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RVing vs. tent camping


RomaniGypsy

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So we full-timed for 8 months and then bought a house. We still have the RV but we parked it for the winter. Now we're tent camping while we do our short gig tours, ostensibly to use the more fuel-efficient car to get from place to place instead of the gas-guzzling RV, but I'm coming to discover that it ain't all it's cracked up to be.

 

This is what I'm noticing so far. First of all, you have to hit a campground every day if you want any kind of services (shower, toilet, etc)... and tent sites aren't significantly cheaper than RV sites. The prices are the same if you want water and electric service. Compare that to RVing, where you might be able to do Wal-Mart for six nights a week.

 

Also, tent camping appears to stink royally during bad weather. Winds will make the tent walls very noisy, which prevents good sleep. Rain is also much louder than it is in an RV. Cold weather - you have no insulation in a tent. Plus, y'ever tried to set up a tent when it's windy?! *sheesh*

 

The setup and tear-down, if you're going to do it right, takes about an hour... between setting up the tent, blowing up the air mattress, taking the stuff out of the car and putting it in the tent, etc... then there's the tear-down at the end where you have to put everything back just right.

 

And if it's too cold to tent-camp when you were expecting to tent-camp, you have to sleep in the car. That isn't comfortable either.

 

Are we doing this wrong? Or is it a really good thing that we didn't sell the RV because we will be going back to it in no time?

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Tent camping, in our opinion, is a younger person's weekend endeavor. At our age no way do we want to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground(without AC or heat) and definitely no way DW is cooking over an open fire! Open fires are to sit around in the evening with an adult beverage in hand. A shower and hot water and a crapper are must haves at our age!! Y'all look young in your pix, so go and enjoy tent camping on the weekends but keep the RV for longer trips would be our advice, Best wishes, Jay and Kathy

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Your pics look like you are the age where you are still in the work force. So my advice is to keep the RV and use it for getting out when you want more comfort than a tent can provide or weather forecast makes using the RV instead of the tent feasible.

 

However, when we were thinking about fulltiming the advice we got from the fulltimers we talked to was to commit to the lifestyle for two years. They told us that if we said we'd try it for six months or a year or just a while we would be back in stix and brix in less than that amount of time. They were correct because by the time we had fulltimed for two years we were in a larger rig and accustomed to the lifestyle. We also learned to s-l-o-w down and quit moving every two or three days or even every week. We really began to enjoy our stops and tour the areas we were in as well as use the amenities in the areas.

 

We came off the road due to family issues. We actually would love to be fulltiming again but know we are going to have to be happy with taking our smaller rig out here in the western USA and spending shorter times in locations where our hearts take us.

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Tents are great for what they are intended for. We owned two before we had an RV and for our family we got out much more with the pop-up than we ever did with tents but still think that the pop-up is preferable for what we did then than is our preferred RV of today. Even after we had the pop-up the boys & I continued to use tents with Boy Scouts and our family did so a few times when going into the back country on foot or horseback. We have lived for as long as two weeks in tents and loved every minute of it, but even then the two weeks was about our limit.

 

Tents are for more hardy people and most of those are also younger people! We went to places that no RV will ever be able to access and we traveled far more cheaply than any RV can, but we were also young and fit. We loved our tenting experiences just as we loved the experience of being parents of a new baby, but I don't want to relive either one today! :o

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I had a tent, I hated it. Then it rained. Then the ground got muddy. Then the stakes came out of the mud. Then I slept in the car sopping wet until sunup when I could see to get my stuff out of the mud.

Good thing you were not in an RV - sunk down into the mud up to the axles!

 

Seriously though, a big tent in today's environment with great gear such as inflatable mattresses, portable DVD players, catalytic heaters, two room tents etc, it isn't so bad.

But one thing hasn't changed - the logistics of tent camping are very large and it takes a lot of time and preparation - so much so that it makes it a hassle to tent camp.

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I did a lot of backpacking when I was younger, and my wife and I did occasional backpacking trips up until a couple of years ago. We still have our camping gear and occasionally will haul it up to a wonderful remote backcountry area and "car camp" for a night. It is very different than sleeping in the RV so it seems like an adventure. That being said, we generally sleep poorly, and are ready to pack up and head back to the trailer (we are full time) the next day.

 

We've still got our tent, sleeping bags, etc. in the trailer with us, but frankly we are talking about getting rid of it as it appeals to us less and less. Times change...

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Good thing you were not in an RV - sunk down into the mud up to the axles!

 

That only happens if you try to move your RV off the nice firm dry spot under it, stay parked until the ground around you dries and drive off with no drama.

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You can get one of these pop up campers. They set up and tear down in a few minuites.

