Eurocamp; The First Step to Travel

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, couldn’t hack the plague of en.maybe’s constant Insta posting (sorry not sorry) or quite simply erased controvers.girl from your vocab, then I’m sure you’ll be aware I flew the nest this summer to experience shores afar from the wee Isle of Eire.

However; the answer that still remains for many is where I’ve been and what I’ve been up-to?

In this blog I hope to shine some light on my experience and encourage other keen traveller beans to pack their bags and take the plunge to work abroad.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a bit of a chatterbox so for the sake of your sanity I’ve split this blog into categories that should answer your specific questions perfectly- basically if you wanna skip my rambling shit-talk you’re welcome to.

WHY

Well this is easy-  Travel!!!

For as long as I can remember I have always had a lust to travel, not just the vanilla “2 week holiday” type notion we associate with travelling, I mean really travel- experience the culture, live there, feel something more than just your ordinary predictable life.

The problem was I had no idea how to make this happen. The 4 F’s were standing in my way – Friends, Family, Finance and Fear.

“People who travel have lots of money, sure how else would they afford it?”

“I’ve never been away from home for long before, I’ll miss it too much”

“What if something bad happens?”

These are just a few of the thoughts that went through my head. On top of this there was the issue that nobody actually wanted to go with me. The phrase “I want to travel but I’m waiting till after college” has been thrown in my face more times than I can count.

So this left my with one last hope- go alone. As daunting and scary as this option was, I decided to throw myself into the deep end, bite the bullet and go for it. I was sick of waiting to live the life I wanted. I was ready to make a move, alone if necessary.

The next hurdle I needed to overcome was where and how? This didn’t take much thought. I knew the €20 (not even) in my bank account wasn’t going to cover a summer abroad so the decision to look for jobs in Europe was a no-brainer.IMG_3883 2

The reason I chose Europe as my place of choice was quite simply the fact it didn’t require a visa. Considering I didn’t even have enough money to afford flights, avoiding paying out hundreds on a visa to America or such was the best option. Besides that, Europe has much more diversity than it’s given credit for and us Europeans should be taking a lot more advantage of the privilege it is to be European.

Truth be told, Eurocamp wasn’t the first European job I applied for. Prior to this my search engine consisted of an endless list of “Irish bars in Europe”, all of which the pay and hours weren’t appealing in the slightest. It wasn’t until my mother suggested Eurocamp that the penny finally dropped.

Every summer since I was a teeny tiny tot, my family and I have packed our bags for a two week holiday to one of the many Eurocamp campsites throughout Europe.

See where this is going?

WHAT

Before I go any further I should probably explain what Eurocamp is. Eurocamp is essentially an English travel agency that primarily provides accommodation as well as other services to its customers travelling abroad. The “accommodation” I’m referring to is mobile homes-  in other words fancy caravans. However, that isn’t to say its an overpriced gypsy camp.

Picture a hotel. You decide to book your room using Booking.com, your friend staying in the room beside you books with Trivago and your other friend books directly with the hotel. Despite the fact you all used different travel operators, you are all still staying in the same hotel with access to the same core hotel services such as the pool, bar, etc.

Perhaps when you booked, Booking.com threw in a free breakfast but stingy Trivago and the hotel didn’t, well then only you can avail of that because it’s provided specifically by Booking.com and not the others.

Get the gist?IMG_1674.jpg

Eurocamp is, in some ways, similar to this concept of the hotel. However, instead of it being a hotel it is a “campsite” or a “resort”. This resort remains a separate entity to Eurocamp, as my manager nicely put it “Eurocamp is in the campsite owners garden”. Mobile homes replace the hotel rooms and a range of competitive holiday operators such as Eurocamp, Roan, Kelair replace the likes of Booking.com and Trivago.

Just like the hotel, the campsite itself offers a large range of services that all Eurocamp holiday- makers can avail of. These services usually include an on-site shop, bar, restaurant, large variety of pools as well as a range of child friendly services such as playgrounds, kids clubs, and kids entertainment (discos, shows etc).

