On a budget? Go camping.

So what happens when you really need a break but don’t want to blow the budget?  Saving for any kind of travel, and in particular long term travel is hard work and involves a lot of sacrifices.  Taking time out for a break away can be a guilt-riddled experience, as every penny spent is a penny not saved towards a bigger adventure.  But travel should not be about feeling guilty and so I would suggest a solution….

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Camping.

I am almost definitely writing this post at totally the wrong time of year.  The prospect of camping in the UK during the winter is not at all appealing, and even as a northern girl, I’m not made of steely enough stuff to attempt it.

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But there is no denying that camping is pretty much unbeatable in terms of value, and offers incredible freedom.  It is very rare that you would book ahead to go camping and many campsites will not actually take advance bookings.  This makes it one of the most spontaneous ways of travelling as you can just set off and turn up.

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One of the things that Jim & I always talked about doing was a road trip around the UK.  We achieved a very time challenged version of this last summer, travelling in 2 weeks from Newcastle to Scotland and Wales via the Lake District.  We had a very tight budget, so we stuck the tent in the car and set off with a sat nav, a road map for back up and a vague plan.  We stayed in 5 different sites, never paid more than £20 per night to pitch and never pre-booked anything at all.

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Camping will not be for everyone, but here is why I think it is a brilliant way to travel:-

1. Budget

With prices to pitch typically around £10-£15 per night for a tent, it is hard to think of any form of accommodation that would offer better value for money.

2. Freedom

There are campsites all over the place and rarely is there any need to advance book.  You can wake up every morning and just see where the day takes you.

3. Clean facilities

A common impression of camping from non-campers is that it will be a dirty, horrible experience.  All I can say is that every campsite I have stayed in has had spotlessly clean facilities.  In fact, the facilities camping have often been better than many hostels that I have stayed in.

4. Accessibility

I doubt whether there are any major sights or attractions in the UK that will not have a campsite nearby.  I actually went camping with my Dad in London, only a short and very scenic Thames Clipper ride from the city centre.

5. It is cosy

It might sound daft as camping can certainly be cold (I would recommend bringing a spare sleeping bag to use as a blanket just in case).  But there is something very warm about sitting outside the tent, cooking in the open on a stove, listening to other campers and nature around you and watching the sun go down, before crawling inside and snuggling into a thick sleeping bag, shutting out the outside world.  It is actually quite nice to listen to rain hitting off the tent – it may only be a thin layer of canvas between you and the elements, but it feels safe, like home.

The view from our campsite in Keswick

The view from our campsite in Keswick

Camping is one of the best ways to pull off travel on a budget.   Jim & I had a brilliant time throwing out the agenda and just going where the fancy took us with the tent, and it is one of the cheapest holidays we have ever had.  Although the tent is most likely retired now until the spring, I’m sure we will have it out again for a quick, cheap weekend away when we really feel the need for a break.  At less then £10 per night each, it is very hard to feel guilty about that.

What do you think?  Are you camping lovers or camping haters?

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4 responses to “On a budget? Go camping.

  1. Pingback: Soul Camping on Pulau Ubin | Journeys of the Fabulist·

  2. Pingback: 500 photos – a campsite sunset | 500adventures·

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