10 steps to a fantastic camping experience

Camping. It’s a bit like Marmite really in that it tends to be something you either love or hate.

Personally, I’m a big fan.

Even if you set up a tent in your back garden you feel like you’re on the ultimate adventure. Add a campfire, BBQ, marshmallows and a couple of beers (served in an aluminium mug of course), into the mix and it’s like you’re a million miles away.

Our first family holidays involved a lot of camping. Although, looking back on it now it was kind of the first stage of ‘glamping’. We used to stay in Eurocamp resorts which had huge green tents, camp beds (so you weren’t on the floor), fridges and ovens inside them. Definitely glamping. From this we progressed to caravans and from there to villas (my Mum and Sister were never really fans of sleeping under canvas).

On my recent kitesurfing/faceplanting trip I rediscovered a love for camping. Over recent years the only time I’ve camped has been whilst trekking mountains whether on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, or in the Indian Himalayas. During these camping experiences I’ve been so knackered, cold, wet, aching that there’s not been much of a chance to actually enjoy the camping experience.

Fortunately, my camping experience near Camber Sands was relaxed enough to enjoy a weekend of outdoors living. No phone charger, no internet – just a pack of playing cards and good company. It definitely wasn’t glamping (although I’d love to give proper glamping a try!), but it was great!

So, in honour of this, here’s 10 steps to help you have a fantastic camping experience!

  1. Check the weather. There doesn’t have to be the promise of sunshine, but just make sure you’re prepared. Think raincoats, umbrellas, and wellies. Oh, and make sure your tent doesn’t have a hole in AND isn’t put up inside out. Both of these have happened to me on camping trip. Tents tend not to work that well when they’re inside out (I’m looking at you campsite man from Paraty…)
  2. Take a pack of cards. If you’re camping with a group of friends you’ll be amazed at the number of different card games you can come up with between you (and the number of different names for the same ones). Cards will keep you entertained while the BBQ is getting itself ready.
  3. Get a disposable BBQ. Or, if you’re really fancy, buy one of those cool BBQ buckets. Word of warning – make sure that the bucket has a lip around the edge or those sausages you’ve been slaving over will roll off (three second rule though, right?).
  4. Get creative with your cooking. Sausages and burgers in buns are great on camping trips, but why not spice things up a bit? Vegetable kebabs are seriously easy to make. Just chop some veggies up (red onion, peppers, aubergine and courgettes work well) and stick them on a kebab stick. Heat over the BBQ or campfire and you’re done!
  5. Pack warm clothes. Whatever the weather, the evenings get chilly and you’ll be grateful for a big warm jumper when the sun goes down.
  6. Remember a torch. This is the thing I always forget. Torches make that night time trip to the toilet block so much easier.
  7. Invest in a good sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are so comfy when they’re good quality. Check out this double sleeping bag I used on my recent trip. It was honestly like ‘sleeping in a bed’, it was so cosy.
  8. Marshmallows. Always marshmallows. Buy some big fluffy marshmallows and be prepared to toast them over the fire. The ultimate camping experience as they go all gooey and so, SO tasty.
  9. Pick a nice campsite. Noone wants to be crowded into a field as if they’re at a festival. It’s not even fun when you are at a festival. Do a bit of research and make sure that your campsite provides you with plenty of space. I stayed at Romney Farm near Camber Sands. There was so much space in the fields and all the facilities were perfectly kept. It was also really cheap compared to all the other sites in the area.
  1. Bring a spirit of adventure. Camping’s not for everyone, I know. But take a sense of adventure with you and be prepared to laugh if things go wrong and you’ll have a fantastic time. If that peg you’ve been hammering for ages bends, just get a new one and it you fall over a guide-rope in the dark, use it as a funny story to tell your friends.
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What are your thought on camping?