The Essential Guide to Why Car Camping Stinks

Car camping stinks

Car camping can actually mean one of two things. The first can be to drive to your intended campsite instead of walking or hiking there. The other definition of this type of camping is actually camping out in your car instead of outdoors. Now, to many car camping may seem like a really great – and comfortable – idea.

After all, you don’t have to expend any energy, you can take as many supplies as you want, and if the weather begins to turn on you, you have a waterproof shelter.

Whichever way you would like to spin it, however, the truth remains that car camping isn’t actually real camping. Even worse, it is actually a terrible way to go about communing with nature. Don’t believe this? Well, just keep reading to find out what some of the disadvantages of car camping are:

It’s Bad for the Environment

Going to commune with nature in a machine that contributes to air pollution is more than a little paradoxical. There is no getting around the fact that vehicles, regardless of their size or fuel consumption, are not good for the environment. Let’s say that on a daily basis you have no choice but to drive your car to and from work and a myriad of other places. This excuse cannot be extended to camping because you can simply choose to go by foot or even ride a bicycle to your desired spot.

Also, most of the camping spots are near the woods or in some other beautiful, natural spot. Taking a vehicle to such unspoiled areas can be absolutely damaging. Even if you aren’t thinking in terms of air pollution, just think about all of the noise pollution. A car makes much more noise than people and it will disturb the surrounding peacefulness of the camping area and may even scare off some of the wildlife.

This, alone, is a good enough reason to stay away from car camping at all costs. It is simply not worth the damage that this form of camping does to the environment.

You Can Only Park in Designated Areas

Heading out on the open road may feel like the ultimate form of freedom. What you may not realize, nonetheless, is that there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to car camping. For one, there are a set number of places that you can park. The most common locations are camp grounds that specifically allow vehicles. This can be a letdown if you are hoping to explore stunning locations such as National Parks.

Here, you are only allowed to park and camp on the edge of the park. Therefore, you don’t really get to experience what it is like to camp in such an exquisite area. These are not the only restrictions that you may face. Unless the spot has been specifically designated for vehicles, you may not be allowed to park there. In many instances, you will certainly not be allowed to sleep in your car. This means that you will have to contend with a lot of sticky legalities just to figure out where you can stay and where you can’t! This is not something backpackers face because as long as you are not trespassing on private property, you typically have a whole lot of options to choose from.

The Journey to Your Campsite is Boring

It is not just about where you park. The journey there as well is a lot less exciting. When you are in a car, it is just miles and miles of road. Sure, you get to pass by beautiful scenery but how much of that do you actually get to enjoy?

If you are the driver, you have to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the road so you miss a lot of what you are passing by. Even if you don’t have to watch the road, you are still missing out. Under these conditions, the only real way for you to enjoy nature is if you rolled down your windows. It still cannot compare to actually being in the thick of nature. When you are hiking, you get to traipse through flowers, grass, and trees. You get to breathe in the clean air and really take in your surroundings.

There is simply nothing like actually being in the midst of it all. The other problem with car camping is that there is the potential to get stuck in traffic. You can waste precious holiday time in line with other cars.

There is a Barrier between You and Nature

With car camping, you don’t just have to deal with the limitations set by the law. You also have to deal with physical restrictions. For instance, there are just some places that even off-road vehicles just can’t reach. The rougher the terrain, the more likely it is that you will have to stay on the beaten path. This means that you are missing out on all of the spectacular views that nature has to offer.

Even if you drive as close as you dare, there is a good chance that you are quite separate from the wilderness. This is especially true if you are forced to spend your time in a car camping site. At any rate, it is quite unlikely that a curious deer will walk up to your tent on a dewy morning. When it is just you and your tent, you can camp as close to a stream or even waterfall as you want. Or you can decide on a cozy nook that offers up spectacular views of the sunset as well as the sunrise.

There is No Solitude

Remember, when it comes to car camping, you don’t get to choose your neighbors. Since there are only so many places that you can park in, you are bound to be surrounded by a lot of other people with the same idea as you. Therefore, you can say goodbye to your privacy. You can also expect the campgrounds to be a lot noisier than anticipated, especially if there are children around.

