First off, you have to understand there are two very distinct groups of individuals. There are those who holiday, and there are the others who vacation. For ease of understanding, we will define each as the following:
Those Who Holiday
This is the group of people who will do what they refer to as ‘roughing it’ and that typically includes sleeping outdoors. Within this category are two sub-groups. They include campers and RVers. Campers usually travel in smaller vehicles and will use tents for sleeping. The RVers travel in larger vehicles that they can also use to sleep, eat, bathe and relax inside.
Those Who Vacation
This is the group of people who will pack up a ton of luggage and venture off to stay somewhere in a motel, hotel or resort. They are the individuals who would rather sleep indoors and have four walls around them.
Some vacationers will travel long distances to visit other places around the world. Others choose to vacation closer to home but still away from their residence.
So, if you tent or like RV camping, the following tips are for your reference. Just for clarity, we would like to point out that in our house, camping and roughing it is staying at a mom and pop motel on the outskirts of town rather than at a big chain.
While we would rather stay at a corporately-owned and operated facility, sometimes it is nice to see how the other half of the vacationers do it. Anyway, here is some stuff you need to know about tent and RV camping…
1 – Learn What Flora Is Safe To Wipe Your Butt With
Since we are looking at the skills and tricks required when roughing it, we’d like to point out that you need to have a good handle on the nature you are going to encounter. Yes, bears do happen to do it in the woods, and sooner or later you are going to have to as well.
Don’t expect the luxury of pit toilets to be present everywhere you park your rig or plant your tent. If you were wise enough to pack a lot of toilet paper, then you can skip this tip. Otherwise, you can do yourself a favor by boning up on the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous plants. You have to trust us on this one.
2 – The Old Storing TP In A Coffee Can Trick
To further back up the points made above, you could make that toilet paper last a lot longer and stay dry during your holiday if you get a bit crafty. All you need to do is use an empty coffee can – complete with snap-on plastic lid – to store a roll. If you’ve ever tented in a torrential downpour that soaked all of your belongings or your campsite got hit by a sudden flash flood from the babbling brook that you decided you had to set up camp alongside, you’ll appreciate this tip. Collect coffee cans during the year and use them to keep your TP or other toiletries dry.
3 – Pay Attention To Local Bans And Regulations
If there happens to be a campfire ban in place where you decide to park for the weekend, don’t pretend to be unaware. Notices of these things are usually posted at the entrance to a campground. If you are one of the brave ones that like to set up camp in a field nowhere near a regulated camping facility, you should have seen signs somewhere on your journey warning of a fire ban. If you are not sure, ask around at the last gas station you visit or listen to your radio.
Claiming that you are just ‘passing through’ and thought a campfire in tinder-dry conditions would be a fun experience for the kids will not get you out of a fine. Oh, that’s right…expect to be fined for not paying attention. The same goes for fishing regulations.
4 – Never Under Estimate The Value Of Shared Body Heat
For those of you who feel that sleeping on the ground is a great way to get up close and personal with nature, you are right. It also means you may also discover that our planet tends to get pretty freakin cold when you sleep on its surface. This is why we highly recommend having a two-person sleeping bag in your collection of camping gear.
Even if you are just dating and don’t know the other person all that well, this is a tool that will serve several different purposes. Without getting too graphic, the two-person sleeping bag will trap the body heat equivalent of two bodies keeping both of you toasty. It also keeps both of you close. It can also contribute to both of your becoming much closer than casual friends.
5 – Mark Your Trail With Something Other Than Bread Crumbs
There would be no real point to camping if you weren’t going to take advantage of the area you have set up to spend some time without a little bit of exploring. Even if you are an experienced hiker, wandering around in the woods you’ve never seen does require some thought and preparation.
First off, you are going to see some spectacular flora and fauna that you would have missing zipping by on the Interstate. Second, you are going to get distracted which usually leads to getting lost probably. One way to prevent this is to use biodegradable trail marking tape that you can tie on to branches so you can follow them out and back to your tent or RV.
Spoiler Alert: Your cell phone may not work so trying to GPS your way out may be a waste of time and result in a search and rescue effort that will add to the cost of your simple camping trip.
6 – Trick The Kids To Do Chores With A Scavenger Hunt
If you are from The City and camping is sort of a hobby or thing you do to get away from your life for a while, there are going to be some hurdles that you will encounter. One of them is trying to keep the kids busy throughout the duration of time you are in camping mode.
They should by now, get that this is more than just a quick pit stop along the highway. However, regardless of age, the ‘little ones’ are going to lose interest in S’mores and not having dry toilet paper. Here’s where you get to keep them busy for a day or two – organize a Scavenger Hunt. Put things on the list that require effort and combine chores with the task.
For example, “Find The Clue Hidden Under Your Sleeping Bag After You’ve Rolled It Up Neatly” or something to that effect. It’ll be fun…for you.
7 – It Won’t Matter Where The Nearest ATM Is If You Planned Correctly
Typically you don’t need money at your campsite. That is, provided you didn’t set up camp at a privately owned operation that charges $25 for firewood and an additional $5 for matches.
