Thursday, 23 May 2013

Camping in comfort

There are some people, like my son Matthew, who regard comfort while camping as entirely optional. Then others, such as my friend Ann, say camping in any form should be avoided at all cost by sane adults.

I’m somewhere in the middle.  Camping is a great way to give the kids a fairly cheap trip away, and it does me good to be in the fresh air and away from the work desk. But I’m not a great fan of shivering cold and hungry in a field.  “Holidaying under canvas” is really what I aspire to.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas that help me when we go away.

Tent Doormat
I take a doormat to put just inside the tent. Having this to stand on while changing footwear helps keep some of the grass and mud out of the main tent. I buy them for 80p from Ikea and if they look too grim at the end of a trip I throw them away.

Gas lamp 
I've got various lamps and lights and torches, but my favourite is the gas lamp.  They can be a bit pricey to buy but I've found they throw out a welcome amount of heat, as well as light.  This can be a great advantage in the evenings when it’s starting to get nippy.

An increasing number of campsites are offering an electrical supply for your tent, for a small daily surcharge.  I've been told that’s not “proper camping” but I have no pride when it comes to these things!  You need a special adapter  but with one of these to hand all sorts of wonderful things can now be plugged in – table lamps for reading in bed, a DVD player to keep the kids quiet, a CD player to share your music tastes with the rest of the campsite.  I stayed on one site that offered WiFi, for a noticeable cost, so you could take the laptop and do a bit of work while on holiday - that seemed to be going rather too far even for me!

Even after several years of camping I've still not settled on a bed I feel comfortable in.  I've tried various different airbeds and roll mats. This year I have bought a camp bed which has little legs to lift you off the ground, so I’ll see if that’s any better.  I don’t really like sleeping bags, as they feel one step away from mummification, so I've got an extra wide sleeping bag, and then I take a duvet as well for the warmth and the comfort.

I am still no expert.  I’d like to have some way to recharge the mobile phones, maybe from an AA battery powered charger.  I know you can get solar powered phone chargers, but the good ones seem awfully expensive. Matt has a wind up phone charger so I should give that a go. He says it takes a good amount of winding to get a trickle of a charge into the phone. Sounds like that is something best left to a younger fitter generation than me.

I also have no clue how to pack a wet tent!

If you've thought about camping but have never finally make the leap maybe some of these ideas might encourage you to give it a go.  And if you have any camping tips do share them in the comments.  Or just tell us what's your favourite Premier Inn :p

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  1. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for this, I'm in the middle too and getting all excited about upcoming festival camping this summer! I used to think I don't like camping, but it turns out I like music more than doing without a few creature comforts. So I sort of came up with a compromise: I always pack a nice blanket AND hot water bottle, ear plugs, yummy snacks, good books, plus large plastic bags (very handy for keeping things dry when it rains) and extra toilet roll. Oh and I always travel by public transport, so it's definitely possible to travel relatively light and still have an enjoyable time.

    This summer I'll be heading to, and maybe a couple more. Can also recommend a new book called 'Extreme Sleeps' by Wanderlust editor Phoebe Smith.

    Enjoy the camping, music and reading!


  2. Growing up, my parents were the coolest since me and my siblings often tag along in their camping trips. There was always great food and games were abundant. We were always goofing off and having card games. There are days when treasure hunting is our game and pre-gadget days, those were the best ones. For cool camping ideas that are tops, see:

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