A camping holiday can be the best experience of your life, or a damp squib from start to finish: it all depends on whether you plan it right. The more often you camp, the better drilled you become in what it takes to make the event a pleasurable and relaxing one.
For those who haven’t camped much, or are rather rusty in the outdoor arts, here’s a crash course in how best to plan for a few nights under the stars.
It seems obvious but with camping, if you fail to plan you most definitely plan to fail. Before you even think about getting the equipment together, write a list of all the things that you will need for the trip.
Practice with your tent
They can be difficult to put up at the best of times and if you take the wrong turn you may be further tested by fading light, so it’s best to have a practice putting up your tent before you go on your camping break. If you don’t have a garden in which to do a test run, at least unravel the tent at home and see how it fits together.
As daunting as this may first seem, most modern tents go up with minimal effort; that is, when you know what you are doing.
Take your own food
Don’t rely on the campsite having food when you get there. It’s also cheaper to buy before you go, so stock up on as much food as you can carry; but avoid getting anything too fiddly.
Book in advance
Unless you are a seasoned camper, you are advised to stay at a specific campsite, rather than taking your chances in the wild. Most campsites around Europe are booked solid in high season so it’s important to reserve an area beforehand. Before you do make the booking, have a look at what independent reviews say about the campsites on your shortlist.
It is always good to check the weather for your campsite at the time of the year that you are planning to go. However adventurous you are, you probably wouldn’t enjoy a really cold night with only a sleeping bag and a thin tent to protect you – it can make the next day a very grumpy affair.
Take lots of thin layers of clothing
This is the most important item on the entire list save, perhaps, for the tent itself. People often think that just because it’s summer and the weather is clement during the daytime that they won’t require lots of clothing. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Even the hottest countries in Europe get cold at night and it is therefore imperative that you take lots of thin layers to wrap up in. It’s especially important to plan your clothing needs well if you are going on activity holidays.
Nothing ruins a camping trip quite like a hard floor. In one short night it can make you feel like a walking bruise. The more stuff you can bring to put underneath you the warmer and more comfortable you will be.
Pitch in a sensible position
When you get there, make sure you aren’t next to the toilets or the bins. A perfect spot might well involve nearby trees to shelter you from any rough winds during the night.
You will want to take a first aid kit with you, even to ease the slight burns and cuts that could occur from outdoor living. Take the obvious precautions with children and remember that even the small gas stoves stay hot for a time after they are turned off, so take good care when handling them. If you are travelling to more remote sites, you should also inform loved ones as to your destination.
As great as charades can be in the short term, you will probably need a little more to entertain you in the television-free, great outdoors. Card games and other small group activities should be considered in advance.