Camping is a great way to experience nature just as humans have throughout history. Unlike in the past, sleeping outside today can be an incredibly pleasant experience. While camping does take a bit of planning and energy, there are ways in which you can make it easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable. Here are some ways you can make camping a pleasant experience, every time.
1. Research Where You Are Camping
Planning a camping trip should involve more just than finding a park and driving to it. There are several factors you will want to take into account, such as the environmental conditions of where you plan on pitching your tent, what the weather will be like, and whether there are any facilities.
You want to also know how much hiking will be involved. If you have to hike to your campsite, how much elevation change will you have to put your body through? Are there any road closures you need to be aware of? Are there any costs associated with where you plan on camping?
2. Test Your Equipment Before Camping
If you just bought a new tent, set it up in your backyard or living room first. If you bought a headlamp, make sure it works well. If you have a new stove, make sure you know how to use it. Even if you already have the camping backpack you have used before, make sure it is all still in working order. There is nothing worse than getting to your campsite and discovering one of your essential items is not working as it should.
3. Buy Quality Camping Gear
It could be appealing to spend less on camping gear. However, when it comes to this kind of equipment, the cheaper versions are usually worse. They can fall apart, malfunction, or simply not work. You may not be able to afford all of the best name brand camping equipment, but if you get the best quality you can for your budget, you will help ensure your camping experience goes off without a hitch.
4. Having a Comfortable Sleeping Bag
A camping trip can quickly turn into a miserable experience if you get the wrong sleeping bag. Depending on where you will be camping, chances are that it will get chilly at night. This is especially true when you camp at higher elevations. Look for what a sleeping bag is rated. If it is rated to be used down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will probably only be comfortable down to 50 degrees. Sure, you will survive in that sleeping bag when it gets down to 40 degrees, but you will not be enjoying it. I always choose a quite warm sleeping bag but small enough to be packed in my travel leather backpack.
5. Arriving at Your Campsite Early
If you let the day stretch out and find yourself arriving at your campsite late, you are going to have a difficult time setting up. Getting to your campsite once the sun has set will make the process of setting everything up longer. If you are heading to a designated campsite, you especially want to arrive early so you can find your spot and set up while you can still see. You will also want to locate and identify where bathroom facilities are.
6. Bring Lots of Lighting
Obviously avoid going overboard, but remember to bring a good amount of lighting on your camping trip. Out in the woods, it gets dark...really dark. You will want to bring powerful LED headlamps and lanterns, along with LED string lights to set up in your tent and around your campsite. You may even go hi-tech with your stakes and get some that have LED lights built into them. Are you planning a multi-day camping trip? You may want to bring along some solar lights. You can place these near paths in and out of your campsite to make it easier to go to the bathroom.
If you have gone camping before, you know how easy it is to stumble over a stake tied to your tent. Have you ever tried prepping your camping meals in the dark? It is definitely not fun, so make your life easier but bringing lots of lighting.
7. Hold a Scavenger Hunt
If you are going camping with your family or a group of friends, consider holding a scavenger hunt. This will keep everyone engaged and active. With a nature-themed scavenger hunt, you can designate prizes for the people who find the most items. You can have a printable list with pictures of various things found in nature, such as animal tracks, birds, and flowers, which you would distribute to everyone.
8. Mini First Aid & Survival Kit
Your camping trip will hopefully conclude without any unforeseen issues. However, accidents do happen and you want to make sure you are prepared to address them. Create a mini First Aid and survival kit to ensure you have all of the essentials in case you need them. An Altoid tin or similarly-sized container is all you need to pack things such as bandages, tweezers, fire starter, fishing line and hooks, and alcohol wipes.
9. Insect Repellent
It seems no matter where you go camping, mosquitoes are bound to find you. To prevent getting eaten alive, especially around sundown, bring effective and safe insect repellent, such as picaridin. You can also soak your clothes in permethrin and dry them out to keep the mosquitoes away. You can also bring citronella candles and light them at your campsite.
10. Put Duct Tape on Your Water Bottle
Duct tape is one of the most useful things you can bring on a camping trip. Rather than bringing an entire roll and throwing it into your canvas backpack somewhere, you should have duct tape handy in a pinch. Applying it to your water bottle is an easy way to keep track of duct tape so you can rip off a piece when you need it.