After all, there are running engines, slamming doors, and probably even noisy generators to worry about. Not to mention, there are people insisting on stringing up bright lights that are sure to mess with your sleep. When you consider all of these conditions, it doesn’t really seem like you are camping at all. In fact, you might as well be back in the city for all of the people around you.

If you were hoping to get some peace and quiet, you better forget about it. When you are hiking to a campsite of your own creation, you can head as far out as you want. This means that you can get far away from people and just keep walking until it is just you and the trees. Even if you are on a popular trail and happen to meet people, you can be certain that the noise levels will be much lower. This is because those individuals are also there with just some gear and their tents.

You’re Bound to Get Bored

When you are packing for a car camping trip, you are going to need to take several activities with you to keep you occupied. This is because unless you are parking close to a hiking trail or similar spot, you are going to find yourself bored. Why is this such a certainty?

Well, the one thing that car camping does really require you to do is to get physical or use up a lot of energy. This means that you have a lot to spare and not much to do with it. When you have to walk to your campsite, it is an entirely different scenario. Most of the day is taken up by your journey to your final destination.

Then, you need to set everything up. At the end of this, you have just enough strength for some star gazing before you are sound asleep. With car camping, however, you are going to need to find various methods of keeping yourself occupied. Not only that, you will have to figure out activities for most of the day since you have nothing else really going on.

You Don’t Get to Have the True Outdoor Experience

The true essence of camping is trying to make do with as little as possible. Now, this is not always the most pleasant experience. However, roughing it is all a part of being outdoors. You rely on limited supplies and your survival instincts to help you make it through. You learn just how difficult it is to gather up dry wood and get a fire going. You also understand all of the frustration and effort involved in setting up your tent.

When it rains, you will have no choice but to hunker down until it passes. While it may be tough, it is definitely an important learning opportunity. It adds to your character and certainly helps you pick up some new skills. With car camping, the urge to take half your household along with you is too great. You will end up taking everything you need and more simply because you have space and you don’t have to be concerned with carrying too much of weight around.

With all of these creature comforts at your fingertips, you don’t get to really see what camping is all about. Also, at the first sign of a drizzle, you can hop into your car and wait out the rain. All of this means that, at the end of your trip, you will still find yourself lacking.

There Are Lots of Things That Can Go Wrong

On any given day, your vehicle can simply decide to give up on you or you could get a flat tire. Now, hopefully, you will be able to sort out the tire by yourself but it will take time and work. If there are more complex issues, however, you are going to require a mechanic. This means having to find one, waiting at the repair shop, and hoping that you have the necessary funds to fix what’s wrong.

There is no telling just how long it will take for your vehicle to get fixed up. You may have to find accommodations in town until the repairs are completed. Not only can this be costly, you are also going to need to rely on a whole host of people. With backpack camping, it is up to you to figure it out. Also, typically the problems aren’t that bad and even if they are, there is usually a simple and creative fix.

It Can Be Uncomfortable

Now, what if you decide to live in your car for the duration of your trip. On paper, this can sound great. You get to be in a nice, cozy environment where you get to control the settings. Therefore, you can make it as cool or as warm as you want to, at least for a short period of time.

Also, you are largely protected from the elements and will not have to worry about getting flooded. The reality, nonetheless, can be quite different from this. For one, car seats, even the long ones in the back, aren’t meant to be slept in. There are going to be quite sparse to sleep on and there is a good chance that you will simply roll off in the night.

If you are quite tall, the problem is even worse for you. You are going to be hunched over every time that you sleep. This can all amount to a great deal of soreness on your part.

It is quite difficult to beat good, old-fashioned backpack camping. There is nothing quite like hiking through nature before eventually setting up camp in some of the most beautiful spots imaginable. You will certainly go back home fully rejuvenated and refreshed.

If hiking isn’t really your forte, there is always bike camping. Simply load up stuff on your bicycle and get a move on. You’ll get to your destination a little faster and there will be less of a load for you to carry. Just remember to try camping the more natural way.


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