How to survive your first camping trip as an adult

Camping for the first time as an adult is daunting. Especially if your idea of hiking is usually something that gets you back to your hotel room by the afternoon so you can nap. (OK I don’t nap, but watching TV doesn’t have the same ring to it) And so I found myself going camping with the girls on New Years Day. This meant I was facing the wild whilst nursing a slight hangover, it was the perfect storm. My only request was that I sleep in the back of the car rather than a tent – baby steps folks, I need steel between me and any potential wild animals. But I survived and found most of it quite pleasant. For any first timers out there, try campaign for one night and ease yourself into it. So here are my top three lessons learned.

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1. Pack the right food.

Whoops. I didn’t even know I was going on this trip until a couple of days prior, then New Years Eve happened. Plus I was working. So I found myself having little to no time to prepare. After a frenzied 1hr trying to pack everything I realised I should have given this the same excrutiating research that any Virgo would do when in a ‘fish out of water’ scenario. However being short of time I tried the ‘go with the flow’ strategy. This meant that I didn’t have my gluten-free food apart from GF bread and was not equipped with certain condiments that are necessary for basic camping. Thankfully our mates had already camped the night before and had the basics. But best to pack bread, butter and jam, salt and pepper, biscuits, sandwiches that you can prepare before you leave, lighter and marshmallows for the camp fire, cutlery, garbage bags and of course plenty of vodka. I mean water.

2. Pack your comforts.

I brought lots of tech including:

  • iPad – no matter what the hard core campers say – this device has all my ebooks on it which means I have something to read just before bed.
  • Selfie stick – great for group picks when you are in the bush or don’t have space.
  • Ipad/Iphone and portable speaker. Listening to nature is great – but occasionally Taylor Swift is a nice alternative. It may also scare off the wolves. If there are wolves….
  • Air mattress – this is something I should have brought along – easy to set up and makes sleeping in a tent/van more comfortable. You don’t want to wake up with a stiff back and neck.
  • Something to help you relax – wine, beer etc
  • Wear decent walking shoes in case of hikes or walking on uneven trails.

3. Bring the necessities.

Bring Aeroguard (insect repellant), sunscreen, a torch, a lantern if you have it for the campsite, a head lamp for when you are walking back to the van/tent/toilet, toilet paper – the long drop toilet is an experience, warm socks, a lightweight but warm jacket, towel, swimming costume in case you are near a creek or stream, and coffee!

So how did I go on my first camping trip as an adult? I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next one nighter – apart from the leeches, they are frightening which is why decent shoes are important – and I will be more prepared next time with my gluten free food!

5 DONTS of travelling with gadgets

1. Your ipad is NOT for taking photos on your holiday.

Yes, we know it has a camera on it – but that doesn’t mean it is for taking shots standing in front of the Leaning tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower, blocking the shots of everyone standing behind you. Plus, you are basically alerting any pickpocket within 50metres of you that you are:

a) a tourist

b) well-off enough to have an ipad, therefore have money.

c) not that tech savvy.

All making yourself a target for theft, or worse.

The only exception to this are the elderly or mature-aged travellers who may need the iPad to see attractions more clearly.

This must stop.

2. Hogging the powerpoints at the airport.

I get it. You forgot to charge your phone or laptop before you left the hotel. But that doesn’t mean you get to hog the powerpoint for hours while you wait for your plane to board – a 40% charge is enough, then move on so someone else can have a turn. Or better yet – buy a portable charger.

3. Say no to bum bags. To quote the TV Show ‘IT Crowd’, “Are you from the past?”

4. Don’t spend too much time taking selfies. Remember to put down the phone or camera, take a deep breath and soak in all the stimuli around you.

5. Up your Travel Insurance so it includes cover for your gadgets. There is nothing better than peace of mind when the unexpected happens.

The Digital Traveller

It is a small world thanks to the age of digital travel. I am not just talking about the rise of social media which has led to countless holiday snaps and status updates by your friends that you always seem to read as you lie on the couch on a Friday night eating pizza and discovering wayward chips from your couch. (Otherwise known as FOMO) The digital traveller is now armed to the teeth with gadgets and apps that can transform any overseas trip into its own multimedia publishing expedition, and has made it easier than ever before to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

I have not been overseas since 2005. (I am talking long haul flights so excluding New Zealand)

The way I see it there have been three major improvements to travel due to the digital age:

1. Smart phones allow even ET to phone home.

Global Roaming Meme Source: http://memegenerator.net/instance/33551621
Global Roaming Meme
Source: http://memegenerator.net/instance/33551621

Whilst previously I would leave my phone at home to avoid racking up thousands of dollars in global roaming charges, this time I have a range of travel sims to choose from including Travel Sim, Back Chat and Woolworths Global Roaming. These sims work in most phones including iPhones and provide discounted call rates in more than 100 countries. A call to Audtralia from Europe can cost as little as 0.42 cents a minute compared to using global roaming at more than $3 a min.

2. Ipad and other tablets

If you have an Ipad or other tablet, bring it with you on your trip – it provides quick access to look up nearby accomodation or sights using the readily available free WiFi that exists in most destinations, and is also a handy way to back up photos taken from your camera. The Apple Ipad Camera Adapter provides an easy way to import photos from your digital camera to your Ipad. That way if you lose your camera or run out of space on your memory card, you can back up to the iPad and keep snapping away!

3. Apps to keep you organised and ready for travel
There are a range of packing apps around for iPhone and ipad.

  • UPackingList – there are tons of packing apps around but this has been the one I have used for domestic travel the last few years and has worked great – lists can be adapted and are sorted for you into Categories such as Health, Gadgets, Shoes etc
  • Trip Advisor Offline City Maps  allows you to download before you go so you can use it offline when you are abroad, avoiding international data charges.
  • Traveling around Europe by train? Download the free Europe Rail iphone app to look up timetables and check out Eurail Pass discounts near you on the go, all offline.
  • Skype is an obvious choice – international phone cards are no longer needed if you are able to access WiFi at your destination, Skype gives you free calls to another Skype account.
  • Many airlines allow you to check in before you depart using their app. So check before you depart.
  • Expedia, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor Hotel apps allow you to search and book places to stay as you go – these require an internet/data connection though so make sure you are in a WiFi area (preferably a secure WiFi area to avoid hackers)

This infographic by MDG advertising highlights some of the ways travel has changed in the digital era.

Vacationing the Social Media Way

Have I forgotten anything? Any apps you love when you travel?