A straw poll of friends and family (excluding my camping industry pals obviously) showed that some of them didn’t actually realise what a modern camping holiday is like. So in an effort to clarify I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about it.
1) First of all we’re talking about camping holidays in Europe so the vast majority of the time, the weather is going to be a lot better (if you’re reading this from the UK!). Less of the wringing out of smalls and making a mad dash from tent to toilet block and more of the al fresco dining and glass of wine watching the sun go down.
2) A camping holiday does not automatically mean a tent holiday. There are a large number of different accommodation types to choose from – ranging from tents through to lodges of various sizes and Safari Tents or stylish Moda’s. They come with fully equipped kitchens and usually have an open living/dining area and garden furniture outside.
3) …and a mobile home in a hot country does not automatically mean having to suffer indoor temperatures comparable with midday in the Sahara. The majority of mobile homes are now fitted with air conditioning units (although check your accommodation description to be sure) and if they aren’t it’s often because they’re well shaded or in locations that are not stiflingly hot (with a sea breeze or up in the hills).
4) Privacy – the privacy of the pitches varies from site to site – some are divided by hedges and some are pretty open. Some are set out in very regular rows, others are in a more haphazard dotted around the place type scheme. As a rule I’m generally a very private person (the huge fence I instructed my other half to put up around our garden has been likened to the Berlin Wall) but there is something extremely sociable and companionable about eating your dinner outside whilst others around you are barbecuing or enjoying a pre-dinner drink. And it’s fantastic for children to meet and make friends.
5) Outdoor space – one of the most pleasant aspects of a camping holiday is that you have a bit of outdoor space. You’re not stuck on the 4th floor of an apartment block. You want to potter about, relax and flick through a magazine but the kids want to be outside playing. Simple – open the door, out they go, you can see them and everyone’s happy.
6) Facilities – again these vary from site to site but most do have pools (free unlimited access) or are by the beach. There will generally be an onsite bar and restaurant, often providing takeaway. Lots have excellent sporting facilities and many have children’s clubs and entertainment. Admittedly the entertainment standard can be a little, shall we say, unpredictable, but it’s guaranteed to be good for a laugh. And if you’re of a more competitive nature the sites often organise sports tournaments for old and young alike (Pete has proudly informed me that he was the 1988 Château de Fonrives table tennis champion). But the beauty is you can take part in as much or as little as you like.
7) There is something for everyone. Whilst the campsites with the vast array of facilities may suit some, others are looking for something a bit quieter or where the location matters more than the number of sports pitches. Everyone is looking for something a bit different from a holiday and there are many different kinds of campsites – some smaller, some bigger, some in mainstream touristy areas and some in secluded stunning locations. And campsites themselves can vary according to the season – the large lively campsite at high season can have a much more tranquil atmosphere at low season.
All in all a camping holiday is a very relaxing style of holiday, there’s a great atmosphere of companionship and conviviality, all in lovely natural surroundings.
If you’re a camping novice what would you like to know about? Or indeed, if you’re an experienced camper what wisdom would you pass on to first-time campers?