Even though we are officailly RV nuts, we’ve experienced our fair share of campground cabin rentals over the last eight years.
The truth of the matter? It’s not always practical or economical to travel with our RV. We’ve gotten more comfortable deciding on a cabin rental for a variety of reasons. In fact, cabins have become a fairly regular part of our camping experience lately, and we wanted to share some of our thoughts after staying in dozens of campground cabins around the country.
So if you’re wondering if you should try out that cabin weekend getaway, or if you’ve ever been shocked at the price of a campground cabin rental, this podcast episode is for you!
Our Personal Experiences with Campground Cabin Rentals
The most ironic part of this story is that we never stayed in a campground cabin until after we already owned an RV. Our first RV was a pop up camper, and we’ve talked a lot about how hard it was to set up and break down for just one night at the campground. We got pretty sick of that routine, so we began to occasionally stay in a KOA cabin on our way to farther destinations.
This solved two problems for us. We didn’t have to deal with the pop up nonsense, but our kids still got to run and play at a campground after a long day in the car. The bonus was that we also got our campfire fix after putting the little firebrands to bed.
After we had been RVing for seven years, we had the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest on an epic family vacation. There was no way in the world we wanted to tow the RV all the way from New Jersey to Washington, Oregon, and California. The timing didn’t work and the finances didn’t add up.
Enter campground cabin rentals.
While in the Pacific Northwest, we stayed at four different campground cabins. Actually three cabins and a glamping tent to be specific.
Did we miss our RV? A little.
Did we have an amazingly epic adventure that our kids still talk about all the time? Absolutely.
We repeated the experiment the next year when we traveled to Texas for spring break and stayed in cabins at two different Jellystone campgrounds.
Although we miss our RV kitchen and comfy bedding the most when we stay in campground cabin rentals, our family agrees that these trips have measured up with some of our top RV vacations. It’s simply a great way for us to travel a far distance in a short amount of time, while still getting the benefits of a ‘camping’ vacation.
The Most Important Takeaway for Campground Cabin Rentals
There’s a lot we’ve learned about cabin camping over the last few years. But here’s the most important thing you have to understand.
Cabins are often NOT cheaper than hotels.
In fact, they can be even MORE expensive.
This shocks people at first. They think, why would I stay in a cabin when I could pay the same amount for a hotel or AirBnB? Well, the value from our perspective is not a monetary one. It’s about the way we prefer to vacation as a family. Years ago, we even wrote a blog post on the topic, since so many friends had expressed shock at seeing cabin prices. You can read the whole post here, but the we talk through the cliff notes version on this podcast episode.
So What’s the Value of Campground Cabin Rentals?
First and most importantly for our family, we get plenty of room to roam along with our cabin rental. A hotel room is a claustrophobic nightmare for these two parents with three energetic boys. We love having outdoor space whenever possible, and cabins rentals give us that.
We also get access to the campground activities and amenities. Pool, playground, game room, mini golf. You name it, we’ll use it. Sure, some hotels have pools. But not many have tie dying and outdoor movie night, amiright?
Food is always a major factor in family travel. We love the fact that we can grocery shop and prepare simple meals in the campground cabins. The biggest single strain of hotel travel for our family is eating out three meals a day. It gets old fast. For everyone involved.
And then, of course, there’s our ritualized date night around the campfire after we tuck those cherubs into bed for the night. Not being stuck watching Netflix on our phones in the dark every night is a big, big win in our book of life.
What are the Pitfalls of Campground Cabin Rentals?
But it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns in our cabin rental experience.
The biggest issue we’ve encountered is the extreme variety of cabin types. From sleeping arrangements to kitchen set ups to outdoor living space, there is simply no industry standard for campground cabins. We know now to do a heck of a lot of research before booking a cabin. In fact, the poor folks at the reservations desk gets a pretty serious interrogation about all sorts of details. We know that the experience will be so much better if we walk in prepared.
Which leads to the second most important point. Packing can be a nightmare if you don’t know what is stocked in the cabin. We have everything we need from a can opener to wine glasses in our family RV. We’ve now stayed in cabins that were fully stocked down to shampoo and conditioner. And we’ve also stayed in one that had not a single utensil, plate, or bowl. Seriously. Some of the best campgrounds are now offering an online checklist of cabin supplies. But if they don’t offer the information, don’t be afraid to ask the questions.
After staying in so many cabins over the last two years, we have a new rule. We don’t stay at cabins that do not offer linens and towels. It’s a bit of an ordeal to cart around bedding when traveling, and it’s become a deal breaker for us.
So When Should You Consider Campground Cabin Rentals?
If you’re not saving money, and you’re not necessarily getting luxury accommodations, why should you stay in a campground cabin? The most compelling reason is to experience campground culture.
As a family, we know that a campground is the most comfortable base camp for us while traveling. We’ve stayed in hotels. We’ve stayed in vacation home rentals. Campgrounds win our vote every time.
A campground cabin rental is also a great option if you want to go on vacation with a group of friends. Renting a beach or lake house with a group of friends and family sounds great, but can get pretty tricky. When everyone rents cabins, you get that perfect balance of common space and private space. Everyone will still like each other at the end of the trip.
And lastly, if you have friends that don’t own an RV, a campground cabin is a perfect way for them to test out the camping lifestyle. We’ve done this so many times and everyone has had an amazing time.
What’s the Bottom Line on Campground Cabin Rentals?
We are being brutally honest in this podcast episode, and here’s the simple truth…
The campground industry has a long way to go to meet the hospitality standards that have been set in the world of rental accommodations. Highway West Vacations and Sandy Pines Campground in Maine are exceptions to this rule. These companies are providing an exceptional hospitality experience, and we think they are setting an example that the rest of the industry needs to follow.
Nevertheless, we have had so many wonderful family vacations staying in campground cabins because they give you access to the campground amenities. We now choose a campground cabin rental over a hotel or AirBnB whenever it’s an option.
So what’s your opinion on cabins? Yea or nay??? Let us know in the comments below!!!
See you at the campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy