People love their campervans for so many reasons. But one of the most popular has to be the ease with which you can get out into the awe-inspiring natural world. To be free of the stresses and strains of modern life, surrounded by wildlife, trees and natural flowing water for a little while.
Of course, even once you’re out in the great outdoors it can still be difficult to unwind and truly appreciate the natural marvels before you. And what’s more, with modern campervans offering so much, it can sometimes mean you spend a bit too much time inside enjoying those home comforts.
So, here are some tips for connecting with nature when you’re next on the open road in your trusty campervan.
After you’ve done that, remember the best way to protect yourself from the fallout from any campervan catastrophes is to have the very best cover in place from day one. If you’re lucky enough to own one of those ultra-desirable Volkswagen campervans, contact the team at Motorhome Protect and arrange some VW campervan insurance before you leave.
1. Cook and eat breakfast in the great outdoors
Many modern campervans feature kitchen facilities that are straight out of an ideal home magazine! Preparing tasty meals in your campervan can be an absolute joy when you’ve got all the mod cons close to hand. But be careful, you could be missing out on the pleasures of outdoor cooking.
If it’s been a while since you last grilled food over an open fire or enjoyed a heart fry-up round the campfire, then now might be the time to gather with friends and family for a delicious outdoor breakfast. And even if it is just a bowl of muesli, we all know how much better food tastes when you’re in the open air.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the facilities to cook breakfast outside, you can still bring your meal to the picnic table and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature during the most important meal of the day.
2. Identify wildflowers or plant some on your travels
The British Isles has a wonderfully rich variety of flowering plants and other flora. However, if you can’t tell the difference between sea campion and lesser stitchwort then it might be worth your time learning how to identify some of the more common species.
There are many great spotters guides you can purchase, but there are also plenty of handy plant identification apps you could download if you're technologically minded.
As well as spotting wildflowers you could also play a part in making the country that bit more colourful and beautiful. If it looks like rain, why not scatter some British wildflower seeds at the edges of fields, alongside roads, or anywhere else that wild grasses grow.
It’s easy. It’s cheap. And it just might help people see the beauty in the world.
Please note, the Royal Horticultural Society says that many garden ‘wildflower’ seed mixes may contain species that are not native to the UK. You should never sow these in the wider countryside or close to environmentally sensitive areas.
They should also never be sown without a landowner's permission. With a little thought you can buy British wildflower seed packs suitable for sowing in Britain.
3. Don’t forget the birds and the bees
British fauna is also something worth exploring, too. Learn what creatures dwell in the environment around your camper by bringing along a guidebook or app to help identify the insects, animals and birdlife around you.
4. Spot the British big five
Whenever someone goes on a safari holiday to Africa, you’ll always hear how they hope to spot ‘the big five’, the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. While you can spot these in one of the UK’s best zoos, wouldn’t it be
better to spot animals in their natural environment? With that in mind, how about spotting Britain's big five? And what would they be?
The red deer, badger, fox, otter, and red squirrel? But what about Scotland’s majestic golden eagle?
Whichever animals are on your must-see list you’ll be sure to find some suggestions on where to find them in our guide to spotting wildlife around the UK.
Take care, some of these spots can be in far flung places. So, if you’re arranging VW campervan insurance then ask if you can also be covered for breakdowns. After all, you don’t want to be stuck far from home.
5. Listen to birdsong and other wilds
For many people, the sounds of the natural world are some of the most relaxing sounds to be found. The waves against the shore, the creaking of branches, the wind in the long grass, the buzzing of bees and the birdsong overhead. Even the rustle of leaves underfoot is immensely satisfying.
This stunning orchestra adds up to a healthy symphony of sound that can both banish the modern cacophony and leave us refreshed. The RSPB has an excellent bird song identifier if you want to have a head start on working out what creatures are creating those beautiful sounds.
6. Watch the sunrise and sunset
When we’re all so busy working and keeping up with modern life we can often forget to enjoy perhaps the most stunning everyday natural experiences.
When was the last time you got up early to watch the sun rise on a new day? And how about gazing out as the sun slowly sets?
These activities give you the perfect opportunity to take a moment and reconnect with the beauty of the outdoors.
