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Is Camping still a cheap option

Is Camping still a cheap option

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Back in the day, budget camping was a given. You could sling a tent and sleeping bag on your back, or into the boot of your car, secure in the knowledge that the British countryside was littered with cheap campsites ready to welcome you. Follow up with a pub meal or Pot Noodle and then snuggle down for the night – job done. As demand increased and the image of camping improved, sites were obliged to improve their facilities. And the cost of camping went up too. So is camping really still the best option for a break on a budget? Let’s find out.

Getting Kitted Out

The type and amount of equipment you take with you on your camping trip will depend to a great extent on your preferences. Much of what you need can be cribbed from home – duvets, pillows and blankets, tableware and cooking equipment, torches, and some folding garden chairs if you have them, for example. The only true camping kit you need to buy is:

  • Tent
  • Camping stove and gas bottles
  • Roll mats or airbeds (although back in the day families camped without a sniff of such luxuries)

There are some excellent outdoor retailers that can provide these basics at bargain prices, keeping your upfront investment to an absolute minimum. Go Outdoors, or Decathlon are great examples.

Where to Stay

Campsite prices vary wildly depending on their location, facilities and the time of year. If you are planning to camp a few times a year then it may pay you to invest in membership of the UK Camping and Caravanning Club. The £41 annual fee provides access to 1000+ sites where you can pitch-up (literally) for just a few quid a night, even as a family. If you prefer not to avail yourself of this service, it is perfectly possible to hunt down cheap sites online. Farmer’s fields are often some of the best cheap sites, although toilet facilities can be basic and may not be for the faint-hearted.

How Cheap Is It?

If you are prepared to take as much stuff from home as you can, buy a very basic tent, stove and airbed and shop around hard for a cheap place to stay, then you can honestly afford to take a two week holiday with a family of four for around £250-£300 (not including travel, food, and activities).

The Low Down

Is Camping still a cheap optionWe are a family of seasoned campers and regularly take our two small children away under canvas. For us there is no better way to spend our holidays and, even when we have been able to afford alternative types of vacation, we have usually opted to camp instead. Here are a few words of wisdom for anyone new to camping:

Decide how comfortable you want to be – the above figure will get you started. But if the weather is terrible (remember this is the UK we’re talking about so rain is likely!) a basic tent may begin to leak. It doesn’t need to be that way. I’d recommend buying at least a mid-priced model, with enough space to cook and eat indoors should you need to

1. Have a dry-run at putting up your tent – it may seem a daft use of time, but when you first put up a new tent it can take time to get it right. After a long car journey you’ll want this part to be easy, especially if it’s raining. And practice makes perfect. And speaking of rain – ensure ALL your camping gear is TOTALLY dry before you pack it away for the season. Even a few drops of water rolled up in a tent can lead to a mouldy mess when you unwrap it next summer. If necessary re-pitch your tent at home to ensure it’s totally dry

2. Buy a decent stove and cooking equipment if you plan to cook – one of the joys of camping is cooking hearty food outdoors. But it quickly becomes a pain if your stove is too tiny, your utensils are inadequate and your pans are simply not up to the job. Self-catering al fresco can save you £££ on eating out – so use some of the money you save to set yourself up for success.

3. Think of equipment as an investment – the more kit you have, the easier it is to get away, as you do not have to gather stuff from around the house. And dedicated camping gear tends to be more compact too, making life in your already cramped tent much more pleasant. Every piece of kit you buy will be useful on your next camping trip too. And the one after that. And so on. When looking at it like that, the upfront investment shrinks dramatically

4. Buy decent boots, waterproofs and warm clothing for everyone – being outdoors is fine if you’re warm and dry. If you get wet, you get cold. And that’s when camping gets miserable. Don’t do it to yourself

5. Be organisedcamping is basically like living in two or three very small rooms. Don’t take stuff you don’t need, keep what you do have tidy and well organised. Nothing breeds camping stress like a messy tent

I could go on, but you’ll discover your own tips in your own time if you give this a go. Camping can be an amazing experience, but is not for everyone and that’s okay. Know yourself and your own personal needs, wants and desires, if camping fits in with those then go for it.






About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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