Some people choose to become campers and some people choose to become RVers and they can’t understand why anyone would want to do the other.
RVing and camping are both great but they both have their drawbacks.
In this post, we’ll cover RVing vs Camping. We’ll offer up some reasons why someone might want to choose one over the other.
Reasons to Go RVing Instead of Camping
Let’s start with the most common reasons why people choose RVing over camping.
1) Rving is More Comfortable Than Tent Camping
A person with an RV often has a nice recliner or couch to relax in. While they’re eating, they have a nice dinette to sit at. When it is time to go to bed, the RVer has an actual bed to sleep in. These items all work together to make an RV more comfortable than a ten.
In addition to this, an RV has climate control and is less likely to leak. Winter RVers will have furnaces and summer RVers can have an air-conditioned home on wheels to get away from the heat and the humidity.
Tent campers, on the other hand, are at the mercy of the weather.
A tent camper might have to set up camp out in the rain and they’ll only have a cot or a sleeping pad to protect them from the cold hard ground. When it is time to eat, they’ll sit at a picnic table or huddle inside their tent because it is raining or snowing.
Some might find this rugged and invigorating while others might find it uncomfortable and even a bit stressful.
2) You Have More Amenities While RVing
An RVer often has all of the amenities of home. A modern RV usually has a television, a stereo system, a stove, a kitchen sink, and many other amenities that we take for granted at home.
While the tent camper is boiling water for their instant coffee, an RVer is pouring a nicely brewed cup made from their drip coffee maker.
When dinner comes around and the tent camper is cooking a hot dog on a stick over a campfire, the RVer is often cooking up a meal in their oven or on their stove.
Some people like to be able to get close to nature during the day while enjoying the amenities of home in the evening. Others want to disconnect and get away from their electronics.
The type of trip you want will determine whether camping or RVing is better for you.
3) RVs Make it Easier to Boondock
An RVer can pull into a Walmart parking lot and go to sleep for the night. He can usually do this legally, comfortably, and safely. In fact, many Walmarts encourage this kind of activity.
A tent camper, on the other hand, cannot set their tent up in a parking lot and he probably wouldn’t want to if he could. This means that when a tent camper goes on a long road trip to get to their destination, they’ll have to find campgrounds or hotels to stay in along the way.
This can make road trips a little less convenient for the camper.
4) You Can Take More With You
Motorhomes and campers provide much more space than the average vehicle. This means that an RVer can take more with them.
In fact, many RVers put all of their worldly possessions into their RVs and make a lifestyle out of it. This is much harder to do as a tent camper.
Tent campers often have to do without many of their possessions and it is hard to live life in a tent. For this reason, camping is usually more of a hobby than a lifestyle.
5) Personal Hygiene is Easier to Maintain in an RV
RVs have showers and sinks and large water tanks attached to them. This makes showering and brushing your teeth much more convenient than it is in a tent. Tent campers often forego showering altogether while camping and they often end up leaving their fancy toothbrushes and Waterpiks at home.
If taking a baby wipe bath or showering at a public facility sounds dreadful to you than you may want to choose RVing over camping. However, if you don’t mind “roughing it” for a few days than this won’t be an issue for you.
6) Telecommuting is Usually Easier
For people working on the road, it is often essential that they have a safe and quiet place to do their work. This is especially true if they’ll be taking phone calls or doing video chats.
With an RV, you simply have to retreat to your climate controlled office.
When camping, you’ll most likely need to set up at a picnic table or head to a local coffee shop to do your work.
If you’d like to be a telecommuting camper and you need a more professional setting to do your work, you’ll probably have to look into co-working spaces.
Unfortunately, these cost money and they can’t be found in all parts of the country. This may put some restrictions on where you can go camping.
7) You Don’t Need to Manage Ice
RVs usually have three-way refrigerators.
This means that the fridge can run on 12-volt DC power 120-volt AC power or propane gas. This makes it incredibly easy to safely keep meat, milk, and other perishables cold for days on end.
This gives RVers more flexibility and eliminates the need to keep ice on hand. Not having to manage ice makes keeping food less stressful and reduces trips back into town. A tent camper, on the other hand, will usually have a cooler filled with ice.
Even an expensive cooler like a Yeti will only keep ice for a week so the camper will eventually have to eat all of their perishables or head back into town for ice.
8) RVing is a More Viable Lifestyle Choice
If you’re thinking about hitting the road for a long period of time, RVing is much easier.
Many RVers enjoy RVing full time while most campers only spend a few days or weeks in their tents.
Only a devout minimalist can live long term on the road in a tent and most climates make doing so difficult if not impossible.
A camper who does decide to full-time in a tent will need additional gear and a place to store all of this additional gear as well.
An RVer simply has to turn on their AC or heating system.
9) RVers Have More Options
An RVer can easily put a tent in their RV so that they can go camping but a tent camper cannot put an RV in their tent.
This means that an RVer can end up enjoying all of the benefits of RVing while stopping to enjoy the benefits of camping sometimes as well.
The only drawback here is that they may end up having to spend money on a tent camping site as well as an RV site nearby.
10) RVers With Houses Have Better Guest Housing
If your RV is parked in your driveway then you have a nice guest house that friends and family members can use when they come to visit you.
Try making your friends and family sleep in a tent in your yard and watch how quickly they leave.
11) Additional Safety
You really can’t lock the door on a tent and even if you could, it wouldn’t do much for you. RVs, on the other hand, can be extremely secure. You can lock the doors, lock the windows, and even lock the trailer hitch so that your RV cannot be stolen.
This keeps you safe while sleeping and keeps your gear safe from theft while you’re away.
Tent camping doesn’t have this benefit. When you sleep in a tent, you are vulnerable to any person or animal that decides to wake you up.