11. Creating a Handwashing Station
If you are not going deep into the backcountry, you can set up a DIY hand washing station at your campsite. You can bring a big five-gallon jug with a spigot and place a roll of paper towels next to it. If weight and space is an issue, you can simply bring an empty bottle with a dispenser top and fill it with water.
12. Tree-Mounted Kitchen Supplies
If you are planning to go gourmet with your camping dinners, consider putting your pots, pans, and other tools on a DIY tree mount. All you need is to use a belt and attach it around a tree. Then, place simple 'S' hooks onto the belt. You can then easily hang all of your kitchen supplies for easy access. This keeps everything cleaner and more hygienic as well, which is important when dealing with food.
13. Camping Washing Machine
If you are going to be camping for several days, you will want to wash your inevitably dirty clothes. Believe it or not, people used to wash their clothes by hand. Although you can forego bringing a washboard, you can still get down to washing your clothes while camping. All you need is a five-gallon bucket, a plunger, and detergent. That is basically all you need for your makeshift manually-operated washing machine!
14. Camping Toilet
If you decide to go camping out into the wilderness or somewhere where there are no bathroom facilities, what do you do when you need to go number two? Sure, you can dig a shallow "cat hole" and do your business the old fashioned way. You could also be a little more dignified about it and create a camping toilet. All you need is a five-gallon bucket and a toilet seat. There are also products using the five-gallon method that is specially designed to make your camping bathroom experience as simple and easy as possible.
15. Camping Shower
All of that hiking can turn you into a sweaty and sticky mess. The solution for you is setting up a camping shower. You can either buy one or make your own out of a bottle hung upside down with small holes punctured into its lid. Whichever path you decide to take, you will be grateful that you were able to rinse off.
16. Campfire Popcorn
Eating popcorn around a campfire while looking at the stars can be an amazing experience that will be a fond memory. You can easily make popcorn using a campfire with aluminium foil. Place popcorn kernels into a double-wrapped sachet of aluminium foil and place it on top of hot embers. If you tie the sachet with a small piece of string, you get to shake the bag to ensure all of the kernels popped.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous idea associated with camping is the enjoyment of s'mores around a campfire. All you need to do is find some long sticks, scrape off the bark at the tips, and place marshmallows at the ends. After you get them nice and gooey, sandwich them in between Graham crackers and chocolate and you have yourself a classic campfire treat.
18. Camping Speakers
Sure, you can bring a portable Bluetooth camping speaker. However, you first need a Bluetooth speaker and you also need to be comfortable with carrying the extra weight with you. You also would also have to worry about your speaker's battery dying. You can create your own speakers using two plastic disposable cups and an empty tube of toilet paper. You can even cut a slit in the cardboard tube to hold your phone in place like a dock. Your phone's speaker will get amplified using this simple method.
19. Create Dreamcatchers
A fun way to pass the time while camping is to create dreamcatchers. All you need is to find a young and flexible sapling and some string. Tie the stick to create a circle. Then, start creating a web with the string. You get bonus points for creating beautiful geometrical patterns!
20. Play Manhunt
Playing manhunt is kind of like playing hide-and-go-seek, but more exciting. This is a game geared more towards teenagers. The goal of the game is for the hunted to get from the starting point to the safe zone. Each team gets its own base. The hunted have to get to their base whereas the hunters start at their base.
You can play either in the day or night. Both have their benefits and advantages. You will need six players for this game, making it a really fun way to get everyone involved. If you want to add an extra layer of safety, you can pass out whistles or flashlights for everyone to have in case someone gets lost.
21. Play Cranium
Cranium is one of the best games to bring camping. You can forego bringing the actual board for this board game and simply bring the action cards that are the real fun of the game anyway. It has several different aspects to it, involving acting, humming, clay molding, drawing, and other types of trivia. This is a fun game that can bring lots of laughs to a camping experience, even if there are only two of you.
22. Reading and Telling Scary Tales
Telling scary tales around a campfire needs to make a comeback. It is a thrilling way to experience the quiet of an outdoor night in the forest while telling a story in a dramatic way with your face under a flashlight. If you do not have any scary stories memorized, you can always bring some frightful tales with you, reading them aloud with gusto and flair to really get everyone into the frightful spirit.
Camping can be lots of fun. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and into the serenity of nature can do plenty to rejuvenate you. Now you know several ways in which you can elevate your camping experience to the next level and make it more pleasant. Some of these will be more suited if you are spending several days out in the woods, while the rest will make camping more enjoyable in any situation. Go ahead and make camping as fun as it can be!
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