/ Travel & Leisure

Can you convince me to give camping a second go?

Two cartoon characters camping

It’s National Camping and Caravanning Week and many Brits sing the praises of alfresco holidays. Others are put off by the UK’s dodgy weather. Which camp are you in?

If you sang or heard the national anthem this weekend, the line ‘Long to rain over us’ probably seemed fitting.

OK, it should be ‘reign’, but this was yet another bank holiday where many of us had to put up with a soaking.

This seems particularly unfortunate as it’s half-term and the week where camping and caravanning holidays are being promoted. I’m no champion of camping. In fact my parents never took me on a camping holiday, I was never in the Scouts and I haven’t slept in a tent at a festival.

‘In-tents’ experiences

I did give it a go for a while during a backpacking year in Australia during the 1990s. But my memory of it is scarred by the experience on my first night trying out a newly bought second-hand tent. I returned to the rain-lashed Byron’s Bay campsite to find water had seeped into my pre-erected (and possibly badly-erected) tent. Vowing not be a wuss, I slipped into the damp sleeping bag, but gave up when a worm slithered onto my face – then shelling out for a room in the nearby hostel.

So I admit I’ve become a rare, and fair-weather camper. I’ll probably join friends on a British hiking weekend later in the summer, but they want to sleep in tents along the way rather than a hostel. I know that it’s easy to find really reliably watertight tents these days (and worm-free I hope), but I’m still put off by the idea of getting drenched in the rain and then having to shelter inside the tent until things dry off.

Cool camping

Am I ignoring all the benefits, though? Obviously, it can make for a really affordable holiday – especially for families. The Camping and Caravanning Club says that a grass-only pitch can cost just £66 for three nights with no electric hook-up, and £70 with electric hook-up (based on a members’ family deal).

With the rise of ‘glamping’ over the past few years, and guides like Cool Camping, it’s much easier to find campsites and tents with a little extra luxury and home comforts such as wi-fi access.

It seems most people who take the plunge love it nowadays. In a recent survey for Which? Travel, 84% of those who took a camping or caravan holiday rated it as good or excellent. So maybe I’m missing out.

I’m canvassing opinion on whether you love the UK camping experience. Can you convince me that I’ll enjoy a tent-based holiday? I look forward to hearing your pitch!


If you’d asked this question 5 years ago I’d have said I hated camping. My family went camping a lot when I was young and I have many memories of leaky tents, grumpy cold meals around the campfire, and permanently wet feet.

But recently I’ve done more camping as an adult and I have to say that it’s great – the key thing is not to skimp on a tent. If you’ve got a nice big tent that you can put up quickly and easily, and that you know won’t leak, then no matter what the weather’s like you should be able to have a nice time. The best thing about camping is you get a bit more freedom than you would in a hostel – you can sit out around the campfire, cook your own meals, etc, and if you’re in a remote enough place (there are plenty of them) you don’t have to worry that you’ll disturb the neighbours.

My key camping tips: if you want to have a campfire, check with the site before you book. Many places in the UK won’t let you have campfires, so if it’s key to your enjoyment, double check. Make sure our tent doesn’t leak (see para 1) and that you know how to put it up – i.e. do a test-run in the garden. Finally – spare socks. The more you can bring, the better – no one’s happy with wet feet =)

I used to go ‘camping’ in France with my parents when I was younger, at those huge camp sites like ‘Keycamp’ and ‘Eurocamp’. The tents were almost like little houses (except much less sound-proof) and I always wondered why we didn’t just hire a caravan.

I have to admit – my least favourite thing about camping is when you have to walk to a bathroom in the middle of the night when you need the toilet. If it’s cold and you’re tired – there’s no worse feeling. However, as an adult, the idea of ‘proper’ camping seems much more exciting.

I have to say camping can be a mixed bag. On the one hand there is the cost effective nature of ‘roughing’ it, and there can be a real sense of getting back to nature and enjoying the fresh air. But on the other hand, once the sun has gone down and the cold sets in, the romantic idea of camping can go out the window.

I agree Jennifer, popping to the loo in the middle of the night is the worst element. But despite all the negatives, I think if you’re well prepared – snack food, a woolly hat for the night, maybe a game or book to relax with – and with friends and family, it can be really fun, and not at the expense of you wallet.

Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been camping. I love the fact that you can walk a whole day in to the wilderness of the Cairngorms and then pitch a tent knowing that you are many miles away from the nearest person. Solitude can be really good for the soul in moderation.
As already mentioned the key to a good time is going prepared. I have a lightweight walking tent and a very warm sleeping bag. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night freezing cold and it is surprising how cold it can get in the summer.
Go prepared though and the sense of achievement and independence of carrying your home on your back (if only for a few days) really is incredible.

Peter says:
11 June 2012

Totally agree with Angus but prefer to do our camping in a motorhome – all the comforts of home under one small roof. There are huge amounts of places that you can park in solitude and enjoy the best British or European countryside at your front door. Great for a weekend, week, month or, for those lucky few, all year.

May I tentatively suggest that the discussion is about camping under canvas? 🙂

@Wavechange how about this for a compromise?

Hmm. It would probably be cheaper to buy a tent with central heating.