About a decade ago, I’ve been camping with a car until recently when I realized that backpacking is actually far much better when compared to car camping. Most people can find it comfortable and convenient to camp with a car because they get to visit campsites with ease; sleep in their cars amid treacherous storms; pack lots of groceries and gadgets.
However, when considering the main reason for camping in a natural environment, a car deprives a great outdoor experience. I’ve compiled the 10 reasons why I always go without a car to afford you a wealth of outdoor experience.
A car can limit you to see a full extent of scenery outdoors as it can be restricted by laws, and rough terrains, which you can traverse with ease on foot. As much as a car can give you unmatched warmth and plenty of space to pack your stuff, it has its downsides which have prompted me to stop camping with it.
Let’s unfold the 10 reasons why I always camp without a car below:
10. Not Environmentally Friendly
Generally, cars contribute significantly to the environmental pollution ─ be it air or noise pollution.
Irrespective of the car model or consumption, it will contribute to these global problems of air pollution. So, when camping with a car in national parks, you will be creating a negative impact hence I no longer use it.
With the noise in the wilderness, you may be scaring off the wildlife in their peaceful sleep, and so you won’t get a good chance to view all kinds of animals.
Again, it can be disturbing to fellow campers, waking them up in their peaceful sleep. Think about yourself too that how you would hate it if someone is making noise with the car. Camping without a car is a great choice.
9. Hinders Nature’s Exploration
When you’re camping with a car, there exists a barrier between you and the natural environment.
It hinders your ability to explore all the scenic attractions in your camping locations. Some picturesque attractions are off-road and you will not be able to access them by car due to the unfavorable road conditions.
Off-road vehicles still do not match the freedom of walking on narrow rough terrains and steep mountains to explore nature.
For multiday camping, you will need a camping site to spend your days at. With a car, there could be many restrictions to park or camp in designated areas only. That in itself deprives you the freedom to pitch a tent anywhere you see fit. A backpacker can set up the tent in close proximity to many attractions.
8. Limited Privacy
Oftentimes when camping with a car, you will be categorized with other car owners to camp in designated areas and park closer to each other. Imagine the slamming of doors while sleeping at night, with kids making noise around, others singing at midnight, others hooding their cars. That’s too much to digest.
You will not have a peace of mind or enjoy your privacy when camping with a car.
National parks have restrictions for car owners not to park anywhere unauthorized. If you like a solitude life far from the city, this shared camping is a bad idea. Camping is great when you have peace of mind alone or with your family winding up without others annoying you with car noises. Privacy is a top priority when camping in the wilderness.
If you wish to camp alone without tougher restrictions, I recommend going without a car, and instead of taking a train or bus to the campsite. If it’s not far, you can consider taking the bike.
There are also many places mostly in the vicinity of national parks where you can rent a bike instead of driving a car. A bike has many advantages of riding on rough and narrow terrains.
7. Limited Parking Facilities
In a quest to contain a number of cars on the campgrounds, authorities often enact rules for car owners to never park their cars anywhere without permission. In other parks, you can even incur extra parking costs.
If you arrived late, you might find a limited parking and end up parking in unsafe areas thus exposing your vehicle to criminals. Third party parking spaces out of the park are always costly.
Other parks restrict owners from sleeping in their cars even if it’s off-road. Such hassles can make one hate camping with a car because it restricts your flexibility.
Usually, with a car, you are advised to park on the outskirts of the park. That puts you far away from the center of the park where you can explore lots of attractions. A backpacker has lots of options to roam in the park and pitch a tent in many places where a car owner would typically be restricted to.
6. Car Amenities do not Give a True Camping Experience
Our vehicles are modernized with a wide range of amenities and settings. When camping, you need a total outdoor experience where you only rely on nature for all the conveniences.
If it’s cold and raining, you would rely on your tent and raincoats. That gives you a true outdoor experience while hiking. In car you will be exposed to modern settings to turn on temperatures and feel the warmth. While this is, of course, a necessity and a way of safeguarding your health, it deprives you an immense feeling nature.
Understand the importance of connecting with nature.
Furthermore, an ample space in the vehicle might even tempt you to bring a compact fridge or even a microwave. It provides a large space to pack modern gadgets that will drive you away from the true camping experience of interacting with only nature.
5. Uncomfortable in a Car
A car provides you the best shelter during inclement climatic conditions. You can survive storms and cold temperatures. As thus, it is tempting to spend a night sleeping in the car. On top of that, the climate control settings make it convenient to enjoy any custom temperature setting. However, the comfort of car seats cannot be matched with the bed or sleeping bag in your tent.