In addition to the campsites services, Eurocamp provides a range of its own facilities exclusive to it’s own customers, including an English kids club (this is where I come in).

Although there are a larger variety of jobs available within the company such as maintenance, manager etc.. the two main roles are the greens or the reds.

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The Greens

No, I’m not talking about the family of vegetables but it’s not too far off that track. Just like the number of vegetables that belong to the family of Greens, there are a number of different specific roles that fit into The Green Eurocamp Team.

Firstly, just to sum it up, Green = Clean. No matter what sector of the greens team you fit into, it’s gonna be loosely connected to cleaning. Before you get too excited thinking Eurocamp is an overly environmentally friendly company having a Green Team, the name has nothing to do with the environment, it’s simply because the uniform is green.

Okay so let’s break this team down for you in order of the year.

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Montage

The Montage team is made up of a group of couriers who move from a variety of sites setting up the mobile homes for the season ahead. Many of the Montage team switch to become regular green holiday couriers once this process is over.

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Greens (The Holiday Couriers)

When you hear the word green mentioned it is usually this specific group I am referring to, aka The Holiday Couriers. These are the couriers who work during the open season when the campsite is fully up and running and holiday makers are coming and going. This constant flux of customers arriving and leaving means there is a constant need for mobile homes to be cleaned and prepped.

In addition to the cleaning responsibilities, there is also a large amount of customer relation duties as it is your job to make sure customers are happy with all their needs whilst staying with Eurocamp. This means making sure there air con is running smoothly, linen is okay, checking them in smoothly- it also means biting your tongue when they’re kicking up a fuss. Reception hours will play a big part of your job as a greens holiday courier.

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Demontage

The Demontage team is made up of a group of couriers who are responsible for packing away the mobile equipment etc once the season has ended and the park is shut. Often this is made up of those on the Holiday Courier team who wish to stay on and work longer.

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My knowledge of the the greens job is pretty limited since I didn’t work in that sector but if you need any help be sure to pop me a DM @en.maybe and I will try answer as best I can!

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The Reds

The Reds aka The Kids Club Couriers are those that work solely with Kids Club. As a red your duties do not expand further than kids club. Your job requires you to run fun, safe and inviting kids club sessions for all kids staying with Eurocamp.

Kids club services are offered for children ranging from 1 – 17 years.

“Mini’s Station” is offered for ages 1-4 years and requires a parent or guardian to stay at all times.

“Funstation for All” is offered for ages 4-17. However in order to adequate to all the specific needs of this diverse age range, it is usually split into smaller sectors known as the below:

  • FunStation: 4-12
  • Base: 12-17

“Family” activities are also offered encouraging families of all ages to take part in the fun.

(This may vary depending on the site you are on).

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An average of 2 sessions are dedicated to each group every day.

At the start of every week, The Team Leader (Manager) of the Reds will call a meeting showcasing the Fun Station For All timetable for the week. It is during this meeting each member of the reds gets to see what sessions they will be running for the week. It is then up to them to plan the sessions they have been given. The “sessions” you will be given will be titles. For example you may be given a session entitled “Pirates” for fun station, it is then your duty to find this session in the ‘Session Planning’ book provided by Eurocamp and choose enough activities to fill your session time (1.5 – 2 hours depending on the campsite).

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HOW

Application

Okay so just to point out the obvious, if you want to be in with a chance of winning, you got be in the race. Basically- APPLY!IMG_0404

Bear with me, I’m a little bit rusty on the details seen as this was almost a year ago that I applied but from what I can remember the application itself is quite thorough and lengthy. I would recommend revamping your CV to suit the exact role you are applying for. If you’re going for the greens and have any experience in cleaning/ customer relations make sure to mention that in your opening description on your CV. Similarly if you’re going for the reds, make sure to add your best points on childcare.

The opening description on a CV is the key to achieving jobs. The average employer only glances at a CV for approx 15 seconds before deciding if they’re interested or not. That’s 15 seconds you have to wow them with an eye-catching intro- don’t mess it up.

