As I am writing this there have been dates given for campsites to start opening again. The dates for this is the 4th of July in England and the 15th of July in Scotland. While Northern Ireland is pushing to have sites open by the end of June and Wales are yet to release an actual date.
I know this will be music to the ears of many campers but it will possibly not be camping as we once knew it. Many sites may not open this year and the ones who do will be most likely opening with many new rules in place and reduced facilities.
If you are planning to go on a camping holiday once restrictions have been lifted there are a few things worth checking before you go. This is aimed at people who are using campsites and not those wild camping.
Book your Holiday – Many people already book their camping holiday but there are many people who simply pack their car on a weekend and head off to see where they can get a pitch. This will not be the case when restrictions are lifted as many sites are reducing the number of pitches to allow for social distancing.
Contactless check-ins – many sites have introduced contactless check-ins for campers so ask how this works and what you need to do when you arrive on site. If full payment is required upfront you may be allocated your pitch over the phone or may need to pick up a welcome pack on arrival that will explain everything. Check it out so you are aware of what you need to do on arrival. This makes arriving and setting up smoother for everyone.
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Ask what facilities are available – while many sites are reopening it is going to be with reduced facilities. Many play areas may be closed, toilet and shower blocks may be by booking only. Some sites are making use of portaloos to which one would be allocated per pitch and this would be at an additional cost and shower blocks may come with a booking slot for your camping party. This may also be at an additional cost. This is to protect you and campsite staff as extra cleaning measures will be introduced between slots of those offering this. Other sites will have clear guidelines if they are having toilets and shower blocks open to all guests with regular cleaning rotas. This may include limited numbers being allowed in at any given time. This being said many sites are encouraging you to be as self-sufficient on-site as possible, including bringing your own toilet, shower, changing area etc.
Shopping – while many sites have small shops where you would be able to pick up daily essentials many sites are choosing to keep their shops closed at the moment. Again, ask if there is a shop on site and if so will it be open. If not check out where the nearest local shops are so you can plan ahead. Where possible extra planning before you go may be beneficial especially when it comes to planning meals or treats for the kids.
If you camp at a Caravan and Camping Club site you can read what sites are opening back up and what rules the club have put in place here.
Camping Life After COVID
Camping life after COVID may be different for many reasons. Site owners are taking measures to keep everyone safe while they open their sites back up to the public.
This will mean that they may not be able to offer the camping experience you would once have had with them, especially if their site had lots of activities that you could have enjoyed as part of your camping holiday. Activities like swimming, soft play and play areas will remain closed.
Please be mindful of this when booking and support campsites during your stay by adhering to any rules they have implemented. Remember this is their business and livelihood and they are doing everything possible to allow people to start camping again safely. By asking the questions above before you go you will be more aware of what to expect once there and more prepared for any changes this may bring to your holiday.
As already stated above many will have restrictions on facilities including toilets and shower blocks. However many sites are allowing you to take your own and have a utility/changing/toilet tent on your pitch.
If you are able to take these I would suggest you do to help keep yourself and family as safe as possible. While many of us already take a portable toilet with us camping it is normally reserved for during the night unless we have small children with us.
On reopening many sites are asking where possible you take your own and use it throughout the duration of your stay. For this reason, it is worth thinking about investing in a separate area for you to use as a bathroom/shower room/changing area.
For this, I recommend investing in a utility or shower tent. This will allow you to store and use your toilet outwith the tent. This is especially useful if you are already limited for room inside your tent.
Utility and shower tents come in both poled and pop up versions and are both relatively lightweight. Most of these are floorless tents due to being able to use them to shower in. They are great multi-functional tents that are a welcome addition to any campers set-up gear as they can be used for so many things.
As with most tents, they have a zipped doorway, ventilation panels that can be opened and closed to suit (important when using as a toilet) and some have sewn-in hooks for hanging items such as showers, towels or items of clothing.
Many utility tents will be large enough to house your camping toilet and a table with a wash station for washing your hands.
Portable Camping Toilets
As well as investing in a utility tent it is worth investing in a good portable toilet. Portable camping toilets come in all shapes and sizes and there are a few things worth thinking about before making your purchase.
- How many in your camping group.
- Ease of emptying the toilet.
- Will you be fully using it or using for urination only.
- Flushing or non-flushing toilet.
