Holidays: Northern Ireland is ‘amazing for camping’ says expert

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For many, going on a camping trip conjures up images of the great outdoors, mountains, valleys, lakes and even cities. Holidaymakers in need of a pitching space can camp in people’s back gardens, with both parties apparently finding much to be happy about.

For tourists, this is a cheap alternative in the city, but what do homeowners get out of it, other than a few pounds?

A mother-of-three from Liverpool has been renting out her back garden on a popular “almost wild camping” platform.

The principle is easy enough to understand, this is the back garden version of Airbnb.

In Liverpool, the woman said she does “Airbnb as well.”

So what makes someone decide to open up the front gates and let people pitch their tents in their garden?

READ MORE: Camping warning: Checks campers must make before a holiday

She said: “I started doing it because there’s nowhere to camp in Liverpool. You know people are travelling around the UK, and then you get to cities and there’s nowhere to go.”

With accommodations aplenty, most cities don’t have camping options on top of hotels, Airbnbs and hostels.

This isn’t stopping more companies jumping into what they see as a trend, with the latest addition to the “almost wild camping” space Wildpoint, a website that launched this year after raising a lot of seed money from investors.

Camping in cities, albeit safely on someone’s property, isn’t the most popular option for a stay in the city, even when it’s easily available.

The woman said: “I’ve had a few people over the years but not that many. About 15 groups, that’s all.”

Britons are not flocking to pitch up in each other’s backyards, with the majority of campers overseas tourists.

She continued: “The last ones were all international people. Very rarely has it been English people.

“Mainly people who are here on holiday and touring around the UK. They’re used to camping. I suppose the Brits don’t think of camping in the city.”

For the Scouser, it all started with “an article in the paper about ways to make extra money. There was parkonmydrive.com and campinmygarden.com… but over the years it’s mainly become a way to help people out.”

For most Britons, the idea of sharing their living spaces with strangers may seem like a nightmare, but the hostess would disagree: “I like the meeting people, that’s what I do it for.”

However, it has not come without some unusual experiences, she continued.

While she’s happy to have people come and stay, some “were a bit of a pain.”

One particular group forgot their tent: “I had a group of four guys without a tent and they were a bit of a pain.
“I think they knew they were meant to bring one. But of course, I had to let them come inside and sleep in the lounge.”

The woman was forced to let the group stay inside after the initially booked to camp.

Another struggled to make payment, but the hostess was happy to accommodate.

“There was a guy that was flying out of Liverpool airport in the morning and just needed somewhere to stay,” she continued.

“I think in those days it was £7 a night, but he struggled to get that £7 for me and in the end, I just said: ‘oh forget it.’”

Not everyone is as understanding as she is. Her sons are definitely not fans, but she used the money as a sweetener: “Originally, when I started doing it, they hated it. I used to say: ‘I’ll put all the money to one side and we’ll share it out at Christmas between us all.’”

Having people stay in the back garden does not stop the Scouser from enjoying life.

She still uses the space for socialising and meals: “Once I had some friends here, about 20 of us in the garden having a meal and then there’s a tent, with a couple in it sat and reading a book. Everyone’s going: ‘who are these people.’”

While opening up one’s garden to tourists may make for surreal situations and funny stories to tell people, it’s all come to a halt with Covid: “I haven’t had anyone for a year and a half, maybe two years now.”

It’s not stopping her having people around: “I used to do Airbnb and obviously that’s all stopped at the moment, so I have a lodger instead.

“Even now, I’m going away and I thought, someone’s going in my bedroom while I’m away for three days. I don’t like wasted beds!“
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