Before you go
Check that all your equipment is in good condition before you leave. If a tent has been put away damp then it is likely to have rotted and may have large holes in the canvas. Check that all the gas cylinders are full so that you do not get stuck without any fuel whilst you are away. Make an inventory of all the items that you take with you, including how many poles and tent pegs you take. This means that you will have a checklist to complete on your return and will not leave anything behind by mistake.
When you arrive at the campsite you will need to find the area that will be best for you. Sometimes you will be allocated a spot, otherwise walk or drive around the whole site to see if there is a large enough space or one with natural shading etc. You should look for relatively high ground, so if it does rain the water will run away from your tent rather than it being stuck sitting in a pool of water. You should never pitch your tent on a slope as you may find yourself rolling out of it during the night! Check that there is a water supply close to where you want to pitch your tent, so that you do not have to walk a long distance whenever you need to fill your container. Make sure there is a flat area around the pitch where you will be able to place the cooker, which is also away from any trees or shrubs. Keep your site clean at all times, so locate the bins when you first arrive. Bring plenty of rubbish bags with you so that you can collect all your rubbish and will not have to keep making trips to the bins each time you have rubbish.
When you return
Wash and dry your tent as soon as you get home. This means that you will not forget to do it and lessens the chances of any damage being done to the tent. Wash all your cutlery and plates, and throw away any rubbish you may have brought back with you.
If you are a member of the Camping and Caravanning Club you are able to use any of their campsites across the country, as well as many others across the world. These campsites are all restricted for use by members only, so you can guarantee that they will also be safe and clean, and that their facilities will be in accordance with the club’s rules. For a list of these sites see the Camping and Caravanning Club site finder. There are, however, plenty of other sites across the UK and Europe for those who are not members of this club or who wish to stay elsewhere. For a list of these sites see the UK and European Camp and Caravan Site Directory.
Also see the Enjoy England website for details of campsites that are open to all across the UK.
Eurocamp is the most popular campsite holiday company within Europe. They offer campsites that are equipped with all the facilities you would need for an action packed and enjoyable holiday, including swimming pools and tennis courts, as well as washing and shopping facilities. All campsites have areas for caravans, (you can either bring your own or hire one), as well as a camping area for tents. Again you can either bring your own tent, or hire one of the frame tents provided. These are vast tents which can fit a whole family in, with separate sleeping, living and cooking areas. Eurocamp can provide you with discounts on ferry crossings, and is an exceptionally cheap way of being able to holiday throughout Europe.
Camping safety guidelines
- When changing gas cartridges and cylinders make sure that they are completely empty before you do so, and change them in the open air away from any sources of ignition.
- Store any fuel in a cool, dry place away from combustibles.
- Turn any gas cylinders off at the valve when they are not in use, with any of the pipes clipped away.
- Try not to use any appliances which need to be powered by petrol as there is a greater risk of spillage.
- Keep any cookers away from the entrance of your tent or any loose covers.
- Only use a cooker in a tent which has been designed for such a purpose.
- Keep the cooker on a stable, non-flammable surface.
- Plan your route before you go, and make sure someone who is not coming with you knows where you are going and has a copy of your route.
- Check the weather forecast before you go to ensure there will not be any extreme conditions, and so that you are able to prepare for any hot or cold weather.
- Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions.
- Carry a map and compass with you, and be confident that you know how to use both adequately.
- Carry enough food and water with you, as well as taking additional supplies in case of an emergency.
- Take a first aid kit, whistle and emergency flares with you also.
- Take regular rest stops if you are tired, especially on your descent, which is when most accidents happen.
- Respect quiet hours at the campsite. Families with young children may be staying and do not want to be disturbed.
- Use existing sites and tracks so as not to cause damage to the landscape.
- Do not take wood from standing trees.
- Respect fire bans and only build campfires in designated areas.
- Clean up all your litter, including cigarette butts, and use rubbish bins provided.
- Stick to the speed limit within the campsite.
- Only burn materials that will not leave any trace, i.e. not plastic bottles.
Photo by Trougnouf (Benoit Brummer) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91885383
Originally written for talkcamping.co.uk