When we became first-time parents, we knew we did not want to tent camp any longer but we didn’t own a camper. Camping cabins offered us the same outdoor experience with less work. If you have been reading about all of our camping adventures, but are still not convinced that camping is for you then camping cabins may be a good entry point.
Our first summer as parents, we decided to take Adelynn up to Estes Park in Colorado. We wanted to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, explore the cute downtown area, and relax for a few days in nature.
We booked a standard cabin at a KOA, packed a pack-n-play, and headed to the mountains. The standard cabins are minimalist with one room, which includes a double bed. We brought our linens, food, and other camping gear. The bathhouses were an easy walk from the cabins. In the evenings, after we tucked Adelynn into bed, Mike and I enjoyed talking around the campfire.
After this initial camping cabin experience as a family, we were hooked on all the benefits of traveling this way. This summer we are headed out to Glacier National Park in Montana which is close to 1,500 miles away from our home. Instead of pulling our camper, we decided to make reservations at camping cabins.
Here are the benefits of selecting camping cabins as our nightly accommodations on long-distance road trips.
camping cabins are ready to go
When I plan out our long-distance road trips, I make sure we drive the most miles on the first day. The girls are fresh and eager to start our vacation; time in the car goes quickly. Many times that means we are driving close to 12 hours, so we arrive at our destination in the evening.
When we check into a camping cabin, there is no set up required. If we pull in while the weather is lousy or the sun has gone down, we do not have to worry about setting up the site. The family all pitches in to help carry in the necessary bedding, linens, and personal items. These items are all packed in totes, which makes it easy to know what needs to be brought in and what can be left in the car.
It is important to note what is included in the camping cabin. Most standard cabins require you to bring your own bedding & linens. They only have an outdoor fire pit so we have a small camping grill that we pack. We travel with a large cooler that has meals prepped and ready for the grill. Cabins still require planning and more work than staying at hotels but we are able to enjoy the camping experience still.
deluxe cabins include bathrooms
This summer we decided it would be best to make reservations for cabins that included a bathroom instead of the shared bathhouses. With Covid-19 still on the rise and the necessity to be mindful of social distancing, deluxe cabins seemed like the best choice for us.
The other major benefit to upgrading to a deluxe cabin is that they include a small kitchenette. Most deluxe cabins have a refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, and minimal kitchen supplies. Since we will driving so far, it is nice to pack lighter. Deluxe cabins also include bedding, linens, and towels.
The most comfortable camping cabins that we stayed in were The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. These are affordable and enable families to rest in a more secluded environment right on the Disney property. We have stayed at multiple Disney properties, and these cabins top the list.
Easy clean up
Tearing down camp is quick and easy. We load all of our belongings back into the totes and suitcases, sweep out the cabin, and we are off to the next stop. When we are driving cross country, we usually only stay one night at each stop until we arrive at our main destination.
The hardest part about bringing the camper is setting it up and tearing it down. Getting the campsite ready takes time and is much easier when the sun is shining. While leaving a cabin, is not much different than leaving a hotel room.
As I plan out our longer road trips, I first map our course and then decide on where we will stop each night. Once the itinerary is planned, Mike and I decide if it is reasonable to pull the camper and set it up the determined amount of times. With our current truck + camper set up, we like to pull the camper less than 500 miles and only set it up once a trip.
Staying at cabins gets us out in nature with easy clean up.
At the end of the day, we like to spend time in campgrounds. The culture there is neighborly, homey, kid-friendly, relaxed, and welcoming. We are able to come home refreshed. People are unplugged from screens, the continuous news-stream, and social media. The campground vibe is more relational and present.
Our family thrives in this culture. The girls are able to bike around the campground, swim in the pool, and make new friends all within the site. Camping grows the girls’ independence gradually and each year they are given more responsibility around camp. It is a right of passage to be able to go with one friend to an outdoor activity or start the campfire on their own.
The community that develops over just a few days of camping is one that friendly, relaxed, and present. It can be hard to get to know people in our larger city but when people are camping they tend to be more welcoming and hospitable.
There are so many different options when it comes to camping. If you have never camped and are unsure, you must try a camping cabin. This is a super-easy way to get into camping. You do not have to go and invest a lot of money in gear. However, you can enjoy all the fun that a campground provides.
For first time campers, I recommend using KOA cabins. There is a level of cleanliness and upkeep you get with a KOA. I am big on reading the reviews to get a good idea of what to expect since each campground is run by a different host. I only have positive things to say about KOAs, and I am picky when it comes to bathhouses and amenities.
Camping for us is not a way to save money. When we vacation, most of the cabins are comparable to hotel rooms. However, we see the benefits of camping and continue to plan our vacations around exploring the great outdoors.
What are your favorite places to camp?
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