What is Camping?
With so many great ways to enjoy holidays in nature it can take time working out what the right holiday or break is for your needs. Many outdoor enthusiasts are hardened campers, but if you’re a beginner camper or looking for some new inspiration, check out our guide which takes you through everything you need to know before heading out on a camping trip.
The best thing to remember about camping
If you’re new to camping, it can seem daunting. You’ll have lots of questions - such as: is a camping break right for me? What should I pack for a camping? Where can I pitch my tent?
The key point to remember is this: Keep it simple!
At the very heart of camping are two core principals. Camping is staying outside overnight in a shelter. At its most basic level it couldn’t be simpler. What you choose to sleep on, how you travel there, where you make your camp are all elements that need serious thought but at the heart of it, it’s not complicated so keep that in mind when you’re writing lists and sinking under research.
As humans, we tend to complicate things and we can lose sight of the simple things that come from the camping experience. Where you want to camp, who’s coming, what you’ll pack, what you’ll sleep in – these are all important add-ons that require thought and research but remember – simple is always best.
Different types of camping
Beyond the basic principles of ‘outdoors’ and ‘shelter’ there’s a wide range of types of camping. Mostly it boils down to the type of shelter you choose for your overnight stay.
Traditional tents camping
By far the most common camping is in a tent. There’s a dizzying array of tent options to buy nowadays – tents for garden camping, tents for mountain walkers. You can get tents for 1 and tents for large groups with communal spaces and separate bedrooms. Some are so big they could easily be used for putting on a mini festival. Pop-up inflatable tents are the latest trend which are incredibly easy to get up – and take back down again (allegedly!)
When buying a tent, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind:
- Size and weight: If there’s two of you exploring the mountains, you won’t want to lug a 5-man family tent around!
- Interior: If you’re camping with little ones, you’ll want a black out tent for those bright and very early mornings. Trust us.
- Accessories: not always important but add-ons like tidy pockets, lighting or tent carpets can make all the difference
- Assembling: who’s putting up the tent? Can you manage it alone if you have to?
Glamorous camping (glamping) is about treating yourself to a more luxurious camping break. Glamping accommodation can range from little pods to large Bedouin tents, shepherd’s huts and eco domes. The one thing that unites the different options is the addition of little luxuries. Beds, fairy lights, log fires, electricity, hot tubs and en-suite bathrooms can all feature in glamping accommodation so you can truly indulge in an experience that has one foot in a camping break, and another in an indulgent dream!
This is probably the best choice for beginner campers, or if you’re camping with kids. There’s no such thing as two campsites the same. Some sites have onsite shops, entertainment, playparks and games rooms, beautiful washing and bathroom facilities, saunas, steam rooms, swimming pools and restaurants. Others have one compost toilet, no hot water and uninterrupted views across lochs and mountains.
Basically – there will be a campsite to suit exactly what you’re after. You just need to decide what that is!
An experience like no other – just you and the great outdoors, with no need to worry about site rules and noisy neighbours. Wild camping does require a good bit of research before you head out. The first thing to consider is this: is it legal to wild camp in England?
The short answer is no – not really. If you’re planning on wild camping in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you will need to check ahead for permission from the landowners. There are some remote areas around England where you can wild camp without issue such as Dartmoor or the Lake District. Of course, people do go wild camping without landowner’s permission, but it’s still important to research it properly so you can make your plans around the law and what you’re comfortable with.
What about wild camping in Scotland? The good news is that it is legal in Scotland. Some areas require a permit during summer months – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – for example. For the rest of the country the right to roam means you can pitch up almost anywhere. Research, again, is important here. And common sense. It’s worth checking out theScottish Outdoor Access Code for a complete breakdown of what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Why go camping?
Adventure awaits! The very nature of camping means you connect to the great outdoors. Whether you’re wild camping in Scotland or staying on a quaint site on a farm in Wales – you’re outside more than you’re inside. Fresh air, countryside views and peace and quiet mean you can unplug from your screens and phones and relax.
Camping is about simple pleasure – from cooking food on an open fire, watching clouds pass by as you lie in your sleeping bag, spotting birds and wildlife or sipping a cup of tea at the entrance of your tent. Camping brings a sense of purpose and moments of calm, much needed in our busy lives today.
