Camping or Youth Hostels?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by morehawes, 21 May 2008.

  1. morehawes

    morehawes New Member

    Hi everyone! :biggrin: i've been looking around these forums for a while now and have been impressed with the responses I have read from members. So I thought I would ask a question of my own - to camp or not to camp?!

    I'm just about to finish uni and am preparing for a solo Europe cycle tour which will begin in around September time. The idea is to cycle for as long as I can afford, visiting as many countries as possible. I have my bike, i'm training hard and i've started buying kit in order of importance (i'm on a VERY strick budget).

    I have come to the fork in the road where I need to start sorting out more details - and I keep going around in circle about whether to camp or stay in youth hostels (or both). I really need to decide so I can sort out kit, but also can't 'plan' (i'm not planning too much) until I decide what i'm doing.

    I've been weighing up the main pro's and con's of camping in my mind. This is how I seem them:

    Camping Pro's:
    + I believe it will be a nicer experience to be out doors
    + More freedom about where I stay - the option of hosteling or camping
    + I'll probably save a bit of money living off my stove
    + Wild camping is there as an option

    Camping Cons's:
    - LOADS more kit needed, weight of the bike being the main concern.
    - Added head ache of sourcing fuel / food for that evening
    - I don't believe after buying camping kit it will be much (if any) cheaper than staying in hostels

    (I've not got a route sorted yet, so i'm talking about Europe in general - I appreciate things may be different if i'm heading east as apposed to west).

    Anyone have any input or words of wisdom from experience? :tongue:

  2. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    Here are a few points for your consideration Joe:smile:
    You always have a bedroom to yourself when camping;). After more disturbed nights in hostels than on camp sites that is a plus for camping in my book.
    I would recommend taking the tent, occasionally there may be no convenient hostel and the hotel option can be expensive. Facilities,- toilets, showers, washroom etc- tend in general to be in better condition on campsites. Wild camping is not an option everywhere, in some countries it is illegal, lets not debate stealth camping here!
    Regarding weight, modern one man tents are very light and a bed roll is weightless! Perhaps you could buy camping kit second hand, even if buying new, a stove, and basic utensils will last a lifetime, you have until September, maybe you could suggest camping gear as a birthday present from someone.
    Regarding sourcing fuel/food, you will have the same food sourcing problem in a hostel as a tent. There does tend to be some waste cooking for one.
    It is often said that you meet fellow travellers in hostels, in my experience many hostellers travel by car and have little in common with cycle tourists.
    Enjoy yourself.:tongue:
  3. Dayvo

    Dayvo Just passin' through

    Sounds fun, morehawes!
    Welcome BTW!

    I'd try both. If you intend on being in northern Europe in late autumn there is a strong chance that you will have cold nights, but that shouldn't deter you from camping if you have a warm sleeping bag, comfortable sleeping mat and reliable tent.
    Camping equipment need not cost a forune; if you look on the previous pages on 'Touring and Expedition' you will find relevant info.
    IIRC a cheap hotel/hostel costs about €30 a night. You could camp three nights and then have 'proper' accommodation with laundry possibilites and a hot shower.
    You can buy food (water, milk, beer, bread, cheese, ham, fruit, nuts) almost anywhere, so that shouldn't be an issue, but yes, having a Trangia, for example, will certainly improve the taste of dinner/breakfast if made in a forest.

    I would recommend doing both, but try and travel lightly; not too difficult.

    Good luck. :tongue:
  4. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    Thats a long trip and there will be times when you can find a hostel...i would take a tent .
  5. JackE

    JackE Über Member


    I would agree with all that's been said so far. If you choose the ultra-light route then the total load, including camping equipment, does not have to weigh much more than 11-12 kgs. If you buy wisely then this kit should last you 10 years or so (the best long-term investment you'll ever make). In Sept, a good down sleeping (eg Alpkit Pipedream 400, 780gms) is essential for a good nights sleep. You can often pick up a 2nd hand Hilleberg Akto or similar top quality light-weight tent at a reasonable price. Have a look at the recent "Which tent" thread on here.
    Have a great trip.
  6. OP

    morehawes New Member

    Thanks everyone! :biggrin: Seems like camping is the preferred choice so far which is understandable. Some good recommendations in there. I like your seeing it as an investment JackE - might make it a little easier to take when i'm shelling out the cash!

    I guess going light on a budget is my main aim now - glad to hear that it is possible on a strict budget. Thanks all for the advice so far.

  7. JackE

    JackE Über Member

    Usually the 3 big expenditure items are: tent, sleeping bag/mat and panniers. It's so important not to have to buy these "twice" (ie buy cheaply first time around and then have to up-grade in a year or so). If necessary, spend a bit more on these items and then you'll have long-term confidence in your equipment. For example, I've just had to up-grade my down sleeping bag recently having bought one on impulse 3 years ago.
    An ultra-light gas stove, a medium size titanium pan and mug will do you for many years (birthday present time)!!! I could go on.....
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