They say laughter is the best medicine, and happy hour when you’re camping is all about social interaction – and experiencing more than a few chortles beside a campfire. This camping ritual is also a great way to kick back and relax while making new friends.Happy hour is intrinsically a bonding session with fellow travellers – a way of sharing experiences and stories, and exchanging information and knowledge while on the road. Okay, the drinks aren’t ‘half price’, but who’s complaining? So here are some tips and tricks for connecting with your neighbours – whether it be in a caravan park or a remote bush setting out in the woop woops.
This ‘getting to know one another’ tradition normally starts at beer or wine o’clock – around 4 or 5pm in the afternoon or early evening. And the term is a bit of a misnomer, as it usually lasts more than an hour! Just remember to drink in moderation and always be wary of your alcohol consumption, as etiquette and common decency is paramount during travelling ‘time-out’. Ignorant and rude behaviour out on the trails will not win you the day!
2. SHARING IS CARING
There’s something to be said for gathering around under an awning with cheese and crackers, carrot and celery sticks with dip, or even a plate of antipasto, and of course, your tipple of choice. But no matter whose awning you find yourself under, it’s important not to show up empty-handed! You don’t want your new friends to think you’re a Scrooge! If everyone contributes what they can to the nightly ritual, it becomes a shared joy for many, rather than hard work and expensive for a few.
In some respects, happy hour is the prime ingredient of a happy caravan park, with many parks themselves facilitating some form of happy hour entertainment during the tourist season. The common theme is to really get you into the swing of things with live music, food and drinks. This can range from weekly dinners with local guest speakers, a free morning tea every day, and a guests’ barbecue once a week to a roast night with a singer/guitarist, a free happy hour one day a week with nibbles and a raffle, and a camp oven dinner around a campfire. Some parks help you unwind even further with a bush poet, bush band, or a complimentary glass of wine.
4. BE PREPARED
Caravanning and camping happy hours are generally an outdoors event, hence protection from the elements is integral. Particularly in summer when sunscreen, long sleeve shirts and hats are compulsory RV accessories. And if you need more shade than the awning is supplying, attaching annexe walls is a sunsmart move! When venturing to tropical climates, items such as a fly swat and insect repellants will become your best happy hour mates. Possessing a portable fridge or cooler will also win friends and influence people at ‘cocktail hour’.
5. COMFORT IS KEY
The complete comfort of one’s derriere is vital at happy hour, so outdoor chairs at the very least should be ergonomic, light and strong. And if you have the luxury of an external kitchen, entertainment hatch and onboard music at your campsite, well, it’s a fair bet you’ll be hosting happy hour.
6. MAKE NEW FRIENDS
We all have varying degrees of social proficiency but if you want to maximise the sheer joy of happy hour, a cheerful and polite nature will extend right around your new circle of friends. And isolating a few conversation starting points – hobbies, family, sport, work – will invite group discussion. Getting everyone involved will help break the ice (in more ways than one) during happy hour.
MEET THE AUTHOR
With more than 30 years’ journalistic experience, Peter’s brief predominantly centres on editorial reviews for Caravan World and CamperTrailer Australia magazines.
A relative late starter to the trials and tribulations of the RV industry, Peter has been making up for lost time caravanning and camping with his family around Victoria. Initially, Gippsland was the primary stamping ground free camping in idyllic bush settings such as Dargo and Licola, beside the Wonnangatta and Macalister rivers respectively. Other favourite haunts also became ensconced on the family camping itinerary – Jamieson in Victoria’s High Country, Whitfield in the King Valley, Princetown on the Great Ocean Road, and Bright in the Ovens Valley.