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Camping Abroad Successfully

by Dan Lawton

“I just moved to Thailand last week and one of my major packing dilemmas was whether or not to haul my tent with me. In the end, despite the extra ballast, I decided to take it, knowing that I’d regret it if I didn’t.

For one, camping abroad is one of the best ways to move outside of tourist-laden hotels and guest houses and dive in deep to local scenery. You won’t learn much about the jungle from your jungle hotel, but you will if you’re in the midst of it listening with terror to every rustle of leaves around you.

Secondly, it’s an adventure. Camping in foreign countries is more likely to take you to the fringes, the small villages and intimate rural towns that you’d likely never encounter if you stuck to the guide book.

Last, but not least, it’s incredibly cheap. Camping abroad can cut down on your hotel bills, especially if your traveling in Europe, where hotels are pricey, but campgrounds are notoriously cheap and clean.

Yet camping abroad isn’t all carefree. In fact, it requires much more preparation then camping domestically. Here are few tips for keeping you safe in the outdoors while you’re abroad.

Know Your Route
The mountain ranges of Asia look a lot different than your local state park. Make sure you have a good set of maps and a compass before you take off. Additionally, if you’re trekking deep into the woods, a pair of rescue flares might also make sense.

It’s also important to make sure that your camping expedition won’t take you through any politically unstable territory or possibly across an unfriendly border. Last year, three American hikers where detained after accidentally crossing into Iran from Iraw; two of them are still facing charges.

Leave an itinerary
Just because you know where you’re going doesn’t mean everyone else does. Make sure to relay your route and length of trip to your friends’ and loved ones in case you disappear. In August of 2009, Chicago resident David Gimelfarb went hiking in Costa Rica and never returned. To this day, his family continues to search for him.

Bring First Aid Kits and Medicine
When you’re in a foreign environment the risk of injury goes up and the likelihood of you getting to a hospital expeditiously drops. Make sure to stock up on first aid kits, disinfectant, Band-Aids, etc. If you’re in an area where malaria is present, you’ll want to take a prophylactic to decrease the risk of transmission.

Respect locals
If you stumble onto a local village or farm, make sure to show deference to those who live there permanently. Try not to be a nuisance and make sure that you don’t litter or damage the environment in any way. Also, bring a phrase book if you don’t know the language, so you can attempt some communication.
The bottom line on camping abroad
Camping abroad can be a rich and exhilarating experience, as long as you plan diligently. Always be flexible, as things may not always go as planned. Regardless, happenstance often smiles on the camper who stays optimistic.”