Updated: Jan 4, 2021
1. the activity of spending a holiday living in a tent
When it comes to camping, there are 3 types of people – those who love it, those who hate it, and those who open their eyes widely and shake their heads left and right with the mention of it, but do not really understand it. I am the former type of person – I love it. As a person who loves adventure and nature, I consider camping as the perfect opportunity to escape. It is a mixture of fresh air, a bit of do-it-yourself, relaxation and mostly an opportunity to explore. My fiancé and I, together with his now 9-year old daughter, camp around four to five times each year on the islands. We camp with different groups of people: families, couples, friends... Some are more experienced, and some are less experienced campers than us. The one thing we have in common is that we all love it!
During various conversations with non-campers, I always notice something. They are not well informed about camping, which misinformation, leads them to the conclusion that camping is not for them.
For those who want to know more, or are interested in camping but do not know from where to start, here are 10 camping truths and some tips to get one started! Both camping pros and cons have been listed here, as the aim is to give a realistic picture of the whole camping experience. Hope this blog inspires more of you to join the circle of campers on the islands!
1. Camping vs Glamping
The activity of camping can range from a basic, fit everything into your backpack kind of camping; to a car filled with stuff kind; and to a more luxurious kind known as glamping. For the more adventurous ones, or for those who want to combine trekking with the camping experience, the former option would be ideal. The second option is the most opted for, where couples, friends and families gather in one of the camping sites on the islands. For those who would like to be at one with nature but are not up for too much hassle, glamping is the best option.
2. Camping Locations
Can one camp anywhere on the islands? Not really, there are three types of campsites – open campsites with no amenities but only what mother nature provides; campsites where one is provided with toilets, showers, water and electricity; and glamping sites where one can book a nice readily furnished tent or gazebo. The "open" campsites require a permit from the local council, while the ones with the basic amenities require a pre-booking to secure a spot. On the islands, it is illegal to camp in certain areas such as beaches, so one should ensure to check with the local council before deciding on a location. Although not very popular, locally there also are a few private glamping locations that one could opt for.
3. Closer to Mother Nature
But why camping? Camping gets you closer to Mother Nature and our beautiful Earth. It is a good opportunity to leave the confinement of our homes and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors and some fresh air. It allows one to wind down from our hectic lives and appreciate the beauty of our world and the simplicity of life. Always practice LNT – Leave No Trace, respect our Earth and others who want to enjoy the area after you.
4. Insects and Creatures
The first things that any non-camper mentions when someone speaks of camping are cockroaches, snakes and rats. No, you will not be sleeping or eating with any of these creatures. Have you ever been to an afternoon picnic or had an evening BBQ at the beach? Well, camping is the same, plus sleeping there! Most camps have an inner, enclosed sleeping area, which one should keep closed throughout the day and night. This means that no insects (especially mosquitos) can enter the sleeping tent. On the outside area, you might encounter some insects and reptiles, roaming in their natural habitat of course, but throughout my experiences, I have never encountered anything alarming. One important thing is to avoid leaving food or food waste scattered around so as not to attract the grey-coloured, long-tailed unwanted visitors, known as rats. Furthermore, since there are no wild animals in Malta, there is no risk of being attacked by one!
5. Cleanliness and Camping
One of the current hot topics, and with reason, is cleanliness and hygiene! Wipes are one of the things we pack. So is dishwashing soap and water if not available on the campsite. Some campsites offer shower facilities and water supply, making the experience more comfortable. If this is not an option, there are portable showers and toilets which one can purchase as part of the camping gear. Obviously, it will never be the same as home. However, being organised always helps when it comes to keeping things clean whilst camping.
6. Camping and Kids
Yes, camping is safe for kids, and kids LOVE it! Yes, they get a bit dirty, maybe fall once or twice, but nothing the washing machine and a couple of kisses won't mend 😉 There’s even research that suggests that kids who are exposed to soil have a better immune system! So close your eyes and let go for a while!
7. Is Camping Expensive?
Camping on the islands is cheap – we often spend only around €50 per couple for a whole 3-days in a private camp site with a private toilet and shower. Quite a bargain no? What is expensive is the camping gear, but that can be considered that as an investment, and with good care it will last a long time.
8. Camping Equipment
Good quality, camping equipment will make your camping experience more comfortable. Given that it can be quite expensive, make sure you do your research and understand your needs before buying. Start slowly, buying one thing at a time rather than buying all the gear in one go. Lightweight, compact, and weather-resistant are keywords to look for when shopping for camping gear!
9. When is the Best Time for Camping?
Spring and autumn are the best seasons for camping on the Maltese Islands. The weather will be cool but not too cold, and the heat is bearable during the daytime, unlike during Summer days. High wind days are not ideal for camping. It does get uncomfortable with the wind blowing all day, and might be also difficult to sleep at night.
10. What to Pack?
Yes, camping can mean carrying a lot of things, it all depends how comfortable you want to be and how much camping equipment you have, but your car will be pretty packed, at least in our case! One is to always check the weather before packing, keeping in mind that it generally gets cool during the evening. Creating a balance between packing too much and packing the essentials is crucial.
After reading all the above, one might still ask “But from where do I start?” Well, any beginning is difficult. It would be ideal to start by joining some friends who already camp and see if they have a spare tent which they can lend you. You can also rent a tent from one of the local camping shops.
If this is not an option, grab this guide and get planning! You will make some mistakes, but those serve as lessons for the next time around. Moreover, Malta is small so if one forgets something, it will be quick to get it. One small tip for the first time is to opt for one of the campsites with toilets, showers, water and electricity supply. This will make your first adventure more comfortable.