My wife and I have been camping for many years. We love the freedom of it – if you’re well-organised it isn’t an onerous experience. We both read the Finlays' article and both decided that while it sounded attractive, the full-timer camping life wasn’t for us.
I retired a year ago. We are both still fit and active so the reasonably strenuous activity of setting up and breaking camp is not yet a problem. We prefer game parks and wildlife and are not fond of the coast with its howling winds and sand, and all the rust and extra wear and tear on your rig that goes with living there. This limits our options to a degree, but the other reasons that prevent us from trying this lifestyle are more important. I am a handyman, and spend lots of rewarding hours in my workshop making and/or repairing things. I service and repair our two vehicles. If we travelled permanently, we would have to sell one, and then rely on the dubious service from garages along the way, and pay the rip-off charges that these service people are so fond of. My workshop could not realistically go with us. And my wife is into gardening, cooking and sewing; and, again, it would be difficult or impossible to keep these activities at the level they are now, or at all.
Looking into the crystal ball of the future, we can see significant problems down the line if we sold up and went camping permanently. Wear and tear on our caravan and tents would be significantly higher than if they were used only for the odd trip; and unless you could do all the maintenance yourself, there would be significant costs attached to this.
Let’s face it, none of the camping tents and caravans have been designed with permanent use in mind. Unfortunately, we will all get old and infirm at some point in time. The camping life would gradually draw to a close and we would perforce have to settle into an old age home. You cannot just pop out the woodwork and demand to be let into a home. These places have long waiting lists and you often have to get into the queue very early on.
And the prices! You need very significant available cash to get in, so hopefully you invested the money from your home that you sold wisely, as it will be sucked up quickly in the purchase of a small place at a retirement village with a frail-care facility. We would rather go away three or four times a year and two to four weeks at a time, and so far this has worked out very well. We carefully choose our venues and times, and generally avoid the stampede, crowded conditions, and rising prices, of prime holiday time. When all the idiot drivers are out there trying to ensure that they get there first, we are snug at home and leaving them to get on with it.
While the permanent camping lifestyle sounds like heaven on earth, I believe that you can keep your home and local friends, and all the familiar shops and things you are used to, and still be able to enjoy your camping.
Whatever you decide, we hope you have fun and that it works for you.
- Robin Joffe