During the application process I recall being asked questions about my available dates and passport details so it would be handy to have this information on you when applying.

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Interview

Those of you who do well in the application process are then pushed along to the interview sector. For me, my interview, was done through Skype but this will differ depending on where you’re from in the world- obviously if you’re from England and within reasonable distance to the Eurocamp office then you may be asked to do a face-face interview. Never-the-less, the Eurocamp team seem to be good at adapting to everyone’s different needs, so setting up an interview suited to you shouldn’t be an issue.

The interview itself was pretty straight forward- I sat in my college bedroom, infront of my laptop talking to a nice lady on the screen about the job at hand- nothing too complicated there!

I’d say the interview lasted no more than 10 minutes in total so it’s nothing too stressful!

The topics I was questioned on were all very connected to the job so I would recommend, before entering the interview, take a close look at the job duties involved in the job you are going for. However, that being said, much of it comes down to common sense so don’t get yourself too worked up studying the whole Eurocamp manual – just use your brain.

Fictional scenarios, placing you directly in the role at hand, testing your initiative are quite popular.

For example, as an applicant of The Reds you may be asked:

  • What would you do if a child fell in your care?
  • What would you do if a parent failed to pick their child up on time?
  • Give an example of an hour and a half session you would run for 4-12 year olds?

As an applicant of The Greens you may be asked:

  • What would you do if a family were unhappy with their mobile home?
  • What do you think is the most important part of the job?
  • What do you think is involved in the cleaning of a mobile home

Training

By this point you’ll know you’ve gotten the job so give yourself a pat on the back !!

The dates of your training course will depend on the dates of your employment (low season, high season etc..). Obviously, if you are a low season courier you begin work before high season employees, therefore you must receive your training earlier.

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For The Holiday Couriers (montage, greens and demo), training will be given to you once you reach your base campsite and will be provided before you begin work.

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For Reds it is more of an ordeal as training is a week long and in most cases provided before you reach your base campsite (potentially weeks before your employment even begins).

As a full season Kids Courier, I began my training on May 7th in Manchester where I stayed for a duration of 5 days to complete my training course, followed by a flight to France on the 12th to begin work. From what I gather, Manchester is the base of Eurocamp Kids Club training. However, in order to meet everyones needs Eurocamp also provides training courses in the Netherlands and in France itself.

During this 5 day training course you will be taught a wide variety of skills to help prep you for your work as a Kids Club rep.

These skills include “session planning” whereby you plan the activities you will use to fill your 1.5-2 hour kids club session (see example of my very first session plan!!). In addition to skills directly involving your role as a Kids Club rep you also learn a number of skills to help improve your customer relations and build rapport with parents. Of course working with children involves a number of health and safety regulations so safeguarding is a large part of the training course covered.

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WHEN

The WHEN all depends on your availability and also the role your applying for.

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The Reds

Kids Club opens mid-end of May until the start of September, therefore a full season as a red is only possible from May-September.

However, if you are available for longer dates than this and wish to extend your work time, you may apply for the Montage/ Demontage team.

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The Greens

From my minimal knowledge of these roles, Montage usually begins in the early months of the year starting around February/ March and is completed for the start of season in May.

The Greens (Holiday Couriers) come into play at the start of season and work for as long as the campsite is open and available to customers.

Demontage begins at the end of season around September (when the service shuts) and ends around October/ November.

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But, as I’ve already stated, I’m just a wee first year Reds so don’t take my word for it- it’s best to check this stuff out on the official Eurocamp page first!

 

WHERE

Eurocamp have campsites in France, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands.

During my interview I was asked if I had a preference of where I would like to be placed. I said Italy and ended up in France- so there you have it, can’t always have what you wished for! However it is still worth giving a preference because you never know, you img_0814.jpg

could be lucky.

Aside from the obvious factors that would sway your choice like the weather, site seeing, the facilities etc, it is also important to note the difference in pay rates between these countries. France and The Netherlands pay higher than Spain and Italy, Italy being substantially lower.

No need to worry – if you do get Spain or Italy, the cost of living is cheaper, so it kind of evens out!

