Monday, 29 September 2014

Why on earth do people take camping holidays? A rebuttal.


Going camping.  It really does polarize people.  Have you found that?    

People either love the idea, or shake their heads in disbelief that you would want to even vaguely consider the concept!    

I get asked by people, who have never camped, why do that to ourselves?   They shudder at the thought of no ensuite, or room service and make clich├ęd and overused comments about the only stars they want to see are 5 star hotels.  

When I try to explain the benefits and highlights of this sort of holiday, they sometimes begrudgingly acknowledge there might just be some merit to a camping trip, but not enough to make them actually try it!

The whole mad practice of heading outdoors is discussed in the amusing article entitled “Why on earth do people take camping holidays”  by Dom Knight in the Fairfax Media online site “Daily Life”

(you can read the full article here)

This journalist falls into the category of “non camper”.    As he says,

There are some people whose idea of a holiday is having to do everything for yourself. These people find it relaxing to go to a place where you have to perform an even more time-consuming version of your everyday domestic chores, with vastly inferior equipment and no dishwasher. And these same people, rather than sinking their tired bodies into a comfy bed or sofa at the end of an arduous bit of travelling, would rather build an annoyingly elaborate shelter for themselves before they can so much as close their eyes for a few moments.

These people are called campers, and they are wrong.

I did have to laugh at the above comment, because when you phrase it like that, it doesn’t sound very attractive or appealing.  

But when you read the article, you see a few rookie mistakes that Dom made which certainly don’t lend themselves to a great camping trip!

So, I am going to highlight a few errors in his story.

1.   Camping at a music festival

why go on a camping holiday
Firefly music festival

Really?   You are going to a music festival, and expect a quiet, peaceful night?    That’s not camping.   

Music festivals are about plenty of music (some of it not so great), mud (always), alcohol (definitely) and festival attendees  attempting to look like they know what they are doing with camping gear, but really having no clue (100% guaranteed to witness).

  • Key to successful camping for newbies:   A  music festival is not camping.    You just happen to have brought along a tent whilst music is playing.

2.   Not having the proper gear

weird sleeping bag
Dom, in a prior experience at school, didn’t buy the right gear for the right situation (something I can definitely relate to, having done it myself!) so he once had a miserable night in the cold (yep, I’ve had that too).

So how could that have been avoided?      

Research and then more research.     Find out what is good, read reviews, and choose gear that suits you, your budget and camping conditions.  

The journalist talks about his bitterly cold night with the  wrong sleeping gear.    

Buying a sleeping bag for the conditions you are sleeping in is crucial, and it’s a pity that back in the day when Dom (and I) had sleeping bag issues, we hadn’t read this fantastic and insightful article which tells us exactly what to look for when buying a sleeping bag, and covers the issue of ratings on the sleeping bag.

  • Key to successful camping for newbies:  A little bit of homework before any trip (camping or not) is recommended  

3.    Proper camping gear is expensive

There is a saying “buy once, cry once”.

If you choose well and get good gear, handing over the credit card might make you cry.  Buy crap, and you will be doing a lot more crying when it fails you.  

But  - you can pick up good gear at reasonable prices if you are prepared to look around, wait for sales and also look at buying online (and generally from overseas).   

There is a lot of cheap gear out there, and if you are new to camping, you might not want to fork out a lot of money but you can still get gear that will do the job.   But it might not do it as long as you hoped.

And yes, ultra light camping gear is expensive.      Can’t argue with that one.  

4.   “Cooking while camping is the most annoying rigmarole imaginable”

campfire cooking

I find cooking when camping one of the most enjoyable moments, though I do concede that if your menu is over complicated or takes a lot of ingredients, you might find the prep work tedious, especially if your camping set up isn’t suited to that style of cooking.

If you don’t know what you are doing, and using a backpacking camp stove, you could find all the bits and pieces overwhelming.   But there is a beauty in its simplicity if you know how to use the gear.

Putting a camp oven on a campfire, and chilling out whilst dinner cooks – nothing too complicated there.    Its like a more rustic Weber BBQ.    And boiling water is not going to exhaust your cooking capabilities.   Boiling water in a billy is far more enjoyable, than plugging in an electric kettle!  Maybe not as convenient, but when camping, time is on your side.

  • Key to successful camping food for newbies: keep it simple, and work your way towards more complicated dishes if you wish!

