By Taylor Oddino
Camping in the wilderness is a vacation like no other. From the great big sky sprinkled with stars to the crackling campfire, nothing will recharge you like a good camping trip. But you have to be prepared to meet Mother Nature head-on. Camping can bring a slew of troubles from rainstorms to nasty scrapes. Follow these tips and tricks for a smooth camping experience.
But if camping really isn’t your thing, maybe glamping would be!
Check the Forecast
Before you go, it is crucial to check the forecast. You never know what Mother Nature will throw your way, but at least this will give you an idea of what to expect. If it’s going to be windy, consider bringing rope, bungee cords or sandbags to secure things at the campground. If it is going to rain and you will be staying in a tent, check to see if your tent comes with a rain cover. If not, it’s a good idea to bring an extra tarp. It can also be useful to put a tarp under your tent in case the ground gets wet underneath you. Make sure you cover your tent before you go to sleep though — waking up at three a.m. to a soaked sleeping bag, and having to dash out and put the rain cover on, will really put a damper on your beauty sleep. Not to mention how long it will take for your sleeping bags to dry out!
Spend some time in the kitchen before you depart. You won’t have all the comforts of your kitchen when you camp, so it’s helpful to plan out your meals ahead of time. Ensure that the items are easy to cook. No homemade lasagna or stuffed turkey! A good tip: utilize the grill. Most campsites have a grill, but if you’re not staying at a campsite, portable grills are a fabulous investment. Meals-in-a-bag are great for the grill: Cut up chicken or steak, as well as various vegetables (potatoes, red peppers, onions, etc.). Have each camper make a “bag” out of tinfoil and let them choose what they want to throw in. On top, add whatever seasonings you would like and maybe some chicken broth. Throw the bags on the barbecue and you will have a delicious meal in minutes!
Also check out our Top 10 Camping Foods.
Even if you’re camping in the middle of summer, it’s important to pack some warm clothing. Temperatures drop in the evening and you’ll wake up freezing without the proper clothes. Long sleeves and pants will keep you warm and help reduce your chances of bug bites.
You can never spend too much time preparing your first-aid kit before a camping trip. The American Red Cross has useful tips on what to pack. Bandages and antibiotic ointments are standard, but items such as a flashlight and extra batteries are just as important. Some useful items to consider: calamine lotion, burn cream (especially if you plan on having campfires), allergy medications and eye drops. Don’t forget to pack your prescriptions as well.
Plan for Specific Activities
If you know you will be doing certain activities, like hiking or biking, plan accordingly. If you’re hiking, it’s a good idea to bring along colored trail-marking tape so you don’t get lost. If you’re biking, don’t forget an air pump! Think of what activities you will be doing and try to be prepared. Research the area you will be staying in and find out what activities you might end up doing.
Camping is a great time to have fun without technology. Although more and more campsites are offering Wi-Fi, put away the phones as much as you can and let the good times roll! Board games, books, card games and crossword puzzles are all great fun. If you’re camping with kids, scavenger hunts are a lot of fun too. Create a list for them with easy things to find: A rock, a flower, a berry, etc. Extra points for things like a bird’s nest or an animal’s footprint! Acting out your child’s favorite story is another great way to get everybody involved.
If you want to have some technology fun, geocaching is a unique activity that could present a pretty cool payout. According to the Geocaching.com, there are over 2.5 million active geocaches in the world! You can download a geocaching app or use a GPS. This treasure hunting will lead you to a geocache, which is modern-day buried treasure. You can take whatever is there and leave something behind for the next treasure hunter. You can also sign the logbook to record your hunt in history.
Camping by Moonlight: Arup Malakar via Flickr
Camping in Windy Weather: Orlygur Henefill via Flickr
Camp Supper: RichardBH via Flickr
Women Campers: Karoly Lorentey via Flickr
Red Cross Emergency Kit: Global X via Flickr
Camper with Gear: Ryo Chijiiwa via Flickr
Camp Card Game: RichardBH via Flickr
Geocaching: cachemania via Flickr