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THE NITTY GRITTY

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– Personal –

Stepping foot onto that plane is like signing your old life away- tad bit melodramatic but seriously, don’t underestimate the power of time (4 months if you want to be more specific). We throw the word “time” around a lot – “that’s such a long time”, “I don’t have the time”, but how many of us actually fully grasp this concept? Yes, we know what time is but do we entirely understand the magnitude of it? 4 months. 17 weeks. 119 days. That sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But does it feel it? Can you feel that time passing? Can you without shadow of doubt pre-empt the effect it will have on you?

Well lucky you if you can because I couldn’t! Frankly, I don’t know where my head was in relation to the time predicament. The big question everyone would ask is “will you not miss home” followed by a stream of overly used cliche phrases on how time will take it’s toll on me (*eye roll*). I answered everyone the same way I answered myself- with a shrug and a casual “I guess I’ll find out”. That was my attitude to the whole experience (which came as quite a rather backwards surprise seen as I usually overthink a trip to the bathrooms). I think subconsciously I knew if I broke the ice and actually faced the depth of what I was about to do, I would have ran in the other direction. So instead, I decided to get cosy on the glacier until the ice nor my thoughts could hold anymore. There, seated on a teeny tiny plane destined for Manchester, the ice broke and suddenly I realised what I was doing.

It’s insane how quick the transition from your old life into this new life truly is. The airport is so close to the hotel that you don’t even have time to process what’s happening before you end up lobbed in the middle of a bunch of strangers, some of which you may be spending the next 4 months with. The thing that took me most by surprise is how nice everyone is. You know how usually when you walk into a room of people your own age, there’s a certain level of what I can only describe as awkward tension. For some its nothing but anxiety – the nail biters, the fidgeters, the no-eye-contact-ers – these guys are just harmlessly shy. Then there are those with just a twinge of bitchiness about them – robotically scrutinising you up and down, whispering to the person beside them, making no effort to communicate or if going that extra mile to actually speak to you, making sure it’s known it’s against their will. There’s the fakes, the eager beavers .. basically secondary school. There was not one of these people present in my training group. To this day I can’t work out how a group of 30+ people from an array of different backgrounds with a complexity of different interests, can all be on the same wavelength of kindness. The fact that everyone was so unimaginably easy to get along with, made the training week all the more fun. When we weren’t having a laugh during the training programme, we were hanging out afterwards in our own free time. We watched movies, we went for drinks, we went for food.. we really bonded and made friendships I feel will last forever.

These quickly manifested friendships, made the departure at the end of our week all the more difficult. I was lucky in that I happened to be leaving on the same flight as one of my best friends from the course. This made the daunting trip to my new home all the more bearable. On the other side, we parted ways and in to the hands of our managers. This new encounter went as smooth as I could have hoped for, my first impressions of them were good. Everything seemed to be working in my favour until I heard those 3 words.

“Here’s your tent”.

This is when shit kicked in. The ice was long gone, at this point I was struggling to stay afloat in my own thoughts. What looked like no more than, blankets hung on a close line, formed the “walls” of my new home. The realisation that each tiny gap may be the entrance for some creature to make itself inside my home gave rise to my blood pressure. I sat there on my waist width bed crying as quietly as I could so as not to draw attention from my tent-mate less than 10 feet away on the other side of the blanket wall. What had I gotten myself into? Did I overestimate my abilities? Am I really cut out for this?

Heres the thing about trying new things- 9 times out of 10 you’re going to hate it because it’s the total opposite of your idea of normality. In other words you’re telling yourself to do the thing you’re opposed to, you’re encouraging yourself to leave the safety net. But how did we achieve this sense of normality in the first place? There was a first time for this too, the thing is you just kept repeating it until it became a routine, until it became normal. This is the trick- you can’t throw in the rope after one try, you have got to allow space for yourself to adapt and establish a sense of normality.

This is exactly what I did and you know what ended up happening? I fell in love with my tent! It wasn’t perfect by any means- it really could have done with AC, real floors would have been nice and more wardrobe space but it did the trick.

