What Is "Champing," and How Did it Become a Fascinating New Travel Trend?

It's a spiritual experience.

Thanks to a new vacation trend, you now have more options for revolutionizing your life with fresh perspective, beyond the traditional Eat, Pray, Love-style soul seeking abroad. These days, you might want to try the fad known as "champing."

Despite what it sounds like, this new trend does not involve drinking Champagne like a champ — much as that does sound appealing. No, it refers to camping in a church, which some say is set to overtake glamping as the made-up word sweeping the vacation landscape.

'Champing'. On the bucketlist for 2017! ⛪️ #traveltrends #champing #vakantiebeurs #alleenmaarwinnaars

A photo posted by Tessa 🙋🏻 (@tessaaandestegge) on

It all started with three churches in the U.K., which wanted to raise funds for restoration. They marketed the notion, and are calling it a "slow tourism escape" — even trademarking the word. According to the promotional language, the churches offer "their own unique havens of tranquility, a peaceful night’s sleep interrupted only by the sounds of the natural world, and time to explore the beauty of the surrounding countryside at your own pace by day."

If you ever went off to sleepaway church camp as a kid, you were obviously way ahead of the times — and are already winning with major travel cred. But, now revamped for adults, these programs offer all kinds of memorable options — and you're given the key to the whole church when you rent it out. (Not so much a thing at summer camp, eh?)

The churches — which date all the way back to the Saxon period — offer canoeing, storytelling, meditation, and other activity options. Breakfast is delivered in the morning while you look out from 14th-century stained glass windows. And it's a great place for a family getaway, too, with tons of space and prices starting at a mere $68 per person, per night. 

A writer from the Guardian checked out the experience for a night and wrote, "Champing isn’t billed as a luxury or romantic experience — the churches are still consecrated spaces, though guests are free to get up to whatever their consciences allow — but it was undeniably a special place to spend the night."

The program only runs through September, so you'll want to book now. The three participating churches are the Church of St. Cyriac & St. Julitta at Swaffham Prior in Cambridgeshire, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Fordwich, Kent, and the All Saints' Church at Aldwincle in Northamptonshire.

By the way? The facilities aren't actually used for worship anymore, so don't worry about upsetting the devout.

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