I pulled one like it behind my motorcycle for years. I had the bigger car model.

But bought in the 80's it was less then 1/2 price of the new ones.

 

No need to sleep on the ground. And have a stand up dressing area.

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We enjoy doing both but think of them as 2 different things. Sometimes you can access areas with a tent that you can't with an RV. Now that we are a little older, we choose our tenting experiences a bit more carefully. If the weather is bad, we either don't go or we change our plans and bring the trailer if that's possible. Tenting isn't for everyone but for some of us, it's still fun.

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Well, we made a trip from North Dakota to Florida and back again in tents.

 

All I will say is that tents and "monthly womanly issues" don't mix.

 

I haven't been back in a tent since then.

 

'Nuff said.

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Your pics look like you are the age where you are still in the work force. So my advice is to keep the RV and use it for getting out when you want more comfort than a tent can provide or weather forecast makes using the RV instead of the tent feasible.

 

However, when we were thinking about fulltiming the advice we got from the fulltimers we talked to was to commit to the lifestyle for two years. They told us that if we said we'd try it for six months or a year or just a while we would be back in stix and brix in less than that amount of time. They were correct because by the time we had fulltimed for two years we were in a larger rig and accustomed to the lifestyle. We also learned to s-l-o-w down and quit moving every two or three days or even every week. We really began to enjoy our stops and tour the areas we were in as well as use the amenities in the areas.

 

We came off the road due to family issues. We actually would love to be fulltiming again but know we are going to have to be happy with taking our smaller rig out here in the western USA and spending shorter times in locations where our hearts take us.

 

Our "work" is performing music at nursing homes. I put "work" in quotes because it's so much fun that it's more like "play". We have to travel sometimes because we have hundreds of "performance sites" and the local places can't have us in so frequently that our schedule would be packed to capacity without playing at some of the further-away places.

 

Could we have stayed on the road for more than eight months? Yeah, I could've done it... but my wife wasn't nuts about the idea... she always wanted a house... and there is a certain logic to having one. For us, we had to consider the mortgage laws that were changing, and the fact that we hated renting. If we were going to get a house, we had to get it when we did. Moving every two or three days? When we were on the road, we moved EVERY DAY with rare exception. We had to make money, and that meant playing shows, which meant traveling from show location to show location. We were CONSTANTLY on the move. In eight months we put 12,000 miles on the RV. Maybe that had something to do with it. Could we have lived in the RV if we were able to stay put for a week or two at a time, and have another car available to us that we could use when we wanted to go places? Yeah, probably. But we aren't independently wealthy nor on a pension of any kind. We have to work to get those bills paid.

 

And since I don't believe that the United States economy is long for this world, I feel that there's a certain safety inherent in having a house. Logically, the economy is going to crash at some point in the not too distant future... there will be a day of reckoning... and I don't think it'd be safe to live only in a diesel-powered tin can at that time. If diesel and propane quadruple in price again, we're really in trouble. Plus, getting food won't be easy. With our own house, we can hunker down if need be... and we have enough property to grow all of the stuff we need to live... assuming that I can get the hang of growing it. But, that RV is still sitting there, calling my name. I think we're going to use it instead of the tent, in the future when such is affordable. We may do one more run with the tent this month and then after that use the RV exclusively.

 

I did a lot of backpacking when I was younger, and my wife and I did occasional backpacking trips up until a couple of years ago. We still have our camping gear and occasionally will haul it up to a wonderful remote backcountry area and "car camp" for a night. It is very different than sleeping in the RV so it seems like an adventure. That being said, we generally sleep poorly, and are ready to pack up and head back to the trailer (we are full time) the next day.

 

We've still got our tent, sleeping bags, etc. in the trailer with us, but frankly we are talking about getting rid of it as it appeals to us less and less. Times change...

 

That's the kicker - sleeping poorly. If we sleep poorly, we usually wake up feeling crappy and it raises the chances that we could get sick. If we get sick, the income drops severely as we have to cancel shows while we're sick. So we have to add an extra cost factor in there for the money we'd lose by getting sick times the increased risk of getting sick due to poor sleep while tent camping or car camping.

 

Plus, man, you really look homeless sleeping in a car. Campgrounds won't let you do that if they know you're going to do it... or at least that's been true of any I've asked. If I see people sleeping in a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot... especially an 18-year-old car... I immediately think "homeless". We're not homeless but I do have SOME pride, you know.

 

Well, we made a trip from North Dakota to Florida and back again in tents.

 

All I will say is that tents and "monthly womanly issues" don't mix.

 

I haven't been back in a tent since then.

 

'Nuff said.