The message here is: Be Prepared. Have all the things you need to survive a night or more with you before you lock the doors to your house and exit the driveway. It just works out better this way. Now, if you end up playing poker with the campers beside you, you will need a few bucks.
Otherwise, don’t bring a bundle and make a note of how far away you are from the next town in case you need to hit a bank machine to bail someone out of jail.
Above All Else, Have Some Fun
There is something to the old clichés of ‘hitting the open road’ and ‘sleeping under the stars,’ but in order to pull it off with minimal emotional damage, you have to be ready in advance. You can’t expect to pick this up on the way there. Just because your drinking buddy camps all the time doesn’t make him an expert. If anything, it shows he is dedicated to not living in a house for extended periods of time. It’s not all that healthy in the long run.
For ‘newbies’ it’s a good idea to rent an RV and give that a try. At least with wheels and a shell around you, the elements can shift on you, and you’ll still be somewhat dry and comfortable. The bottom line is that you can experience the world around you in a way you can’t be traveling in other modes.
Camping teaches you a better appreciation for the outdoors – and the hazards that are present when you don’t take time to do it correctly.
Choosing the Right Tent for You
A. Tent size and capacity
- Consider the number of occupants
- Account for gear storage space
- Allow for comfortable sleeping arrangements
- Factor in personal space preferences
B. Tent types and designs
- Dome tents a. Easy to set up b. Good stability and wind resistance c. Moderate headroom and floor space
- Cabin tents a. Spacious interior with near-vertical walls b. Ideal for family camping or longer trips c. Heavier and more complex setup
- Tunnel tents a. High volume-to-weight ratio b. Suitable for backpacking or car camping c. Requires proper staking for stability
- Backpacking tents a. Lightweight and compact design b. Designed for hikers and backpackers c. Smaller living space and less headroom
- Instant or pop-up tents a. Quick and easy setup b. Ideal for short trips or beginners c. May sacrifice durability or weather resistance
C. Materials and construction
- Tent fabric (polyester, nylon, or canvas) a. Weight and durability considerations b. Water resistance and breathability
- Tent poles (aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber) a. Weight, strength, and flexibility b. Ease of setup and replacement
- Rainfly and groundsheet a. Full coverage or partial coverage rainfly b. Groundsheet or footprint for additional protection
- Ventilation and mesh panels a. Reducing condensation and maintaining airflow b. Balancing ventilation with weather resistance
D. Additional features and accessories to consider
- Vestibules and awnings for gear storage and shelter
- Interior pockets and gear lofts for organization
- Doors and windows for accessibility and ventilation
- Guylines and stakes for stability and weather resistance
- Reflective elements for visibility at night
- Optional add-ons (tent footprint, gear caddies, etc.)
- AC port
Setting Up Your Tent and Campsite
- Choose a suitable campsite: Look for a flat, dry, and level area that is away from hazards such as dead trees or large rocks. Ensure that the campsite is not in a low-lying area that may flood during heavy rain. Remove any debris, rocks, or twigs from the ground. You can also use a broom or a small shovel to clear the area.
- Lay out a groundsheet: A groundsheet will protect the bottom of your tent from moisture and sharp objects. It’s a good idea to use a groundsheet that is slightly smaller than the size of your tent to prevent water from pooling around the edges.
- Assemble your tent: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to assemble your tent. Most tents require you to assemble the poles, attach the rainfly, and stake the corners of the tent to the ground.
- Stake your tent: Use stakes to secure your tent to the ground. Be sure to stake the corners of the tent first and then work your way around the perimeter, pulling the tent taut as you go. If it is windy tie it to a tree because there is nothing worse than a fly away tent in a tree or lake.
- Set up your campsite: Once your tent is set up, you can begin to set up the rest of your campsite. This includes setting up a tarp or shelter, laying out your sleeping bags and pads, lights, and organizing your camping gear.
- Store your food: It’s important to store your food and garbage away from your campsite to prevent attracting wildlife. You can use a bear-resistant canister or hang your food from a tree at least 100 feet away from your campsite.
Pros and cons of tent camping and RV camping
- Closer connection to nature and more primitive camping experience
- More affordable than RV camping
- Easier to set up and take down
- Can be set up in more remote locations
- Less comfort and amenities than RV camping
- Can be uncomfortable in extreme weather conditions
- May require more planning and preparation to ensure a comfortable camping experience
- Requires a camping stove or campfire for cooking
- More comfortable and convenient than tent camping
- Provides amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and comfortable beds
- Provides more protection from inclement weather
- Allows you to camp in style and comfort with heat and AC
- More expensive than tent camping
- Requires a larger vehicle to tow or drive, which can limit your mobility and access to some campsites
- Can be more difficult to set up and take down
- Has more maintenance and upkeep than tent camping
- Tent: $100-500+
- Sleeping bag: $50-300+
- Sleeping pad: $20-150+
- Camp stove and fuel: $50-200+
- Cooler and ice: $30-100+
- Campsite fees: $10-40+ per night
- Food and supplies: $10-50+ per day
- RV rental or purchase: $50-500+ per day or $10,000-500,000+ to purchase
- Fuel costs: varies depending on distance and fuel efficiency
- Campsite fees: $20-100+ per night
- Food and supplies: $10-50+ per day
Q: What’s the difference between tent and RV camping?
