Campground Sticker Shock? Unpacking the Value of a Cabin

Campground Sticker Shock? Unpacking the Value of a Cabin

Jeremy and I realized recently that a certain scenario keeps repeating itself. Friends of ours will express interest in coming along with us on a trip. If they are not interested in tent camping, we enthusiastically recommend cabins as a great way to experience a campground without the gear and prep that goes hand in hand with roughing it. Our friends love the idea until we go to make reservations. Then BAM! Sticker shock and retreat.

It turns out that most people assume cabins will be significantly cheaper than a hotel room. The truth is, cabins are not necessarily a cheaper way to travel; they are a different way to travel. Just like there is a wide variety of hotel experiences out there, cabins range from the rustic to the luxurious and are priced accordingly. We have stayed in cabins with nothing but  two beds and a dresser, but we have also stayed in ones with complete kitchens, bathrooms, and separate sleeping areas.


So the real question is…why would you stay in a cabin when you could just stay in a hotel for the same price? Here are the reasons why we choose a cabin every time we travel without our RV…

1. You are not only getting  a room. You are getting land. Along with your cabin rental comes access to grass and dirt, two things that your kids need to experience after a long day in the car. There is nothing better than relaxing in a zero gravity chair while your kids run around like lunatics in a nearby field or scoot up and down the path in front of you. It sure beats chasing them down a hotel hallway or yelling at them as they press every button in the elevator and set off emergency alarms.

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2. You don’t have to leave to find activities. They are right there at the campground. I know some hotels have pools, but many campgrounds have them in addition to playgrounds and volleyball nets and fishing holes and mini golf courses. I love the fact that when we spend the night in a cabin, that experience turns into a memorable part of the journey, not just a stopover on the way to a destination.

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3. People aren’t above you. People aren’t below you. No one cares more about sleep than parents, and no one makes more noise than kids. This means we get ticked off when people are loud after we put our babies to bed. Then we get stressed out when our cherubs are up screaming at the crack of dawn. In cabins there are no loud TVs on the other side of the wall, no yelling in the hallways. The great outdoors lets every family keep their own brand of crazy to themselves.

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4. You can actually party (visualize air quotes) after the kids go to bed. My husband and I have set up mini bars in hotel bathrooms and watched a movie on a laptop with shared earphones while the boys slept. Completely pathetic. At a campground, you put the kids to bed and then hang out around a campfire with friends, drinks, food, and music. What’s the contest?

5. If you have to clean up puke, cabins have outside hoses and clothes lines. I know…TMI. And that is usually not my style. But it is a really important factor when measuring the value of a cabin vs. hotel room. A few years ago while driving through Virginia, both of my boys got carsick and spewed strawberry smoothie all over the backseat of the Suburu. Luckily we had reservations at a cabin that night. The car seats and covers got hosed down and hung out to dry (along with Max and Theo). I can’t even imagine what we would have done if we were staying at the Comfort Suites.


Cabins give you more than just a room to stay in; they give you access to an entire campground. If you pick the right place, you will get more out of your stay than most hotels can offer. We used to rent houses down in Cape Hatteras and now we can’t imagine not staying at the KOA when we head down in the summer. We could never find a house rental that would come with pools, hot tubs, bounce pillows, mini golf, train rides, and outdoor movie showings.

So we know we are getting a pretty good deal. Maybe one day we will convince our friends…



  1. Bill (PapPappy) & Claudia Archer

    Makes all the sense in the world…….are you getting a cut from KOA? LOL!!!

    All your points make perfect sense…..and were a reason we bought an RV, as our dogs found pills and razor blades under the beds in motel rooms…in the RV, it’s OUR floor, as clean as we want it.
    While the cabins are not the same, you tend to have move ability to clean them, and all the other things you mentioned.

    Another great Blog.

    • livelylittlecampers

      We aren’t getting a cut :-), we just love places that put an emphasis on a kid-friendly (and parent-friendly) environment.

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