These are all things worth thinking about when it comes to choosing a portable camping toilet as they come in varying sizes and styles. Basic camping toilets can be as simple a bucket style with toilet seat and lid. These do not flush and waste matter simply is stored inside until emptied. Although basic there are still many sizes and styles of these non-flushing toilets to choose from. Below is a picture of three of them to give you some idea of what is available.
Then there are flushing portable toilets. Flushing toilets are two section toilets that store the waste away in the lower compartment. Flushing toilets are filled with water and/or toilet fluid that will be used on flushing the toilet while once flushed the waste will be held in a separate compartment until you empty it. Using the toilet fluid help to keep everything smelling fresh until such time. Below are 3 flushing toilets. Notice how the Thetford toilets are the same style but come in varying sizes.
If investing in a flushing toilet you will also need to invest in some toilet fresh, a cleaning and flushing agent and quick dissolve toilet paper. If you are emptying your toilet once or twice a day you want it to empty easily and cleanly and not be clogged with undissolved paper. Flushing agents will also keep your toilet smelling fresh and kill germs too.
Other useful tips when using a portable toilet.
- Always ensure the lid is closed when not in use. As well as being more hygienic it will save moisture escaping. This is especially important during the night as any moisture may contribute to condensation inside the tents where the toilet is (that may result in urine condensing on inner tent fabric, yuck!)
- Do not wait until full before emptying. When full these can become quite heavy and if the waste disposal area is far from the tent it will make for a dreaded chore. Try to empty twice a day, especially if there are more than 2 people in your camping party.
- Where possible try to use a quick-dissolving toilet paper, especially if using a flushing toilet. While your nice luxurious paper you use at home feels great it may not dissolve quickly meaning emptying the toilet can become more difficult. You can buy paper for use specifically for this reason.
Amazon and Winfields both have a good selection of portable camping toilets both flushing and non-flushing, while both also stocking toilet papers and chemicals or flushing agents that can be used in conjunction with your camping toilet.
Food and Meal Planning
While many sites are opening there are many who will not be opening their onsite shops. While many campers regularly use these little stores for everyday essentials or fresh breakfast items this is unlikely to be the case as campsites re-open.
This means that campers are going to have to be more prepared before going on their camping trip when it comes to meal planning and food storage. Food storage is very important while camping as you do not want to run the risk of spoiled food or cooking food that may make you ill. You can read our guide on good food storage by clicking on the following link to ensure you have what you need before you leave.
You may also have to ensure that you have enough gas if you use a gas stove or BBQ to last you for the duration of your camping trip. While some stores that stock this remain open you may need to travel to pick this up if you run out.
If you are going away for more than a few days why not plan to do a mid-week shop. Plan where you will go to do this shop and how far from the campsite you will have to travel. As well as limiting the time you are away from the campsite and not relaxing on your holiday it may save being stuck in traffic or queues.
Activities while away on your camping trip may also need to be more carefully planned as many play areas on sites are remaining closed.
After waiting all this time to get away you are not want to go away without anything to do especially if you have kids. Many people like to go away and remain on the campsite for the duration of their holiday. If this is you make sure you have plenty to keep you occupied while away.
Visit our other 2 blogs for ways to keep boredom at bay.
Camping Games: https://campmehappy.com/camping-games
Camping Printable Games: https://campmehappy.com/fun-paper-games-for-camping
These should help with things to do on and around the campsite.
If you are travelling to camp why not make the most of it by getting out and exploring the local area. You can go and explore the local fauna and flora on walks to nearby beaches, forests and open areas. Do some stargazing if the weather permits and learn more about the stars.
Why not make a small picnic and take some hot chocolate and go and watch the sunrise or sunset from a local viewpoint and simply enjoy the moments and beauty these bring.
Embracing Camping Again
While campsites are opening it may not be camping as we once knew it, for now anyway! As we will now be camping after COVID and starting to enjoy life after COVID lockdown. But by following the guidelines and supporting these sites by doing what we can to ensure everyone has an enjoyable camping experience we can help get the ball rolling and start bringing back the good old camping times we all love.
Remember to keep social distancing and regular handwashing while on your camping trip and follow the site rules. I am sure site owners will be struggling just as much as we campers are, if not more so, with camping restrictions that are in place but remember they are doing their very best to ensure camping can take place on their sites FOR YOU.