For those who camp, the benefits it brings are clear and irrefutable. For those who have never camped before or may have had bad experiences, however, the reasons why people choose to put themselves in sometimes uncomfortable and challenging conditions for fun can seem like something of a mystery. What is the point of camping when so many other options exist?
There is a practical aspect to camping. It’s often the most affordable way to travel and see new places. For others, the reasons go deeper, and it’s a chance to connect to nature and disconnect from the modern world, bond with friends and family, and enjoy the challenge of self-reliability.
If you’re considering a camping adventure but are unsure of the real reason for choosing this trip style over a different type of travel, read on to see campers’ reasons for leaving modern comforts behind.
What is the Purpose of Camping?
One of the most important things to consider is the adaptability of camping. The beauty of camping is that there is no ‘set’ way to do things. You can hike alone to a remote spot by yourself.
Or you can toast marshmallows with a group of friends around a campfire, or you can set up your tent trailer at a fully serviced campground, complete with warm showers and a convenience store.
1. Affordable travel
For some, the appeal of camping purely comes down to practical benefits.
Although investing in a good quality tent and kit can be an expensive initial investment, once you have your equipment, it’s one of the most affordable ways to travel.
Campsite prices can be 10 times less than hotels, making it a far more realistic option for many people who may not have the spare income to spend on a more expensive holiday.
Depending on your location, you may even be able to camp for free.
After a pandemic and in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, affordable travel methods are all the more in demand.
Even for those with the budget to spend on a trip, choosing to camp can extend the time you can be away or increase the number of times you can go on a holiday.
Instead of blowing $2,000 on a week’s vacation in a resort, you can stretch that to a multiple-week trip or several smaller trips on a camper’s budget.
2. Camping Lets You Roam
Maybe there’s a site you’ve always wanted to see or a location you’ve wanted to visit, but the cost of a hotel or an Airbnb is putting you off. An alternative is to find a campsite nearby.
Camping can open up places to visit that may be off-limits without an excessive budget. For example, you can camp for free in U.S National Forests & Grasslands.
Alternatively, sometimes, camping is simply a necessity. There are incredible places that you just can’t access unless you are prepared to camp.
If you want to trek or hike in certain locations, it’s just impossible if you don’t camp.
The Pacific Crest Trail and the journey to Everest Base Camp are off-limits if you’re not prepared to sleep under canvas for at least some of the time.
For some, camping is a means to an end, but for countless others, camping is the whole point of their trip.
3. Connecting With Nature
For some campers, the ability to pitch their tent at different locations serves a purely practical purpose, but for others, this is the whole point of their experience.
Although there are many campsites with services and facilities available, plenty of campers choose to pitch up at remote spots in the wilderness.
Many of us now are city-dwellers with little or no access to true nature regularly.
With only a canvas between us and the elements, camping allows you to connect with nature in a way that can’t be experienced with other types of travel.
While you may be more exposed if there’s a downpour or have a disturbed night’s sleep if there are windy conditions, camping gives us the option to get away from the constant hum of traffic, air pollution, light pollution, and hum-drum of modern daily life.
There are seldom chances for us to be removed from all vestiges of civilization.
When you’ve hiked your way to camp, you truly get the opportunity to be away from the noise and the lights of other people so that you can enjoy the sounds of a world without vehicles and get undimmed views of the stars.
For many, the potential discomforts of camp life are completely outweighed by the access it gives us to nature and its beauty.
4. Disconnecting From Daily Life Stresses
In addition to connecting with nature, others love how camping allows you to disconnect with less positive aspects of daily life, where constant work and productivity are often promoted.
We can lead extremely busy lives with many demands on our time, whether from pressure at work, the necessity of commuting, or combining a job with family and social life.
Camping forces you to take a step back and slow down. With no microwave, oven, takeaway, running water, or other conveniences available, an off-grid camping trip compels you to take your time.
You may have to hike to your location, set up your tent, and set up the campfire or stove before cooking your dinner. All these things require time, effort, and focus, giving you space to think and breathe.
After dark, you rely on whatever light source you’ve got on hand, and you are forced to live more to the rhythms of a natural daily cycle.
5. Disconnecting From Social Media and the News
A hotly debated aspect of our lives is our exposure to social media and the internet.
At work or home, we’re always connected to others through instant messages, and many of us constantly consume the outputs of social media and instant news updates.
While we may make efforts to stay removed from our phones or devices at home, it’s almost an impossible task as society has become more and more reliant on technology.
Many campers relish their time away from the internet and social media.
There’s nothing like setting up camp at a place with no signal to enable a complete cutoff from modern technology and its many distractions.
Instead of browsing aimlessly through Instagram, checking up on minute-by-minute news, or searching for the latest Netflix series, at a campground with no signal, you’re forced to live in the moment.
