The Camping Guide...for First Time and Experienced Campers
Camping is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s a chance to get out into the countryside and really commune with nature. It’s something that’s just as much fun for beginners as it is for those who’ve been camping for years.
This site is written by people who know camping, who have the experience to guide you through all the ins and outs and make sure that your camping experience is one that will keep you – and your family - coming back for more.
1. Starting Out
At heart there’s nothing difficult about camping. All you really need is a tent. Depending on the weather you might not even need a sleeping bag. To enjoy a camping trip properly though, you will need a certain amount of equipment, especially if you’re not travelling alone.
When starting out you may not know just which camping equipment is essential and which isn't. Knowledge can save you plenty of money; if you want to buy more later, fine, but why spend money you don’t need to spend?
2. The Tent
It’s important to buy a good tent that’s the right size and style for you needs. Having the right size makes sure no one is cramped, and sometimes the easiest pop-up tents aren’t suitable. Depending on the type of camping you’re planning, weight and portability can also be factors. If you’re backpacking and camping then you need a tent that’s as light as possible. If you’re in a car that becomes far less important; you have the room for a large, family size tent.
It’s also important to know how to look after a tent, to prepare it for putting away in the winter, how to check it at the start of camping season and to be able to repair any rips that might happen; it’s much cheaper than buying a new tent.
When it comes to sleeping in a tent there are more options than novices might suspect. You’ll need a sleeping bag – but what type of bag? There are literally hundreds on the market and making a choice can be difficult. As if that wasn’t enough, you also need to decide what to sleep on. It shouldn’t just be the groundsheet of the tent. Instead you want a mat or an air bed – but which is best for you, and what are the pros and cons of each one?
4. Essential Knowledge
Before you set out on a camping trip there are few things to think about: make a checklist to be sure you've got everything; check out the etiquette at the campsite you're going to, especially if you're taking children or pets; make sure you know where to park up before being allocated a pitch and if there are any security codes to get you through barriers (many bigger campsites have these); secure your home (cancel the milk!) and tell the neighbours.
If you’re planning on doing some hiking you'll need to investigate refreshment stops, get a map of the area (campsite shops sell these but quite often at a premium), research the best hiking boots for getting out on the hills without blisters - and wear them in before you go. If you’re planning on avoiding the campsites to enjoy some wild camping, it’s useful to know what’s allowed and what’s not (as well as where you can legally wild camp), as well as being aware of the Countryside Code.
The only limit when camp cooking is your imagination, but we have recipes to get you started, and some of them might turn into real camping holiday favourites.
6. Where To Camp
There are campsites all over the UK. Wherever you want to go, there’s almost certainly a campsite close by. But not all campsites are created equal. There’s a huge difference between a big commercial venture with a fancy shower block and a shop and setting up your tent in a farmer’s field or going wild camping. There are numerous campsite directories that offer excellent resources for campers.
When you plan your camping holiday you have to be aware of what you need from a campsite. With a family that will usually mean more facilities, although that doesn’t always limit you or move you away from nature – there are many great campsites in our National Parks. If you’re planning a camping trip abroad, you need to book ahead for campgrounds; in this case, being prepared is essential.
7. Camping Activities
When you’re out in the countryside you need activities to fill your time. Luckily, there’s a full range of pastimes for you to try: hiking is the obvious one, but what about kayaking or pony trekking? They’re activities that the entire family can enjoy, they’re also great exercise and you might not get the opportunity to try them closer to home. Or there’s fishing and mountaineering to give you a chance to get really close to nature and wildlife.
Some people combine lots of activities on a camping holiday - but remember, doing this requires plenty of planning and also stamina. Before undertaking these make sure you’re up to it, and if you’re taking a family, that they’re all fully prepared for it too!
8. Camping Safety
Safety is easy to forget when you're out in the fields, under canvas, watching the stars...but there are a few points to keep in your mind to stay safe. Women camping alone can be very vulnerable - so sticking to an official campsite and making yourself known to the campsite manager or ranger is advisable. If you're camping as a family with small children, they'll experience a freedom that they'll relish and remember for years to come, but you'll still have to be on your toes if there's a river or stream nearby (or even a main road that's easily accessible).
It’s very easy break into a tent so you need to be certain never to leave anything valuable in your tent. If you're in a car, locking valuables in there is a good bet, otherwise, put items like phones, wallets and cameras into your rucksack and take them with you when you leave the tent.
You need to know the basics, but we can also provide that little extra knowledge that can help bring far more enjoyment to a camping trip. Knowing what to do in hot weather or cold weather, for example, can make things more comfortable. What do you need to know if you’re going camping with a baby? How do you deal with mosquitoes or mice near your tent? Out in the wild how do you start a fire if you don’t have matches or a lighter? What about disposing of your waste and going to the toilet? Whatever your question, there's every chance we've got the answer here.
If you don't fancy erecting a tent whenever you camp, you'll know that caravanning is an equally popular type of camping in Britain. It means more initial investment than tent camping but offers all the comfort of a home away from home. A touring caravan will give you flexibility to travel wherever you want, but with a static caravan you need to be sure you pick the right caravan park for your needs.
With a touring caravan you have other considerations. You’ll need to store it during the winter and keep it secure. You need to consider the different models of caravan and may need to brush up on your driving and reversing skills when towing. There is also a knack to packing for the greatest stability.
11. Caravan Holidays
Owning a caravan or motor home gives you real freedom. Not only can you go all over the UK, wherever there’s a campsite or caravan park to offer a hookup, but also abroad. Many countries have different rules and regulations for motorists, from carrying warning signs to the way headlights need to be adjusted. We can help you prepare for a trip to the Continent with your caravan.
We can’t tell you everything about camping; everyone’s going to have a different experience. But we can help you get more from your holiday under canvas. If it’s your first time, the more you know, the more you’re likely to enjoy it and go camping again and again. It can become quite addictive, and it makes for a much cheaper holiday, far closer to nature. If you can get your family hooked, then taking off in school holidays offers plenty of chance for adventure for all of you.
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