If your last experience of camping was in a leaky tent when you were in the Scouts you might not have ever considered it for a holiday again – but camping has come a long way since then. In the current financial climate many people are also looking for inexpensive family holidays – and camping really fits the bill!
Camping is not only a cheap way of holidaying. There is nothing quite like it for appreciating the outdoors and the environment. Kids particularly love it, especially if you start them young, and there are always other children to play with on site. In France and Germany the camping culture is very much more prevalent than in the UK and many sites have amazing facilities such as water parks, and the washing facilities are often cleaner than those you will find in hotels. Camping is weather-dependent, but pitches are cheap and you don’t have to give very much notice of cancellation so if the weather is really atrocious you can pack up and go elsewhere with minimal financial loss.
What equipment do I need?
Your first camping trip will undoubtedly be your most expensive because of the initial outlay – but there are a lot of camping gadgets on the market that you can easily do without, so don’t go mad!
Your tent is obviously the most important item, and look for one that is high enough to stand up in as it gives a much less claustrophobic feel. Children might prefer their own small tent rather than sharing with mum and dad. Airbeds, a pump and a puncture repair kit are essential too – you would not believe how cold sleeping on the ground can be, so put as much distance between you and the ground as you can! If you are camping in colder weather you will probably need suitable sleeping bags but otherwise a duvet is fine and more pleasant to sleep under. A good sturdy torch (one for each tent), flip flops, and a large container for carrying water complete the initial “must-have” list. “Nice to haves” include a camping stove and fridge (expensive initially, but worth the investment for regular camping), and a windbreak and tarpaulin to provide shelter.
Once you have been on a few trips you will start to get an idea of items you will need – and if you need anything urgently there is probably a camping shop within fairly easy reach of the site! Useful sites for camping goods include World of Camping and Outdoor World Direct.
Is it safe?
Camping is very safe provided everyone applies common sense:
- Naked flames should never be allowed inside tents
- If you build a fire, make sure it is completely out before turning in for the night
- Gas cylinders should be frequently checked for damage and only used by adults
- Always take a torch when going out of the tent after dark
- Give tents a wide berth to avoid tripping over guy ropes
- Only drink water from taps which are labelled for this purpose
- Keep your hands and feet clean (they get dirty very quickly when camping!) and make sure any cuts or grazes are disinfected and covered up
- Never leave valuables in a tent
One of the great things about camping is the sense of community on a site. Living in such close quarters to others might sound daunting, but most of the time it works very well. Always leave something as you would like it to be left for you – whether that is the dishwashing room, showers, or your pitch at the end of the stay. Keep the noise down after 10pm and before 8am, and don’t encroach onto other people’s pitch space. Don’t be afraid to offer or ask to borrow something– it is a great way to start up conversation!
Even on a holiday as cheap as camping, travel insurance is still a must. Luckily it does not have to eat into your budget. 24/7 travel insurance can cover you and your family for a week on the continent from just £15.56* – which leaves you with some spare money to get some new equipment!
*Includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on a family of two adults aged under 55 and two children aged under 18 taking out a Standard single-trip policy for 7 days in Europe and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press and are subject to change.