It would obviously be a much cheaper option to camp than to spend the 10-20 euros a night on a hostel. But if you're in a major European city (such as London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, etc.) is camping even an option or do you have to go outside the city into the countryside to consider doing this? If so, is it much of a hassle and expensive to get to places where you can camp?
Actually, it is not really a cheaper option to camp outside major cities. You have to pay fees at camping sites which for two people will be around 15 € to 20 € per night for 2 people and a tent. Add to this the travelling costs into the city and the time loss for a potential two-hour-ride by bus and train.
It only makes decent sense if you are a group of five or more, have one big tent and some form of independent transport, like a car or a motorbike. Of course, camping site rates are lower in the off-season (autumn and spring), but for real bargains you need to stay longer (4 weeks).
I'm not denying that there are some camping sites in some cities where it might make sense to stay at them, but you'll need to carefully research these places.
The most off-putting feature of camping sites for me is that unlike in a hostel, you have to make the effort to travel into the town instead of just stepping onto the sidewalk outside your hostel.
I remember one trip to "Paris" with mum, dad and the little beasts (aka my siblings). We had planned so much, my mother was dying to see all the arts and the famous sights - she had talked about nothing else for 6 months. We stayed on the cheapest camping site near Paris for 2 weeks, saying "tomorrow we will go, let's rest today" everyday. Result: we went into the city only once - to see the Eiffel tower. Duh.
My wife and I (username asmera) are going to Europe this summer. Part of the fun of this trip will be meeting people from around the globe. Is camping a good way to do this? Or is it better to meet people in a hostel? at the tourist sites?
a wonderful camp site just outside (50 minutes by bus) amsterdam, sited in amstelveen (spelled?). it's deep inside a park and with excellent facilities. i were there down in 2000 summer and it was great time.
is it better to meet people in a hostel?
Yes, hostel. Campers come in two sets: Older people who have a long term contract or maybe have been coming to the same site for fifteen years. They can be nice, but are usually not your crowd.
The other set are young people, which can be just as annoying if they come back to the tent late, drunk and noisy.
It depends a lot on the camping site. Camping places are also very popular with dog owners, so some places are nothing more than big doggie toilets, with gigantic beasts running free and stealing your food from the table while their owners are unconcerned. (DePanne - *shudder*)
In a hostel you can rent a double room and won't be woken up by the latter and you are much more likely to meet like-minded people.