Camping pleases the budget-conscious traveler given it usually doesn’t cost much to pitch a tent and eat store bought food over a camp fire — especially in relation to the alternative of a hotel and restaurant meals. In that sense, I respect and recommend camping.
The sad truth, however, is that I cannot usually stand camping.
It’s never been on my list of favorite travel activities and for many reasons:
- I never sleep well.
- I hate bugs and hate worrying about them getting on me.
- I get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
- It’s dirty, and showers and toilets can be lacking.
- I loathe cooking dinner over a fire.
I pretty much had erased camping as a holiday option from my mind until I did that 16 day road trip from Cairns to Sydney with Heather in 2010. On that trip, we had a tent and a car and planned to save money by using said tent at caravan parks down the coast.
It ended up being a quite enjoyable experience. Falling asleep in the perfect temperatures of Queensland nights with a full covering of bright stars up above was blissful. I even enjoyed my 6am wake-up calls by cockatoos and kookaburras.
This revelation shocked myself, but I realized that my ideal version of camping (above) was special.
Here are the reasons why I enjoyed the camping so much:
- I slept well. I had a nice little roll-up mattress that became comfy after a few nights of use. The caravan park people were those that enjoyed the early to bed and early to rise motto, meaning the camp was quiet in the night. We also made good use of our days out, so waking up at 6am to the gigantic and noisy Australian birds was just a good alarm clock substitution — as well as a warning that the tent would soon be getting too hot from the morning sunshine to stick around.
- We were out most of the day. To get our sightseeing underway, we headed out in the morning and came back in the evening.
- We didn’t spend much time outside. We were there to sleep, pretty much, so there wasn’t the time just sitting around outside a campfire. If we had extra time, we would hit up the camp’s common room to charge our laptops and use whatever wi-fi might be available (very rare!). This also meant I didn’t get bitten by many mosquitoes.
- We didn’t cook over a campfire. Instead, we hit up the shops and got easy/ready-made food items, or we ate out at restaurants. Glorious.
- The toilets were clean and plentiful. Each of the places we stayed at had great facilities, and one caravan park had mini-golf and a water park.
The more I write, the more this doesn’t really sound like camping at all!
Still, it is my version of camping, and one that I actually enjoy. I realized that I like being out in nature, and I love the sounds of animals in the wild, as long as I am able to do that from the comforts of a tent and with a few modern conveniences (ok, a lot of modern conveniences) here and there.
I’m actually on a camping trip that would almost be considered my ideal style of camping except for the sleeping part. Camping in Forster over the new year holidays means it is one busy and loud campsite at night. We therefore go to bed late and end up rising early to a scorching hot tent. So close to perfect, but not quite there!
What about you? What are your ideal camping environments and settings?