Let me tell you a real survival story. A moving tale of life-changing challenges that will bring tears to your eyes.
I’m 38 years-old and I’ve just been on my first camping trip.
It has been raining for 4 hours. My hair smells of roast because of the fire going on inside our tent, where I have taken shelter. The kids’ clothes are completely wet and hanging all over the place. They will smell of roast too soon, but at least they’ll be dry tomorrow (or so I hope). There’s not another soul in sight except for hubby who is bravely trying to get a fire going for dinner (all the other campers planned dinner at the local pub – obviously).
Only I shouldn’t really be complaining. After all the truth is, I’m not exactly camping.
What exactly is glamping? Officially, it’s where glamour meets camping. In reality it means having a really nice version of a tent (peeps, it’s still a tent), access to hot water and toilets. Glamour has nothing to do with it.
Hubby had been planning the trip with the kids – they had been dreaming about it for months. I was welcome to join in – but totally optional (he knows me). In fact I was only allowed to join if I promised not to complain (he knows me well).
After some soul searching (and strictly 2 days before the departure date) I realised I wanted to be there at the kids’ first camping trip – build memories and all those good things.
Having never been camping in my life I didn’t really know what to expect. So I asked around. My seasoned camping friends assure me it’s going to be fine. And you know, it’s only one night and it’s not even a REAL tent – it’s a downsized, electricity-free version of a posh, cosy suite. What could possibly go wrong?
A number of things. The weather, the clothes, the food supplies, the walking distance to the toilet facilities. However, this story is about how to make it work. So…
I know there are other city girls out there who may be considering a glamping trip deep into the wilderness, so I want to share my top 11 tips to ease your way into this back-to-nature experience:
1. Make your list in advance. Figure out what you’ll need to order from Amazon or buy from the grocers. Delivery may take time. Don’t get stuck with miniscule torches because they were the only thing you could find at Homebase the day before departure. You’ll probably need a cooler. Do you have one?
2. Bring disposable everything. Cutlery, plates, cups, napkins, baby wipes, face wipes. I know you’re not earning brownie points on the sustainability front, but when you must, you must.
3. Weather – plan for the worst. I didn’t bring enough dry clothes and was getting super stressed over it – specially because of the kids. Bring lots of socks. Wellies, obviously.
4. Pack luxe home comforts. People say to pack light, don’t bring lots of stuff – after all you’re supposed to be bonding with nature and all that. I can pack light. Cashmere is really light, actually.
5. Plan your meals meticulously. Cookware essentials included. You’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s not like you can pop out to Tesco’s around the corner if you’ve forgot the salt.
6. Don’t forget the essentials. Lamps, lanterns (and batteries), blankets, calpol, paracetamol, matches. I wish we’d had brought more lightning power with us…
7. Yes, bring the electronics. Remember it will get dark but you won’t immediately feel the urge to go to sleep just because the sun goes down – entertainment is a bare necessity. Kindle and Ipads were fundamental (hubby absolutely had to watch that evening’s match). Batteries fully charged. Check ahead for the quality of mobile reception, to manage expectations.
8. Demystify the toilet arrangements. It’s not that bad. You’re a big girl. Just get over it.
9. Upgrade your indulgences. Have things to look forward to you usually wouldn’t treat yourself to at home. It could be some lovely home-made marshmallows to roast on the fire. Take some delicious healthy home-made crumble. I decided to bring a cake from one of my favourite coffee shops to enjoy at brunch (yes, I did walk in and asked for the WHOLE cake).
10. Make the most of local produce. There were delicious fresh eggs, sausages and veggies from local farms. We cooked some for brunch and brought lots to enjoy back home.
11. Embrace it. Get into the right mindset. Which I did, when it stopped raining. And it was great.
My verdict? I did it for the kids and it was worth it. They had a blast, regardless of the wet clothes or smoke-scented hair. They’ll remember it forever and I’m happy I was part of it. The burgers grilled on an actual fire were delish too. And I actually can’t remember the last time I completely switched off like this.
Will there be a next time? Possibly.
Now that I know what to expect, it gets easier. But I’ll probably be recruiting a bunch of friends to come along – maybe we can do that thing where we sit around the fire, chat about life and practice stargazing?!
If it’s not raining. In which case I’ll get myself an Uber back home, pronto.
We stayed at the Surrey Hills Yurts , which is just one hour drive from London.
Have you ever been camping? What are your top tips?