We’ve all been there. Your heart speaks of nothing but a summer in Europe but your bank balance is determined to keep you at home. Well, if you are like me and weren’t born into a life a wealth and luxury, working out ways to travel cheaply has become sort of an obsession. After trying backpacking, sofa surfing and strategically inviting myself into the homes of friends and family, it was time to try the adventures of camping and my, what an adventure it was!
Firstly, we needed gear so off to Go Outdoors we went. After awkwardly lying in about 50 display tents we finally decided on the Vango Nova 300. While it is technically a 3-man tent, husband, I and our bags fit in perfectly. With its flat tunnel shape, easy setup poles and super lightweight material we can pitch the tent in less than 10 minutes without even breaking a sweat. With a durable groundsheet and waterproof flysheets and seams, the Nova 300 kept us dry even in the most terrible Scottish weather we tried it out in. The best part is that the tent weighs less than 3kg, making it perfect of hiking trips of packing it in checked luggage when travelling abroad.
When you’ve got the tent, you need something to sleep in. Feeling way to constricted in the regular mummy-style sleeping bags most modern adventurers use, I went for the High Gear Snoozzz 2-season sleeping pod. Offering more then enough space to manoeuvre around in and warm enough to even battle out temperatures up to -13°C, the Snoozzz is warm, machine washable and most importantly, easy to get back into its bag!
We also spent a few quid on things like pegs, a mallet, some chairs, an air mattress and pump and two headlamps. For cooking we got a kettle, a pot and pan and a little gas stove. For £1.99 we also got a heavy duty knife-fork-spoon set that clips together. All and all our Go Outdoors bill came to a rather steep £239.42 and we still needed some very important things. Our next shopping stop was at Amazon where we bought the small Vango Cypress table for £17.89 and two of the most gorgeous traditional white enamel mug, plate and bowl sets from Girls Travel Club for £17.98. While doing my research on the area in Scotland where we tried out all our new camping gear, I read warnings of large amounts of midges – small fly-like insects that we later found out loved to bite and just be a general nuisance. Luckily we took the warnings seriously and spent £7.99 on a 2 pack mesh face and head cover net which literally saved my sanity. I’m generally not bothered by bugs, but when they come in swarms so big it turns day to night, I get a bit difficult!
All in all, we had spent just shy of £300 for everything you could ever need to go camping which, as a sudden expense, seemed like a lot. But think about it: where we camped in Scotland, hotels start at £115 per night. The Loch Chon campsite in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park where we camped charged £7 per night per person. With our camping gear and our 3 night stay totalling at just under £340, it still cost us less than the £350 it would have if we stayed in the cheapest hotel in the area. And now we have the camping gear! On our next trip we will only have to pay the camping fee which in the UK averages between £10 and £20 per night.
The best part of camping, however, is not that it’s cheap. Being close to nature and away from life’s distractions is what makes camping so special. No phones, no Netflix, just fresh air, trees and lucky for me, great company. Spending time hiking in the Scottish mountains and strolling along the lochs’ pebbly beaches was a soul refreshing experience and I highly recommend it!
To see more pictures of our camping trip, be sure to follow my Instagram account at @luzanne_f.