In 2011 when I first started working abroad as a campsite courier, smartphone capabilities were minimal, Instagram had only just begun, and exploring abroad was done for fun and not likes.
I always knew that I wanted to travel. That the UK just wasn’t for me. But, I had no idea how to get where I wanted.
That was until I got a job, working as a campsite demo courier in the Italian Adriatic.
At 19 living with my family had become a living hell.
- Too many Females.
- Too many Hormones.
- Not enough room
Made my life a nightmare. So I started applying for live in jobs.
Now bearing in mind it was the beginning of August, I figured I’d have no shot at finding a holiday season job, what with it being so far into Summer, but I was wrong.
I applied for a campsite courier role on a Sunday, received a call back on Monday and was on a plane by Thursday (Hey, I’m from Southampton, everything I do resembles a Craig David song).
The Camping Life Seasons:
From August 2011 to October 2011 I was based in Italy. The first campsite, a medium one called San Franscesco, was based in a small Adriatic town called Caorle. It was so brand new to me.
I arrived, a little lost. Unsure of what was going on, it all happened so fast. Just last week I was sat arguing with my mum and now today, I’m here, sat outside a tent with complete strangers, playing drinking games.
Obviously, the season life hit me hard. I was hooked.
The next season I was based between Paris and the Loire Valley mainly on a campsite called Chateau Des Marais near Chambord. Starting in mid-February and finishing mid-November. It was a long season. Colder than the Adriatic, but just as exciting.
My 3rd year wasn’t so enthralling, based in Spain (where I originally applied to be) on Playa Montroig near Salou. I worked just March 2013 – July 2013 and decided it was the end of seasons for good. We weren’t even allowed to use the campsite pools.
However, as everyone who works a season knows – you always end up coming back, even when you say won’t.
The 4th season (and final so far…never say never…) was on L’Etoile D’Argens in the French Riviera where I met my now husband and worked from March 2014 – October.
My Camping Life Experience:
Over the course of my 4 seasons, there were up’s and there were downs, but no more so than any other late teen-early adult would have.
They, ultimately, were the best years of my life.
I credit them with developing my independence, helping me meet some of my best friends/husband and for giving me the opportunity to travel, explore and live in a foreign country while being paid to do it.
The Best Things About Working As A Campsite Courier:
You get to meet so many incredible people, from all walks of life. Whether it’s your tent mate from Liverpool, the campsite cleaner from Morocco, the receptionist from Paris or the team leader from London, you’ll learn so much about different people, cultures, languages and diversity.
Growing up in a small village, it’s not always easy to meet and make friends with “outsiders” but here? Everyone becomes your friend. Sure, you won’t be BFF’S with the girl you just met straight away, but when you live, eat, work and everything else with them, it won’t be long till you’re camping besties.
The heightened atmosphere that comes with living and working together on a campsite means that relationships develop quicker, feelings are more sensitised and I think it’s comparable to living in the big brother house (minus the cameras).
Exploring and The Freedom
Working as a campsite courier means you get 1.5 days off a week. Sometimes, you can get 2 days off, but it depends on how busy you are.
Being a holiday destination you’ll certainly find plenty to do and see nearby.
In my 4 seasons here’s just a small handful of places I explored:
- St Tropez
I Climbed mountains, cycled for miles, explored chateaus, swam in water parks, went on boats, planes, trains…everything…and more.
Depending on how your days off are timed, you can sometimes even manage a weekend break away.
When working in the Loire Valley, I and a few other campsite couriers took a short break to Paris for the night to sightsee, explore and oui bien sur, have a few drinks.
It’s also possible to take your own car out with you, just make sure you have European insurance cover.
Having never been to uni I can only guess what Uni life is like, but I’m 99% sure, working on a campsite is definitely better.
You live on a site, with a bar, sometimes a nightclub, in a tourist hotspot, with up to 40 people of your age, it’s literally a 9 month long partying holiday.
Depending on where you’re based, your local town is likely to be full of British, Dutch, German and Polish holidaymakers lining the lively streets.
Summer abroad means:
- Music festivals
- And more.
All ample opportunities to build your social life.
But it’s not all parties, if that’s totally not your scene, there are other campsites out in the sticks, where only you, your team and the customers will be.
In some respects – these campsites have a better, closer relationship with their team. You can relax, pick up new hobbies and take life easy in beautiful, relaxing, natural surroundings.
Active Lifestyle and Exercise:
Working as a campsite courier means you’ll be busy all the time. Some campsites in Europe are over 100 acres longs. During a working day, you’ll be hitting something like 30,000 steps a day. Keeping your heart healthy and your legs lean.
Depending on where you’re based, you may be living inside a tent. These tents get hot, but actually, the mobile homes probably get hotter, they are big metal boxes after all.
Thanks to the heat indoors you’ll probably spend the majority of your time outdoors and active. Great for the tan, not so good for napping. Remember to keep hydrated and wear sun lotion.
Ok, so there’s a lot of cleaning involved – The not so enjoyable half. However, cleaning isn’t the only part of the campsite courier role. Your main job is to keep customers happy and that means interaction.
I am an unsociable person. I figured I’d absolutely hate being the friendly, smiley point of call for customers – but in fact, I loved it and it really brought my personality out of its shell.
Becoming A Camping Minimalist:
Being a campsite courier means you’ll learn to live like a minimalist. Living out of a suitcase and probably budgeting for your weekly food shop.
