The only time you’ll catch me in a tent, is if I’ve died and my lifeless corpse has been dragged into one. Now, look, I realise that’s quite the strong opening sentence, but I have an intense dislike for camping and a fairly good reason for that.
This, my friends, is the story of how I came to hate camping. And, as is usually the case with all great travel stories, this one is born out of me being very broke but still wanting to travel. A real recipe for disaster. Here goes.
Matt and I had been living in London, and feeling pretty bloody miserable about it, for around 6 months or so. When we decided we were going back to Australia, we agreed we should do as much travel as we could possibly afford to on our way home. So, we booked cheap-ass tours through Europe and California, with side trips to Iceland, Canada and New York for good measure.
To make our money stretch as humanly far as possible, we jumped on a Trek America tour that involved a combination of cheap hotels and camping. As any broke traveller will tell you, when you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust and absolutely no money, you deem yourself capable of enduring just about anything in order to have an adventure.
The first few days of our California tour went pretty great. The other people on the tour were awesome, our guide was fantastic and we were loving life, staying in cheap, but decent hotels. It’s when the camping began that things descended into a spiralling shit-storm of heat and discomfort.
After spending a day driving through Death Valley, enduring heat that I can barely even begin to describe, except to say it was dry and lung-crushing, we arrived at the picturesque Lake Havasu. The Lake itself was gorgeous and the sunset in the background was all kinds of pink and orange, making it a spectacular place to pull up for the night. The only problem, it was approximately five million degrees and there wasn’t a scrap of wind in sight. On the odd occasion, a breeze did roll through, it felt like someone had opened up the Devil’s oven, allowing a gush of stinky hot air to slap you in the face.
I convinced myself things would cool off as the evening wore on. I was wrong. As the darkness rolled in, the temperature refused to drop. As a Queenslander and someone who lived in the humid climate of Singapore for two years, I consider myself experienced at handling the heat. This, my friends, was not heat. This was Satan’s inferno.
We set up our tents in the camping ground near the Lake, hoping to get some whiff of a breeze off the blasted thing. Sweaty and growing increasingly irritated, I crawled into our tent and lay on top of my sleeping bag and the thin foam mat supplied by the tour team, hoping if I lay still enough my body temperature would drop. Hours passed and the heat inside the tent grew, propelled, no doubt, by the heat coming off Matt and I. Everything stuck to me, I felt irritated and gross, covered in sweat.
With every moment my rage grew. You know, those moments when you can feel yourself losing a grip on your serenity. You can slowly but surely feel it slipping away from you and you know you’re on a slippery slope to going thermo-nuclear. Girls, you’ve probably experienced this when you’re hungry, that whole ‘Hangry’ feeling when you start to have visions of ripping someone’s arm off and beating them over the head with it in a white-hot rage. That was me, stewing in my own heat and stank, in a piece of sh#t tent pitched on gravel at Lake Havasu.
Suddenly I lost it, the very last thread of civility I had been clinging to. I threw my arms and kicked my legs, letting out a rage-full and exasperated, “GAHHHH.” Instinctively, Matt flattened himself to the bottom of the tent, most likely in an attempt to play dead and attract as little attention to himself as possible. “I CANNOT DO THIS,” I screamed.
Exhausted and enraged, I pulled myself off the ground and out of the tent. In this state of no control, I tore off my cotton t-shirt and sleeping shorts, leaving only my bikini top and bottoms. Standing there in the all-consuming heat, sweat dripping off me, white and pudgy in my bikini, I began looking around for a place to try and sleep. But, of course, there were none. No way to escape the heat, no way to get comfortable.
I was out of options, faced with the prospect of going back into the pizza oven of a tent or sleeping al fresco outside it and savouring the ever-so-slight drop in temperature. I lay flat on the ground outside the tent, in only my bikini, the gravel digging into me. But, somehow, I didn’t care. The bikini-wearing-ground-sleeping option was better than the hot box tent.
It was a restless night of broken sleep and gravel rash, but I managed to get a few hours. I awoke the next morning, face-down on the ground, with gravel indentations all over my body and a thick layer of mud from where my sweat had mixed with the dirt. Matt, opting to avoid me altogether and sleep inside hell’s inferno, emerged dehydrated and distraught.
It was at this precise moment I shot him an ice-cold look and, in an eerily calm voice said, “I will never go camping again.” He nodded in agreement, the thought of a ‘but’ flashed across his face, but he thought better of it and dismissed it, continuing to agree with me.
A few days later, faced with absolutely no alternative, we were forced to pitch our tents on concrete at a fully-booked camping site next to an In-N-Out Burger in San Diego. Camping. On concrete. What the actual fuck!? Any chance camping had of being resurrected were well and truly obliterated. Its fate was sealed, camping was officially dead.
I’m very proud to say I haven’t gone camping since I left the concrete compound next to In-N-Out. I’ve gone glamping, which is amazing and magical and involves all the things I love about nature with none of the awfulness of actual camping. But I’ve never had to endure the hell that is camping and I have no plans to unless there’s a lot of money involved.
There are loads of people who love the crap outta camping, I should know because Matt is one of them. I just don’t get it. There’s no need to be that uncomfortable. There are plenty of wonderful places to stay that are in the nature and stuff but also come with comfortable beds, hot showers, wifi, good food, wine and other delicious things.
There’s no need to suffer, you guys! Get a bloody grip! Camping sucks ass and I refuse to do it. Hate me if you want to, call me a precious princess, I do not care, I’ll be inside my comfortable hotel room feeling like the King of the whole dang world, watching Fox Movies and eating veggie burgers. Up yours, camping!
Note: the images used in the blog post are stock images from RGB Stock. They are not photos of that trip because there are no photos of that trip because I was too angry, being cooked alive in Satan’s oven, to take any.
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.