** Side note: Eurocamp are upgrading staff accommodation to mobile homes. For more information see their website or make an enquiry **

Despite how much I grew to love my little khaki teepee, I didn’t actually spend that much time in it- I wasn’t curled up in bed listening to Mr. Lonely- in fact I was far from lonely or bored, for that matter. Now I must admit, the sauna, my tent seemed to be accommodating, was a big part of the reason I would be driven outside, forced to socialise but more so than that, it was the people. The people and most importantly the friends I have made is my favourite part of my experience. I made friendships for life.

It’s hard to explain how close you become because there is nothing to compare it to, I have never experienced anything like it. College roommates doesn’t even come close to this. One way I have discovered of describing my experience is that of a bubble. Aside from the obvious hyperbole it’s actually quite a good example. You see the thing about working on a campsite is your whole life exists within the boundaries of that campsite resort. Your whole life within this “bubble”. It’s not like college where you have your campus, your house, your home, the gym, the shop, the city and so on.

You live, work, socialise all in the same place- thats “intents” (get it?? credits to @niamhaldred for that one). Obviously it’s not like we are chained to the ground forced to never leave, I mean we went on day trips and whatnot but 90% of the time you’re in the campsites bubble seeing the same faces day in day out. The faces of customers change every two weeks or so when new people come but all that’s really happening is the bubble is swapping old ones out to bring new in. But essentially you and them are still in the bubble.

The thing about your co-workers is, they don’t leave your bubble after 2 weeks, they’re there to stay. You’re working with them, living with them, socialising with them. At times it can feel like maybe the bubble is just a bit too squishy and not enough room to breath, but more times than not it’s nice being a part of the family. As blunt as it sounds, because you have no other options, you become very close very quickly with those around you and end up creating sturdy friendships.

During my time I got the pleasure of doing so much with my newfound family. From simple chats over a cuppa to jet skiing, we made the most of our time together. There’s also a number of traditional social events that are run by Eurocamp couriers annually. The biggest one is “Christmas Day” whereby you celebrate your very own Christmas Day

with your new family to mark halfway to Christmas. IMG_4376This is no half-arsed job, you pull out all the stops – decorations, Christmas dinner, Secret Santa. Of course there’s a bit of a summer twist on things- ain’t no Christmas Day without some Sangria, now is it?! Another good event is tent crawl. Each tent picks a different theme so you have to decorate your tent and come up with a drinking game to fit your theme.

The travelling aspect of things was also a big plus for me. I got to visit Barcelona and see Carcassone and Montpellier on top of a lot of other little gems too. This was such a big part of my summer for me and I would recommend you make sure and educate yourself on the places nearby and make it your mission to get to a few of them.

Of course there were times when I felt homesick but I have to say it was never unbearable. I think this comes back to the fact I had made such strong friendships over there that they almost, not filled the space, but comforted the loss of those I missed at home. In fact being away from home was one of the best things I ever did. It taught me to be an independent lady and proved to me I am capable of almost anything I put my mind to.

The job itself brought about a change within my character. During the season I watched myself change from quite a shy non-talkative person into someone more chatty and outgoing. I can now proudly say I can uphold a conversation!!

 

– Professional –

“Deireadh gach scéal an t’airgead” – as my granny says, “every story ends with money”. I wouldn’t be surprised if you scrolled all the way through looking for a figure to see how much the pay is ! So without further adieu, the pay for a months work- 32.5 hour contract isssss *drumroll* … €1,456.

Now bear in mind this is because I worked in France. As I mentioned earlier, this rate will vary depending on where you work.

Now that that juicy stuff is out the way let me give you a little taste for an average day of work as a kids courier.

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10 – 11 am                                                      Balance Bikes

11.30 – 12.30 pm                                           Basketball

3.30 – 5 pm                                                     Pirates

7.30 – 9 pm                                                     Chocolate Party

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SoOooOoo..

On this given day I would have had to ( *thats a bit of a mouthful* ) be at work for around 9.30am to set everything up for my first session.

