Travel comes in all shapes and sizes. 5* hotels in luxurious resorts, deserted cabins in the middle of a natural nowhere, dingy hostels in the middle of a crazy city, and, my favourite, sticking up a piece of canvas in a big green field and calling it home for a while. Camping is one of the cheapest ways to see something new but, unfortunately, so many people don’t want to do it. But why?!
Maybe it’s the hassle of setting up camp… maybe it’s the distinct lack of home comforts, maybe it’s the idea of sleeping in a tent or maybe you would just prefer to spend your money down the pub. Either way, over the years camping has given me an abundance of awesome memories and great breaks away without the expensive price tag.
I’ve been camping only once this summer and, as expected, it was glorious. A birthday treat for a friend, we packed a helluva lot of beer and food, and headed to one of the Netherlands few ‘free camping’ spots. The weather was fantastic, the campsite was in the middle of nowhere with only a couple of neighbours, and we had a great time. Why? Because there is a freedom in camping that you don’t get with other holidays, you can be totally cut off from the ‘real’ world, no internet, no electricity and, dependent upon where you’re going, completely immersed in nature.
Oh, and no toilets. Shriek.
‘Holiday’ is a bit of an extreme term in regards to camping. In this case, two days laying in grass, drinking beer and being absolutely enthralled with the self-service ferry doesn’t really count as a holiday, but it was definitely a welcome break from the city and I relished every moment. Even the awkwardness of no toilets…
I guess my love for camping stems from the fact that we camped a lot when I was younger. From family holidays to Cornwall, to seemingly random places in Derbyshire, it was an easy thing to do. Dirt cheap, you get a taste of a holiday without the hassle, all you need is something to sleep in.
Despite a youth full of camping, one of my most memorable camping experiences was in Australia. Four silly, naïve twenty something’s intent on nothing but seeing incredible sights from our clapped out camper van and spending as little of our budget as possible on accommodation (it was a camper van, so… obviously). We absolutely underestimated the cold of a camper van at the top of a mountain next to the ocean, maybe just too enchanted with the unreal natural surroundings to think logically. Or just stupid. Either way, there were many LONG nights in that van that I only look back at with the fondest of remembrance.
Actually, the more I write this post, the more that camping memories come flooding back to me. Years and years ago with my sisters and dad, stumbling upon a place called Rivendell – which to my Lord of the Rings obsessed 11 year old self was marvelous. We walked, ate badly cooked food, and suffered another crazily cold experience. A beautiful spot in Derbyshire that my boyfriend and I escaped to a couple of times, always very unromantic yet rose tinted in my mind, eating our body weight in English pub food and beer and then nearly throwing up on the TREK back to our tent, a weekend with friends BBQing and staying up all night, a couple of weeks ago in a beautiful Dutch campsite with my boyfs parents, and a million festival nightmares that can only be laughed at. There’s a ton of memories that I had forgotten about and yet when I start, I almost can’t stop. They always bring a reminiscent smile to my face, and makes me feel exceedingly happy and lucky that I’ve had those moments in my life.
With this in mind, I am determined to fit in one more camping trip before Autumn really does take a true hold on the weather, and it’s not feasible without a big fire and 149 duvets to constantly encase me. This weekend we’re heading to Texel in the Netherlands. Rain or shine, dammit, I’m going to get one more piece of summer time freedom before it’s too late! Despite the complaints of cold, and discomfort and lack of basic facilities, camping really is a great way to travel and do something a little bit different.
Final parting words of advice? Pop up tents are a wise investment.