Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Hi, I am currently overseas and planning to return in about a year to retire. I have been thinking about travelling around for about a year (more or less). I am considering buying a travel trailer, truck, and motorcycle, which I will use at campgrounds to sightsee.

However, I have been reading about the prices of campgrounds, and was wondering if it would be cheaper to stay in budget motels instead? Besides the cost of campgrounds and motels, there is also the difference in the amount of gas used. A truck pulling a trailer uses a lot more gas than an economical car or a motorcycle. I also have to figure in the cost of the trailer and truck. Of course, I can keep them and use them occasionally or sell them.

I was hoping that someone has thought about this or made some type of comparison that they could share with me.



DL Rupper

Senior Member
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Hey Beachcomer, I haven't done an analysis on the comparison, but I can tell you that right now I'm in a high cost camping area (Maine) and my average per night is around $30/$32/night and that is achieved by monthly stays which brings the per night cost down. For instance if I was paying nightly it would be running about $45/$60/night. The per/night cost of hotels I have seen advertised in the area run from about $50/night to $200/night.

Other areas in the U.S. for camping typically run $30/$35/night and if you do a monthly it can come down to $10/$20/night. Hotels seem to be in a nationwide $50/200/night range depending on what amenities you want in a hotel,

Some people get campground memberships that further reduce the cost, but if you are only going to travel for 1 year, the cost of some memberships would be prohibitive. Passport America is the best low cost membership ($50/year) as it reduces the per/night cost by 50% if you can find a member campground where you are staying or want to stay. Also, State Parks, Army Corps of Engineers, BLM and Nat'l Parks have campgrounds that are usually lower cost than the commercial campgrounds in the area.

bottom Line: I would think camping would be less costly per/night, however you need to figure the price of the RV and as you stated increased gas/fuel consumption into the equation.


Senior Member
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Besides the cost comparison, look at the conveniance comparison. Setting up and tearing down the trailer vrs taking stuff into and back out of the hotel (and perhaps leaving something behind). And the familiarity factor - the same bed and same surroundings vrs a different bed, different surroundings. Not to mention the variable quality of the budget rooms.
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

And ... don't forget that either way you don't have to make up your bed! :laugh:

If you're only going to keep the RV for a year, then staying in motels is the best ECONOMICAL plan.

Compare it to buying or renting a house for a year. I don't think most people would buy a house if they were only doing a job somewhere for a one year contract.

Yeah, I know, LIVING while moving around is different, but I said ECONOMICALLY better plan.
RE: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Thanks for the replies. I have a little over a year to try to figure out what is best for me. What I need to decide is what will I do with the truck and trailer after the year or so? I can keep it or sell it.

If I keep it, I am not sure how much I will use it. Especially after travelling around for that year or so. The truck is another problem. I am not a truck person (I have NEVER owned one before), and because of the poor gas mileage, I wouldn't drive it very much anyway.

If I sell it, how much money will I lose? I will probably buy used, and IF I could get a good deal, it is possible that I wouldn't lose much money when I sold it.

Travelling and living out of a car for a year or so isn't very appealing either.

Who knows, I may love RVing and want to do it full time. I have a degree in Parks & Recreation and have managed campgrounds before (I was furnished a house on the campgrounds).

Oh well, time will tell.

Thanks again,



Senior Member
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

If you are smart, and lucky, you might be able to keep your loss on reselling USED equipment under 10%. This assumes you get the right units at the right price, and maintain them well.
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Hi Beachcomer,
I noticed you said you are overseas right now and I'm wondering if you are in the military? if so you can do as I do and use military camp grounds which are very nice.
you might want to Google Military camp grounds and take a look at what is available. later Jim
Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Yes, I am retired Air Force. I am currently living in the Philippines because of the low cost of living. I will be able to draw early Social Security in Nov 08, and will be able to return to the States.

I am familiar with FAMCAMPS. For a few years in the late 70's, I had a Tioga II, which is a 17' Class C mini-motorhome that I traveled a little. Mostly for change of stations and while hunting a place to live.

Re: Budget camping vs budget motels, which is cheaper?

Hi Dan,
Well I'm here to tell you that you have it made being retired military the cost of living traveling and staying at military camp grounds is really great we use them all the time.

I was in the Marines and I was stationed at Cubi Point Philippines in the 60's and loved it, of course that base has since closed down, however I would love to hear from you about where you are living at now and the living conditions and cost.

I hear a lot of retirees are living at Bageio PI, I'm sure my spelling is off on that but If you have time I would appreciate hearing from you at my private e-mail just click onto my name and respond. Thanks later Jim