Motorhomes vs. Tents – Which is best for you?

Motorhomes v Tents

Motorhomes vs. Tents – The Pros and Cons of both

It’s really hard to compare staying in a Motorhome with camping in a Tent as we’ve found they are both very different camping experiences. I would even go to say that even the term ‘camping‘ doesn’t fully apply to motorhomes compared to when staying in a tent.

We did really enjoy using the motorhome but we’re also still very keen tent campers.

So here’s hopefully an unbiased view on comparing the two.

Motorhome Pros Camping (with tents) Cons
Setting up ‘camp’
Once we arrived at the campsite, setting up was really quick.
We have a fast pitching inflatable tent, but it’s not as quick as the motorhome. Plus you then have to fit out the inside of your tent.
However, watching other caravans and motorhomes pitch their awnings, appeared to take as long setting up as our tent.
Packing away
Packing away and leaving was straightforward, though there are plenty of things you need to check are turned off, stowed away, and secure.
Sometimes you have to dry your tent out if you are packing away when it’s wet. It is also longer to pack everything away than on a motorhome.
Keeping Warm
When out in the wet and windy Autumn weather it was nice to get back into the dry motorhome, flick a switch and the heating was on and the kettle going.
Tents don’t retain the heat as well, but depending on your set-up, you can make it warm too….it will not be as instant as a motorhome.

And now for the flip side…

Motorhome Cons Camping (with tents) Pros
Places to Camp
Driving the Swift 660 was really easy. However, it is still a big heavy vehicle. You cannot take it to many remote campsites where access could be difficult.
There are many more campsites that will take tents and can’t cater for motorhomes. We’ve stayed at some cracking tent only campsites, or in campsites where the tent camping field is idyllic, but where the motorhomes and caravans are pitched, it can look more like a car park than a campsite.
Living Space
Despite hiring a big motorhome, we did feel on top of each other, much more so than when in our tents.
For longer stays, a drive-away awning would be highly recommended, so you could create a larger ‘living’ space. It could also mean you leave many of the beds set-up rather than having to keep packing them away to make space. However, as noted above, this will take longer to set-up. (Recommend you look at some of the great inflatable drive-away awnings from Outwell and Vango).
Our larger tents have a lot more space, especially the Outwell Hornet XL. Even when camping in the smaller two-man tent, where we do have much less space, it was easier with our youngest as in the motorhome he had more space to (rather over-excitedly) move around, but not enough to let off steam. In a smaller tent, there were no other distractions.
Visiting Places
Finding routes and parking at attractions is a lot more difficult. When you set off for a day out and you need to drive, you have to take your entire house with you!
Of course, if you camp at places where walks and activities are easily reachable on foot or by bike, then that shouldn’t be a problem….but it does restrict you.
Simply leave the tent and drive off.
Water
To get fresh water, we had to drive to the motorhome service point and fill the van up with water.
When camping, we just go and fill our water carrier.
Cost
Motorhomes are very expensive.
If you get the very best camping gear costs can soon rise, but even then it’s only a very small fraction compared to the cost of a motorhome.

I’m sure advocates of both could argue more from one corner or the other, but I’ve tried to keep the Pros and Cons as balanced as possible.


At night at Bracelands

Here are some things, which are more personal opinions, are things we found good and bad.

  • Although you can have a chemical loo in your tent, we don’t, so if it’s needed in the night it’s off for a trek to the facilities. It was nice having a loo in the motorhome in case of emergencies…though note that when you are at a campsite you use the facilities as much as possible and don’t use the ones in your motorhome. Otherwise, you’ll be forever emptying and refilling the chemical waste disposal and refilling with fresh water.
  • We do sleep better in a tent. That’s probably because we are so used to it. However, a big difference we found with the motorhome is that because it is on suspension, as soon as someone moves the whole motorhome moves.
  • The convenience of the motorhome, especially at the time of year we were using it, was a nice change. However, it didn’t feel like ‘real’ camping…which leads me onto a conclusion…

Motorhomes vs. Tents – Which is better?

Outwell Hornet XL Tent at Sunset

  • If you are planning a lot of touring, and not staying very long at each location, then a motorhome has the edge.
  • If you want to go to different locations to do activities and are not interested in ‘camping’, you just need somewhere convenient to rest-up, then a motorhome has the edge.
  • If you just want to go away for a week or two in the summer, staying at just one location, then invest your money in a big family tent and set it up as a home from home.
  • If you want to find small campsites away from it all and have a real camping adventure with campfires and outdoor cooking, then get yourself a small tent that’s easy to setup.

Of course, things aren’t black and white. You could do any of the above with tents or a motorhome, and we’ve not even covered Motorhomes vs. Caravans!

But it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you get your family out on some adventures!

But it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you get your family out on some adventures!


So what’s our favourite?

Well, you might have guessed, we don’t have a favourite and think it comes down to what you want to do.

After trying a motorhome, I’d still like to tour with one. A slightly different design than the Swift 660. One with a ‘garage’ that can stow our canoes, surfboards, and other gear.

Sunsetting after a fantastic day. Near Porthgain

However, the purpose would be to go from place to place trying different activities in each location. We wouldn’t be ‘camping‘. The Motorhome would provide us with a home from home between activities and locations.

I’m actually writing this while in the motorhome with the heat on as the rain lashes down on the windows outside. Something I wouldn’t attempt when camping in a tent for instance.

However, the kids are also couped up on their gadgets. So we’re a little removed from being outside as we are when camping.
We’re already looking at where to take our Robens Tipi tent and get the wood burning stove going. 😉


Do you think a Motorhome is for you?

I recommend you check out many of the motorhome hire companies to try one out first.
Have a look at the different layouts to see what will work best for you.

Click here to find a motorhome hire company.

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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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