Psssst….I grew up – so did camping!  Forget being cramped and cold…

Editor Lisa Baker explains her camping journey – and why camping doesn’t mean you have to rough it!

I’m sure most adults like me remember camping when we were younger – stuck shivering in a tiny tent in a rainy field in Wales, eating baked beans with a spoon while you struggled to stay dry.

That was my first introduction to camping, and later as an adult, it got reinforced when I spent one night in a tent that leaked in a hurricane weekend – all I got was a nasty dose of bronchitis.  Fun?  Not even funny in my book.

My husband is a seasoned camper who absolutely loves the outdoor life following his long years as an air cadet.  I skipped camping in Girl Guides when I was a kid… not my thing.  Getting wet is fine if you are sailing – sitting in the rain and mud is another thing altogether and I get the heebie jeebies if I’m out of wifi range.  However, as hubby is a land-lubber, and we wanted cheap, unlimited holidays the options were limited.

Suffice to say, it took some degree of persuasion by my hubby to give camping a try – and our first trip, in a borrowed tent so small that my 6ft 2″ hubby had to put his feet out of the door, would have ended our now shared hobby there and then – but for three things.

Firstly, despite it being October, it was warm and mostly dry.

Secondly, our friends who we’d accompanied sat next door like rich neighbours in their Outwell Vermont, which was a mansion by comparison.  While we’d cramped ourselves into an allegedly 4 man dome tent that just about fitted an airbed, they were enjoying home comforts like insulated carpet, full electrics, three fridges, a wardrobe and more furniture than I have in my lounge.

Thirdly, I charged my phone in our posh friends tent and found I got a good wifi signal.

I told my hubby I’d go again if we could camp like our friends, so we bought the biggest used tent we could find with our £100 budget (a Vango Diablo 900), which sleeps 9 (or 6 if truth be told) in 3 bedrooms with a huge living area.  We bought a huge airbed so I wasn’t sleeping on the floor, and we bought a portable EE gismo that gives me 64 GB and damn good wifi signal almost anywhere (except one large site in North Devon – but the site had wifi anyway!)

We spent our first night at the local pub’s campsite, enjoyed a fab bbq with friends and slept in complete comfort.   We haven’t looked back, and now I’m hooked.  As well as being hooked up with a fridge, a heater and a well equipped kitchen.

We love it so much we’re on our eighth tent in 3 years, and have two spares to lend to friends who accompany us.  We’re hoping that other campers realise that camping DOESN’T mean discomfort – you can fit the biggest tent into the smallest car and have a fab time!  West Wales is great value – even for the huge tent shown, a two night break, including electric, with a pub up the road costs just £30…. can’t think of anything cheaper – and it’s bigger than some hotel rooms!

Is it really any wonder that camping feels very different dependent on the tent?  Our latest one doesn’t even have poles, its still very large and you just pump up the airbeams.  10 minute pitch with all home comforts.

Some people say they hate camping and really hate camping.  However, I’ll wager there’s a good chunk of them who like me, just need to try it on a bigger scale!