Opinions about camping are sharply divided: some shudder at wet tents, flat air mattresses, extreme heat and long lines in front of public bathrooms. Others revel in the incomparable freedom and nature. They sleep on their own sheets in the fresh air, are happy to put a steak on the fire and delighted by the quiet and simplicity – they camp for its own sake. It's their hobby.
A candle or a chandelier
Everyone prefers something different on their vacation: a tent or a suite, an air mattress or a king size bed, a candle or a chandelier. But demand for outdoor vacations is clearly growing. As life gets increasingly hectic, many people long for a slower pace and turn to nature for rest and relaxation. They feel rejuvenated by waking up to birds chirping and not by painting the town red at night.
Camping in Switzerland
Switzerland has slightly more than 400 campgrounds. In 2016, the number of overnight stays was 2.79 million, following five years of constant declines. There was, however, a slight increase from 2015 to 2016. Campgrounds show that tourism in Switzerland is recovering again after several difficult years. Some 64 percent of campers hail from Switzerland, 14 percent from Germany and 8 percent from the Netherlands. The most popular camping region by far is Ticino, followed by Valais, the Bernese Oberland and Graubünden (source: www.camping.info).
Camping: dank clothes and wet feet? No, thanks!
Nature lovers and families particularly love to go camping: from simply putting up a tent in the outdoors to traveling with well-equipped RVs or caravans. Children love campgrounds since they're a great place to quickly make friends to play with. Sleeping in a tent – showering together? Most children think it's awesome and exciting, but many parents merely shudder. They find it too inconvenient, too impersonal and – if it rains – much too wet. For them, a vacation without some luxury is completely out of the question. This sentiment is shared by many businesspeople who want to relax during their vacation, not set up tents or pump up air mattresses. So: yes to the outdoors, but only with the creature comforts of a hotel.
Glamping: champagne included. Yes, please!
The travel industry is increasingly catering to this desire, offering beautiful and luxurious outdoor lodgings all over the world: circus wagons, mobile homes, chalets, tipis, yurts, safari tents and even tree houses. Campsite owners are also increasingly offering luxurious and comfortable lodgings with innerspring mattresses, wood burning stoves and bathrooms. Luxury camping is known as «glamping», a portmanteau of glamor and camping. This comfy camping is booming in Switzerland, too: at Lake Zurich, for example, vacationers can rent luxurious safari tents – and sip champagne for breakfast. Zurich is the most popular glamping region, followed by the cantons of Bern, St. Gallen, Aargau and Vaud (source: www.glamping.info).
DIY glamping: sometimes, more is more.
Strong demand for glamping sites shows that people want certain comforts in nature. However, the accommodations are permanently installed, just like hotels, and lodging prices vary depending on the degree of luxury provided. Those who want more freedom turn to DO IT YOURSELF glamping, or DIY glamping for short: campers bring upgraded gear, and not just the bare necessities. They equip their RVs or caravans with comfortable bedding, espresso makers, tablecloths, napkins and champagne flutes. Then they add loungers, grills and decorative lighting for the exterior …
Keep your valuables safe
If you bring valuables like cellphones or portable navigation devices on vacation, it makes sense to take out additional «Simple theft outside the home» coverage as part of your contents insurance. It covers your property up to the stipulated sum insured, which is generally CHF 2,000. And, if this is not enough for you, you can double the sum insured with the «Super theft» coverage as part of your Zurich contents insurance. «Super theft» coverage is available for distances of more than 50 kilometers. It also provides coverage if your property gets damaged. Should you need more coverage, for expensive jewelry or photography equipment, for example, we recommend taking out insurance of valuables. Nevertheless, any valuables that you are not wearing or carrying should always be kept in a safe – for example, at the campground's reception desk.
The Swiss are buying RVs
Anyone who arranges their own glamping vacation combines nature and luxury with freedom and spontaneity. This type of vacation is gaining in popularity in Switzerland, too. According to Camping.Info (www.camping.info), while the number of caravans in Switzerland has been stable, the number of RVs is clearly on the rise. Since 2007, the number of registered RVs has risen 44 percent, exceeding the 50,000 mark in 2016. People who travel with caravans tend to spend two to three weeks at campgrounds, while RVers drive longer distances and switch campgrounds more frequently. Incidentally, the boom in RV sales is a pan-European trend. However, modern-day camping has changed considerably and has little in common with camping 25 years ago.
Campgrounds: shared bathrooms, not beds
In most European countries, you will have to use campgrounds if you travel with an RV or a caravan as wild camping is either prohibited or severely restricted. However, campgrounds come in all kinds of flavors: everything from a simple meadow with a wash house to well-equipped miniature villages with supermarkets, restaurants, swimming pools, saunas, TVs and fitness centers and WiFi.
BY THE WAY
It is generally cheaper to spend the night at a campground than a hotel, although the prices have converged at sought-after vacation destinations and high-end offerings during peak vacation season.
Driving with a caravan or RV
Whether you're traveling with an RV or a caravan, there are several things to consider when you hit the road with a total weight of about 3,000 kilos. Here are the most important tips:
- Take up the whole width of the road. Trailers need more room than a car, especially on roundabouts and at corners.
- Keep a wide birth when maneuvering: if you turn a corner, make sure not to turn the steering wheel until the caravan's wheel has also reached the corner. If you turn before that, the caravan will not swing around the corner.
- When you back up, you have to turn the steering wheel to the right to steer the caravan to the left (in the direction of travel): think ahead when steering your vehicle and plan your maneuver before you start driving.
- Brake gently and early. Cars with heavy loads have a longer brake path than the cars you usually drive without loads. Also, curves must be rounded at slower speeds with loaded cars.
- Passing other cars is much more difficult with a caravan: follow them patiently until you get to a clear spot and there is absolutely no oncoming traffic.
Have a second person who can help you see things behind the travel trailer. They should also remember to look up – trees and branches can damage the travel trailer just as much as curbs.
Check everything carefully before you get started
Check all the connections between your car and the travel trailer: is the safety switch green, the lever firmly pressed, are the power and brake cables connected and secured (must not touch the ground), is the jockey wheel retracted and secured and is the trailer's emergency brake released? Once that's done, check the lighting and turning signals on your car and trailer, switch the refrigerator to car battery, close the gas cylinders, close all doors, closets, drawers, windows and the skylight of the trailer and check that everything is battened down so that it won't slide. You may also have to adjust the tire pressure (including the spare tire): pump up the rear tires on the towing vehicle to 0.3 to 0.5 bar above the specified value. The tire pressure on the trailer should generally be 3.5 to 4.0 bar. Adjust the side mirrors properly and enjoy your vacation.
Tip for beginners
Make a checklist for every area and count the items that you have to check before you leave. Don't start driving until you come up with the same number. For the trailer, for example: switch, lever, brake cable, electricity, jockey wheel, emergency brake – six items. Caravan: windows, skylights, refrigerator, gas, kitchen drawers, closet, bathroom cabinets, faucets, trailer door, exterior lockers – ten items.