7. Enjoy some stargazing
Walk out into a spot that offers an unobstructed view of the sky, lay back, look up, and instantly be transported across time and space. You can either just watch the stars wheel over head or try to spot particular constellations and other heavenly bodies.
Use a brilliant stargazing app from this list to help you identify what you’re looking at. From planets and stars to satellites and comets, there’s plenty to see when you know exactly where to look.
Gazing up at the sky works just as well even during the hours of daylight. What strange and wonderful things can you see in the clouds? Cloud gazing is a simple yet entertaining activity that could last for hours!
8. Dance in the rain
Who says you have to stay inside on a rainy day? When the heavens open, get out there! Splash through the puddles and shake your booty in a rain shower. Make like Gene Kelly, and do some singin’ in the rain!
9. Take a windy walk
There are few things more likely to leave you with energy and banish those blues than walking along a hillside on a windy day. Super refreshing and completely free.
10. Map the wildlife local to your campsite
If you park up in your camper for any length of time in the UK then you’ll soon be introduced to the unique ecosystem of that area. Drawing a map of the plants and wildlife around the campsite is the perfect way to get you to notice all those small wonders around you.
This is a really fun idea if you go abroad as it’ll help you encounter so many more interesting species than you would normally. But if you’re taking your vintage camper with you then make sure that your VW campervan insurance provides you with cover for foreign travel. For example, VW campervan insurance arranged through Motorhome Protect offers unlimited EU cover.
11. Go on a scavenger hunt
Sending the kids out on a reconnaissance mission around the campsite provides an ideal opportunity for everyone to connect with nature by tapping into the intricacies of the world around them. From finding a stick longer than their arm to a spider’s web, in order to complete the hunt, they’ll have to closely examine their natural surroundings.
Simply create your own list of natural things you want everyone to spot on a scavenger hunt and head out for an hour to see how much you can tick off.
12. Go foraging
A very popular and tasty pastime is to go foraging for food. Edible nuts, seeds, berries, wild garlic, herbs, and even mushrooms can all be found in the wild. However, before you set off with your basket read this important set of rules on foraging etiquette in the UK.
Two of the most important are to know what you’re picking and to only take what you need, but there are others, too. The wild is simply full of goodness but foraging needs to be conducted in a safe and sustainable manner.
13. Litter picking
Connecting with nature requires respect and care. A great way to demonstrate this is to tidy up the local area by heading out on a litter-picking adventure. Always wear gloves!
14. Build a fort
One of the best activities recommended by the Woodland Trust is to indulge in a spot of den building. Autumn is perhaps the best time of year to do this as there are so many fallen branches, bark and leaves to use.
Remember to always be considerate when den building. And if you’re in an ancient woodland then it’s an activity best left to the badgers and foxes. Follow these instructions on how to build a den and stoke everyone’s creativity and ingenuity.
15. Make a wild sculpture
Stacking rocks is a popular way to craft a wild sculpture when out in nature. But there are plenty of other materials you can use. Colourful leaves and twigs are easy to find in the forest while the beach is full of items to create an incredible piece of environmental art.
16. Bake a wildlife cake
A cup of tea and a slice of cake is something we all enjoy after a long day out. So, why not bake a stunning wildlife cake for your next afternoon tea?
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at these incredible nature-inspired cakes created by BBC Wildlife readers. From grass snakes and hedgehogs to foxes and puffins – these cakes are both biodiverse and very tasty.
17. Tell stories round the fire
The ability to harness fire was one of the great breakthroughs of humankind. Sitting in a circle around the fire and telling stories will reconnect you to the most ancient traditions we have.
18. Reduce water and plastics usage
Thinking about our effect on the environment is an important part of any campervan trip. Anything we can do to reduce our use of water and plastics will help the planet in the long run.
19. Try geocaching
Something you might not have tried yet is this really fun Geocaching app. Geocaching involves you hunting for small items and tokens using GPS coordinates supplied by other users online. There’s an estimated 3 million geocaches hidden all over the globe. So, the chances that there’ll be one within reach of your location are high.
Although, they’re often in remote locations. So, before you head off, it would be a good idea to download the SAS Survival Guide app. Based on the best-selling book, this app covers a host of survival topics. It also has useful first aid information and a handy plant guide that will let you know if something is edible.
