After the trip to Cornwall I thought I’d write a blog around car camping. It was the mode of transport used for the trip and the way we slept out and I wanted to show you all how easy it can be with a little bit of planning.
Which car is best? Now most of us think camping as in a tent, a camper van or caravan but how many of us have thought about using our cars. Most would probably say they wouldn’t be able to use their car especially if they have hatchback or a small car and would more than likely prefer to have a high sided car or estate, and even though they are all very different cars the principles are not that much different just the smaller the vehicle more planning would be needed and I’ll go through this in this blog.
First of all I’ll go through the process I went through with my Kia Ceed SW (estate), the beauty of this estate is the back seats fold flat so when this happens and the parcel shelf in the boot is removed there is a huge space to use as a sleeping area. Now the wheel arches do make a little narrower at the rear end but I used a small 4 leg fishing bed as my sleeping area and it fitted lovely to the side. By using this bed it meant I was slightly off the floor. There was plenty of room at the side for a small table if you wished although it was a great space for the dogs sleeping bags to lie on. One of the other things to do is to push the from drivers and passengers seat as far forward as they will go it just gives that little bit more length in the back.
In smaller cars the rear seats don’t always fold flat so depending on your car then you may need to use a couple of storage boxes to fill gaps where the seats don’t meet (I’ll link to a video later on to show you ) then you can add a foam mattress or a camping mattress over the top to lie on, again you will need to push the front seats forwards as far as they will go and take head rests off and also push the back of the front seats forward too but again depends on the type of car you have and of course your own height will have an impact too.
Now I was able to sit on my fishing bed comfortably a few more inches of roof height would have been better but it did the trick the likes of a Vauxhall Zafira, Ford Galaxy etc would give you a better comfort zone for your head room.
Sleeping arrangements I mentioned above the fishing bed but you could always use a cheap standard air bed or a self inflating mat but I have seen on EBay a particular air bed that fits the whole of the rear of the car and gives a head board area but again this would need to be measured due to different sized vehicles.
I’m the type of person that is always cold. So I was concerned I’d be cold sleeping in the car so I took my three season sleeping bag, a duvet and two blankets and I have to say I was the complete opposite I was boiling lol.
Now to aid privacy I made some thermal blinds. Really easy to make and I’ll post a link to a you tube video where I got the idea from but I basically popped down to Wickes and bought some insulating bubble foil that you would use around radiators in the house. One roll will set you back about £14.99 and it was enough for me to do all my windows but the bigger the car the more you will need. I then grabbed some Xmas paper, or you can use brown paper or similar and I traced out the shape of the window on that and then cut around the bubble wrap foil it was easy to place in the windows and if you make sure it is stuffed in to the gaps of the window frame it will stay up all night. Now both sides are silver I do recommenced the side facing out to the outside you spray with some black paint as it makes you less visible to those outside. For the front and rear windscreen if you didn’t want to use the foil you could buy the frost shields or sun shades as they will fill whose windows perfectly.
Car camping is always going to have some restrictions and if your using all the space you have to sleep or sit in then your going to be wondering where the heck you out all your kit. So firstly I’d think about what you want to take and then think about whether you actually need to take it and I’d recommend you keep your kit to just the essentials. Your going to need to take clothes, cooking kit, food and drink items, washing and toilet items, phone, chargers and battery packs a book or two etc Now where do you put it all. So in my car I stored my clothes under my fishing bed I put my medications and night time items down the side of my bed between the door and bed so they were easy to get to. I hung my head torch on the rear door handle, shoes were left by the rear door ready to put on when exiting same for coat. Plastic boxes and bags that held my food drink and cooking items along with other stuff I placed on the two front seats and utilised the two front foot wells. For the future I’d like to invest in some roof bars and a roof box as I think it would be invaluable and will keep what you don’t need with you out of the way. You can pick up small plastic storage boxes in many supermarkets and cheap bargain shops and many will come with lids so they can be stacked. I used some of those strong trustable shopping bags that you get from the large supermarkets and they were great.
Now I think this is one that puts people off the idea of car camping the most. Especially if they are car camping and using park up sites or services rather then proper campsites with full facilities. Keep it simple Use cafe toilets , public toilets or take a small porta potty Heat water up in your stove for a wash, or use wet wipes but make sure you stick to the leave no trace principle and take all your rubbish home Women can also purchase a she wee which is always handy to have in your ruck sack or car just in case If you know the kind of route you are taking then make use of the facilities that line your way lots of restaurants cafes shops and leisure centres that if you just spend a few pence in their premises will enable you to use their facilities.
With car camping you want to keep things simple take lots of snacks and a small stove and gas. Pre cook meals before you go and freeze them then when you need to you can just reheat them. We went to the coast so we had a fish and chips and a pasty so that was two meals accounted for the most we used the stove for was a warm drink on the mornings and evenings before bed.
Only take one plate, cup, cutlery, per person Keep cooking pots and utensils to the minimum the lighter the betterMaybe if you have the room a small table and chair
The one thing you will need to do before you go somewhere is plan at least a little bit especially if you do not know the area. Car camping does not have the freedoms in the UK that it does in other countries so be mindful that you will need to. E as stealth as possible and this will need to be reflected in anywhere that you stop for the night. Many car parks do not allow over night parking or sleeping in vehicles so you will need to check out the areas to see if you can find somewhere where you can pull over for the night. There are a number of apps which you can download on your smart phone that will help you find park ups these are search 4 sites and park 4 night
I’ll add some you tube links and links to some other information that may help you out.