Modern life is built around the idea of progress. Whether it’s in the academic field, employment promotion, medical advancements, technological innovation or transport infrastructure, ideas are spoken of in the context of improvement. While progress may be slow, humanity is slowly but surely on a track towards a better society. The world is full of problems, but my belief in the values of the Enlightenment means I will continue to regard today as the best day to have ever lived. Tomorrow will be even better.
Given that logic, why on Earth would people ever go camping? It is the holiday, surely, of the 19th and 20th century. Cowering under fabric, with only blankets and sleeping bags for protection, such a holiday is perceived as being reminiscent of the pre-historic age. It is the very opposite of the progress I so cherish.
There has never been a better time to turn off from the modern world
Last year, a non-stop 19 hour flight between the UK and Australia was introduced for the first time. Journeys across the world that used to take weeks can now be completed in a matter of hours. Our globalised world, for all its faults, should be celebrated for allowing international communication and human exploration.
Inevitably, such travel brings with it complexity. I’m no great flyer, but, from my experiences at an airport, the amount of regulation – the millilitres of liquid, security systems, luggage sizes – is nothing but stress inducing. Part and parcel of such advancement is the guarantee of regulations, costs and barriers. While the destination is most likely worth the hassle, the experience of the journey no doubt puts many off.
These most old fashioned methods of partaking in a holiday are all part of the perfect break away
This is why, whatever reservations I may hold towards camping and caravanning, they are holidays I cannot dismiss. Much of my childhood travelling took place within the UK, whether it was exploring seaside towns, visiting new cities or staying in the wild. Granted, for many of those trips I resided in a youth hostel or Premier Inn, but for a good few, a caravan or tent was our place to sleep, rest and recuperate for the night. Indeed, I would argue some of my most memorable holidays were the more aesthetic, frugal ones.
In my mind, a holiday should be about the experience. I understand that the quality of a hotel forms a big part of someone’s travelling experience, but that simply isn’t the case for me. Of course, a location safe, hygienic and habitable is necessary, yet I don’t expect where I stay to rival The Savoy or The Dorchester.
I care far more about the location I am visiting; what the culture is like, how impressive the architecture is, what its history and sense of place is. That can involve taking many photos – for Instagram as much as for my own pleasure. My form of holiday relaxation is exploration.
I end up enjoying the freedom of no technology, no life worries to concern myself with and just time away from the modern world
Caravan and camping holidays, however, involve far more attention and care for where we are sleeping and living. In the case of a tent, there’s the process of erecting it to consider. Every summer, my extended family congregate together by residing in a big field on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. Our experience is the definition of camping and caravanning galore and represents the height of communal living.
It’s a pleasant, alternative form of meeting up with distant relatives who I would only otherwise see at weddings and funerals. While the anticipation of living in a tent with 30 other family members within the vicinity can at first appear daunting, I end up enjoying the freedom of no technology, no life worries to concern myself with and just time away from the modern world.
The same has been true in other holiday locations I have resided in. Southwold, a small seaside town on the Suffolk coast, is one of my favourite places in the world. Throughout my childhood, my family and I resided in a static caravan. No television, no wi-fi, no shower, no electricity. It was the bare necessities for living and I loved it.
The caravan did what we needed it to do. We were safe, warm and able to experience the wonders that Southwold could offer without the extra additions and payments that a hotel would demand. At times, I grew tired of the town, wanting to explore other locations. Now I look back and realise how lucky I was to spend so much of my childhood there.
Continued discussion over the environmental impacts of travelling overseas means domestic holidays are likely to increase in popularity
Camping and caravanning trips are most likely to take place within nature. Though I generally support building and infrastructure, the wonder of British national parks is something that never goes away. Nearly two years ago I went on a camping trip to the Lake District and it was the simple life if ever I saw one. My father and I managed perfectly with basic resources, the tent for protection and comfy camping chairs.
As part of the trip, we managed to successfully climb Scarfell Pike, the highest point in England. It was a beautiful sight that no Google Image can compensate for. My fitness levels are far from impressive, so managing to successfully climb up and down the mountain was progress. My time during a holiday of the past led to personal progress in the future. And all without a hotel in sight!
The continued discussion over the environmental impacts of travelling overseas means domestic holidays are likely to increase in popularity. Even without state intervention, both the consequences of flying and the coronavirus outbreak mean people are less likely to want to travel overseas.
There is something immensely satisfying about travelling around the country, taking your home, be it a motor home, caravan or tent, with you
While hotels remain an option, there is something immensely satisfying about travelling around the country, taking your home (be it a motor home, caravan or tent) with you. It reminds me in a way of the Channel 4 series Hunted, where ordinary citizens evade capture by the state as if they were criminals by going off road, spending their days in fields and hitchhiking with other members of the public.
When more of our information is known than ever thanks to the wonders and dangers of technology, there has never been a better time to turn off from the modern world. As a newsaholic, I won’t get the full holiday experience (which means no news whatsoever) unless there is no access to wifi or television.
Whether for independence, communicating with fellow caravan and camping users or embracing the wonders of the natural world, these most old fashioned methods of partaking in a holiday are all part of the perfect break away.