How many of us have been invited to go camping and it hasn’t turned out quite how we thought it would? Unless it’s a positive experience, many of us would never think of going again.
If it rained and your tent leaked.
If your area is in the thick of the woods and you were eaten alive by mosquitos. If you woke up in the middle of the night to hear your Mom hush you, because your Dad forgot to put the cooler in the Suburban and the bears were eating all your food…true story.
I grew up camping, these were our vacations because they were inexpensive.
Leaving at the blank crack of dawn and fighting with my sisters over who got stuck in the middle. But guess what?
These are some of the best memories growing up.
Even the time our (my sisters and mine) best friend threw up on me in the middle of the night because my older sister made her drink Tab and eat s’mores. If you have a positive experience, or least a memorable one, you will probably want to do it again.
There are a few ways to ensure a positive experience, aside from Ma Nature taking her course. The priority, pack bug spray. Totally kidding, that it is a priority, but it is important. With that, make sure it has a higher Deet percentage, as this helps with mosquitos, as well as ticks.
If you plan on hiking, make sure to bring long pants and socks that you can pull up over your pants. This helps to prevent finding those disgusting blood-filled monstrosities in unwanted areas. You have better options of high Deet products at outdoor stores as opposed to your local grocery or pharmaceutical chain, so make sure to check there.
It is well worth spending the extra money to protect against the potential of Lyme’s disease, as well as your comfort level as opposed to warding off a swarm of hungry mosquitos.
Secondly, if you are the type that hates sleeping on the ground, you have a couple options. The first being a cot, again your outdoor stores will carry these.
My preferred option is to run to my nearest big-box store and get an air mattress.
This works fantastic for camping and you will have the comfort level to get you through a weekend. My tip to you is spend a few extra dollars and get one of those “egg carton” mattress liners to go underneath the air mattress. Yes, I said underneath. This gives you a longer life for the mattress, as campgrounds are often rocks, pebbles, sand and matted down grass. Not the plush grass you’d desire.
Last option is Glamping, otherwise known as Glorious Camping. This is where you have all your amenities, sometimes even indoor plumbing, and sumptuous living conditions all in the outdoors.
I have yet to experience this, and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t. If I am going camping, I am going to try to be as natural as I can without the extra comforts, aside from the air mattress.
Third, go online and find a camping checklist. There are many different types, so find one that suits your type of camping and make sure you check it off. I can promise, if you don’t, you will forget something.
Lastly, make sure you have a decent cooler. Now you don’t have to spend $300 for a name brand that will keep your stuff cold for 6 months, unless you feel the need. Just remember, you are hauling this stuff and those coolers are heavy when they are empty, now imagine it filled with all your food and beverages for the weekend. That’s enough to give you a hernia!
Now you are ready to go find your little area of heaven for the weekend, but ahhhh, where to start. An excellent place to start, is your “explore” or “visit” state website. These websites have a plethora of options on where to stay and what to do. Check out your state parks too, these are great and generally well maintained.
A lot of these pages allow you to reserve your campsite, and it will show what the options are, such as hiking trails, fishing, beaches, and the potential for bathroom houses with showers. Make sure if you are aiming for a weekend, to book it early, as they can book up fast.
So, you are ready to go, finally. Check your list and check it twice, pack up your vacation on wheels, and keep an open mind. There are opportunities for new experience, new sights to behold, and just taking in the fresh air.
Go out, have fun and don’t forget the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups instead of chocolate bars for s’mores….and if you have an ounce of consideration, don’t make your friend drink Tab while eating these.