Camping is Cheap and More Fun than You Imagine ...

Many girls turn their nose up at camping thinking that roughing it is not for them. No doubt you've heard the arguments about freedom, getting back to nature, no sense of time etc, but I thought I would share some of the other joys of camping to see if I can persuade you to try it - at least once in your life.

1. Choose Your Style of Camping Heaven

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You don't have to be a tough-nut cowboy living on nothing but beans and dried meat, nor do you have to sleep under the stars wrapped up in a blanket. You can make your camping trip as basic or as luxurious as you wish. If you want to pretend you're Bear Grylls, go ahead and skin your own bunny rabbits and roast a wild boar on a spit. For a slightly more sophisticated approach, take the car, load a double-skinned tent into it and drive right up to your designated campsite, which is permitted on most camping grounds. Unload tent, sleeping bags and pillows, lawn chairs and portable BBQ and take a deep breath: ahhhhh, this is an outdoor life worth living!

2. Singing around the Campfire

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There's nothing like sitting around a campfire, swilling a few beers and having a sing-along with friends after a long day's hiking. Wherever you decide to camp, be sure you ask about fire regulations and look out for forest fire warnings during dry spells in summer. You don't want to be the one who destroyed the park or forest with a wildfire. Try camping near a body of water, which allows you to dowse any embers still glowing when you want to go to bed. It's also far better to be surrounded by open land, if you want to stargaze with a special friend.

3. Camping Etiquette

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Another reason to go camping rather than staying in a hotel is that you can sleep as long as you like. It's totally fine to curl up in your sleeping bag at 9.00 pm and wake up at dawn to watch the sun rise. You'll have had a fun and action-packed day and abnormal amounts of fresh air, so you'll be far sleepier than usual. In hotels you're typically forced to get up early because housekeeping wants to clean the room - at campsites you can sleep all day if you feel like it. Tip: avoid bringing food into your tent, it attracts ants and vermin. Either store food in your car overnight or put it into air-tight plastic containers. You could also suspend your coolers or food bags from a tree to keep mice, rats and ants at bay.

4. Cheapest Vacation Option

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The affordability of camping trips is for many people the most important reason to go camping. Hotels, even for weekend trips, can be really expensive, especially when adding eating out, nightlife and activities into the mix. Two nights camping can be as little as $24 per car. You can bring along food bought at your local grocery store and cook it on a camping stove or go fishing and eat super-fresh fish for free. Tip: don't spend too much money on camping gear; simply ask friends, relatives and neighbors, as they're usually happy to lend you stuff. For those essentials nobody wants to part with, contact companies like Eastern Mountain Sports or Rei, which rent out camping gear.

5. Star-gazing

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There's nothing more romantic than snuggling up to a loved one and gazing up at the stars or staying awake for the sun to rise. Tip: ask around, you may know a hobby astronomer who will lend you their telescope. It will allow you to see far greater detail and bring you within kissing distance of your fellow stargazer's face.

6. Show off Your Adventurous Spirit

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And if you need any more reasons to go camping, try the vanity factor: when people ask on Monday morning, "what did you do" at the weekend, show off your adventurous side. Going camping in the wilderness is far cooler than merely staying at a motel or going out to see a movie!

7. Toilet Freedom

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Of all the reasons to go camping, this is perhaps the wackiest, but when you can pee wherever you please, it's an exhilarating feeling of freedom. It's usually illegal to pee in public without the modesty a proper toilet building provides, so squatting behind a tree is a forbidden fruit seldom tasted. Peeing in the woods does have its risks though: beware of ticks attaching themselves to your furry bits, which can kill you, and you may want to use baby wipes or tissues to keep clean and avoid a urinary tract infection.

I find it quite odd that people who camp at music festivals would never consider camping as a vacation! And I have such fond memories of my family camping trips when I was a kid and later when backpacking that I do urge everyone to try it - just once - and see how great it can be. Do you camp?

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