Your gear is also vulnerable and even your tent can be taken away from you while you’re away. In most cases, I end up putting my valuables in my car while I’m tent camping and I sometimes wonder if my tent will still be there when I get back from a long hike.
So far, I’ve never experienced any issues but this isn’t something I ever worry about in an RV.
12) Pets Are Easier to Manage
Have you ever tried leaving two dogs in a tent while you go on a three-hour canoe trip?
Leaving two dogs in a tent by themselves is a surefire way to come back to a destroyed tent and zero dogs. It isn’t something that is legal to do at campgrounds anyway and it isn’t fair to your two dogs.
You’d be leaving them in a tent that might get too hot or too cold and they’d be vulnerable to any person or animal who might happen to walk by.
With an RV you don’t have this problem.
You can leave your dogs sitting inside your RV with the television on and the air conditioner blasting ice cold air on them. You can leave the water and even food out in many campgrounds.
While you’re out on the lake in the hot sun getting bitten by mosquitos, you may begin to envy your dogs.
Here’s an extensive guide that we worked on over many days to be the ultimate resource for RVing with dogs.
The same rule holds true for cats as well.
Many RVers bring their cats along with them and they simply leave the cat’s litter box out so that they can leave their cat alone the entire afternoon without worry.
Here’s another very long (!) list of the most common tips from RVers about RVing with cats.
If you plan on doing a lot of traveling with pets, you may be better off with an RV. Your pets will be more comfortable and you’ll have the flexibility to leave them alone when you have to.
Reasons to Go Camping Instead of RVing
Let’s now switch the board and take a look at things from the other side of the table.
Here are the major advantages of choosing to go camping instead of RVing.
13) Camping is Often Less Expensive Than RVing
The cost of camping is usually much lower than the cost of RVing. This is true before, during, and after the trip.
Here are the upfront costs of RVing.
- Buy or rent an RV.
- Get insurance on an RV.
- Get the RV inspected.
- Maintain the RV.
- Pay a campsite fee to park the RV.
RVs usually start at around $15,000.00 and can go all the way up to $1,000,000.00 for a luxury class A motorhome. In contrast, a tent camper only needs to buy a tent and a few other miscellaneous pieces of camping gear.
In most cases, you’ll also have to keep insurance on an RV. This is especially true if you’ll be financing the RV. Monthly insurance premiums on an RV often cost more than the upfront cost of buying tent-camping gear.
RVs also need to be inspected and registered with the state (which can be pricy some times). This adds to the yearly cost of owning an RV.
The maintenance of an RV can also be quite expensive.
RV roofs deteriorate over time and motorhome brakes and tires need to be replaced on a regular basis. Not only this, but all of the fancy amenities and items that make you comfortable in an RV must be maintained and replaced as needed.
After all of these costs are paid for, the RVer will still end up paying more to have a campsite than the tent camper. Often-times an RV campsite will cost twice as much as a tent campsite.
14) Campers Can Go Places That RVers Can’t
A tent camper can backpack into the woods and see and experience places that an RVer cannot. Even car campers will have access to campsites that larger RVs can’t get into.
These campsites are usually more remote and offer a quiet vacation area that many people can only dream about.
This is especially true when visiting state and national parks. These parks have RV size restrictions as well as tent-only campgrounds that RVers are not allowed to enter.
15) Campers Often Feel Closer to Nature
Because campers have the ability to access more remote sites, they get to spend time closer to nature.
Campers might get to see wildlife from their tent doors that they wouldn’t ever get to see from the window of their RV.
Also, the rustic nature of camping makes one feel closer to nature. After all, when you’re camping your exposure to the elements is greatly increased as you don’t have climate control or even a bed to keep you apart from the earth.
16) It is Easier to Store Camping Gear
A tent and a sleeping bag can easily be stored in a closet or even the trunk of a car.
Campers on the other hand often have to be sent to storage facilities. This adds to the cost of ownership and makes the act of heading out on a trip a little less convenient.
17) Travel Times Are Shorter and Easier
People who are towing campers or driving motorhomes legally need to drive slower than people driving standard automobiles. This keeps the roads safe and makes driving these large vehicles easier. Not only this, but many large RVs can’t drive as fast as standard automobiles.
This is especially true in foul weather conditions and days with high wind gusts.
Driving a motorhome is also more physically and mentally draining when compared to driving a car or SUV.
This means an RVer needs to stop for breaks more frequently which in turn adds even more time to an already long trip.
Tent campers have the luxury of being able to drive small and more maneuverable cars. They get better gas mileage and they’re able to drive the speed limit with ease.
When tent campers have to find fuel for their cars they don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to fit their car in the gas station so they can essentially pull over at any station they pass by.
When tent campers make stops along the way to their destinations, they don’t have to worry about finding a large parking space.
They don’t have to worry about being able to fit through the drive-through either.
All of these factors combine to make traveling with a tent much easier than traveling with an RV.
18) Tents Offer More Versatility Inside
While an RV usually has more amenities and more comfortable beds to sleep in, this isn’t always the case. Also, these items are fixed and changing an RV’s layout is often impossible.
A large tent, on the other hand, can be modified with each trip.
Want to bring a 12″ thick king sized air mattress on your next trip? Just bring an air pump and put it in your tent. With an RV, you might not have the space to blow up a large bed.
What is Better, Camping or RVing
The answer to this question is highly personal and you’ll have to decide for yourself what is best for you.
If you’ve never done either, why not try both?
Rent an RV one weekend and rent some camping equipment the next. Try both and see which experience you like the best.
In the end, you may find that you love camping as well as RVing and this is OK.
Nobody ever said you have to choose between the two.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.