When we went into lockdown in 2020, and avoiding people at all costs was the main challenge, car camping became a thing. Home from home mini hotels. No expense. No contact with other humans. I completely missed this trend, as I miss most trends, so here I am two years later with the added advantage that most people have now sold up their vans and gone back to work so they aren’t messing up the countryside quite as much.
For a few however, it has become the way to do holidays (and for some a new way of life) and with the way prices are going up, I’m not surprised it has persisted with a hardcore camping fraternity.
I am under no illusion that I need to make some changes in my life or I am going to go nuts. All I seem to do is work, procrastinate and find new ways to skim more pennies off everything I do and, as a result, my world is shrinking. I have come to really dislike living in Greater Manchester. It is starting to feel like a prison, and though I like living on my own, it is painfully isolating to live in a community like this. I have seen seven sets of neighbours come and go in the four years I have been here. No one stays because it’s not a great place to be. Those that do, are the ones that are often a part of the problem.
I have been thinking about a holiday. It’s been a while. 2017 in fact. And I can feel the travel bug gnawing at me constantly. I love travelling, but I don’t have the funds and with the way things are going this year, it’s going to get even more difficult to get a change of scenery beyond a week at my parents in the south-east every quarter, which can be stressful at the best of times and not exactly a ‘get away’.
I’ve been wondering about the possibilities of holidaying on a (nearly) zero budget. I got close at the beginning of 2019 when I wanted to explore some of my ancestral roots in Scotland. I got a deal with a travel lodge on the borders for £23 a night, packed up food and essentials and drove the four or so hours up country and stayed in a tiny hotel on the edge of the M6 between all the places of interest I wanted to see. I really enjoyed it and would like to do something similar again but without the £23 a night hotel bill, if I could even find one for that price now. If I’m lucky I might be able to find a campsite to plot my car up overnight for that price, with none of the luxuries that come with a hotel room. Of course, the price of fuel right now, puts an end to any extras so that’s out.
Car camping however, still seems to be a trend if Instagram and Youtube are anything to go by and you can find plenty of insight from the ones doing it well as a way to keep costs down whilst still enjoying and respecting what is left of our beautiful British countryside and market towns. I came across this retired lady on Youtube who does exactly what I had in mind:
and then I found this lad doing it a similar way:
And I’m not going to lie, this seems like a totally doable adventure that could make a big difference to my life.
I am making some plans to do a couple of days away as an experiment and work out the practicalities of living in a small three door hatchback for 48 hours. Luckily I am not a tall person and don’t want for much, so this has potential.
I have found a website called park4night and an app called Wikicamps where people who do car camping recommend safe places to pull up for the night, but Google street view serves just as well. I’ve planned to head into North Yorkshire with an overnight somewhere in that area as a test run, and I’ve found several possible camping spots. I am planning routes that I can do on one tank of petrol because that is one aspect I can’t scrimp on and is still going to be crippling if prices don’t drop soon. I am expecting this to be my only expense.
I have never lived rough and I am not a tent camper by any stretch of the imagination. I did have to sleep on the floor of my studio for several weeks when I was in between rental properties back in 2018. I slept on a blow up mattress and lived on ready cooked Tesco food but it wasn’t so bad because there was an end in sight. One overnight doesn’t seem difficult by comparison, and opens up a whole new set of options for me travel wise. Some picnic food, a couple of flasks of hot water and a change of clothes are almost all I need to get by for 48 hours.
It’s going to need some craft skills. I need to make blackouts for my windows to ensure I am not found, and I would like some energy free lighting at night. I do like a DIY project, so this will keep me busy for a few weeks whilst I make my travel plans, and anyway I have people like this to learn from.
I am going to wait until the weather warms up and attempt this in May once I feel confident I have my kit organised. So watch this space. It could be fun.