Cabin Camping Tips | Planning, Packing, and More

February 18, 2024

Want to experience all the wonder of nature, but not quite sure you are ready to leave the comforts of home? Cabin camping trips are perfect solutions for travelers who want to experience the fun of camping without so much of the hassle. It’s also a great way for those new to camping to experience campground life. Think fresh air, crackling campfires, nightly s’mores — and a cozy bed to rest your head!

With a variety of cabin options from charming Camping Cabins to fully-furnished Deluxe Cabins, Kampgrounds of America has a little something for everyone (including fun and unique accommodations like yurts, teepees and cabooses). While a variety of choices make stays easy, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your first — or tenth — cabin camping trip a breeze.

A family of four enjoys the living room and kitchenette in a KOA Deluxe Cabin.

What to Look for When Planning Your Cabin Camping Trip

1. Multiple Floor Plans for Greater Flexibility

A great advantage of the KOA cabin-camping experience is the extra elbow room. If you have got a full family crew with you, tents and RVs can feel a bit crowded. With a KOA cabin, you can choose between one-bedroom floor plans with a capacity of up to four or two-bedroom units that sleep up to six. Plan accordingly based on the size of your camping party—and how much personal space each camper needs.

2. Camping Amenities Galore

One of the major perks of staying in a KOA Campground cabin is the fact you often need to pack significantly less than if you were tent-camping. For starters, you do not need the tent! (Conversely, you may decide to bring more stuff, given the extra—and lock-secured—indoor space.)

Check with a given KOA Campground to find out just what your Camping Cabin or Deluxe Cabin offers in terms of amenities. You will usually need to bring your own linens for the cabin mattresses: either sheets and blankets or—to crank up the camping vibes—sleeping bags. Some Deluxe Cabins include linen service, including towels, but otherwise bring them for the shower and the pool.

For most Camping Cabins, you will want to bring along a cooler to store perishables and cold beverages, though some of these units come with a handy-dandy mini-fridge. Your average Deluxe Cabin, meanwhile, includes a kitchenette, so you do not have to worry about a cooler (once you reach your campground, anyhow).

What about cooking supplies? You will want to bring cookware, utensils and a campstove for a Camping Cabin stay; some Camping Cabins have barbecues, but if not you might consider bringing a portable grill. Inquire ahead about your Deluxe Cabin, as many of these come stocked with kitchenware and cooking appliances such as hotplates or microwaves, not to mention gas grills.

You will naturally want to have equipment for evenings around the campfire, from camp chairs to the implement of your choice for roasting those hot dogs and achieving that perfect fire-licked crust on your marshmallow.

Forgetting a camping essential or two (or 10) is a common reality of the camping experience — it has happened to everyone — but when you are staying at a KOA cabin, you have a safety net in the form of the KOA Campground store: From firewood and propane to sunscreen and insect repellent, you will be able to grab what you need.

3. First-time and Long-time Camper Friendly

Offering a combination of rustic charm and many of the comforts of home, KOA cabins make ideal introductions to the deep joys of camping. They bridge the gap between tenting or RV-ing and staying in a vacation rental. Their indoor shelter and lockable doors provide robust protection from the elements and a sense of security some campers may appreciate, while the location delivers that special campground ambiance utterly lacking in a rental or motel.

Even dyed-in-the-wool tent campers can appreciate the “glamping” charm of a KOA cabin, whether they have decided to ease into something a bit plusher or they simply want to mix it up a little.

4. Indoor and Outdoor Fun

A KOA cabin ensures a rewarding camping experience whatever the weather and whatever the mood. Use it as a springboard for hiking, paddling, and general-purpose sightseeing in the region, or for all the recreation and entertainment on tap right at the KOA Campground: swimming, biking, ziplining, mini-golfing, and more.

If it’s on the wet or blustery side of things or you are just feeling like hunkering down a bit, crack out the board games, the deck of cards, or that fat summer read and enjoy the warm, private haven of your cabin itself.

5. Perfect Spot for a Wide Range of Camping Trips

Cabin-camping is ideal for all sorts of trips, from short-distance overnighters to cross-country odysseys. The need to pack less means you can more readily embrace your spontaneous spirit for adventure (or simply your spontaneous need to get out of the house) and escape to some campground coziness. After all, the charm of a camping cabin and the rich array of activities on tap at each of the KOA properties means a KOA Campground can be its own destination for much-needed outdoor time and R&R.

The convenient locations of the KOA Journey Campgrounds make cabin-hopping on a long-distance road trip a breeze. If you have got a specific place or event in mind—a national park, for instance, or a music festival—a KOA cabin serves as the perfect base camp.

6. Invitation to Embrace the Joys of Shoulder Season

A KOA cabin’s sturdy roof and snug walls—not to mention that crackling campfire—are an invitation to extend your camping year into crisper, cooler weather. The “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall can be wonderful times of year for camping, offering lovely seasonal spectacles (early woodland blooms of spring ephemeral wildflowers, smoldering autumn-colored canopies, first-snow dustings on mountain peaks and high ridges, the migratory bustle of songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors, etc.) as well as fewer crowds.

