We work extremely hard these days. In a fast paced, increasingly globalized and ultra competitive workplace, it seems that we’re working longer and longer hours just to keep our heads above water financially. Thus, our free time is extremely limited and what little we do have, we go to painstaking efforts to make sure that the time we do get to ourselves is well spent. After all, this is your life and it’s only ever going to get shorter. Your free time should be spent relaxing and having fun. We agonize over weekend plans to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of those precious few hours and plan our vacations with a precision that borders on the militant.
That said, sometimes our ambition doesn’t match our income. We’re so concerned with getting the most out of our holidays that we can overspend and come home to a worrying pit of debt that can take months or even years to crawl out of and leave us yet more stressed than we were before we flew out. If only there were some sort of getaway that offered fun and relaxation without breaking the bank….
Why you probably haven’t considered camping
When it comes to a relaxing and rewarding vacation many of us would never, in a million years consider camping. “I want glamor, haute cuisine and 5 star luxury,” you might say “not shivering in a tent amidst the wilderness”. In the Instagram age, especially, it seems that it’s not enough to enjoy your holiday, but to be envied by the friends and family members who follow our exploits on our social media feeds. And what’s enviable about spending a week under canvas hiding from bears?
Camping has an unfortunate reputation, but a camping trip needn’t be squalid, uncomfortable or dangerous. If you camp in an approved site you’ll have access to local amenities that can rival most hotels, safety and security at all times and unrestricted access to the wonderful panorama of nature’s theatre.
But isn’t camping expensive?
As with anything, if you put your mind to it, you can spend a fortune on camping equipment, but a lot of the pricier stuff is for seasoned professionals whose safety depends on being able to get by in truly inhospitable climates. There’s no need to spend top dollar on your gear, especially if you’ll be staying in a registered campsite. Even so, there are lots of hacks to help you have a 5 star quality camping experience on a 2 star budget. Buying used equipment can save you a small fortune without compromising on quality. Very often a little forward planning can go a long way so it’s best to pack comprehensively before you set off to avoid paying the deliberately inflated prices for the onsite amenities and stores.
The benefits are real
While it may be completely outside of your comfort zone, the humble camping trip has a lot to offer even the pickiest of vacationers, especially to the overworked, the overstressed and the chronically over stimulated. Camping offers us an opportunity to rid ourselves of the trappings of 21st century living. We’re granted time away from the noise, smog and bustle of the city and a reprieve from the ubiquitous screens that follow us around wherever we go.
You may have become so dependent on the trappings of busy city living that such a prospect is anathema to you. What on Earth will you do with yourself without 24 hour access to Facebook? Nonetheless, you likely need a reprieve from all of this more than you think. Indeed your very reticence to go a few days screen free could be a sign of damaging smartphone addiction. The unparalleled interconnectivity afforded us by the digital age is a wonderful thing but it can also exacerbate our stress, anxiety and even depression.
Nature, on the other hand, has a proven restorative effect on mental health. It can alleviate the stress and tension that are an increasingly endemic part of working life while the lack of distraction that comes with no (or at least restricted) access to the internet, television or radio can help us focus more on the here and now resulting in a zen state within which are minds are less “cluttered”, freer and happier.
Sleep like a log
Proximity to nature not only helps to un-clutter the mind, and relieve stress, it’s also great for facilitating a good night’s sleep. There’s something about the gentle background noise of the wind in the trees combined with the subtly sweet perfumes of the grass and plant life. Whether you’re under canvas or enjoying a hammock camping trip where you sleep suspended between trees under a canopy of stars, camping may just give you some of the best sleep you’ve ever had. If your stressful job and fast paced life leave you little time for sleep, this may be the tonic you always needed but never knew it.
It’s great exercise
Most of us do our best to lead healthy active lives. But even if you mix up your routine regularly and attack your workouts with gusto, it can become dull, boring and repetitive going to the same gym day in, day out. Nature’s gym offers you numerous opportunities to get a full body workout while enjoying the humble majesty of nature. From long hikes to mountain climbing to cycling there are many ways in which you can fall in love with your active lifestyle all over again.
Don’t underestimate the value of fresh air
If you live and work in a sprawling urban environment, you’ve probably acclimatized yourself to low quality air full of pollutants from the steady stream of traffic that throngs the streets. Not to mention the poor quality air that permeates most offices. A foray into the great outdoors can remind you what fresh air smells like. Not only will this be a pleasant surprise, it is a proven mood booster, too! Fresh air has a higher oxygen content that is proven to boost your body’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin which can in turn boost your mood. Fresh air (alongside the absorption of vitamin D from the sun) can also aid digestion, regulate blood pressure and even helps improve immune function.
You can go glam if you want
If you’re the sort of person who absolutely can’t get by without their creature comforts then you can have the best of both worlds with plush accommodation alongside the access to nature of camping. This “glamping” is popular amongst urban sophisticates who balk at the idea of spending a week under canvas yet like the idea of communion with nature and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.
It’s literally awesome!
In a world where we can view the northern lights on YouTube and skim over the wonders of the world in a digital slideshow, it’s easy to become blase about the awe inspiring majesty of nature, but when we’re up close and personal with the subtle architecture of the natural world, it’s difficult not to feel awed and humbled by it. Whether you camp locally, out of state or even abroad it’s hard not to be wowed by some of the areas of incredible natural beauty that we encounter. You may even be shocked to find that some of the most incredible natural wonders of the world are on your very own doorstep.
So, if you’ve never even considered camping before you owe it to yourself, your family, your wallet and your health to at least give it a try!