How to be a happy camper
It's all in the planning.
As the sub-title suggests, planning is essential. If you read my other hubs on camping then you will probably have most of the equipment needed, so now what?
Hopefully you are reading this at the beginning of spring. When the days are getting longer and Mother Nature is awakening. You are beginning to get that tingling feeling in anticipation of the great weekends away. Are you planning to go inland or near the sea? High up in the hills or below, in the valleys. A quiet hideaway or somewhere that has plenty going on. Well! now you have the gear to do all of these things and you probably will try them all at least once.
If you are thinking of going on a Bank Holiday then you will need to book in somewhere early because everywhere will fill up fast. You don't want to be sharing a field with some cows. I woke up once and cows from the neighbouring field had invaded our site. It was funny watching the farmer and half the children on the site trying to round them up but they didn't half make a mess.
Ok. You have now booked a site and are raring to go. Have you planned your route? Have you taken into consideration the road traffic conditions for your journey? What time are you planning on leaving your home? Don't forget you need time to set-up your pitch; it's not much fun trying to erect a tent in the dark when all the children are tired and hungry from the journey.
If you have a sat nav device then use it. Once you get off the motorways, all those little country roads can easily be missed. I always try to get away on Friday afternoons. If I can't finish work early then I would normally set off at around 16.30pm. I know that is coming into the rush hour but that is why we always go to places north of us and avoid the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. Once we have got past Preston we are on open roads. At least I hope so. We have never had a problem so far. I wouldn't usually choose somewhere more than two hours away so plenty of time to get set-up on arrival.
Choosing your pitch.
If you going alone as a family then choosing your pitch should be quite easy. Most other campers will be arriving on Saturday, so you should have a lot of spaces to choose from. If you are going with friends then take into account extra spaces then you can be together. Try and get a pitch as flat and level as you can. Look around for discarded camp pegs, glass or litter. Avoid anything that may rip your groundsheet.
Pay attention to other campers around you. I remember one time when a friend of ours had completed putting up their tent. She jumped in her car and drove to move it to a better place but she hadn't noticed that some other campers had parked near her car and had started unloading their stuff. She drove straight over their tent while it was still in the bag and bent some of their poles. needless to say, they wasn't very pleased.
If you are on a slope then try and place your cooking stove on the most level bit. You wouldn't want your soups, flowing over the top of the pans. Also place your airbeds so that your heads are to the top of the slope and don't try to sleep side on to the slope. You will roll over during the night and end up entangled in your bedroom walls.(That's my daughters favourite trick)
Try to locate near water taps. Full buckets can get heavy. Somewhere near the toilets but not too close, (strange smells and all that).
The things you do.
Enjoy your holiday
Great, all the work is done. Time to put your feet up and have a nice brew or in my case, a cold can. Time to wind down and take in the fresh air. Talk to other campers and check out their equipment. Most people can't wait to show you their labour saving gadgets. Have a game of football or rounders; you will be surprised at how many other people join in.
In the past we have taken a fire pit that sits off the ground. (Always check the campsite rules regarding fires). We would bake potatoes and yes, roast marshmallows.
As the night closes in, it will get considerably cooler so put on some thermal underwear. We always put a blanket above our airbed and then lie on top in our sleeping bags. We also zip our two sleeping bags together to make one big bag. Buy a bag with a zip on the left and a bag with a zip on the right to do this. I sleep in just my boxers but my partner wraps up in loads of layers. She's the one that moan's about the cold, the next morning.
The best time to have a shower is early in the morning before everyone else on the site is up. The early mornings are my favourite time of day. I will often have a walk around the site, checking out other people’s tents. (I still think mine is one of the best). You are more likely to see some of the local wildlife in the early mornings. Mostly deer and foxes. Glad we don't have bears like they do in America.
Slowly the campsite will burst into life. It is so relaxed, people don't care what they look like and you will often see people wandering around in their bedclothes.
You will probably want to visit places in the area but are worried about your belongings. I can honestly say that security has never been a problem when camping. You will not see any padlocks on tent doors. I don't think people have the space in their own cars to steal anyone else's goods. It's just not done.
Although one night when I was playing football in the fading light. My partner shouted to me
"I cant find the zip to get into the tent, you come and do it" so a little narked I went to the door and found the zip. Once inside the tent, I looked around and shouted
"Oh no, we have been robbed" I felt her grab my arm and she whispered.
"We are in the wrong tent". A discreet getaway was needed. Ha Ha. Oh what fun.
So go and visit as many places as you want without worrying.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Don't let your husband listen to the game on the car radio, Unless you have some jump leads with you.
More stuff you might need
Here we are. Time to go home and a lot of packing up to do. The important thing to remember is that there is no need to rush. Just take your time and pack everything away neatly and in its place. If you pack up in the right way, then you shall have no problems loading up for the next trip. We store all cutlery, pots and pans in large plastic storage boxes. Ready to use the next time.
If it has rained during the night, then give the tent time to dry. Try to avoid packing away a wet tent, even if it means hanging around for a couple of hours. If it's still raining and doesn't look like letting up then you will have no option but to pack up. When you get home try to dry it out before the next trip. We don't want any mould forming.
When everything is away and in the car. Have a good look around for tent pegs and litter.
Leave the campsite as you found it.
Have a safe journey home.
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