20. Put away your devices
We all love our technology and the incredible benefits it brings, but it can get in the way of connecting with nature. Of all our tips, this may well be the most immediately effective. Use your trip as an opportunity to put away the phones, tablets, laptops and gadgets, and get outside. The campsite Wi-Fi will still be available when you get back!
21. Visit a nature reserve
Some of the best nature reserves in the world are in the UK and offer fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the year. From the distant Western Isles of Scotland down to the ever-popular Cornish coast, there’s hundreds of nature reserves just right for you.
While you’re there, the Wildlife Trust has come up with 30 days’ worth of wild activities to keep the whole family busy. And once you've finished with those, joining the National Trust and English Heritage are also tried-and-tested ways to get outdoors more and learn about our wonderful natural and historical national treasures.
Remember, if you’re taking expensive binoculars, telescopes and cameras on your nature trip to capture the occasion, then make sure your VW campervan insurance covers them, too.
22. Outdoor yoga or meditation
Taking the opportunity to enjoy just 10 minutes of mindfulness in nature is a great way to connect and get some exercise. Deep breathing exercises are encouraged!
23. Make a butterfly feeder
Providing a reliable source of food for the local butterflies will encourage them to visit your pitch and pollinate the plants surrounding the area. For details on how to make a butterfly feeder, the Heart of England Forest team have easy to follow instructions.
24. Go wild camping
Go off-grid, and camp in a location without hookups. Setting off for some wild camping will let you go further and deeper when exploring mother nature. Be aware, wild camping is easier and more encouraged in Scotland than it is in England.
25. Try wild swimming
Wild swimming has never been so popular. While it’s common to have taken a dip in the sea while on holiday, if you’ve never jumped in a lake or swam in a river then you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a truly breath-taking experience and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
For safety tips and top spots read our campervan owner’s guide to wild swimming.
26. Spend time alone
Not every campervan trip requires you to meet other campers. Spending time away from other people is a great way to make time to commune with nature in your own way. Even if you don’t fancy spending the whole time away from everyone, scheduling time to go walking alone is a good idea.
Just make sure to tell someone where you’re heading and what time to expect you back.
27. Take a photo of nature in close up
Use your camera or phone’s macro settings to get in really close to your subject and see something incredible. From the wings of a dragonfly to the fronds of a fern, take the time to look at nature closer than you’ve ever looked before.
28. Take a sensory mindfulness walk
While out on your next walk, make it a mission to find one thing in nature you can see, hear, touch, and smell. Who knows what you might discover?
Why not try the Wildlife Trusts sensory bingo game? Hear the wind, hug a tree, and smell a wild herb are just some of the suggestions. But you could make up your own in no time.
29. Spend some time with a tree
Forest bathing (or shinrin yoku) is an ancient Japanese process of relaxation where you simply spend time being calm and quiet among trees. It’s popular all over the world and taps into our natural attraction to trees and forests and their positive effects on our mental health.
Forestry England has an excellent guide to forest bathing that includes tips on getting started and suggestions for where to do it.
30. Climb a tree
If you prefer something a bit more adrenaline-inducing then how about climbing a tree? The National Trust has a list of great places to climb a tree if you’re unsure where to start. From Brownsea Island in Dorset to Rowallane Garden in County Down, there are so many real beauties here.
For even more excitement, why not include a trip to one of Go Ape’s 34 unique locations where you can indulge in high ropes courses, Tarzan swings and epic zip lines? These are great places where you can safely challenge yourself and discover a true sense of the treetop canopy.
When you’re out exploring nature in your campervan it’s easy to feel far away from the troubles and cares of modern life. But sometimes accidents and mishaps still happen, no matter how well prepared you are. It really is impossible to rule out everything that could happen when you’re out in the world. That’s why, wherever you find yourself you’ll want the best cover for both your vehicle and its contents.
Using our panel of insurers, we’ll search out the best VW campervan insurance, tailored to your vehicle, needs and budget.
Our cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £120,000
- Up to £3,500 of cover for camping personal effects.
- Discounts for members of a campervan club.
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for VW campervan insurance