Admittedly, the wages are a lot better these days than when I first started in 2011, however, you’ll still want to save a lot of the cash to go exploring over winter.
Many campsite couriers find working a winter season or travelling around south east Asia a lot more exciting than going back to the home of mum and dad.
When living on a campsite, material goods mean nothing. Sure, it’s nice to decorate your surroundings with a few friends/family photos, but all you really need is clothes and a phone. A laptop is advisable for watching films, but with mobile phones, these day’s it probably isn’t so necessary.
You Get To Find Yourself:
A ridiculous hippy phrase, but unfortunately true. I was so lost when I started working abroad. If you’re anything like me, being a campsite courier can help you explore yourself, get any partying out your system and discover what it is you actually want from your life.
I knew, after doing that job that I didn’t want to be in the UK working an unhappy 9-5 which is why I’m now buying a house in France, working online and living every day like an adventure.
Nobody Knows You:
If you’ve had a bad run at home, or you need to escape, that’s fine. You get to reinvent yourself to be whoever you want, nobody knows you. Generally, I think being yourself will work wonders, but it’s all about first impressions.
Nobody has any preconceptions about you – unless you run your mouth on Facebook publicly that is (yes – we all Facebooks stalk the new arrivals) – Make a good first impression, be yourself and you’ll get along just fine.
The Worst Things About Being A Campsite Courier:
Some people get homesick. You might not be one of them, but it’s worth being aware of those that are. Homesickness can cause group morale to lag and if you’re one of the ones feeling homesick, for the sake of your team – cheer yourself up – or go home.
It may sound harsh, but a team is only as strong as its weakest member and if that’s you, it needs sorting out.
When I worked in Spain, I was that miserable one, I felt lonely and I isolated myself while giving off a negative attitude – I knew for the sake of my team, the customers and myself I had to go home.
BFF’s No More:
In the best I put meeting new friends, however many of those friendships don’t make it out of the camp life bubble.
They never appear in the “real world”.
Sure you’ll still like each other’s Instagram posts, or maybe you’ll bump into each other on another season, but the likelihood is – your friendships are gonna fizzle out.
The Real World:
UK life will never be the same again. One day you have to return, put all that independence you’ve learnt into practice. Once you leave the season workers bubble, things in the real world just seem to lack vivaciousness.
Every year, you’ll be tempted in by the returners form and your previous ideas of working a 9-5, buying a house, having a family, etc, get put on the back burner for, yet, another year.
In the way, the real world has changed. England won’t have, but your rose tinted glasses will be removed. Your friends and family will be doing exactly the same as when you left, living the same lives. But for some reason, you’ll view them all differently.
You’ll be looking around England trying to find that rush of life you had over Summer, trying to find the next social occasion, gathering, friendships. If you find it, I commend you.
When you live on a big site with lots of lively personalities, the partying lifestyle can get too much. I dread to think what life is like working for 18-30 or in a Magaluf bar because working on a campsite was just enough for me.
I’ve known couriers to piss in co-workers drinks, piss themselves during Ring Of Fire, poop themselves in bed, all due to alcohol. You might think you like to party, but sometimes you’re going to want/need a night off.
As you get older, although you hate to admit it, the hangovers get worse, and it becomes harder to keep up with the energetic fresh-blooded 18 years olds who are necking shit mixes with an added egg every night.
The WORST part of the job. The thing you’ll do EVERY working day as a campsite courier.
Some days will be great, you’ll do a quick clean of a mobile home in which lived a cute, little, old German couple who have left it spotless, it’ll take 40 minutes just to check it over and off you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
Then you get to your second clean. Here you’ll have had an English family, with 4 messy children.
What you’re faced with this time is a toilet filled with poo, breakfast crumbs EVERYWHERE, a sticky fridge, jammy fingerprints up the walls and windows and maybe even a few dirty nappies lying around.
It’s just pure filth. It’ll take you hours!
I’ve been scarred for life with some of the sites I’ve seen. But, as the saying goes, work hard play hard. After a long hard day, there’s nothing more reviving than a cold bev with friends.
If you don’t smoke, you might start. If you don’t drink, you might start. Don’t let peer pressure drive you to do things your morally against, but it’s very easy to pick up bad habits like smoking/drinking. I don’t know why it just happens.
Food wise, if you’re living in a tent you’ll have a tiny fridge, no oven and a gas hob/grill to cook on. Chances are you’ll be living on courier pizza (see recipe below***), baguette, Pringles, the odd quick salad (if that’s what you’re into), croissants and cheap wine.
So Why Do I Recommend This Job To Everyone?
Over the years I’ve come to realise I have one of those introverted extrovert personality types. I used to struggle making a phone call or find myself too shy to order a drink. Yet working abroad made me who I am today. It brought me out my shell and opened my eyes up to so much more in life.
I gained weight, I smoked more cigarettes than ever before and I ate more pringles than the campsite store stocks, but taking it all into consideration, I gained more enrichment than weight, I spoke more than I smoked and I explored more places weekly than just the local Tesco.
Take the plunge! Work a season abroad as a campsite courier and “find yourself” while working on a campsite in Europe…
***Courier Pizza Recipe:
- Unpack your Carrefour* Frozen/Fresh Pizza *(or any other budget shops own brand)
- Fry the underside in a pan on your gas hob for around 5 minutes
- Grill the top of your pizza for another 5 or until the cheese looks suitably cooked
- Re-add the pan to the grill for a couple more minutes and…
- Voila – The Perfect Courier Pizza!