 

We had to deal with that this past week, while traveling, and I ponied up for a hotel room once because of it. At that point I was thinking that we could've bought quite a bit of diesel for the RV with the money we just spent on a hotel room.

 

Maybe the trick is to stop traveling to far-off nursing homes... but there are some nursing homes in far-off places at which we LOVE performing. I'll get the hang of this, sooner or later.

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Tent camping is only as uncomfortable as you choose it to be. I still own my 12x20 canvas wall tent. Probably as roomy as most RVs, certainly more so than the 27' TT I'm using now. (The TT is a bunkhouse, not the most efficient design but the price was right.)

 

The tent has a (home made) woodstove that keeps it toasty on the coldest of nights. Good ground cloth and (2) 6' wide rolls of indoor / outdoor carpet keeps things quite dry. I made a simple bed frame (1" angle iron) that breaks down to almost nothing and have a small box of shims to keep it level. (2) 6" thick twin memory foam mattresses along with (2) sheets of plywood kept my DW high, dry, level and quite comfy. (2) folding tables make night stands. Thetford porta potty, propane water heater and a canvas "Royal throne" tent made for all the bathroom needs. Although I never used it in there, I have a portable AC that could have served to cool the place on a hot night. (my Honda EU 3000is is quiet enough I could have probably pulled it off.)

 

A 10x20 "carport" set up at one end of the tent (perpendicular) and I modivied a 30x50 HF tarp to cover the whole rig.

 

OK, it took 2 hours to set up and 2 more to break down but I remember setting it up next to a Class A DP at Bristol Motor Speedway and listening to the jokes from the guy in the DP as I went about my routine. When finished I invited his wife in to have a look when it was all set up. When she saw the inside, complete with a half dozen roses on my wife's nightstand (it was her birthday) all she could say was "Honey, I want one!"

 

The whole rig fit in a small (4'x8') HF trailer and was quite towable by just about anything.

 

Not quite as young as I once was, and we've expanded out "outdoor galley" for the TT, so we don't get the tent out much more. And the TT is a transitional deal anyway (again the price was right.)

 

Had I opted to continue tent camping, the plan would have been to incorporate a 6x12 cargo trailer in which would have been a functional galley / head. The design had it actually attached to the carport on one end. Whole rig could have been towed by any SUV. Probably not practical for a long drive with the setup and breakdown times but the fuel savings could have paid for the hotel. Certainly the money saved by not buying a Mobile Suites 5ver (my next RV) would have covered many nights at Embassy Suites. ;-)

 

Like I said, probably not going back to that setup, but it was referred to as the Taj Ma Terri (wife's name is Terri) by everyone who ever saw it.

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As the years go by tenting becomes less fun for most of us. We have probably done as much of that as most here, more than some, yet we probably won't ever return to that style of travel. And as much as we loved the fulltimer lifestyle in our RV, we have discovered that it too has limits depending upon life's circumstances and those limits are more probable to arise as your age increases. Neither a tent nor an RV is a very good place to live when one is restricted to a wheel chair or knee-walker. We have also learned that as your age increases it becomes more difficult for the healthy one of a couple to make up for physical and medical limitations of their partner, no matter how caring and well intentioned you happen to be. Life has both good and bad and no matter how tough it is to accept some of the bad times, they still beat the alternative by a long shot!

 

When we gave up the fulltime life and bought a home base again, we dug deep to pay cash for it and for some of the same concerns about the future of the economy that you express. My only advice for you on what to do is that you need to consider carefully as acting too soon can be just as bad a choice as waiting too long. We consider our fulltimer experiences to have been some of the best parts of our lives and we long to milk everything that we can from our new part-time status. Only you can determine what is best for you in the future, but squeeze every day for all of the living it can give!

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Tent camping is only as uncomfortable as you choose it to be. I still own my 12x20 canvas wall tent. Probably as roomy as most RVs, certainly more so than the 27' TT I'm using now. (The TT is a bunkhouse, not the most efficient design but the price was right.)

 

The tent has a (home made) woodstove that keeps it toasty on the coldest of nights. Good ground cloth and (2) 6' wide rolls of indoor / outdoor carpet keeps things quite dry. I made a simple bed frame (1" angle iron) that breaks down to almost nothing and have a small box of shims to keep it level. (2) 6" thick twin memory foam mattresses along with (2) sheets of plywood kept my DW high, dry, level and quite comfy. (2) folding tables make night stands. Thetford porta potty, propane water heater and a canvas "Royal throne" tent made for all the bathroom needs. Although I never used it in there, I have a portable AC that could have served to cool the place on a hot night. (my Honda EU 3000is is quiet enough I could have probably pulled it off.)

