Not so long ago I wouldn’t have set foot inside a tent. The aversion to canvas was in part formed by an early experience with the Brownies where we camped on a rugby pitch in Abergavenny; one of our party had (to put it delicately) a “very upset tummy”, the rest of us were just “very upset”. It was also informed by a strong desire to avail of as many 5* hotel experiences as possible – which, as it turns out, was a very good plan as once children arrived, the cash with which to do this vanished under an ocean of costs associated with sports clubs and the buying of shoes every six months.
Eventually I acquiesced and our family has now celebrated five years of tent-ownership which began with borrowing a tent, and ended with us owning not just a tent, but an awning, several flash gadgets and a habit for campsites that come with great facilities. What began as a way to holiday cheaply has resulted in something that is not too far off business travel because….
Small = smart
I once managed a week in Washington with just carry-on luggage (ok, Business Class carry-on but it still counts!). Miniature toiletries, layering of separates, strategically positioned shoes to maximise space, anything to avoid queuing for hours at a carousel or the magical game that is wondering whether your luggage will reach the same destination as you…. This habit has now transformed into the decanting of shampoo into small bottles, sleeping bags that fold into teeny pockets and collapsible colanders (who knew the joy that little gadget would bring?!).
A little luxury goes a long way
Some people won’t travel without a scented candle for their hotel room (I never once did that, but I get why you would), others insist on a glass of champagne after take-off (I definitely did that). For camping this transforms into good wine, proper cutlery, farm shop burgers and cheeseboards. Our friend once brought a glass cloche to protect, display and serve a rather nice cake from. It was a crazily fragile thing to take into a field full of children and guy ropes but not one of us did not appreciate its beauty over a Tupperware pot.
You will covet other peoples’ stuff
On a business trip it’s all about admiring your neighbour’s shoes / laptop bag / Luis Vuitton toiletry bag. Back when we had to share rooms with other people at conferences as part of a cost-saving / how to make employees feel deeply uncomfortable exercise, I tried on my roommate’s Manolo Blahniks while she was out. Upon her return I confessed to my terrible behaviour. And then she let me try them on again – yay!
Now we remark favourably on our friends’ camping stoves, tent carpets and camping mats, and harbour ambitions to one day own a kitchen stand. It will be ours…
The day hasn’t started unless coffee has been served
In a business context it’s mega hangovers thanks to dinner with clients and all-nighters. When camping it’s being woken by what sounds like a concrete mixer (when in fact it is deer nibbling at grass) or having to take your child for a wee in the dark several times during the night. All of these fade away with the first cup of strong, hot coffee.
The feeling when you get home
Whether it’s a five day business trip to the US requiring inordinate amounts of smiling nicely at customers and a cast-iron constitution, or a long weekend of fresh air and outdoor pursuits with your family, both of these things are true:
- You will feel like you need a holiday afterwards
- There is nothing like your own bed!