Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2019, through the eyes of a newbie

As someone with zero experience in the world of camping and caravanning, I had no idea what to expect when I attended this year's Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show at the NEC. 
Attending as a new member of Camping & Caravanning's magazine team, I had one goal at the show: absorb as much as I could in the time allowed. My vision of camping before today was admittedly, an uninformed one. One where your place of sleep is terrifyingly close to the ground, where your protection from the elements is a flimsy sheet of non-waterproof material, and the cuisine is whatever can fit in your backpack. 
I mean, let's say you're going to a festival or an event or a holiday in the countryside, the effort and expense that goes into camping and caravanning can be traded for a nice simple hotel. Surely that's more convenient? Well yes and no. As it turns out, camping and caravanning offers a lot more than hotels, motels, and Airbnbs can, a sense of adventure for starters, and ownership of kit that allow trips to be more affordable and frequent.
This classic campervan caught my eyeTents are more than the tiny, triangular traps they were in my childhood - big and small and in trailer form - the variety of camping options is seemingly endless. Extended family members can be accommodated in tents with multiple rooms that expand in all different directions. Caravans and motorhomes aren't merely for a little seaside holiday. They provide accommodation and investment for any holiday, event, or temporary escape you can think of. 

From camping to glamping, caravanning to campervanning, there’s a whole range of options out there. Different sizes, styles, shapes, and sophistications exist. Going back to my tent misconception, I was amazed at the array of tent sizes available. Some are 'crawl in', some are walk in. Some are fit for one, others for a whole family. Some are pitched using poles the old-fashioned way, but some are inflatable. That scratched off another worry of mine, that pitching always meant a hectic mess of poles and spikes.
You can camp in luxuryBut what about convenience? The cold  wet weather,  lack of amenities and entertainment? 

Thankfully there's a solution for almost everything now, meaning you can still enjoy the outdoors without giving up home comforts such as washroom privacy, comfy furniture and luxury accommodation.
And there's no reason to sleep on the ground given the amount of sleeping solutions available. With snug airbeds and pop up beds, my sleeping worries were quite unfounded. I even managed to spot a lovely blue hanging tent that can be easily attached to the nearest available sturdy tree! Better yet, the majority of tents now have a degree of UV protection and are better designed to cope with whatever the great British weather can throw at us. I came across one that even blotted out sunlight, allowing you to doze in peace after the sun rises.

This airbed means you can put some distance between you and the groundCooking wise, there were tons of barbecues, grills and chillers to choose from, but I also came across a nifty little pack designed for foodie campers, complete with a set of seasoning, bottle of olive oil and utensils!
For entertainment, easily mountable antennas and satellite dishes can be added to motorhomes or caravans in order to stay up to date with your favourite programmes and sports. Another thing that certainly piqued my interest was an outdoor cinema with a roll out projection screen that can either be set up on poles or suckered onto the side of a motorhome or caravan. Slip on some headphones, press play, and you're away. 
Another of my tenting misconceptions was that camping was the end purpose. But now I realise it is often a means to an end. So many of the people I spoke to explained how camping and caravanning was a method for them to indulge in their other hobbies, such as boating, cycling, nature walks, countryside exploration and hiking. I noticed quite a few handy tricks for cyclists, including a tent made just for cycles, a tent pitched using a cycle, and of course caravans and motorhomes with bike racks and space to safely store a cycle. 
Combine cycling with camping with this great tent
Caravans and motorhomes seem to offer the most in the way of comfort, especially some of the more humungous ones. Of course, they all came with beds, washrooms and kitchen space, but there were a few more innovations that took my eye, such as a Hive-style remote heating device. Using a tablet or smartphone, useful software can turn on your caravan or motorhome's heating so the place is nice and toasty by the time you arrive. With different designs and aesthetics, there was a caravan or motorhome to suit nearly every taste.
All in all, the day was a complete eye opener for me, and showed how just a few neat devices here and there could transform the world of camping from one of wild haphazardness to one of indulgence, comfort and style.
Everything you need for a cool camping break

Sheena Ramchurn Sheena is the latest addition to the magazine team, having spent the last few years writing for local newspapers and trade based publications. A self-confessed newbie to the world of camping, she is just dipping her toes into the waters and is ready to get stuck in! Read other posts by this author