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How I Write When I Urban Camp

Many people ask me what urban camping is. Refer to the picture below

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Yes, that's a picture of me at a restaurant called Saizeriya. No, I didn't bring my tent. However, I did bring my work gear along for the trip that lasted close to four hours because that was the limit of my laptop's battery without a charging point.

What exactly is urban camping?

Honestly, I came up with this term because I was literally parking myself in places that met the following criteria:

a. air-conditioning

b. Free Wifi

c. Coffee

d.* Charging points (optional)

Long before covid happened, I used to love writing in cafe or restaurants away from home because home wasn't the best place to be at. I also did not have enough money to rent an office unit for my writing activities after work. Yes, I was working with companies back in those days. Each session of urban camping would cost a meal and a drink. It was a good reason for me to recharge my ambivert social batteries while juicing up my brain on coffee. Hence, the urban camping idea came about.

To explain how I created my urban camping criteria, let's talk a little about my brain to understand how it works. The following are conditions that will trigger the 'zone' for writing at maximum efficiency:

a. 23.5 degree celsius temperature

b. coffee & water

c. chair and table alone with enough room to place a laptop in a corner that nobody will disturb me for a few hours

d. munchies (food or snacks)

e. the right music

I typically write anywhere from 2,000 words to 5,000 words per camping trip to make the money I spent worth the time and arm workout from hauling my camping gear. Each camping trip can cost anywhere from $3 to $20, depending on where I decide to go. I hate libraries, so rule them out. The librarians are nosy, and there are always obnoxious kids making a racket.

What do I bring on camping trips? My packing list changes from time to time but here are the things I normally bring with me if I remember everything off the top of my head for an unplanned camping trip fuelled by frustrations.

The essentials:

a. laptop (for obvious reasons)

b. handphone (for music and hotpot if there isn't Wifi)

c. earpiece (for music using handphone, don't use the laptop or google if there is not charging outlet because it can drain the work machine's battery very easily)

d. wallet (in particular, credit/debit card & money because how else will you order your food?)

The optionals (that I sometimes forget):

a. laptop fan cooling pad

b. usb wires (for the fan cooling pad)

c. USB mouse (and the USB itself)

d. pen/pencil and paper (for outlines and drafts)

e. water

f. sweets (for sugar perk)

g. handphone charger

h. jacket/sweater (in case the place is freezing)

i. umbrella (in case of rain)

Obviously, that list can go on for a long time. The most important thing when packing is to decide how long the stay will last and what writing projects should be completed within the time frame.

Urban camping is not for everyone. Sometimes, even with music in my ears, it can be very distracting with people passing by, kids screaming at the opposite table and, strangely enough, the smell of food. I often urban camp in restaurants with free-flow drinks or a place that does not have a rule of kicking out customers for overstaying their meal time. Mcdonald and most fast-food chains in Singapore allow this. It's no wonder I frequent them so much. Not to mention, buying a meal at these establishments costs way cheaper than an office cubical by the hourly rate. It fills my stomach, is friendly on my wallet and helps me work better.

So, will you urban camp after reading my blog? Share with me your experience!

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