5.  “Whenever it rains, somehow the water will get into your tent”

If you have rain in your tent, then something is wrong with your tent.    

Refer to point 2 – get the right gear for the right conditions .     

But camping in the rain does have its downside – that I fully admit.     It can be hard work as you try to keep essential items dry (e.g.. you and everything you need).   That’s why we take the easy route, and avoid heading out on trips if the weather looks bad.

But these are tips to help with camping in the rain.   Sometimes you can’t choose the weather you camp in, but the right gear will help make it more bearable!  

No such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.

6.  “Every little aspect of your holiday fiddly and annoying”

If camping was fiddly and annoying, I wouldn’t do it.     I don’t think anyone would.   

There is a bit more work to get yourself set up for the trip, than say, checking into a hotel, but for campers, this is part of the package and once you have done it a few times, there is an ease and familiarity that accompanies it.

  • Key to camping for newbies:    Don’t believe that every part of camping is cumbersome as implied.    It can be as complicated or simple as you like – you decide!

Camping and being outdoors has so many benefits – physical, mental, social – all of which I’ve covered before on this blog, but I accept that it’s not for everyone.  That’s not a bad thing.    This just means that when we head outdoors, we’ll have a better chance of getting the best camping spot available!

Do you ever get told you are crazy for going camping?    Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Why I love camping: a reader's story

Why do you camp?   What about the experience do you enjoy?    

That is the question that is answered today, by guest post blogger, Mark Wilton.    He shares with  us, the reason's behind his family camping and the importance of getting away from it all.

If you would like to share your story and photos, then at the bottom of this story, you can find out how!

camping with a trailer

What do you love about camping ?

What is the timeless appeal of getting out of your house and making the trek to the bush or beach and setting up camp ?. “Camping” means different things to different people.

For some it’s as simple as a swag, for others its a van or even an RV (yeah,  I know what you're thinking, and I reckon that's pushing the definition of camping to the boundary too).

For me,  there are a few reasons mainly centered around my son.

Pass on the wonder of this land to a new generation.

Serenity and isolation - perfect combination

It is my goal  to ensure that my young boy gets to experience this amazing land while we can still access much of it. There is something primal and enduring embracing its seasons and its harsh beauty.    Experiences here  (good and bad) can be valuable life lessons: common sense, planning, flexibility, resilience, mateship... the list goes on.  

Camping means he gets to see places not many people go; for example we crossed through the Simpson Desert last year.    Whilst seeing the wildlife,  he also got to see harshness of the Australian land.   He saw the vast skies and endless stars of the night. 

My son at the age of 6 has a level of confidence and social ability  I would have been envious of at his age. 

On long camping trips where we were only staying at places overnight he quickly learnt to find a new group  of “best friends” as soon as we finished setting up camp.    This ability to make new friends and mix with strangers meant a smooth transition into school this year.    

When camping, he has the freedom to explore and play that we don’t feel safe to do in our urban lifestyles.    This enables him to make decisions and be independent.

children and camping independence and learning
Independence and learning for children is another great aspect of camping

For me personally, its about getting out with good friends (or making new ones), changing the routine, recharging the soul.   This is easier to do while camping as the  meaningless demands and deadlines of the minutia of life are replaced with only a few key decisions a day (is it time to have a coffee, is it time to eat ?).  

This enforced slower pace  allows you to focus on the rhythm of life and you begin to notice more of nature.
The lazy buzzing of insects, the way clouds move and change, the rustling of scurrying mammals, things that are usually blotted out by the background noise of our busy lives.

Camping allows you to wake up to views like this

A campfire can be hypnotic, watching the flames leap about brings a peace to the soul, similar to listening to the waves crashing on the shore. 

My personal love of camping is to get up early before everyone else and watch the world come to life for a new day.   The serenity of a dawn kayak across the misty water, the satisfaction of finding a glowing coal in the campfire from the night before and restarting it, bring it back to life. 

Ahhh..yes.  It's the little things in life that make camping it should be.

What do you love about camping ?      Share your story on this blog.   To find out how you can be featured, get the information here.

Author Bio:

Mark lives in Brisbane with his partner and young son.
An IT manager by day he loves to get out and explore the Australian bush  on his time off with his family and camper trailer in tow.    In his spare time he write an occasional blog on their camping adventures:

Monday, 1 September 2014

How to camp in 2 easy steps

Camping isn't that difficult.

In fact, it's so easy, we have condensed it into 2 steps!  

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