Camping is a bit like Marmite. Alright, I can see the link may be a little tenuous but hear me out; most people either love or hate camping. You’re either the “a spot of rain never hurt anyone!” kind of person or you’re the “where the hell am I supposed to plug my hair straighteners and phone in?” person. I’ve never been able to find a real in between.
If you really can’t stand to live without technology (living without Habbo for me is the hardest part, I’m ashamed to say) I suggest you stay at home. Similarly, I wouldn’t recommend camping to anyone who seriously values personal hygiene; there will (probably) be showers but you won’t want to be spending more than a couple of minutes in there max. But I’ll discuss all this further down in this little camping survival guide I’ve put together. I should mention that this article is specific to camping for the sake of camping rather than camping out at a festival or something similar. Festival camping is extremely different (although some of my points still stand).
I mentioned this above but I’ll have to say it again: if you’re the kind of person who needs to constantly be plugged up to the internet or you start experiencing real-life withdrawal symptoms, camping is not for you. Even if you think you can handle it, I wouldn’t recommend taking anything particularly valuable. Technology doesn’t mix well with rain and if you’re stuck in the UK like me, you’re more than likely to have to experience at least one day of dismal weather. If you’re lucky enough to avoid the rain there are still plenty of other things that can happen to your precious tech so just trust me when I say: leave the majority of it at home.
Last summer I was camping right down by a river in Ipswich and I came back with 56 bites, four of which were infected (TMI?). If you’re afraid of insects, going right into the homes of the spider, moth, mosquito, etc. probably isn’t the best idea for you. Although it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll have to experience some mosquito bites whilst you’re getting back to nature, there are things you can do to minimise the damage:
-Cover up. This is particularly important in the evenings as (obviously) mosquitoes can’t bite you if they can’t reach your skin. However, speaking from experience, I should point out that leggings aren’t good protection as the bugs can bite through such thin fabric.
-Repellent. Go out and buy yourself the strongest insect repellent you can find. I recommend Jungle Formula but you’d need to make sure to buy strength 4 of it. Your sunscreen may claim it has insect repellent in it but I can promise you you’ll regret just using that. Oh, and you’ll want to be applying your repellent around 3 times a day: when you get up, at lunchtime, and then again at dusk. You may also want to spray your tent every now and then to keep that bug-free as well.
-Don’t use deodorant to kill insects. Although it kills the ones you spray directly, the smell will attract other things (wasps in particular) which will probably be a lot worse.
I already talked about this a little but I can’t stress enough that it is physically impossible to be clean when camping. You’re literally sitting in a field of dirt and mud, sweating under the heat of the sun. What were you expecting to happen?! Yeah, there might be showers on the campsite but they’ll be full of insects, have extremely cold water, and I don’t even want to comprehend what’s been done before you got there (perhaps it’s more a question of who’s been done, but I’ll keep this PG or Laura will tell me off). My only tip to help with hygiene? Take as many baby wipes as you can possibly afford/carry. And I can assure you that that still won’t be enough. It’s a long old trek to the toilets just to wash your hands so it’s great to have some baby wipes you can just whip out before and after every meal. Not to mention they’re fantastic for cleaning the worst parts of you if you really feel you can’t face the hell that is the campsite showers. Oh, and take dry shampoo. Dry shampoo will be your friend.
Here’s my final tip: pack as you would for a normal holiday, then double what you’ve got in the case, then add five more pair of socks and two more pairs of underwear and you’re probably halfway there. If it rains you’ll be wanting to change clothes fairly frequently to keep dry, and if it’s hot you’ll want to change into clean clothes to keep yourself vaguely presentable. I end up taking about 12 pairs of socks for 6 or 7 days and going through every single pair because I sleep in them when I’m camping (which I never do anywhere else) and always step outside barefoot and end up with dirty soles so I have to change. TAKE SOCKS.