Tuesday, September 27, 2022


See more, move less: The benefits of home-based camping

Call me crazy, but I thought when we purchased our fifth-wheel RV we’d never tent camp again. Somehow I saw the RV as an “upgrade” from tent camping and that our lightweight, two-man tent would never again see the light of day. I was wrong. And I’m so glad! Combining an RV with tent camping has allowed us to see more of this great land than I ever thought possible. I call it home-based camping.

Home-based camping

I think most of us love traveling in our RVs. That’s why we bought them! What I don’t particularly enjoy is the constant hooking up/tearing down routine that results from frequently moving the RV from place to place. So … here’s what’s become a great solution for us: combine RV camping with tent camping.

Secure an RV site

With so many new folks entering the RV lifestyle and the growing scarcity of available campsites, it’s best to secure your RV site as a first step in home-based camping. Your RV will remain at this central location while you explore the areas around it.

Map it out

Yes, I’m talking about that paper invention that can never be refolded into its original size or shape. Old school, I know. Anyway, spread out the map and pinpoint your RV home-based camp location.

Use the compass

Next, use a mathematical compass to draw a circle around your home base. With the compass point on your RV’s site (home base), set the radius to reflect the greatest distance you feel comfortable driving in one day, knowing that you’ll tent camp that night. For example, Hubby and I are comfortable driving about 4–5 hours away from our home base. This number is arbitrary, of course. We figure that if we drive that distance, we still have time to explore a bit, set up camp, and eat dinner before darkness sets in.

Look for places to explore near your camping home base

Take a closer look at various sites of interest, hiking trails, museums, or other places to visit that fall within the noted radius around your home base (RV site). Mark each point of interest you’d like to visit. Research each location’s hours of operation, entrance fees, and other considerations. Also note BLM, COE, and local parks that permit tent camping. Then, plan your route so that you can see and do your top picks. With your tent as an option, you’ll be able to visit several attractions, stay overnight nearby, and then see more the following day.

We generally plan to tent-camp one or two nights max. Depending on the weather and temperatures, both Hubby and I crave a shower and softer sleeping arrangements after two nights in a tent. You may feel comfortable extending your tenting nights and see even more!

No tent? No problem!

If you don’t own a tent, or don’t like to tent-camp, you can still use the home-based travel idea. All you need to do is shorten the radius that surrounds your RV site. Think about how far you can comfortably travel away from your RV (perhaps an hour or two), see and do things, and return back to your RV site—all in one day. We’ve learned that a lot depends on how you spend your day away. If we hike for several hours and then spend an hour or two driving back to our RV, it’s just too much! We’re totally wiped out! That’s why we resurrected our tent. And why we love home-based camping that combines our RV and our tent. It works for now. And we’re loving it!

How do you make the most of your RV experience? How often do you move your RV while visiting an area? Let us know in the comments!



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Sam Crabtree
7 months ago

Our standard schedule is to tow our trailer about 200 miles each Sunday throughout much of the year, then spend about 3 to 4 months in the Phoenix-Mesa area during the winter. The days not towing are for seeing the local area and/or relaxing. We started in Antioch CA and got to the Phoenix AZ area by way of Pflugerville TX, Nashville TN, Glacier National Park and a few other places in over 3 years (I think, maybe more). – time is hard for an 86 year old retiree to keep track of.

Mike Johnson
7 months ago

My wife and I like to park our toy hauler and make what we call “day trips” around the area. We try to limit our trips to a couple hundred miles or so to be able to get back to the camper by dark. Most of the places we like to go have lots of four legged furry creatures than come out after dark.

M, Chapman
7 months ago

So, we’ve established that more of our fellow citizens are attempting to enjoy the outdoors by camping and RVing, and therefore there are fewer available sites. So an answer to that is to occupy two sites rather than one? Hmmmm……

7 months ago

We’ve done this, but mostly going the opposite direction: leaving the campground for a day-trip to the city…and yes, a good restaurant. When we had a motor home & car rentals were still cheap we rented from a company that picked us up at the campground. It was a great freedom to drive to New Orleans in a small sedan

7 months ago

If we are going to go 4-5 hours away from where we are camped, the RV goes with us. We consider that a new destination, so no need to tent camp. When we snowbird, however, we have taken day trips of 100 miles each way. We have also taken a few 2-4 day trips as far as 200 miles one-way. But we stay in a motel on those trips and eat out at dinner only. Since we fix nearly every meal in the RV, even when snowbirding (my wife is a great cook!), those dinners out are special occasions and can be in one-of-a-kind restaurants featuring fresh, local cuisine. And, since we live in landlocked Colorado, those dinners are really special when we are on a seacoast!

7 months ago

WE do this a lot particularly Sunday thru Thursday. Tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses are kept together in the basement of the camper. The other suggestion I would make is figure out where you are going to eat because I do not bring cooking supplies or a cooler. We have been able to shower at gyms. I would also add that sleeping bags and mattresses are 1000% better than when we tent camped and back packed when we were in our 20s and 30s. Just jumping in the fiat tow without the stress of hooking up and unhooking and managing the RV into small spaces is great

Tommy Molnar
7 months ago

We had a couple of tents – while the kids were still here. When the last one left, we gave him BOTH tents and bid them both ado. Wifey says she will NEVER sleep on the ground again – and I will go along with that with no problem. Not to mention I already try not to bring too much extra stuff. We don’t need to pack a tent, a way to haul food away from our trailer, and lots of water. I’ll save all that wonderfulness for you, Gail, and Bill. Tell us how it went when you get back.

Mike Hancock
7 months ago

We tent camp quite often. The travel trailer is home base, but tent camping allows us access to places that we could not go while towing the trailer. Purchasing a couple of really comfortable sleeping pads has made it fairly comfortable for my 72-year-old body.

Irvin Kanode
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Hancock

What brand & model of sleeping pads?

7 months ago

At 72 we still park the RV and occasionally tent camp also. That gives is a lot more options .. Basically everything you mentioned in the article. So, in other words, ditto!

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