Who can go camping?
You know we’re going to say ‘everyone’ here don’t you?
Many people associate camping with roughing it in the wilderness in tiny tents and no luxuries, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you plan and pack smart. A bit of preparation means you can go camping with tiny babies or groovy grandads and everyone in between. You just need the right site and the right kit. Again – this all comes down to research.
Camping is often seen as an able-bodied activity, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of campsites around Britain that cater for people with support needs. Accessible bathroom and showering facilities and ramped access mean camping can be a great way for people with accessibility requirements can now be enjoyed by everybody.
How to prepare for a camping trip
Assuming you’ve done all the research around where you’re heading and for how long – there’s still a bit of preparing to do. First thing’s first – you need a list. Whether you’re camping on a site or you’re off on a wild adventure, a first-time camper or an experienced one, you will need a packing list.
Here’s a great way to create a preparation list for your camping trip:
1)Break the list down into manageable chunks (this is essential if you’re camping with kids):
- Camping kit
- Entertainment / Activities
2)Then break each section down. It’s easier if you visualise yourself going through the activity (for example – pitching the tent). Visualise the tools you’ll need for the activity and what you’d need if there was a complication like a tear in the ground sheet. Like so:
- Ground sheet
- Strong tape
- Extra tent pegs
3)There are some sections which you can break down even further – like eating:
- Camp stove
- Extra gas
- Sharp knife
- Bottle opener
- Skewers for BBQ and marshmallows
- Tins of soup
- BBQ items
- Bags of salad
- Tomato ketchup
4.Camping Snacks and treats
- Tea and coffee
- Fizzy water
- Hot chocolate
- Orange juice
4)Even if you don’t pack everything on your list before you set off camping (stopping at a supermarket en-route means your food will be fresher), you can set off for your trip knowing you’ve prepared everything you need to pick up the camping essentials on the road.
It’s also a good idea to have a practice run of everything before you go. Especially if it’s the first camp in a new tent or you’re borrowing one from somebody else. The main things you want to check for are:
- Tent poles – are they strong and straight enough to support the tent
- Tent pegs – is there enough for the tent? It’s a good idea to pack spares – if the ground is hard when pitching the tent for real, you may end up with a few bent or even snapped, so spares mean peace of mind.
- Ground sheet – make sure there are no rips or holes
- Top sheet – checking seams for tears
- Zips – can they pull up and down without snagging?
There are a couple of other important things to check before you head off on your camping break.
Check the weather! We know it’s not always reliable but it’s a great idea to keep an eye on what might be heading your way. It means you can change plans last minute if the weather is awful around the area you were going to stay.
Go through your first aid kit and make sure you’ve got the camping essentials in here. Plasters, pain killers, bite cream and antihistamine are all very important to pack so don’t forget them!
Midges. There are over 152 different types of midge in the UK and contrary to popular belief they’re just in Scotland (although they are particularly bad in and near the Highlands). Pack midge nets, creams and sprays in case you end up in an area where the midge likes to lurk.
What to eat on a camping trip?
As with many things around camping, what you eat depends on what kind of camping trip you’re on. Some campers like easy and functional options such as tins of beans, packets of noodles and instant potatoes or pasta. This is certainly a good idea if you’re planning on hill walking and camping in the wilds. You’ll carry less kit with you so instant food in packets will weigh next to nothing on the trek and fill you up quickly after a day walking.
If you have more time on your camping break and you don’t have to worry about convenience then building cooking into your whole camping experience can be a real pleasure. Cooking on an open fire or BBQ is always fun and there’s nothing quite like the smell of sizzling sausages and slicing mushrooms or turning sausages is a great way for kids to get involved in cooking. If you plan in advance there are lots of great meals you can whip up without too much hassle. Stir fries, carbonara style pasta dishes and fajitas are tasty, filling and don’t need much in the way of equipment.
By now, you’re probably itching to get pitching. It’s no wonder, there are so many adventures and great memories to enjoy when you go camping. This guide has looked at camping essentials and basics but there’s so much more to discover. The only real way to experience camping is to get out and do it. Enjoy!