Are You Afraid Of Camping?

By Darren Alff

bike camp

If you’re afraid of camping, that’s okay. I understand.

I’ve been bicycle touring around the world since 2001 and I’ve now spent several years of my life camping in a tent. But even after all these years, I still get a little nervous about camping sometimes.

If you’ve never camped before (or have done very little camping), I understand how sleeping outside under the stars, with the thought of wild animals roaming around in the dark outside your tent might be a little frightening. I also understand how it’s not much fun to camp when you haven’t had a shower all day (or in several days).

But I also know that camping, like so many things in life, becomes easier the more you do it.

For me, it is always the first two or three nights of camping that are the hardest. You toss and turn all night, you are fearful of every little leaf blowing outside your tent (fearing it might a wild animal approaching), and you struggle to stay warm.

But just like the first 2-3 days of any bicycle tour are usually the most difficult, your first 2-3 nights of camping are bound to be your worst as well. If you can get past the first 2-3 days, however, you will likely settle in, develop a routine that works for you, and actually begin to enjoy yourself when camping in the wild.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to watch this 1+ hour video I recorded in 2010 where I discuss at great length the three major hurdles any bicycle tourist needs to overcome when conducting a long-distance bicycle tour.

While I don’t spend much time talking about camping in the video, the same principles can be applied. The first 2-3 days of camping in the wild are going to be the roughest. Then, somewhere around the 1-2 week mark, you should begin to feel completely at home when camping under the stars. Once you hit that mark, you should be able to go for months on end while camping in a tent at night, sleeping under the stars and sharing your campsite with a few wild animals.

Camping is a whole lot of fun and it can be terribly rewarding. Some of the best moments I’ve ever had during my travels took place simply because I was willing to camp.

If you are afraid of camping, don’t be! Get out there and do it. Break past that 2-3 night hurdle… and then jump the 1-2 week hurdle as well. I promise you – the more you camp, the easier it will become and the more you will begin to enjoy it!

camping cycle photos

So, what about you?

  • Are you afraid of camping? If so, why?
  • What has been your best (or worst) night of camping?
  • And what tips or pieces of advice do you have for others who are afraid of camping in the wild?

Leave a comment below and add your thoughts to the conversation.

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4 Comments

  1. Ruben Rome

    February 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the encouragement this post provides. I’d say my main fear when camping (well, wild camping – same thing here though!) is getting caught by whoever owns the bit of unspoilt land I shouldn’t be enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep on. I did a 3 day tour not too long ago (haven’t broken past that 3 day threshold yet), and got caught on 2 of those nights, though to be fair the 3rd night I camped out in the middle of a city in plain sight of everyone.

    I’m not sure if this sort of thing is more peculiar to the UK than other countries, or if we actually aren’t that strict in this domain compared with others. Either way, it doesn’t make for a peaceful time, and can start to make me a bit paranoid!

    Ruben

  2. Ruben Rome

    February 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks Darren, I already read that post – the most extensive stealth camping tips I could find on the web, I think. I think it was partly due to it being my first time stealth camping, along with a) having to pitch in the dark the first night and thus failing to miss crucial cues (pheasants in a field etc) and b) being too tired to be able to search for somewhere more suitable on the 3rd night (literally falling asleep at the wheel). All factors I’ll soon be addressing on my next, longer, tour. Thanks for your help!

  3. jose zimerman

    March 2, 2016 at 9:35 am

    seems there was a mix up i am not sure if my coment was sent or erased. so i am repeating
    i darren,

    ihave been folowing your web page few years. here in costa rica no established bike ways betwin cities and most drivers get like crazy behind the wheel and dont practice courtesy. and in the bigger cities hardly any . i don’t recomend biking in this coutry until conditions change. many people do ride bikes for transportation needs. evry week few bikers are run over. drunken driving is prevailant. it’s unsafe to ride here in the capital or other big city on the side of the street as the cars will push one over board into the cement ditch. in very few atempts i had to for safty ride in middle of right lane. if only one lane was avalable the drivers had to green and bear it as beeping horns don’t afect me. government here are very peculiar dont have long term vision, at least judging from bike ways point of vew. i have to my credit been able to include in the planing of a 3 km hwy conection in san jose capital a bike way one each direction. just because i petitioned the right moment

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