Camp sites come in all shapes and size and offer various level of comfort. What’s even more important than finding the perfect camp site is to find the perfect spot in a camp site! The one that will work for you.
What does work for you? It depends what you are looking for of course.
We are talking about established camp sites here. First thing to know is that they can have various organisation. Some will give you a designated space upon arrival (hate that!). Some will ask you to set up in one of the designated areas: RV and caravans on this side, tents here and there. Some will just hand you a map and wish you good luck.
From there, what makes a good spot all depends of the people around you.
You see, camping is like a big melting pot of individuals living together. It really can tests your limits on how well you cope with the lack of intimacy and how much personal space you require.
One day, I was getting out of the shower and this girl, who must have been 13 or 14 years old, and her mom went to the bathroom. After a while the girl shouted: “Mom, I pooped! You want to come and see”. Me? Something between ? and ?. Her mom went to check and said ‘No you didn’t. OK we’ll try later”. They left, I was a little relieved as this was a bit too much for me in the early morning. 5mn later, they came back. Mom: “you must try again”. Girl “No, I don’t want to” and goes anyway. They leave again. Mom: “ok we’ll try tonight, you really must poop”. 2 mn later, they come back. Me: f@#! hell, just hurry with your f@#! contacts. OK I’m gone and I may hate camping…
This was in the common area obviously but these awkward moments can happen anywhere on the camping site. To find the perfect spot, you need to be like a physiognomist of camping set up!
So here is a list of people you will meet on campsite and how to recognize them by the way they set up their camp as well as and the pros and cons to get close to them.
The people you meet
Foreword: It’s not about age. Yes, there are lots of young people who camp because it’s fun and affordable. But there are also couples with or without children, older couples, single people… People who are there because it’s cheaper than a hotel, people who just like camping, people who are looking for a new experience…. Some young people are partying like there is no tomorrow, some older ones as well. Sometimes people have dogs, some other bring their cats… Some young / middle age / older people have leaned camping etiquette, some clearly haven’t…
The real difference is probably just education. By this, I don’t mean PhD, I mean ‘life education’, common sense and respect.
They can be survivalist expert, hippy style, uni students, young or old. They can be there for one night or spend their days chilling and nights signing & drinking by the camp fire.
How to spot them? They set up their tiny tent in the most remote area of the camp site with other backpackers. No car around obviously but, somewhere, you might spot a beer bottle graveyard.
What you envy? The ability to travel so light.
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? To share stories and beers by the camp fire.
The longterm travelers
They are usually roaming around the country or continent, parking wherever they can but every now and then, they need a good shower and access to a wash machine. They sometimes enjoy the comfort of a camping site just because it is the one place where they don’t need to fear being discovered in the middle of the night. However, they won’t stay very long, it’s not in their genes, except if they also need to do some minor repair on their old trusted van.
How to spot them? By their self converted van.
What you will envy? Their organisation. How could they possibly fit all this in their van??? It does look really comfy.
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? To learn a thing or two about van conversion.
Glamping is all rage and the hipsters way to camp is exactly that: it’s all about comfort and style. You will find them in a fairly remote side of the campsite. Not too close to the common but not too far either. Far away from families, and RV as they need some scenic backgrounds. They do find the most beautiful spots!
How to spot them? They don’t go for the normal tents. They have a teepee or maybe an old school tent like a canvas army one. Maybe a hammock to chill out. Some cool furniture too, including beautiful rugs on the floor and cushions. And lights hanging. It’s got to look authentic and instagramable!
What you envy? Where did they find such a perfect cup? This stove looks perfect as well. OK maybe everything!
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? Not much if you don’t have cool stuff too. But at least you’ll be able to have a quiet time, giving envy looks to their gears.
The Sporty type
Let it be cycling, hiking, climbing, rafting… you won’t see them very much. They are gone when you wake up and come back late at night. You might spot their equipment hanging around but that’s about it.
How to spot them? An empty tent, all day long.
What you will envy? Their endless energy & the mystery on how they spend their days.
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? Quietness. They come back to sleep and that’s about it.
The Heads of the children tribe
They have at least 3 children and came with another couple who has at least 3 as well. Those are uncontrollable, they scream and run around like wild animals who have just been released from their enclosure. Their parents have set up camp in a very comfy manner and they are here to stay.
How to spot them? An RV, a huge tent with a lounge space and several smaller tents for the kids. Table for 10 or more has been set up in the middle of their territory. Towels drying all around. It’s a bit of a mess with bikes and other toys laying around.
What you will envy? Their ability to not hear or see what their children are doing.
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? Screaming kids, all day long, who will not respect your territory. You probably didn’t notice right away but they also have a baby who will be crying all night, because babies don’t like camping!
The ones who do not leave the camp
They have breakfast from 8 to 10AM, lunch from 12 to 4PM, and dinner from 6 to 10PM. Between meals they play cards or board games. They will probably spend 3 weeks there. If they could grow food on spot, they probably would. But all is ok, because they came with loads of supply so they really don’t need to move.
How to spot them? They are parked very close to the commons (lots of bathroom trips required I suppose) and have an incredible installation which they can’t leave out unattended because it might get stollen. Fancy RV, canopies, screen to block the view and probably some decorations…
What you will envy? Their chairs! They look so comfy.
What to expect if you set up your camp close by? Not much. They keep to their merry band. At least you will be close to the common areas and you can watch everybody pass by. If that’s your thing…
Additional tip: Arriving early enough but not too late, is key to finding the best spot. Sometimes between 4PM and 6PM worked well for us this summer but it depends where and when you are traveling.
No matter what your camping style is, identifying people by the way they set up their camp is super useful!
Did I forget anyone? Let me know!!
If you’re going on a camping trip, check out this printable I created for you. It’s a gear list so you won’t forget anything. Yep it’s free. Just download and print.