The accommodation available at Santa Pod is BYO - Bring Your Own. There are no hotels on site, although you may be able to find a B&B in the outlying villages - but that means having to drive to the track every day. There have been rumours of a Pod Hotel being planned, but nothing definite as yet.
So, we camp. Which to be honest, is part of the fun. Some Podders use caravans, but I prefer the old-fashioned tent. Well, I say old-fashioned, but my tent is big enough to fit a car inside! This hub is going to give a few camping hints that I've picked up during my years as a camper, and a Podder. For the first-time camper, it might even prove useful...
The Santa Pod weekend campsite
If you haven't got a tent yet, start looking well in advance of the summer. Winter is the best time to buy tents as they're nearly always on sale. I got my tent from Ebay for only £50. The RRP was £150, so you can really get a good bargain if you're patient!
You need to consider how many people are going to be using your tent, and how much space you'll need. Although there are only two of us in mine, I actually bought a 10 man tent because of the large 'living room' space inside - handy for Pod if it rains - not that it ever has when I've gone! But if you like big tents, remember they're much heavier than small ones, so if space and weight is a factor in your car, go as small as possible. I have a big car and I've become an expert at packing it for Pod, with all the bags, food, BBQ, gas bottles, coolers and gods knows what else we take with us...
My massive garage-sized tent!
You'll need bedding, and sleeping bags are the usual choice, although we have been known to take a duvet occasionally! Look for bags which compress small, for ease of packing - natural fibre ones are best for this. You'll ideally need one which can keep you warm or cool, as Pod weather, although hot during the day, can turn chilly at night - especially if you go to Flame and Thunder in November like we do! The ground tends to be hard, so an airbed or rollmat is a good idea. If you have an airbed as we do, you'll probably find that it's deflated slightly through the nigh as the cold air hits it, so you may have to pump it up each bedtime. Try and find one with a detachable foot pump, or, like ours, one which uses a pump attached to the car cigarette lighter to blow it up.
You'll need some form of lights around the camp, as the only floodlights at Pod are around the food courts and funfair. A torch is useful for the trek to the loo at night, and we always have a few electric lanterns dotted around as they give good light and are safe to use inside the tents. Glowsticks also work well inside tents, and are great if you go with your kids as they make good nightlights.
Similar to the BBQ we use
At Pod, campfires and other open flames are banned, and it's never a good idea to have open flame near tents anyway. We take a gas BBQ, but a coal one is ok to use provided you keep it away from the tents. We also have a little camping stove for boiling our kettle, and it's good for heating up smalls pans of soup too. You can pick up camping stoves quite cheaply, and the gas for them is around £5 for 4 tins. We also have a small heater which runs on the same gas, for the colder nights.
We take an electric coolbox which runs on a car battery, but if you can't stretch to one of those (they're about £40), a regular coolbox will keep cold for a few days provided the lid is kept closed. OR, and here's a little-known fact - put your food in a bin liner, dig a hole in the ground, and bury it, leaving the top of the liner sticking out so you know where it is of course! This will keep your food cool and also out of the way.
One lesson we learned at Pod last year was get breakdown insurance! On the last day of the meet our car refused to start. We live 160 miles away from Pod so a taxi wasn't an option, and we didn't have breakdown cover either. Luckily, one of our friends had the type that covers him for any car he's in, so we managed to get a tow truck on his policy. As soon as we got home we bought our own breakdown cover. Some car insurance policies offer breakdown cover too, so when mine runs out I'll be getting a two-in-one.
Travel insurance is another necessity we've learned about the hard way. We took a leisure battery, complete with storage box, with us last September, and the person responsible for it forgot to take it inside the tent with them...and it was gone the next morning. Box and battery together cost around £90, so it was an expensive thing to get stolen.
Funny video - how not to put up a tent!
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