgets.

Your Traveling Companions

Depending on whom you are and who you're travelling with will also determine your camping style. Here are some suggestions:

Are You ...

A family with young children or teenagers?
Then tent camping could be for you. Not only can it be more cost effective, especially if you have a large family, but the kids will probably appreciate the adventure element that comes from camping out under canvas. However, if you have very young children or infants you may want the convenience of an RV.

An active young couple looking to experience the great outdoors?
Tent camping, RVing or staying in a cabin are all good choices. It will depend on other factors.

An older couple, looking for a relaxing vacation with as few hassles as possible, or looking to spend part of your retirement seeing the USA?
We suggest RVing. You'll probably appreciate the freedom that an RV will give you, especially if you're not stopping in one place for too long. You'll also have the benefit of the same kinds of home comforts that you're used to, including a comfortable bed. If you're embarking on a long vacation it may work out more cost-effective to buy, rather than rent, an RV (see our articles on buying and renting an RV).

A group of college students who don't have a lot of money to spend?
Tent camping will most likely be the most cost-effective, not to mention adventurous, option for you.

Time of Year and Weather

RV vacations are more suitable for year round camping road trips. Should it rain, get very cold or even snow, you may not enjoy being in a tent too much. In addition, camping in a tent in winter or early spring will also require more specialized equipment, such as a warmer (and more expensive) sleeping bag. Equally, spending rainy day after rainy day in a tent can soon wear thin even among the most patient.

The Length of Your Trip

If you are planning an extended trip you may find that an RV is more suitable and comfortable, whereas renting a cabin or other kind of rental unit may be better for a quick weekend getaway- you won't have to spend so much time packing and organizing equipment.

Summary RV, Tent, Rental Unit Comparison


Great if you:

  • Like home comforts such as a full stove and oven, a real bed and your own bathroom
  • Are not on a tight budget
  • Want convenience and don't want to spend time pitching a tent and packing and unpacking everything each time you move to a new destination
  • Have very young children or infants with whom staying in a tent might be difficult
  • Are going on an extended trip, perhaps for several weeks or months - it's generally a lot quicker and easier to pack up an RV than a tent


Great if you:

  • Want to have a totally different experience from your everyday life and are excited by the adventure of sleeping outside, under canvas and without the creature comforts you're used to
  • Want to get back to basics and experience the 'real' outdoors
  • Want to drive your own car, without having to rent or buy an RV
  • Are on a tighter budget- tent pitching is generally the cheapest type of camping
  • Have no problems sharing a bathroom, washroom, toilet, etc.
  • Want to get off the beaten track at some point and stay in the wild

Rental Unit

Great if you:

  • Want to drive your own car or are flying to your destination, as there is less equipment you'll need to bring
  • Don't want to purchase a lot of new equipment - you can bring most of what you need from home
  • You want a rustic experience without having to pitch a tent - they can be a good balance between RVing and tenting
  • Are daunted by the prospect of having to pitch a tent or drive and hook up an RV, but still want the camping experience

Remember that these are only guidelines and suggestions. Don't forget that every type of camping will vary in terms of luxury - some tent camping can be considered very luxurious - it can depend on the type of tent and other equipment you have

There are even some campgrounds out there that will have a tent set up for you ready for your arrival, complete with everything you could need and want. Equally, some RVs are pretty basic with no bathroom and limited space and amenities.

If you still can't decide what kind of camping is right for you, there's no better way to decide than to get out there and try all three!

Copyright ©2009 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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