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A Version of Camping I Can Enjoy

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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.

view from camping tent

Australian Camping: View from the tent.

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.

car and tent in port douglas

Camping in Port Douglas

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?

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11 Responses to A Version of Camping I Can Enjoy

  1. Christine January 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I camped for the first time in AGES across the Nullarbor and absolutely loved sleeping in a swag under the stars! However, I think I loved it a) because it was with a group tour and thus I didn’t really need to worry about shopping or cooking or buying a tent and b) there are no bears in Australia! Thus, you can totally sleep outside without any worries. It was a great experience, but honestly, I think I fit squarely in the “glamping” category normally.

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      I bet there were so many stars on your experience! Sounds awesome 🙂 I agree that the not having to worry about a bunch of extra crap like camp cooking, etc. makes it a lot more enjoyable.

  2. Alouise January 3, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I haven’t really been camping since I was a kid, where we’d drag our trailer out to a lake two or three hours away. In Europe I learned campsites often had accommodations and facilities that are just as good as what you can find in a hostel. I do like being outside, but I don’t think I’d want to completely ‘rough it’ for any length of time. Your version of camping sounds like the best of both worlds.

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Amenities and camp facilities make such a big difference!

  3. Liz January 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    I agree with you 100%! Camping has never been my thing (even though I wish I could like it), but what you described sounds pretty nice, and definitely something I could handle. Just found your blog and look forward to reading more!

    • Brooke January 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

      Hey Liz! Thanks for reading and stopping by. I know what you mean about wanting to like something like camping when you just can’t. So frustrating when you think about the cheapness factor.

  4. Australia traveler January 4, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    It must have been quite comfortable and it sounds nice, but I still prefer classical camping with self-made food, no internet – maybe just cell service ICE and all the wild staff. 🙂
    Though, I think I would not do all this in Australia with all the snakes around…

    • Brooke January 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Ew don’t say snakes…. 😉

  5. Rebecca January 4, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Aussies and New Zealanders have camping down to an art form that no matter how “outdoorsie” Americans think we are in the summer, they put us to shame. Nearly all of their campsites are awesome and unless you pay $1 or park by the side of the road, you can guarantee that the quality of the campsite will be top notch.

    Glad you had a good time!

    • Brooke January 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Yes, it’s true! Even the tents people have… many have air mattresses and bring barbecues of their own. It’s very impressive and they all act like it’s no big deal. 🙂

  6. Daniel January 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Great post! I don’t have an aversion to camping — but it seems every time we go, there’s a massive downpouur, followed by a deluge and we end up sleeping in the car with the steering wheel severely restricting my ability to roll over in my sleep. But still — have three getaways planned for this summer!

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