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.
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!