Here, nothing distracts you from a good conversation with friends or family or the company of a good book.
Many argue that it can be good for your mental health to take a break from constant news updates that can be distressing.
You may notice that you become much more aware and appreciative of your surroundings if there’s no constant urge to check your phone.
6. Building Relationships
While some campers love being alone with their thoughts on a solo trip, others take it as an opportunity to spend quality, uninterrupted time with their loved ones.
When asked why they camp, many campers reflected on the pure joy and simplicity of sitting around a campfire with others, exchanging stories and conversation.
When you’re camping as a group, setting up your site, allocating responsibilities, and problem-solving any issues, are all team efforts that require communication and hard work and can be great bonding experiences.
Sometimes, it’s hard to make space in our lives to spend as much time as we’d like with our loved ones. A camping trip with friends or family gives plenty of undisturbed time for conversation and fun.
7. Learning Self-Reliance
Another key factor for off-grid camping trips is that you have to be self-reliant.
On-site, there are no helpful appliances to help you stay dry, warm, and fed, so unless you’ve brought it yourself, you’re going without.
While this can cause difficulties or discomfort, it’s also hugely rewarding to know that you’ve carried all you need to survive, set up your own home, and cook your food over a heat source you’ve transported or built.
Without the internet to helpfully answer any question under the sun, problem-solving becomes purely down to us, our knowledge, our common sense, or our teamwork.
It’s hard to realize how much we rely on search engines and the web to find answers to even the most mundane questions in life.
We’re so used to being able to tap a few buttons to find answers that many campers find it an invigorating experience having to rack our brains rather than search the web.
Not sure what wood is best to use for your campfire? You can’t Google it. You have to figure it out for yourself.
Conversations change when you’re away from the signal and when you can’t simply look up an answer. You are forced to delve into and discuss issues amongst yourselves rather than relying on confirmation.
8. Physical Challenge
Although our daily lives can be busy and stressful in terms of physical discomforts, modern society and the places we live in have developed to try and take care of our needs.
We often have central heating when it’s cold or air conditioning when it’s warm. Hopefully, our homes protect us from rain, snow, or other types of weather.
We generally don’t need to walk to our destinations in towns and cities. There’s a vehicle or public transport. Food is usually on hand, and medical supplies should be easy to come by.
All this changes once you set out on a camping trip with no facilities, and many who choose to camp relish the physical challenges faced on a trip so different from the conveniences back home.
Exposure to the elements is something we are largely sheltered from back home, but this is not so when you’re camping. If it rains, you must ensure your tent is set up correctly, or you will get wet.
If it snows, you need to ensure you don’t get hypothermia. Some campers find it an exciting challenge to test their wits and endurance against nature as it’s generally so removed from our daily lives.
Camping is adaptable enough that you can manage your extremes. Some choose to camp in wintry or snowy conditions. Others like to camp at high altitudes.
Even those who don’t need to freeze on a trip can admit there’s nothing like getting cozy in your tent with a hot drink after experiencing wet or chilly conditions outside.
9. Appreciating Conveniences When You Come Back Home
A benefit when you have experienced less comfortable camping conditions is a new appreciation for the conveniences back home when you return.
Easy access to water seems like a novelty when you’ve had to walk for half a mile to find your nearest source or you’ve had to boil it to make it safe.
Having a flush toilet on hand is a dream when you’ve spent the last few days digging holes in the wilderness.
The array of vegetables on hand in the grocery store seems amazing when you’ve spent the past week boiling freeze-dried curry and scrambled eggs.
After a camping trip, not only do you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are entirely self-sufficient and able to live in the challenges of nature, but you also get to look forward to experiencing modern conveniences when you return home.
10. Health Benefits
Many of the reasons we’ve considered can be boiled down to some key takeaways: camping can benefit your mental and physical health.
Access to nature reduces stress, and camping is an ideal way to connect to nature for a prolonged period.
Similarly, sleeping when it becomes dark and waking when the sun comes up is thought to be a beneficial reset to your sleep cycle.
With no electricity to light up your evening, camping forces you to be much more in tune with nature’s daily rhythms.
Spending time with friends, the excitement of resolving challenges either alone or with loved ones, and having time away from digital connections can also do a lot to boost your mood, and camping provides ample opportunities for all of these beneficial activities.
Finally, the physical exertion required to get to your camp set up, or complete any activities you need to do to keep your camp up and running forces you to exercise without even being aware.
Many activities that people associate with camping, for example, fishing, swimming, trekking, or riding bikes, are also excellent physical activities that boost physical and mental health.
With so many great reasons to head into the great outdoors, it’s no wonder, so many of us choose to camp.
Whether for practical reasons or in search of a deeper connection with nature or loved ones, perhaps it’s time for your next trip to be under canvas.