With the weather heating up nicely and the school holidays fast approaching, many of us are now turning our attention to those all-important summer holidays.
Countless years of austerity and a weakening pound have left many of us wondering how on earth we are going to occupy the children for six long weeks – or whether or not taking a holiday would even be a realistic possibility.
Camping has long been a firm favourite with families with the first official campsite welcoming holidaymakers on the Isle of Man, in 1894. However, camping needn’t be about roughing it on a mud-soaked pitch anymore – not unless you want to of course! There are endless possibilities to enjoy a fun-filled family camping holiday this summer.
Camping is great value for money
One of the most obvious benefits of camping is that it’s generally cheaper than staying in a hotel or B&B. Travelling abroad also becomes more accessible to those on a budget with the ferry costing a fraction of a plane ticket – especially when travelling as a family. Of course, hotels can be great for a night or two but if you’re looking at being away for longer, camping is a fun way of saving a few pennies and using the extra money to explore the local area.
The cheapest option is to take your own tent, pots and pans and a roll-up mat. However, camping gear can initially be expensive, so look out for second-hand tents or maybe borrow one from family or friends to keep the cost down.
If that sounds a little too basic for your needs, you could always try a spot of glamping. This way it allows for that little bit of luxury while still reaping the benefits of outdoor living – and it’s still often cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Camping is sociable
When was the last time you spent good-quality family time together? This doesn’t mean all sitting around in the same room playing on your tablets or smart phones. It means really being together – communicating with each other, eating and doing activities as a family.
Camping brings families back together – whether your children are young or heading towards adulthood. Involving the kids in preparing the food and eating alfresco is fun in itself and sleeping under the stars is like magic to a child. Electronic devices kill conversation and without these distractions, we begin to get to know each other again, build special memories and reduce our stress levels. It even brings us closer to our neighbours! As a child, I certainly have many happy memories of making friends with the other children on the campsite or more recently, sitting with our neighbours over a drink in the evening.
Camping makes us fit
Let’s face it, in today’s society we’re not getting enough exercise. Endless hours stuck in front of a computer or TV screen has left many Brits overweight and heading towards Type 2 diabetes. Combining exercise into our holiday plans is a great way to work off those extra calories we often consume while we’re away. Camping gives us the opportunity to have fun in the great outdoors and get fit at the same time.
Just being in natural surroundings makes us more inclined to explore the surrounding area in an active way, rather than automatically jumping into the car. We want to head off on our bikes or discover the local walking paths. It’s also a great opportunity to try out something new like canoeing or horse riding.
Camping is a great mind healer
Camping isn’t only beneficial to our physical fitness, it also goes a long way in improving our mental wellbeing as well. Research has shown that being surrounded by nature reduces stress and can lessen the signs of anxiety and depression. Nature has a calming influence on our psyche and by removing ourselves from the constant stimulation of technology will do wonders for our mental health.
There’s something wonderful about sitting around a barbecue as a family when there really isn’t anything else to do but eat and chat. It’s about enjoying being in the present moment rather than worrying about what lays ahead.
A good night’s sleep is essential for our health and helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Going to bed under the stars and waking naturally at first light resets our circadian rhythms and allows for a much more restful sleep. We wake raring to go and ready for another day of fun in the great outdoors.
Why camping is great for the kids
Apart from the obvious benefits of outdoor play, camping goes much further and can even benefit our kids’ education. This isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Research done by the Institute of Education at Plymouth University and the Camping and Caravanning Club in 2015, show that children who go camping at least once a year go on to do better at school, as well as being happier and healthier. The parents surveyed felt that camping supported subjects like Geography, History and Science. Sue Waite, who led the research, supported this view; “the most common camping activities were natural – such as rock pooling and nature walks – where children were getting to understand ecosystems and identify lifeforms, respecting nature and the environment”.
So, why not explore the idea of camping this summer and make some special family memories? The great thing about camping is that it can be as glamorous or as simple as you like. One thing that is guaranteed is that your children will remember these holidays long into adulthood.
Nadja – here is a link that could be useful.
http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/travelabroad/camping-in-europe/germany/ Some great German destinations through the Camping and Caravanning club.