With school holidays nearly upon us, are you wondering how to make the best of summer in the UK? Socially-distant outdoor holidays are enjoying a boom, as there is an urge to get outside and enjoy ourselves after an absolutely awful year.
A big thank you to everyone who has been looking at the Minimalist Family Camping website, stats are at an all-time high and it’s great to see such interest in camping.
So, firstly, hello, welcome and a high five for still being alive in a pandemic, no mean feat. Secondly, to have survived the stress, illness, uncertainty, isolation, fear-inducing news, loss of loved-ones, threat of long covid, unstable income, risk of unemployment, and let's not forget HOME SCHOOLING, and still be here, contemplating how to get your family off screens and out into nature is impressive.
Holidays abroad are pretty much off and here we are, over 60 million of us people in Britain needing a holiday more than ever before, wondering how we can 'get away from it all' (and everybody else) without leaving this island. Where ARE we all going to go?
So, I want to share a few ideas on how to make this summer as breath-takingly beautiful, glorious and exciting as possible without the endless packing and panic. I'm aiming for happy, busy, children and relaxed, calm adults. A bit of socialising, laughter, exercise, fresh air, wide open vistas, hidden forests, campfires, stargazing and seeing new places (at last!). But we are in the middle of a pandemic and so camping needs to look a little different this year.
UK Camping 2021 – How to avoid crowds
1. Try ‘tourist offsetting’. I live minutes from Bournemouth beach in Dorset (famous for being packed with beach-goers last summer). As I get to enjoy this beautiful seaside location all year round, I practice ‘tourist offsetting’ in August, giving up my place on the beach and taking city breaks instead. So ask yourself where other holiday-makers will be coming FROM... where is a bit less popular, or overlooked and go there. Instead of the tourist hotspots, try somewhere 30 miles along the coast or inland which will no doubt be equally beautiful but half as busy. You will be smiling as you pass traffic jams on the other side of your empty road!
UK Camping 2021 – How to make money from camping
2. Rent out your home on Air BnB. This was one of the reasons I started camping with less. Demand for properties is off the scale this year (they have increased by 587% in my area!!) so make the most of it. Renting out your home is an amazing way to make extra money, but clearing your home for guests is HARD WORK. Plus you need somewhere to go that doesn’t cost much to maximize profits, so camping is a great option, providing you have a small light easy kit that doesn’t requires hours of packing and planning.
UK Camping – planning your trip
3. Stay in one place instead of hopping around. It’s easier, less work, kids will be more settled, you reduce the risk of spreading / coming into contact with covid. Pick a place, do some research and discover what’s on the doorstep. We have all been forced to be tourists in our home towns during lockdown, exploring new places in the mile or two from our front door. Practice that skill from your campsite instead of ticking off the more well-known hot-spots.
4. Book in advance – while I am usually a last-minute,’ let’s see what the weather is doing’ kind of camper, that isn’t going to work this year. Campsites are going to fill up, so do your research, and bag a spot as soon as you can. Ideally, in a smaller site with fewer people. The pandemic is still happening and maintaining social distancing is important. Then, if you’d like to visit any special places that require tickets, or eat Sunday lunch in a lovely pub, book that too. It’s a bit annoying to have to spend time on it now but it will make the holiday smoother, calmer and more relaxing.
5. Be self-contained – I’m hoping most of you have been able to be vaccinated, but some people can’t be, and the covid risks are still out there, so keeping your group self-sufficient and avoiding too much contact with others is going to be prudent. Fortunately, camping in the great outdoors is a perfect socially-distant activity. The risk points will be shared facilities such as washing up sinks and shower blocks. Most campsites have responded brilliantly to covid risks and have created safer environments by increasing space between pitches, changing check in arrangements, offering deliveries to your tent, reducing numbers of people allowed on site…. So wear masks, sanitise, or if you can, be self sufficient. Take a folding washing up bowl along with you and wash dishes near your tent. Shower mid-day to avoid the morning rush, or buy a portable solar shower!
I do believe escaping to nature can offer some much-needed rehabilitation for everyone. I hope you are able to spend some extra time outdoors with your family this summer, and hope that the tips on the Minimalist Family Camping website and book can help you.
Recently, I have had some fantastic emails from mini-camping converts who have read the blog or book, tried out a few of my ideas and have found it helpful.
Hannah says: I have just returned from my first 'mini camping' adventure with my family.
It was all inspired by your work - I heard you speaking on Woman's Hour, maybe a couple of years ago now, and I asked for your book for Christmas... thankfully I received it and was intrigued about how I was going to make this happen for us.
Apart from a couple of music festivals my camping experience was minimal to say the least - we never went as a family when I was young and although my husband went a few times it was never something we really did. But I love the outdoors and I was determined we were going to give it a go!
Having dutifully got the bare essentials that we needed (inspired by your packing lists!) we made it to the Cotswolds for a couple of nights.
I have a 6-year-old son who has ASD ,and is quite particular with his own personal routines, and I wasn't sure how he would take to it. He absolutely loved it, as did his 4-year-old sister and together we had a really lovely time. We returned earlier today and I am already researching where we can go next!
Hearing this fills me with joy and if I can help you too, I'm in. Hope you have a wonderful time venturing out into nature for family adventures this summer.
Check out the blog for advice to help you get organsied, or subscribe for a copy of the Minimalist Family Camping packing list.