Camping can be a great way to spend your holiday at one with nature, enjoying the great outdoors. If and only if you’ve grown up with it from your early childhood and never stopped practicing. If, however, you’re a complete novice or your last camping experience goes more than ten years back, you should brace yourself for a number of challenges. I’m not saying it won’t be a rewarding experience in the end, but it might help if you approach it with a certain degree of humour and a lot of patience. Based on our recent camping break here are just a couple of challenges we were faced with:
1. Friends mocking you
If none of your friends remember you ever going on a camping break and you’re known for being even remotely fussy about choosing your hotels, you can expect uncontrollable laughter outbursts combined with sheer incredulity from their side. Our friends asked us to send them photos of us in the campervan as if this was the most improbable place you could ever find us at. In return we were receiving images of luxurious motorhomes with garages for a convertible. Of course with friendly recommendations that we should postpone any camping attempts until we can afford something like that.
2. Family worrying they may never see you (or the equipment you borrowed from them) again
In our case the main concern was the camper van we borrowed from my parents. My father fulfilled his lifetime wish buying it so it’s understandable that he’s overprotective of it. The fact that he’s a MacGyver type of guy while my husband is the complete opposite of him did not help either. After thorough instructions lasting over an hour he sent us off with worried look in his eyes, sensing that we didn’t have a clue of what we was just trying to explain to us. He left us a bottle of champagne in the fridge to open it when we reached our destination and managed to park the big vehicle. I bet he popped one himself when we returned his Precious undamaged.
3. You making a fool of yourself on several occasions
This one is definite. And most of the time you won’t even realise how utterly stupid you are in the eyes of camping professionals. With us it started as soon as we parked in front of the reception and exchanged curious glances: What next? As a beginner you lack the basic camping etiquette. Should you register first and then find the appropriate space or the other way round? What is an appropriate space? Should you park facing your immediate neighbours or showing your back to them? How much distance from the next tent is ok and what is invading other people’s space? A key for electricity – what’s that for and where do you put it?
Once you’re settled in on your spot you’re likely to have committed a series of faux pas that will clearly tell anyone observing you that you’re a living example of a camping dummy. I bet our neighbours were suppressing giggles just watching us take our equipment out of the storage box and then back in on the last day. I thought we were quite good at it but only until I’ve seen the family next to us how routinely they handled everything. Yes, I think we need some more practice.
4. You seriously testing your relationship with your better half and everyone else involved in the trip
If after all this you still think your first camping experience will be relaxing or even romantic, wake up and book the first hotel you can find. You should have seen my husband’s face when we were finally on our way. He could not look more annoyed and desperate at the same time if I told him to go iron his own shirts.
Not only did he have to endure the long lecture by my father, he also knew I would be following his every move making sure he observes all the instructions. Add to that the stress of driving the big thing for the first time unknowing of what was ahead of us. I could sense the tension in the air and I knew that it was all directed towards me. After all, it was all my idea. So I had to bite my tongue for the whole trip not to comment on his driving (which was of course perfect!). I knew our weekend would end right there and then if I uttered anything regarding driving through corners or observing safety distance.
What can I say about our whole trip? Despite all it was fun. Yes, it tested our patience at times and it made us deal with problems we don’t usually deal with. But that’s what life is all about, right? So would we do it again? Yes! Would you?