A couple of weeks ago, Sutty turned 30. And he could not have been less excited about it. Now I know that it’s a bit of a landmark, generally an age which causes introspection and life re-evaluation and a certain amount of ‘oh holy shit’ realisation that you are, in fact, an adult; but it’s still a birthday. We take birthdays seriously in my family – the general rule is this; you are never too old for balloons, glitter or eating chocolate cake until you throw up.
So, despite numerous protestations of indifference, for Sutty’s 30th I wanted to plan something special (even if he didn’t) . I weighed up several options; Dublin, Amsterdam, New York – but aside from the budget issues of a twenty-something trying to save for a RTW trip, the man is hard to entertain. Eventually, I hit upon the solution – a long weekend camping trip, just the two of us; wild camping in Scotland in a vintage VW camper van. So, it was time to muster some camping essentials from Wildcat Outdoor Gear and look forward to the trip.
Actually owning my own VW camper van is a longstanding and as yet unrealised life goal, but as it turns out there are many obliging people who will let you rent theirs for a week or a few days at a time. We took Dorothy, a classic T2 van in sky blue and white, to Scotland for a 3 night break. In Scotland, it’s legal to wild camp, which means that as long as you stick to a few common sensical rules and show consideration to other humans you can basically park up and camp anywhere (this is illegal in England and the rest of the UK). This gives the opportunity for a lot more freedom, allowing for a last minute change of plan when you accidentally stumble upon that woodland lake or secluded stretch of ocean that practically demands overnight appreciation. It’s also budget friendly and creates a sense of adventure that you don’t get in a field with a toilet block.
We camped right by the beach, cooked awesome food on our little stove, pottered along coastal roads and explored quirky towns and villages along the way – and we had a great time. Who says camping in Scotland in the middle of October isn’t fun?
7 things I learned about camping in a VW camper van:
- It’s definitely worth wild camping if you can, for the freedom and the views.
- Always park within walking distance of a public toilet/pub/secluded beach or wooded area.
- If you leave the lights, radio or heating on for longer than about 10 minutes without the engine running, you will drain the car battery and you will be stranded.
- Don’t stall going up a steep hill. Unless you are some kind of stunt driver, or the Stig.
- You can cook pretty much anything in a camper van. But if you choose to cook fillet steak inside, don’t do it with the windows closed, unless you want all your belongings to smell like meat.
- Wave at every person you pass who is also driving a camper van, and enjoy the rueful stares of people in Volvos and Nissans who are jealous that you are driving a camper van.
- Take your time – these old vans are definitely made for comfort, not for speed.
Have you had a camper van adventure? Where’s your favourite camping spot?
Come back on Friday for my Scottish photo diary!