Camping vs Hotels: The One You Should Almost Always Choose

Camping vs Hotels

Sleeping in a cozy comfortable bed, with soft warm mattress and bathroom may seem like a no-brainer when compared to camping, you may be surprised to learn we would choose camping almost every time.

With a night in a hotel costing an average of 1,100% more than a night under the stars in a canopy lined pegged piece of fabric, it is not just the cost we’re using to decide.

We all just want a comfortable night sleep. If you are staying away for business, then of course a hotel is going to do the job every time. But as a holiday should be an adventure, you can feel much more liberated and closer to nature setting up in your own fabric hotel.

In this article we’re going to compare the two, so you can make your own choice.

How to decide between a hotel or camping vacation

Camping or Hotel Decision

I’m pretty sure some of you have been camping and have talked about how much you liked it.

Whether it is the thought of sleeping outside or the idea of being surrounded by trees and full-on forest animals, camping is a very different experience than staying in a hotel.

On the whole camping is way more fun and far more liberating.

We are going to look deeper at why camping can be so much better but then we’ll also quickly run through the caveats you need to be aware of and consider.

How long is your vacation

A few nights in a tent is no hardship. It can be great for the body and mind, but two full weeks of sleeping under a canvas can take its toll on most of us.

If you are planning a 5-7 vacation, then choose camping every time.

My last full blown camping trip was to Colorado. Camping at the Seven Peaks Festival.

Nothing but full on, luxury style RVs in a row, our small two-man red tent brightening up the atmosphere as the sunlight danced across the silky fabric.

Standing out more than we’d have liked but we embraced the opportunity. We drew a lot of attention to our small dwelling. Our neighbors probably taking pity on us as much as revering us, we’re friendly as we could have hoped for – even when we set the car alarm off at 4am trying to take rest-bite in from the cold.

This 5-day excursion was great, but there is a limit to our patience.

If you plan a 5–7-day vacation, then stay in a tent. Go camping, enjoy the outdoors, nature and feel alive.

If though your planned vacation more than 7 days, I would seriously suggest breaking up your trip to be the best of both worlds. Split the trip in half or start in a hotel – then on to a campsite – before packing away and finishing your trip in a hotel.

It breaks up the trip as well as saving some money.

How long is the road trip to your first destination?

Let’s be honest, after a 10-hour road trip, the last thing you need to be doing is pitching up a tent.

Especially if it is raining.

If you have a 6+ hours trip ahead of you, then do yourself a favor and spend the first night in a hotel or highway motel.

You can thank me later.

You can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day, and the tent building, in a calm a refreshed manner.

There are plenty of motels and hotels available for around $50-$70 a night.

Tackle the first day awake, alert and in style and you’ll set the scene for your trip.

Comfort vs Roughing It

Choosing comfort over a few nights sleeping on the floor can be tough. But if you are deliberating on this question, you are missing an important ingredient. The fun and freedom aspect.

Sitting outside your tent, next to a roaring fire with a beer under the stars just cannot be done in a hotel room. You can try but I really would not advise it!

You need to decide this one for yourself.

No waiting to be told when breakfast is being cooked and served.

No awkward keys to enter your hotel room

In a hotel you are less likely to open the door and go for a sunset stroll in the wilderness. Why would you, breakfast is not served, and it would involve a drive out to somewhere.

If though you really do like your creature comforts, and a comfortable bed followed by a cooked breakfast made for you, and served right to your table, is more appealing than a sunrise walk with the deers – then I think a hotel may be the best choice for you.

Is it cheaper to camp or stay in a hotel?

Camping Costs

In almost every situation a campsite will be cheaper to stay in than a hotel.

With campsites starting at $20 a night, and a hotel room starting costing more than 400% of this price and more, it means you can stay in a tent for 4 nights for every 1 night in a hotel.

Using this cost example, you would expect to pay on average $150-$200 for 7 nights at a campsite, compared to $500+ in a hotel room.

At $100 a night you will more than likely be charged an additional $10 for breakfast, and perhaps some more for parking. This could easily turn your trip in to $600-$650 for a 7 night vacation.

Parking is usually free at a campsite, and with self-served breakfast just a cooking stove away, it’s a considerably cheaper way to stay.

Local rest-stops and dine-ins can usually offer good breakfast alternatives too.

Benefits of Camping over a Hotel Stay

I’m a huge fan of camping, especially when it comes to overnight, or a couple of nights stay away.  It’s clean, the food is usually better than it is at a hotel, and the scenery is often incredibly beautiful.

Here are some of the benefits of staying on a campsite over a hotel:

  • It’s a great way to relax and spend time with family and friends
  • Camping offers many health benefits
  • Spending time outdoors is a great way to relax the mind and body
  • Camping offers fun activities for you and the entire family to enjoy
  • It gives you the opportunity to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day grind

I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both the good and bad of camping over a hotel stay and despite the risk of getting cold and wet, I always prefer camping.

My favorite hiking (and backpacking) spots are in the Pacific Northwest which is a huge bonus since I have friends that live in Oregon, Washington, and California – and these are great states to camp, hike and explore.

Benefits of a Hotel Stay over a Camping Trip

Benefits of a Hotel Room

I’ve been kind of a fan of camping for a while now, but it does have its shortcomings.

A luxury hotel stay can be much more convenient when I just want to go somewhere quiet, and not deal with the hassle of the tent.

Camping can also be a bit more time consuming, But it also depends on how much time and money factor into your decision.

Here are some of the benefits of staying in a hotel over a campsite:

  • Renting a hotel room for the night is much more comfortable than camping
  • You can take showers and have a comfortable bed
  • Enjoy the amenities that come with a hotel room, such as a bathroom
  • You don’t have to worry about unpacking, pitching and unpacking a tent
  • You don’t have to worry about your belongings being stolen while you sleep
  • You can have a more comfortable sleep
  • No mosquitos to worry about!
  • You don’t have to worry about the weather!

The Winner Is…

As you are reading a website such as Outdoors Happy there really was only going to ever be one winner to this competition.

That said there are times when a hotel room really is the best option.

For the sheer benefits and excitement, a night outdoors has on your body, mind and focus our winner is:


Readers Asked: Hotels and Camping Questions

Hopefully, we have covered and answered all your questions, but here are some of the questions raised on this hotel room vs camping debate, that may help you in your decision:

How can I convince my family that camping is better than a hotel room?

You could always ask this to read this article! But in all seriousness, you should focus on the fact that time outdoors is great for a family.

Family camping is a great way to reconnect. Time away from the TV, cell phones and tablets.

Work together to put up your home for the night, cook together and stroll around in beautiful nature and look for wildlife.

What about camping vs Airbnb or Motels?

Much of the same principles apply to Airbnb and motel stays as they do hotel stays. So, our answer here would be camping over Airbnb and a motel.

Sure, motels may be cheaper, and this may be enough to sway it for you – although now Airbnb prices regularly run higher than hotel nightly rates – which I have always found strange.

The outdoors is the real reason for the decision, but if the price does make a difference to you, and you are looking for a cheaper alternative to a hotel night, then a motel may be the way to go.

Camping vs Hotels – Wrap Up

Here is a summary of everything we have covered:

  • Camping is a great way to reconnect to nature, and is great for the mind and body
  • Longer vacations can be more comfortable in a hotel room, or you could split up your holiday into part camping and part hotel – and you can have the best of both worlds
  • If you really do like your comforts then a hotel room may be better suited to you – but you should try camping if you haven’t already
  • The cost of camping is usually considerably cheaper than staying in a hotel room. You could easily save $350 or more for a 5 night vacation

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