Friday, August 12, 2011

Camping vs. Motels--Pros and Cons

I was raised by a mom who thinks discount motels are camping. She hates bugs, heat, cooking, and dirt. She want a break on vacation--restaurants, housekeeping. After years of enjoying motel vacations, I went on a camping trip with my husband and 5 children. I discovered the fun of camping, but I also understood my mom's point of view.

Camping Pros

Hands down the best part of camping is being together as a family. We set the tent up as a family. The older children learned the basics of making a fire. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows together. We told ghost stories. We had plenty of time to hang out free from modern distractions. We worked and played together.

Camping was much cheaper than staying in a motel. With a family of 7, we either have to get family suite or two rooms. Even with a free breakfast, motels are usually half the cost of the vacation. Instead, gas was the single biggest cost on our trip.

Camping also brings us closer to nature, to some type of peace with the world. We hiked, explored, watched the stars, saw wildflowers and wild animals. At this trip, we were at the Grand Canyon and were among only a handful of Americans. Most the visitors were European. They gave up works of men like the Sistine Chapel, the Eiffel Tower, and Windsor Castle to see a work of nature. There was something for the soul in seeing a wild buffalo herd, a sunset, a pine forest.

Cons (i.e. my mom's point of view)

Camping does involve dirt and bugs. When we got home, we had several loads of laundry spanning three days. Most my pictures involve dirt smeared play clothes, ponytail hair, and band-aids. Fun, but hardly glamorous.

Camping involves a lot more work, a lot more work.  Setting up and taking down the tent, cooking meals on a propane stove, cleaning up meals, building a fire, dashing into the tent when it rains. It also required more planning before we left and cleaning up (remember all those loads of laundry) when we got home.

Camping can be more affordable than staying in a motel but not necessarily. The initial cost of buying a tent, sleeping bags, and other camp gear including firewood, camp stove, lantern, can be expensive. Many campgrounds have a fee associated with them.  Also, camp food may not be much cheaper than a fast food restaurant. A smaller family may find camping to be almost the same cost as a motel.

The Best of Both Worlds

I loved camping, but I do not want to camp for every vacation.  Nature and no electricity are a nice weekend, but so are amusement parks and motel swimming pools.   


  1. I used to love camping but now I am non hiker to the john in the middle of the night gal! I might like it for ONE night at a KOA where I don't need a flashflight to get where I am going :) Sleeping on the ground with this arthritic body is a no go. But you have valid points. when I was younger that is all we did( 7 kids) Tent Trailer and a tent... guys got the tent LOL so that was bearable :)

  2. I like spending my day out in the wilderness — hiking, exploring, seeing flowers, seeing animals, no electricity or cell phones. However I like returning to a motel/hotel at night. I like cycles (day/night, lowtide/hightide, summer/winter) and think of day-wilderness / night-civilization as another cycle I follow when I'm on vacation.

  3. Trying to convince my wife that we need to do more camping. I'll have to share this post with her. Thanks for the fun posts : )

  4. I'm with your Mom on this one. Camping and I don't get along well. I think it's that bug I inhaled in Girl scouts that wrapped it up for me. lol

  5. My wife and I camp purely for the kids. You ask my six year old boy if he would rather go to Disneyland or camping and he'll say camping. I'd rather go to Disneyland myself.

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