introduction to camping

  So you want to get into camping, but where do you start? Already into camping, but you want to know where the best camping sites are or even where to get that groovy camping gear?

We were in your position only a few years ago, and have fast turned into hardcore campers. We’ve had so many questions and inquiries over the past few years, we decided to set up an informative website with all those questions answered.

If you are already a camper, and just want to read about the best places to go or the best and most groovy gear, or simply read ‘words from the wise’, you may want to skip through this part and go straight to the relevant article links. Although we have added some useful information and links for everyone at all stages... enjoy. 

Camping ... Where do you start?

Like in many other walks of life, it is all too easy to impulse buy, then find yourself a few months down the line, all the wiser but wishing you’d bought ‘this’ instead of ‘that’. By giving all aspects of it a little prior thought, you can get yourself exactly what you need when you need it and without ending up wasting money in the process.

If you are completely new to camping then you are going to have to get yourself kitted out. But first, I’d recommend you have a think about the kind of places you would like to go camping. Because this will pretty much determine your most appropriate buying choices. For example, there is no need to shell out hundreds of pounds on a mountain tent designed to withstand the rigours of Mount Everest when your intended use is more likely to be a holiday park on the Devon Coast. 

So here is your first thing...  where are you going to go? Give this some consideration first. Broadly speaking we consider camping trips in different types / categories:

- Holiday park or ‘ a holiday on a budget’ ... you don’t want to spend too much but want to take the kids away, or simply have an additional lower-cost holiday to your regular holiday. 

- Glamping (= glamourous camping) ... this is ‘posh camping’ for those who like the idea of it, but don’t like the idea of pitching tents and getting their hands dirty. 

- ‘The Real Camping Experience’ ... at a ‘tents-only’ site (no caravans or statics) with a wonderful environment or fantastic views, decent facilities, and which encourages ‘all things camping’ such as camp-fires, cooking outdoors and the outdoor life generally.

- Wild camping ... Not for the faint-hearted, only technically speaking available in Scotland. Read more on this elsewhere in this website.

Personally, I favour the ‘real camping experience’. It is what it is all about. It is wonderful for kids of all ages, but equally for young couples who want to have that special getaway. If this appeals to you, I would strongly recommend you purchase one or more of the ‘Cool Camping’ series of books. (I own the whole series now! – they have been a priceless tool and have guided us to the most heavenly places in the UK and beyond).

The Cool Camping books comprise honest detailed reviews of ‘real camping experience’ camping spots that have that something very special about them. In other words, you won’t find any ‘holiday parks with evening cabaret’ as that is the cardinal sin of Cool Camping. Only the most special places in that great outdoor world can make it into the book. Plus there is far more information in them than is accessible on websites.


Cool Camping Books

As an additional point, we often hear people say ‘I really want to go camping, but my other half is not up for it’. Please forgive me for stereotyping here, but this is most often the females. I have heard comments like ‘what about my hairdryer and straighteners?’, or ‘how am I going to wee in the night?’, or ‘won’t I be cold?’. If you are one of those unfortunate folk who are greeted with this overwhelming obstacle of persuading your wife/girlfriend, then fear not, I am here to guide you! 

And actually, by acquiring one (or some) of the Cool Camping books and giving it to your partner as a bit of bed-time reading often goes a long way in re-shaping those ill-conceived ideas about camping, and makes them see all that is possible! Also, I cover the ‘realities and joys of camping’ in the section in this website 'camping life’ – where you will pick up some other strong persuasive points to help you deal with this commonly-experienced ‘obstacle’.

Consider what you feel you need in terms of ‘facilities’...

Electricity: Some people feel they cannot go without electricity. Good news is you can have electric hook-ups. If, in living terms, you want to be a small step away from home, you could have an apartment-sized tent, electric plug sockets, plus heaters and all. Many people do this. Then they start to realise how easy it is to function without electricity. In fact how thoroughly liberating it is! If you really must have electricity, then that’s up to you, but generally speaking you will only find this on the more ‘commercialised’ types of sites. Which, again generally speaking, means you’re getting closer to the ‘holiday park’ type of site. That’s not personally for me. So, equally I’d urge you to consider carefully what exactly is it that you need a 240V socket for? .... Phone? – you can charge that in the car. DVD-player? – portable players run off 12DC car power. Hair-straighteners? – Did you know, in addition to gas powered ones, you can also buy 12V (car socket) straighteners?  Besides, you do all the vanity stuff in the shower block, where there are nearly always sockets or dryers anyway. When you really think about it, there is actually very little you ‘need’ 240V plug socket for. 

Shower & Washing facilities: Having said all of the above, some of the sites listed in the Cool Camping series are probably a bit too ‘hardcore’ for the first-time camper, due to lack of facilities. So, one of the first things to look at is exactly that. Most sites (even the basic ones) have toilet/shower block and washing up facility, and most will have a laundry bit (or at least a machine if you do need to wash clothes). If you are a first time camper I would recommend you look for at least these facilities on-site. Everything is then relatively easy. I go into more detail on all this in the ‘camping life’ section.