Once you’ve experienced the joys of camping on home soil, you may start to get the urge to wander further afield and to experience other sights and cultures by taking a camping trip abroad.
For most countries, you’ll prepare in much the same way, although you should plan even more ahead of time so that you can find out more about the places you’re going to be visiting. You’ll need to know what the weather is likely to be like and research any campsites you’re thinking of heading to. If you’re camping off the beaten track, try to find out as much information as you can about the region before you go.
Wildlife and Nature
Camping in certain countries and regions present quite a different challenge than in the UK, especially with regard to wildlife and nature. If you’re camping in the wilderness, it’s especially important to find out about the kinds of animals and other wildlife that will be sharing the habitat with you. You may encounter a bear, a moose, a poisonous snake and lots of other creatures that are not common to the UK. For the most part, a direct encounter is unlikely or you’re more likely to be able to view the wildlife from a safe distance. Nevertheless, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality so find out about the terrain you’re travelling to and what advice park rangers recommend with regard to the wildlife. Likewise with plants and flowers, some people use the natural environment to provide them with extra food so be sure to find out whether anything you’re planning to eat is safe to do so.
Medication and Prevention Against Illness
Remember to take sufficient supplies of any medication you’re taking at home as your prescribed medicine may not be as easily available in the country you’re travelling to. Although most countries provide clean, bottled water, it might be a good idea to take a water filter and some water purification tablets with you if you’re going to be camping in remote places and it’s always beneficial to stock up on anti-malaria tablets before heading off. If you’re travelling to places like Asia or South America, get advice from your GP about any inoculations you may need and, if you’ve had injections previously, it may be worthwhile getting a booster.
Because your camping trip is likely to be longer, don’t be tempted to pack any more than you’d normally do for a similar length trip in the UK. If you’re travelling by public transport and on foot, a heavier than normal rucksack can soon become a burden, especially in hot climates. The likelihood is that additional clothing and supplies will be readily available in most of the larger cities around the world. It is, however, a good idea to pack a long sleeved T-shirt and a pair of thin, canvas, trousers to cover your arms and legs in areas where you’re likely to encounter mosquitoes. If you’re planning to use a stove to cook, make sure that the country sells fuel that is compatible with your stove.
It’s crucial that you have travel insurance if you’re camping abroad. Policies are cheap and some companies specialise in travel insurance for backpackers if that’s your mode of travel. Medical bills can be extortionate overseas and some doctors and hospitals simply won’t treat you if you have no insurance. On this note, it might also be useful to try to find out the nearest hospital or clinic to where you’re heading in case of emergencies.
Common sense is your best weapon against problems you might encounter whilst camping abroad. Try and blend in with the locals and don’t draw too much attention to yourself. It’s a good idea to read up on local customs. Try to talk to the locals and generally be polite. People will respond better if you’ve made an effort. When carrying money, don’t try to carry it all in one place. Some loose change and a couple of notes in your pocket can be supplemented with the majority of your money hidden in a concealed money belt worn under your shirt. Take a debit or credit card with you. This reduces the amount of cash you have on you at any time and you’ll be able to withdraw money from cash machines in most countries.
Another good idea is to scan any important documents such as a passport, travel insurance policy etc and send them to yourself in an e-mail. That way, you’ll always have access to copies of them wherever there’s an internet café. Try and find out the latest news about the place you’re visiting prior to travel. Having a general knowledge about what’s been going on there may not only add to your safety through awareness but will also enable you to strike up a conversation with the locals more easily. The Foreign Office’s website can alert you to any travel warnings for any particular country you intend visiting. If you’re going to be away for a lengthy period, leaving an itinerary of your proposed journey with a relative or friend and arranging to telephone or e-mail at set regular intervals can ensure that people at home know you are safe and if they’re not certain, they can alert the relevant authorities.
Apart from the environment, cultural differences and the weather, camping etiquette is pretty similar throughout the world. With careful planning and a willingness to embrace the unfamiliar, along with a good dose of common sense, a trip abroad can enhance the camping experience even further.