Mother and two children enjoying the interior of a KOA Camping Cabin.

6 Tips for Cabin Camping

1. Book Ahead

With the growing popularity of cabin camping for family vacations, romantic getaways and it is never a bad idea to make reservations in advance, especially on weekends or during busier seasons. A little notice ensures you’ll have the best options to choose from no matter when you choose to stay. Plus, with lots of locations to choose from you will want plenty of time to pick the perfect spot.

Extra Tip: Shoulder seasons like spring and fall tend to be less crowded while offering perfect weather for cozy cabin stays.

2. Note What’s Included with the Cabin

Lots of cabin options can mean a little variety in the amenities each offers. Are you staying in a Camping Cabin where you will need to bring bedding and be prepared to cook outside? Does your Deluxe Cabin include enough utensils to enjoy dinner? To find out what you do or do not need to bring check out the campground’s website or call them directly.

3. Don’t Forget Those Furry Friends

If you want to bring your dog along on your next cabin camping trip be sure to mention it when booking. While most locations do allow pets in their accommodations, some may have certain units designated as pet friendly. Even if all of the cabins on campground allow pets it is always a good plan to let the campground know. Want to do a bit of planning for your pet? Check out our tips for camping with pets!

4. Plan Your Menu

While all KOAs feature well-stocked campground stores, it’s never a bad idea to think about what you will be having for dinner. Take note of what cooking arrangement your cabin offers and then spend a bit of time planning out your trip. Try our camping menus to make this extra easy!

Extra Tip: Check to see if your campground features a snack bar, restaurant or other fun dining to plan into your camping menu.

5. Pack for the Weather

A quick check of the forecast is always a good idea before any camping trip. While you’ll enjoy nights inside, remember that half the fun is getting out during the day so pack accordingly. Also keep in mind that even during the warmer months, nights can be cooler and require a light jacket or sweatshirt.

6. Draft an Itinerary, But Leave Downtime Too

Since you will be visiting a new place you won’t want to miss any must-see sites in the area. Spending a bit of time before you leave putting together a basic plan for your stay including fun attractions or special events off-site. But remember, time spent relaxing at the campground is fun too. Take time to enjoy the relaxing downtime camping is known for.

What to Pack When Camping in a Cabin

Whether you book a stay at a rustic cabin or one that includes the comforts of home and more, it is vital to ensure you have everything you need to prepare for cabin camping.

Rustic Cabin Packing List

Some extra gear you may need to pack for a rustic cabin stay includes:

  • Towels: Your rustic cabin may not have a bathroom, but you will still want to bring a towel for the campground showers.
  • Hot water bottle: If you plan on camping in the cooler months, consider bringing a hot water bottle to place inside your sleeping bag to keep warm throughout the night.
  • Pillow: Bring a pillow to rest your head at the end of a fun day of camping.
  • Sleeping bag/ linens: If your cabin includes a bed with a mattress, you will want to bring linens or a sleeping bag to lay on top of the mattress.
  • Kitchen utensils: While most camping cabins do not include a kitchen, consider bringing some cookware to use around the fire. For example, you can pack forks, mugs, a Dutch oven, a lighter and trash bags.

Additional items you may want to pack as part of your cabin camping prep include a headlamp for walking back to your cabin in the dark and some coolers to store your food.

Entertainment Items

Regardless of the condition of your cabin, you will want to pack some items to keep you and the kids busy during the down moments. Some ideas include:

  • Cards: A deck of cards offers the opportunity for multiple types of games as a great way to pass the time.
  • Board games: Bring a portable board game that does not contain many small pieces for an easy way to ensure you have hours of entertainment.
  • Binoculars: Packing a pair of binoculars enables you to get a closer look at the wildlife in the woods surrounding your campsite.
  • Books: If you have a long list of books you have been meaning to read, a camping trip is the perfect time to knock down your list.

Clothes to Pack

Regardless of the season, you want enough clothes to remain comfortable throughout the day. As you pack, make sure you include the following clothing items:

  • Outer layer: If you are camping between seasons, pack a heavier jacket to keep you warm on cooler days and nights.
  • Mid-layer: A fleece jacket is an excellent middle layer since it will keep you warm as you hang out at the cabin.
  • Base layer: While any shirt will work as a base layer, ideally, your base layer will consist of a moisture-wicking material.
  • Rain jacket: A rain jacket is essential even if the forecast does not call for rain. It allows you to stay dry in the event of an unexpected shower and can protect you from the wind.
  • Sturdy shoes: You can pack sturdy and comfortable hiking boots or sneakers for your camping trip.

Book Your Stay at a KOA Camping Cabin Today

Are you ready to start planning the cabin camping trip of a lifetime? Book your stay at a Camping Cabin at one of the hundreds of KOAs across the United States and Canada today.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting



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