6 Holiday Hacks for Camping in Europe
In a country so cold and wet, it’s surprising that anyone would ever consider spending their nights in a muddy field, wrapped up in their sleeping bags and praying their pop-up tent doesn’t blow down in the night. But, we do, because us Brits love a good camping break. Why? Because despite spending the weekend dreaming of hot showers, warm feet and the luxury of phone signal, it’s a great opportunity to detox from the busy city life and get in touch with our inner adventurer.
Luckily, camping isn’t limited to rainy weekends! Speaking from experience, camping in Europe is a totally different affair to the usual tent trip in the UK. For starters, you really don’t need your wellies, and you don’t need to cocoon yourself inside layers of sleeping bags either. But it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when you’re camping in the sun!
There are plenty of things you need to prepare yourself for if you’re going to consider camping abroad, so I’ve compiled a bundle of these hacks to help you.
1. Get a cool box
This was probably the best €6.50 I spent whilst on my 2-week camping trip in Spain. Firstly, because cold drinks don’t stay cold for long and nothing is less thirst quenching than a warm bottle of water in the 40-degree heat! Secondly, you’ll be sleeping in highs of at least 20 degrees at night, in a tent with no windows or air con… you’ll be in a home-made sauna! You’ll have lost a ridiculous amount of sweat in that time and, especially when you’re abroad, there is nothing more important than keeping hydrated. Having a cold drink in the morning will definitely make it easier and you’ll thank yourself for it too!
2. Lock your tent
This is more of a deterrence than anything, and is important because it doesn’t leave your belongings open to thieves. Although I would advise you not to leave anything of importance in your tent – or preferably not to take them away with you in the first place – it’s necessary that our cherished camera’s and Go-Pro’s need protecting when we are out and about. If you want to be extra careful, buy a small safe and leave that hidden in your tent somewhere. This is your best bet when leaving money behind too, which is a good idea in case you get pickpocketed (be wary at festivals!) It’s also a great idea to keep your tent locked at night whilst you’re sleeping – an extra precaution that just puts your mind at rest.
3. Buy a bum bag
Or at least a small backpack. Unfortunately, we do look as British as we are (mostly due to our milky complexion) and so we tend to stick out like a sore thumb. And that’s not always a good thing when you’re walking around with a handbag full of money, cameras and those brand-new Ray-Bans you bought last week, dangling on your shoulder. It’s worth considering keeping your valuables out of sight, toning it down with the flashy brands and getting a bag that you can keep close to your body. This way, you’re keeping your things out of reach from pick-pockets, and also prevent yourself from attracting the wrong attention.
There are some lucky people out there who are rarely bitten – myself included! But I never fail to take bug repellent away with me abroad, and I would recommend it on your list of essentials. Not just because the thought of wasps, mosquitos and ants crawling on me makes me shudder, but bites and stings are issues that are easily avoided. Once bitten, you have to worry about getting cream to take away that relentless itch, or even visit a pharmacist when it swells into a balloon sized lump. Plus, not all bugs in foreign countries are as friendly and harmless as the ones here in the UK (hence the need for vaccinations!). For a matter of a few pounds, avoid the hassle.
5. Plan your stops
Particularly if you plan on taking a road trip, or you’re staying in multiple campsites. I knew someone who planned a trip online, only to find that the accommodation didn’t even exist! Luckily, she discovered this before she paid and flew out there (Thanks to Airbnb), but this is the type of thing you need to watch out for. Firstly, read as many reviews as you can, and take recommendations from well-known websites or trusted family members. Also choose places close enough to civilized areas rather than in the middle of nowhere. Secondly, try to book places that don’t require full payment before arrival. This way you don’t lose all your money if you do happen to get caught out by online scammers!
6. Put your phone down, and step away from the screen!
Come on, you’re on holiday! Don’t spend your time watching the sun and sea through your screen. It’s not the Instagram posts that you’ll remember in 30 years’ time, it’s the story, and you won’t have a story if you miss the whole journey! Plus, unless you’re staying in a hotel, the chances are there will be nowhere to charge your phone, and it’s best to save that remaining battery for emergencies or contacting family and friends to tell them you’re safe.
So there we have it, my top tips that could help your camping trip run a little smoother. Bear in mind that these are not the only things to consider before you go away.
For instance, insurance and European Health Cards are a biggie when it comes to your health abroad (honestly, a small injury can cost you thousands), and making sure you know what number to call if disaster does strike!
For anything you aren’t sure of - the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website should give you all the information you need for your chosen camping destination. Oh, and most importantly, enjoy!
By Amaya Greenwood