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Camping Holidays

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 17 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Camping currently seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence as increasing numbers of people are discovering what holidaying under canvas can offer. One of the great advantages of this approach to your get-away break is the way it combines so well with other activities – walking, cycling or riding, for instance – and can fit in with bus or train travel plans too, making it ideal for the eco-friendly holiday maker. Whether you pick one of the many campsites around the country – which seem to be going through their own renaissance too – or opt for a more “wild” style of camping, there are few holidays which will bring you in touch with the environment in quite such a direct way.

Picking Your Equipment

Picking the right tent is essential at the outset, but with so many around to choose from, this can sometimes seem a bit daunting. It really comes down to a few simple considerations – where and when are you going, how big it needs to be and how much weight you want to carry. With rain an almost guaranteed feature of the British summer, whether its mud and music at Glastonbury or wet and windy in Wales, making sure you will stay dry has to be high on the list of priorities. Not so long ago tent manufacturers marked their products with instantly intelligible descriptions like “shower-proof” or “summer use” but today the relentless surge of technical jargon has caught up with them and everything is now given in millimetres of hydrostatic head. For most of us, this needs a bit of translating! For light summer use, around 1500mm should be fine, but if you want to be really sure, then 3000mm should give you a bit more confidence. More than this and you should be proof against even the worst downpours of a rained-out Wimbledon week. Other features which – though not essential – are definitely worth looking out for are colour-coded poles to make setting the tent up less perplexing, rip-stop and fire-retardant fabrics, spare guy-ropes and taped seams which help keep the inside dry when the rain is horizontal!When it comes to the rest of your packing, the number of wind-up electrical goods available has been steadily growing over recent years and now includes torches, lanterns and radios – some of these can also recharge your mobile phone. This is great news from the eco-campers point of view, since it does away with the need for so many batteries or having to be near an electricity supply. Add a cooking stove, sleeping bag and a rucksack to carry it all in and you are pretty much there.Planning Your HolidayWhen it comes to camping, the choices are almost limitless. You can camp in just about any country in the world, opt to stay at one site for a fortnight – or a different one each day – choose to make a leisurely time of it, or spend your time walking or cycling the area. For flexibility, the camping holiday is hard to beat. Whether you decide to take an organised holiday or go as an independent traveller, there are plenty of resources available to help you, ranging from books, such as Jonathan Knight’s “Cool Camping”, to websites and, of course, the camping clubs and organisations. The Camping and Caravanning Club – which claims to be the oldest of its kind, having been in existence for 105 years – lists over 1400 sites in the UK, together with details of a good number of international ones too. Responsible CampingWhether you are heading off wildlife watching on one of the many African safaris under canvas, or planning a little back-packing in the Lake District, responsible camping helps put the “green” in your holiday – and sets a good example to others. Some of it is obvious – removing litter, avoiding disturbance to nesting birds, wildlife and wild flowers – but others may not be, especially if you are in unfamiliar surroundings. In the UK, for instance, the Countryside Code gives a lot of useful advice which is helpful for anyone contemplating camping in the wilds of Britain. However, things may be different in other parts of the world, so it is always best to check with the local wildlife authority or ranger to make sure you do not harm the very ecosystem you came to see – or fall foul of a law you knew nothing about.Camping can be all things to all people – from a stay in a luxurious permanent camp in Kenya which is more like a fabric hotel than a tent, to a wilderness week with only what you can carry yourself. A holiday under canvas – however lavish or humble – is one of the best ways to get to experience the real feel of a place and despite its apparently growing popularity, when camping is done responsibly, it has very little impact. As an eco-holiday option, it is certainly worth a look.

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