A: Tent camping is the traditional form of camping where you pitch a tent in a campsite and live out of it. It’s like staying in a pop-up cloth cabin. RV camping, on the other hand, involves traveling and staying in a recreational vehicle, which is more like a home on wheels with various amenities like a kitchen, bathroom, and beds.
Q: Is it cheaper to camp in a tent or an RV?
A: Generally, tent camping can be less expensive since the initial investment in equipment is lower. However, RV camping can be more economical over the long term, especially for frequent travelers. It’s a bit like comparing staying in a hotel vs. buying a holiday home.
Q: How do I choose between tent and RV camping?
A: Consider your comfort requirements, budget, and the kind of camping experience you desire. If you like the idea of being close to nature and don’t mind roughing it a bit, tent camping is a great choice. If you prefer to have the comforts of home while on the road, an RV may be the way to go. It’s like choosing between a picnic in the park and a fully catered outdoor party.
Q: Can I do both tent and RV camping at the same campsite?
A: Many campsites accommodate both tents and RVs, but it’s always a good idea to check with the campsite beforehand. It’s like checking if a restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating – it never hurts to ask!
Q: What’s better for group camping, tents or RVs?
A: Both can work well, depending on the group. Tents can offer more individual sleeping spaces, which might be better for groups of friends. RVs can provide more communal living space, which might suit families. It’s like choosing between a hostel and a family cabin.
Q: Which is more environmentally friendly, tent camping or RV camping?
A: Both can be environmentally friendly if done responsibly. RVs use fuel for travel and power, but can also use solar panels for electricity. Tent camping can have a smaller footprint but can also harm the environment if not done with care. It’s a bit like comparing walking and cycling – both can be green if you’re mindful of your impact.
Q: Do I need a special license to drive an RV for camping?
A: In most places, no special license is required for typical RVs. However, for larger models, you might need a specific driver’s license. Check the regulations in your country or state. It’s like the difference between driving a car and a bus.
Q: Is setting up an RV more complex than a tent?
A: Setting up an RV can involve more steps, like hooking up water, power, and sewer lines, leveling your RV, and extending slides if your model has them. On the flip side, pitching a tent can be a test of your origami skills (and sometimes your patience). Like assembling a bookshelf versus a Lego castle, each has its complexities.
Q: Which is better for camping in all seasons, an RV or a tent?
A: Typically, an RV is better equipped for all-season camping. With insulation, heating, and air conditioning, you’re set for both summer heatwaves and winter chills. Tent camping can be more challenging in extreme conditions, but with the right gear, it can be an adventure. It’s the difference between having a climate-controlled space capsule and a sturdy but rudimentary lunar habitat.
Q: How does packing differ between tent camping and RV camping?
A: With tent camping, you’ll need to pack everything you need each time you go camping – think of it as packing for a vacation where you carry your hotel room in your backpack. With an RV, many necessities can stay in the RV, making packing less intense for each trip. It’s the difference between packing for a hiking trip and packing for a road trip.
Q: Which is better for “off-the-grid” camping, a tent or an RV?
A: Both can be used for off-the-grid camping, or boondocking. Tent camping naturally lends itself to more remote locations. However, with the right equipment (like solar panels and a good water storage system), an RV can also be quite self-sufficient. It’s like choosing between a mountain bike and a well-equipped off-road vehicle.
Q: Can I bring my pet when I’m camping?
A: Both tent and RV camping can accommodate pets, but it may be more comfortable for your furry friends in an RV due to the better control over the environment. Always check pet policies at your campsite and remember to consider the safety and comfort of your pet. It’s like choosing between taking your pet to a picnic or a family barbecue.
Q: How does the camping location affect the choice between tent and RV camping?
A: Your destination greatly influences your decision. If you’re headed to a remote, rugged wilderness area, tent camping is likely the best option. For a well-equipped campground or RV park, an RV may be more suitable. It’s like deciding between a cabin in the woods and a resort by the beach.
Q: How does the campsite size affect tent and RV camping?
A: RVs need a larger campsite than tents, and not all campsites can accommodate larger RVs. Ensure to check the campsite’s size and specifications before you go. It’s like scouting out parking space for your compact car or your pickup truck.
Q: What about the culinary experience – how does that differ between tent and RV camping?
A: Cooking in an RV can be similar to cooking at home, with a stove, oven, and refrigerator. In contrast, cooking while tent camping often involves a campfire or a portable stove and cooler. So, it’s a bit like cooking in your kitchen versus barbecuing in the park.
Q: How secure are my belongings in a tent compared to an RV?
A: An RV can provide a greater level of security for your belongings than a tent, as they can be locked like a vehicle or a home. A tent offers less security, so you might have to carry valuable items with you. Think of it as choosing between a locker and a gym bag for your valuables.
Q: What is the difference in setup and takedown time between tent and RV camping?
A: An RV can be quicker to set up than a tent, particularly larger ones. However, both require some time and effort for setting up and breaking down. It’s like the difference between setting up a pre-lit Christmas tree versus one that requires stringing lights.