Just How Popular is Camping?

As anyone who’s waited too long to book a spot on a campsite in summer, only to find there’s no room, knows camping is a very popular pastime. Sometimes it can seem as if it’s too popular, as sites become more and more crowded. Given the economic downturn, it’s likely that more and more people will turn to camping as a cheaper holiday alternative, making it even busier.

That’s understandable. When times are tight, people still want to get away, and camping does represent the best value for money around. Just a few hours in the car and you can be in a different world, enjoying a holiday close to nature, but with access to all kinds of attractions.

How Many People go Camping?

It’s estimated that about 1.2 million people in the UK go camping on a regular basis. That might not seem like many, but it’s actually a sizeable chunk of the possible population. Of those, many will camp in the UK, but camping holidays in Europe are also extremely popular, with a particular favourite, perhaps surprisingly, being Denmark, whose flat scenery is quite reminiscent of East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Certainly, a camping trip to the Continent is far cheaper than staying in hotels, especially for a whole family. Even when the pound is down against the Euro, it can still be an affordable holiday, especially using the Channel Tunnel and driving.

But staying in Britain is the preferred course for most, offering an easy, portable holiday. Camping has been around for centuries, of course, but as a pastime in an organised fashion it’s existed for just over 100 years, since the first real campsite opened on the Isle of Man in 1894, although in those days the campers were all male.

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From there it’s simply grown and grown, with campsites proliferating all over the country as people want to spend the free time next to nature. The 1920s and ‘30s were a particularly popular period for camping, when people from the grimy cities wanted to explore nature, and it experienced a resurgence during the ‘60s as a freer alternative to the boarding houses that were the main places to stay, before the advent of the budget hotel.

The sport of caravanning – often looked down upon by real campers – has also taken off in the last 10 years or so, too, as all those following endless cars and caravans on the motorway or A roads can testify. Again, it’s a way of getting back to nature, at least after a fashion and with some creature comforts, and a cheap way to go on holiday and travel around.

The Future of Camping

Camping is never going to go away. It’s well-established and continually growing in popularity, and likely to continue that way. The vast crowds that flock to festivals each summer often get a taste for camping that remains with them, bringing more people into the pastime.

It’s an ideal way to enjoy the summer (yes, you can camp in any season, but only the hardy – or foolhardy – go camping in a British winter), and many campgrounds are within an easy walk or a village, so you can always stroll in and enjoy a cooked breakfast or pick up the paper. Just remember to book your camp spot well in advance!

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