When it comes to planning a trip, the decision of where to stay comes up pretty early in the process. Should you stay in a luxury condo downtown? Or a budget-friendly hotel outside of town? How about a cozy cabin in a forest? Or in an all-inclusive resort? What about under the stars in a tent?
Where to stay depends on where you’re going and what you plan on doing while you’re there, but in this guide, I’m going to do my best to convince you that camping is better than a hotel for many reasons – nine reasons, to be exact.
So if you are trying to decide between camping and staying at a hotel on your next adventurous trip, you’ve come to the right place!
Camping vs. hotel? I will share nine reasons why camping is better than a hotel. If I don’t convince you to pitch a tent in the woods by the end of this article, you have my permission to book that luxury hotel room. 😉
9 Reasons Why Camping Is Better Than a Hotel
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Erica and I didn’t become “die-hard” campers until May of 2022. Sure, we had an oversized tent that we camped in once or twice a year before 2022, but we were still staying in Airbnbs or hotel rooms a majority of the time.
It wasn’t until 2021 when we stayed in four different Airbnbs as we road-tripped through southern Utah to the Mighty Five National Parks that our mindset changed. Not once did we camp in the park. And yes, we deeply regretted it.
Had we camped inside the parks, we would’ve had even more time to hike because we would’ve already been inside the gates before the crowds arrived and stayed long after they left. Not to mention, we would’ve also saved a ton of money.
But I’ll get to all that.
Here are nine reasons why camping is better than a hotel!
1. It’s More Affordable
Unlike most hotels, which like to pass out arbitrary charges like Halloween candy 🍬, campgrounds are very affordable.
On top of sky-high nightly rates, hotels are also notorious for dishing out nonrefundable rooms unless you’re willing to pay a ridiculous convenience fee. So if your plans fall through and you’ve booked a nonrefundable room, all of that money goes swirling down the drain and straight into the pockets of the hotel.
Camping, on the other hand, is typically a very cheap way to stay the night in a really cool location. Depending on the place and what type of equipment you have, you could potentially reap the benefits of free camping or you could pay a low rate to spend the night under the stars.
💰 Bonus Perk: If you skip the hotel and opt for a campsite, you can spend that extra money that you’ve saved on fun outdoor adventures or excursions that you otherwise might not have had the cash for.
→ READ NEXT: How to Find Free Campsites in the USA
2. You’ll Make More Memories
Families, friends, and couples who camp together make longer-lasting memories. It’s proven!
When you’re away from cell service, civilization, everyday amenities, and normal routines, you’ll be amazed at what you have time to do with the people around you.
Instead of texting, scrolling absentmindedly through Instagram reels, doing household chores, and checking emails, you’ll be building fires with wood that you scrounged around for at your campsite, attempting to flip burgers over a tiny propane stove with an even tinier spatula, tossing bean bags onto a wooden cornhole set, and laughing about past memories while you make new ones.
3. You Can Unplug
While not every campground offers the luxury of disconnecting – aka, they have some sort of cell signal – camping is a nice excuse to put your phone down and unplug in nature.
At home, my phone is glued to my hands, and the screen is flicked on way too much as I scroll through social apps for no reason. But at my campsite, while I will usually keep my phone powered on to take photos or play music, the screen is flipped over and I’m 100% living in the present moment.
Parks and campsites are those rare places where you look around and you actually see humans having fun without phones in their hands. You look around and see children tossing horseshoes in grassy fields, dads stoking fires that they built from scratch, moms hanging laundry that they rinsed in the nearby river on a clothesline, couples biking around the campground loops, and friends engaging in face-to-face conversations over the glow of campfires.
Things you just don’t see in hotels…or civilization in general.
→ READ NEXT: 12 Tips For Sleeping Better While Camping
4. Food Tastes Better Outside
Whether you’re on a trail or at a campsite, food always tastes better outside. Even simple foods like tuna, crackers, and beef jerky taste like luxury.
When you’re cooking outdoors, your setup is usually minimal. You’re put to the test as you try to figure out how to make the meal or prepare your food with fewer utensils, dishes, and other supplies you’d likely use at home.
And when you finally taste that bite of food that you’ve been waiting for – whether that be after a long hike, a long day of adventures, or a long day in the sun at your campsite – the meal tastes like heaven.