*I’m not gonna bore you with the details of what set up involves, you will learn all this at training anyway*.

And so the day would follow on like so- set up, do the session, pack down- simple!

With regard to myself I have to say this job helped me grow professionally in a major way. The thing about this job is you never truly get a break. Yeah it may say on the timetable you’re free from 12.30- 3 but if you see a kid in between that time and he wants to talk to you, you’re not gonna snob him, now are you? And more times than not, you will see a child or a parent in between this time who will want to chat to you. As a result of this constant customer- employee rapport, you really grow professionally in terms of customer relations. No matter how much you’ve worked in customer relations before, this really puts you to the test as often you’re faced with situations where you may be in the bar and have a customer approach you – it’s unlikely you’ve ever had this in any previous employment. It pushes your abilities and teaches lifelong skills you can take into any job.

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TIPS AND TRICKS

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1.) Pack Light

I mean this in every sense of the word. Not only should you pack light regarding the amount of clothes you bring but also in the actual types of clothing you bring. Me, being the fashion conscious bean that I am, thought it would be a good idea to bring an array of clothes for outfit- making. The catch was a lot of these clothes, despite being “summer” clothes were not suitable for the extreme heat I faced. Don’t fall into the this trap. Hot weather = cool clothes. No exceptions. This means no sleeves, no leggings, definitely nothing below the knee, unless you want to sweat like a Sunday roast in the oven (not a good look sweetie). I would recommend building up a decent collection of bandeaus, string tops, comfy shorts, loose summer dresses and bikinis. Bikinis are a big one, they will be your holy grail for the duration of this job so stock up.

2.) Stay Hydrated

Don’t be a tough guy and underestimate the importance of hydration. On a regular day in soggy Ireland you should be drinking 2L of water, abroad you will sweat twice as much as you ordinarily would meaning you need to drink twice as much as the normal recommended allowance. Now I must say I’m not usually a big uisce woman but I’ll tell ya, when you’re faced with heat like that you wouldn’t long be downing a bottle of Ballygowans finest. The trick is to find what suits you. If you’re not keen on water then try find an alternative way of staying hydrated. A good trick we discovered was freezing fizzy drinks to make slushies or what I use to do was freeze a lemon and water solution to make a lemon slushy. Buying bottles of water in bulk is your best bet.

3.) Read your Contract

I feel like this should be a no-brainer but I’m gonna put it down anyway just to stress the importance of it. DO NOT BY ANY MEANS START A JOB WITHOUT KNOWING THE TERMS. This goes for anything. I was shocked that some people weren’t even aware of our living conditions or pay rate. Don’t make this mistake read the fine print before signing the dotted line and hopping on a plane.IMG_9495.JPG

4.) DO SHIT 

You’re being given the opportunity to live in a different country submersed in a different culture for months at a time- don’t waste it! As a kids club courier you only get one set full day off every week. That means despite living there, lets say, 4 months, you actually only have 16 full days off. Don’t be fooled thinking you’ve plenty of time to do things, it’ll slip by so fast so make a move and make the most of every day off. Its a major plus that on most sites kids club closes on a specific day meaning all kids couriers have the same day off every week which makes organising day trips a whole lot easier!

5.) Save

This one is kind of optional but I would recommend you try and do it. Heres a few reasons why I think it’s easy to save:

A) Aside from your food shopping you don’t have many compulsory expenses.

B) Speaking from my own experience, wages for me use to be online shopping money. However, the whole lifestyle you’re thrown into living in a tent etc decreases your interest in that glam stuff. Basically it’s so easy not to be tempted into shopping because you whole mind is focused elsewhere.

6.) Socks

Black socks.

Start stocking up now because you’ll need them. I don’t know the reasoning behind it, maybe its all the sand or the fact you live in a tent but your socks are just permanently dirty. My advice is, avoid the hassle and fill your suitcase with black socks.

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This pretty much sums it all up. Hope this helps, if theres any question you have that I haven’t answered then don’t be afraid to drop me a DM @en.maybe !

Link for further info:

https://www.eurocamp.ie

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