“I wanna sleep on the hard ground, in the comfort of your arms,
on a pillow of blue bonnets, in a blanket made of stars…”
It might’ve sounded good to the Dixie Chicks but the thought of sleeping on the hard ground doesn’t appeal to everyone, no matter how much we might love songs about red dirt and the simple life. Fortunately, the newest member of our team’s love of country goes beyond the music. Maria is a camping fanatic and is sharing her tips to get us ready for the September festivals and sleeping in the great (terrifying) outdoors.
MARIA’S CAMPING TIPS…
Be prepared – I love lists! I have a master list that I use for every festival and add to it if I need to. I make an area at home a week before so I can start to put all the bits I need together in one place. I pack all my clothes in rucksack so they’re easy to carry, then those big Ikea bags are great for loading up all your gear. I have a separate one for cooking items and one for other stuff. I take a lot with me. You can bring a trolley to haul it all from car park to campsite but most good festivals also have trollies available to hire.
If you get a new tent, practise putting it up beforehand to make sure you know how it works and that no pieces are missing! For bug-phobes look for a tent with a fully sewn in groundsheet to feel completely protected from the critters. Consider one with a porch/living room as the sleeping areas are usually just big enough for bodies without luggage. On that note, unless you’re a very close couple, or like spooning your friends, you should get a tent that sleeps at least 1-2 more people than will be camping. As well as the berth, check out the tent height; it’ll feel less like a tomb if you can sit upright, while some even have standing room areas. Remember to buy extra tent pegs and don’t forget to take a mallet to hammer them in.
Take a little rug to put inside the tent if you are likely to be going in and out with muddy boots. If you’ve got the space, bring a little fold up table to keep things off the ground if it is damp.
I always have a couple of lamps in my tent for cosiness in the evening plus a little hand or head torch for late night loo trips.
Even if you plan on stuffing your face on festival food, the festival site wont usually be open first thing so at the very least you’ll need to eat at your campsite in the mornings. I take lots of snacks, things that won’t melt and keep them in an airtight container. I always have a cool box which does keep things fresh for a day. But if you do have a camping stove and want to cook, make a veggie curry and freeze it. Take it out of the freezer just before you travel and it will stay cold for longer. If you’re cooking, remember a foldaway washing-up bowl, washing up liquid and a t-towel.
I love my camping chair – it’s a must for sitting outside the tent in the morning with a freshly made cuppa. I always take bunting or some fairy lights for my tent – something to make it homely and, more importantly, recognisable as I wander back in the dark after a day of music and all the tents look identical. A remote control tent finder lamp can also help with that as long as you remember to take the remote control out with you.
Your night’s sleep can mean the difference between a happy and a hellish camping experience. An airbed instead of camping mat will offer extra comfort and insulation from the cold ground and I take a proper pillow too. Then, even if the UK heatwave makes a reappearance the temperature will definitely drop in the night so I always take an extra blanket for use as well as my sleeping bag. I’d suggest earplugs to shut out any “tipsy” festival neighbours and an eye mask if you don’t want to witness the sunrise as it lights up your tent at 05:00.
We’ll share a shopping list of the gadgets and accessories which can turn standard camping into glamping (though check individual festival websites for what you can and can’t bring). In the meantime, just in case these home comforts are still not selling it to you, here’s a country music playlist to get you psychologically ready for the great outdoors.
See you on the field!