Oftentimes, campers who spend a prolonged time sleeping in car suffer from back pains.
Those seats were not designed to sleep in, no matter how long they are. A closer comfort and alternative is when you can decide to sleep at the back of your van on a sleeping bag. Nonetheless, it does not give a sense of outdoor feeling one could have slept in a tent.
You should also consider a really good backpack.
4. Limited Viewing of Wildlife on the Go
While camping and hiking with a car, your eyes are concentrating on the road and its curves. No matter how slow it moves, you have to focus on the road for your safety.
That said, you have a limited viewing of wildlife on the go that you would as a backpacker. There could be innumerable scenery attractions that you pass with a car and not being able to explore them fully.
When I hike off-road or on designated and well-groomed hiking paths, I get to enjoy a full and spectacular view of nature, observe the wildlife and view scenery attractions as much as I can. I am not confined to well-groomed car ways. Again, I can climb rocks; ascend steep mountains as long as I have hiking shoes with good traction.
More on the inconvenience of camping with a car, you can get stuck in traffic congestion in a popular national park like The Great Smoky Mountains.
That brings frustrations on your journey and delays your opportunity to view as much as possible. Hiking on foot allows me to explore any site without restrictions in a perfect climate.
3. On the Lookout for Criminals
The ubiquity of criminals in every country raises a huge concern for the safety of our cars. Instead of enjoying your hike in the parks, you have to be on the lookout to check if no one breaks into your car to take your valuables.
The stress made me hate to camp with a car. I want to enjoy and have freedom of going to any place without worrying about thieves.
2. Unforeseen break-ups
The other reason why I always camp without a car is the mysteries of unforeseen breakups along your way.
When hiking in the wilderness, in particular, your car can be exposed to many disadvantages such as nails blasting your tire or the car breaking down.
Not only do these inconveniences consume your time, but also freak you out, especially if you are not a mechanic. Getting a mechanic nearby might cost you an arm and a leg. Such inconveniences heighten one’s fear of camping with a car.
1. Save on Fuel
Perhaps one of the leading reasons, fuel saving is a major concern when camping. If you are on a budget then you wouldn’t even think of hiking with a car, getting too many off-road sites, etc. that can consume more fuel and leave your bank dry.
Even if the campsite is far away from home, I will rather rely on public transport, notwithstanding the inconvenience of traffic jams along the way. The public transport will save me cash I would otherwise spend on fuel.
There are many options to rely on with public transports. Buses, shuttles, and trains are some of the options. The good thing is that you do not have to worry about parking permits or restricted access in other places.
If you are camping with a car, consider the hassles of having to visit the filling station while in the middle of your road. Even if you to travel with more petrol or diesel at the back of your car, that will cost you more money.
Best Tips for Camping Without a Car
Given the above 10 reasons why I always go without a car, you should now get ready to leave your car at home and get that public transport. Highlighted below are a few tips you should bear in mind for a carless camping.
1. Be fully prepared
Because you will be camping without a car, you should get prepared as much as possible. Arrange an alternative transport to your desired destination. The best way is to know the bus or train schedules to ensure that you are not inconvenienced or missing your transport.
Also, get a compact tent that has all the features such as waterproofing and the best insulation. A 2- or 3-person camping tent is a great deal.
There are many brands you can select from. Do not compromise the camp features because the inclement weather conditions may bring regrets of leaving your car behind. Sleeping pads and bags are as important as bringing the tent.
2. Pack compactly
The other consideration when you go without a car is to pack neatly.
Things such as camping stoves or other modern gadgets are needless because many parks offer designated fireplaces with woods to make fire. So you do not need to carry bulk stoves.
Be conscious of your luggage if you are taking a flight to your destination because you might be denied entry. If there’s anything you need and find it bulky, you can always rent from stores in the precinct of your campsites.
Again, be selective about the foods that you pack. Take non-perishable foods that are easy to prepare, or prepare dehydrated food. I like taking powdered milk with some cookies to never miss a breakfast. Alternatively, you can rely on supermarkets in close proximity to your camping place and then leave a bulky camping gear at home.
Here’s the end of the 10 reasons why I always go without a car. I have realized that a car has many disadvantages compared to backpacking. To enjoy freedom of hiking in the wilderness, you need to leave your car. There are compact tents that negate the need to sleep in your car. Moreover, there are many places where you can order things you need rather than using a car as an excuse.