 

A 10x20 "carport" set up at one end of the tent (perpendicular) and I modivied a 30x50 HF tarp to cover the whole rig.

 

OK, it took 2 hours to set up and 2 more to break down but I remember setting it up next to a Class A DP at Bristol Motor Speedway and listening to the jokes from the guy in the DP as I went about my routine. When finished I invited his wife in to have a look when it was all set up. When she saw the inside, complete with a half dozen roses on my wife's nightstand (it was her birthday) all she could say was "Honey, I want one!"

 

The whole rig fit in a small (4'x8') HF trailer and was quite towable by just about anything.

 

Not quite as young as I once was, and we've expanded out "outdoor galley" for the TT, so we don't get the tent out much more. And the TT is a transitional deal anyway (again the price was right.)

 

Had I opted to continue tent camping, the plan would have been to incorporate a 6x12 cargo trailer in which would have been a functional galley / head. The design had it actually attached to the carport on one end. Whole rig could have been towed by any SUV. Probably not practical for a long drive with the setup and breakdown times but the fuel savings could have paid for the hotel. Certainly the money saved by not buying a Mobile Suites 5ver (my next RV) would have covered many nights at Embassy Suites. ;-)

 

Like I said, probably not going back to that setup, but it was referred to as the Taj Ma Terri (wife's name is Terri) by everyone who ever saw it.

 

 

 

After we perform three shows and have to set up the tent at 9:00 PM so we can sleep until our morning departure, we won't be wanting a setup that takes two hours to put together and two hours to break down. It's annoying enough with it taking a half hour in each direction. Two hours to set up, in cold, windy, and/or rainy conditions... no thanks, I'll pass.

 

So if I don't have a tent with all of the comforts of an RV, it seems that the comfort factor will be limited. If we're at a campsite and one of us has to pee in the middle of the night, that requires shoes, a flashlight, and worst of all - getting out of that warm bed into a potentially rainy night to walk to the bath house. If there is no bath house, it requires a Luggable Loo... and where exactly do you dump one of those things legally?

 

I've heard of luxury tents that cost upward of $1,000... sheez, by that point you may as well get a travel trailer or a pop-up. I guess I'll have to get on re-coating the roof of the motorhome so that we can use it again without it leaking every time it rains.

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Tent camping is barring none THE best way to go.

 

I also like laying on a rack, snuggling inside an iron maiden and red hot pokers shoved into my eyes.

 

Seriously, the moment I couldn't bounce out of the sleeping bag in the mornings is about the time we opted for the taking the bed with us approach. Can still sleep outside if sanity completely departs and do not have to resort to the hotel/motel route.

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We tent camped for many years traveling up the East Coast with our kids and we enjoyed every minute. We gradually moved to Pop-up camping which we did for many years which we also enjoyed, except when the canvas rotted out :(. Then we decided to try the RV gig so we bought an older 1988 32' Class 'A' , gas, no slides. We used that for 4 + years (21K miles) and created many memories for our grandkids taking trips from Florida to Upstate NY and Niagara Falls.. Once we deiced we wanted to RV fulltime when we retire, only 10265 more hours, we purchased a 39' DP with two slides, now we go Glamping. We traded the old RV even up for a vette B).

 

Even though we still work full time we still camp once a month. It all depends on how you want to camp, Tent, Pop-Up, 5er, RV. Just enjoy and get out of the rat race.

 

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  • 1 month later...

138671137.jpg

 

Tents are many things, and are often specialty tools, ideal for an objective or the only rational option.
For many of my "vacations" a tent or tent-like shelter is called for…and we all sleep very well in them.

 

I've owned RVs for many years & I'm 50-ish but I can't imagine that I'll ever not own a tent, as long as I can still hike and/or bike.
My favorite places in the world are far(days) beyond the pavement.

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I've owned RVs for many years & I'm 50-ish but I can't imagine that I'll ever not own a tent, as long as I can still hike and/or bike.

My favorite places in the world are far(days) beyond the pavement.

 

Age will catch up with you and at some point you will find that the ground isn't what is forgiving on old bones. ;)

 

Barb

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Age will catch up with you and at some point you will find that the ground isn't what is forgiving on old bones. ;)

 

Barb

 

Thanks for the sentiment. <_<

 

I have a lot of friends in their 70s who regularly get out there on long trips, camping in tents. In addition, a large number of the people who retire and decide to bicycle coast to coast (hundreds each year) are tent camping. Imagine how many days (months) it takes to ride a bicycle across the country.

 

I have no doubts that I'm within a minority among RVers, but that's good and it's kind of the point. I recently backpacked with a friend around the Maroon Bells in Colorado and in 4 days we saw a total of 5 others, on one of the most popular backpacking hikes in North America.

 

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