Solo camping: tent or RV?
I love camping!
This year, I’ve gone camping two ways. I camped and traveled through Arizona, southern Utah and parts of Colorado by RV. I also stayed for a week in a tent in Bon Echo Provincial Park, about three hours northeast of Toronto.
Which did I like better?
Well, each has its advantages and each can be preferable depending on the experience you seek. I’ll share their pros and cons. In the reading, I’m sure you’ll infer which I prefer. If not, I’ll make it clear at the end.
The pros and cons of RVing solo.
I took the smallest RV available, a 16-foot camper that sleeps three. It had a bathroom, fridge, stovetop, sink, table seating for four and a lounge chair at the side. With full hookup, it had electrical, water and toilet facilities. Here is my pros and cons list.
Pros for RV camping.
- An RV is self-contained. With a fully equipped RV, at the right campground you have all the basics of home.
- In bad weather you are completely protected.
- You’re really mobile. Take down the curtains from the night, toss the bed back together and you can be on the road in 10 minutes.
- It’s easy to experience several different landscapes or even towns and cities in the course of a week or two.
- Storing things, getting dressed… it’s all easy.
- You can lock the doors of the vehicle for safety.
Cons for RV camping.
- Most RV parks are more like parking lots than parks.
- Where you stay is determined by your vehicle, its size and the hookups you want.
- RV parks are expensive ranging from $30 to $60 per night.
- Because everything is in the RV and because the park is not appealing, I found myself not spending a lot of time outside.
- The maintenance of life includes cleaning counter tops, sweeping the floor, making beds and then unmaking them in the morning and storing the sheets…
- People are friendly but they retire inside their RV early at night. (But not always. Read Paying Forward a Kindness on the Road.)
- Traveling by RV is expensive. Even my small RV consumed a lot of gas.
The pros and cons of tent camping solo.
First, I need to be clear. I car camp. It’s not wilderness camping but at Bon Echo it felt like it. In the Hardwood Hills section I couldn’t see my neighbors. So my car is nearby with a cooler, food box and other supplies. In addition, I have a three-man tent and a fly over the table for protection from rain and things falling from the trees. It’s pretty simple. Here are the pros and cons.
Pros for tent camping.
- The campgrounds are located in natural terrain whether they be forests or semi-arid vegetation.
- You’re outside all the time. The tent is really just for sleeping. I LOVE this.
- There are no beds to set up at night. You just crawl in the tent.
- Regular campsites for tents are inexpensive running about $23 per night in a provincial park in Canada.
- The maintenance of life involves cooking food, cleaning dishes and lighting a fire – that’s it.
- Traveling is cheap when you use your own car. (Mine is small and very fuel efficient.)
- Most campgrounds offer comfort stations with shower and laundry facilities.
- Any campsite will do in a pinch.
Cons for tent camping.
- Rain can make tent camping less pleasant. (Make sure you have a good fly.)
- Getting dressed can be a challenge in a small tent.
- With all the dirt around, you get dirtier.
- It takes more time and effort to get back on the road as you have to pack up the tent, etc.
- You may not feel as safe since there is only nylon between you and the rest of the world. (Read Camping alone – protected by a code of ethics.)
I can see some solo campers saying that tent camping is a no-go because it doesn’t offer the comforts of home and you get dirty. Plus, safety may be a concern.
For me, if there’s not too much traveling, I prefer tent camping. It’s cheaper and I love being outside all day with no work other than making dinner and cleaning dishes. And, as a solo traveler, that’s definitely not a lot of work.
Bottom line, it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
My thanks to Cruise America giving me an RV to try on my southwest road trip.