💰 Bonus Perk: You can save money on eating out by cooking your own meals right at your campsite! The temptation to leave your campsite and grab a bite to eat at a restaurant an hour away just isn’t there.
→ READ NEXT: Ways to Brew Tea and Coffee at Camp and on the Trail
5. Dogs Are Almost Always Welcome
Hotels are notorious for prohibiting dogs. How crazy is that? Dogs are family, too, and they shouldn’t be excluded from adventures just because they have paws.
Fear not because most campgrounds are dog-friendly, even in many parks that don’t typically allow dogs on hiking trails. In National Parks like Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone, where dogs are not allowed on most trails, your four-legged family members can hang out with you at the campgrounds.
→ READ NEXT: 13 Most Dog-Friendly National Parks in the USA
6. Outdoor Activities Are Endless
When you’re camping, outdoor activity possibilities are truly endless. Since you’ll already be immersed in the outdoors, you’ll find it a lot easier to find recreation nearby.
Campgrounds and campsites tend to offer lots of amenities and recreation opportunities, making your itinerary planning that much easier. Having all of your activities and accommodations in one location is a dream for a trip planner.
You can plan your trip around what activities are nearby and what amenities the campsite has!
Whether you’re in a state park, National Park, or another public land, you can usually hike, bike, climb, paddle, swim, ski, and/or fish just steps – or a short drive – from your campsite.
7. You’ll Experience a Deep Connection With Nature
There’s nothing quite like connecting with nature and immersing yourself in all of its fresh-air-filled glory.
Instead of staying in a hotel surrounded by manmade architecture in a bustling city stuffed with people, you can stay in quiet forests, on mountains, by craters, in deserts, in rainforests, or beside rivers.
Much more relaxing, right?
When you’re in the midst of a forest under a canopy of trees, among lava flow or giant boulders that look like something pulled out of a dream, in a barren desert laden with sand in the middle of nowhere, or high in the mountains where the air has a crisp bite to it, you will feel a deep sense of connection with both the landscapes and the wildlife.
And there’s something about sitting by a river, underneath a canopy of trees, on a mountain, or on a sandy beach that just opens the senses and revitalizes emotions, heals mental health, and minimizes complex problems into mundane nuisances.
8. You’ll Learn New Skills
Going camping for the first time is not easy. The learning curve is steep, and while it might be difficult to adjust to things like pitching a tent, going to the bathroom in an outhouse (or in the woods), and starting a fire from scratch, the new skills that you learn will help you grow as a person.
Some of the skills you might learn while camping:
- Start a fire >> Read my Campfire Safety Tips 🔥
- Cook a meal with the bare minimum
- Go to the bathroom in the woods >> Read my Outdoor Hygiene Tips for Campers! 🧼
- Wash and dry clothes with no machines or dryers
- Hike >> Read my Beginner’s Guide to Hiking! 🥾
- Pitch a tent >> Read my guide on How to Set Up a Tent in Every Terrain! ⛺️
- Hang a hammock
- …and so much more!
→ READ NEXT: How to Care For Your Tent 🏕️
9. You’ll Be in Close Proximity to Parks/Activities
Perhaps the biggest perk of all: close proximity to parks and/or activities!
If you camp inside a state park, National Park, or another piece of public land, you won’t have to wait in long lines early in the morning or worry about snagging a timed reservation to gain access to the park. And you won’t have to drive in the dark before sunrise just to try to get a coveted parking spot at a popular trailhead.
Why? Because you’ll already be inside the park!
You can get up from your tent and go see the sunrise, either at your campsite or a short drive away. You can get first dibs on trailhead parking to the best trails in the park. And you can stay out past sunset, after all the day trippers are gone, and relish in the magnificent solitude that will drape over the park like a soft blanket.
Have I convinced you to cancel that hotel reservation and go camping instead? If so, it’s time to book your campsite today!
Where do you want to go? To the Utah desert filled with natural arches and slot canyons? To the vibrantly blue Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina? How about the towering Redwoods of California? Or the white sandy beaches of Florida?
The possibilities are endless! ✨
Let me know in the comments where you’re going to go camping next 🏼