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Camping is my favorite vacation. It’s an escape into another world, the wilderness. To me, camping is the ultimate way to get back in touch with nature, relishing in fresh air, the wonderful smell of a campfire, and “roughing it” for dinner. Some people prefer to camp in established campgrounds, land separated into individual camping circles, usually with an outhouse somewhere on the property, water pumps, and even running showers. This is not camping in my opinion.
To me, camping means driving out to the wilderness, finding a nice clearing, and setting up my tent. I build my own fire pits, try to find my own wood to burn, and usually try to find the flattest spot to put the tent. When you decide to camp out in this fashion, making sure you have a few additional supplies is most definitely the way to make sure you’re not literally caught out in the wilderness unprepared.
What should you bring?
Food of course
First, I like to think about what kind of food I’m going to take with me. You’ll need to make sure you have food that can last in a cooler for a few days, or as long as you decide you’re staying.
I like to bring a propane stove in case of rain, because cooking on an open fire isn’t an option when you’re camping in a downpour.
Canned goods are wonderful, but don’t forget that can opener, because if you find yourself out in the middle of nowhere with a lot of canned goods, you’ll be heading to the nearest fast food store (which may not be exceptionally “near” if you decide to go too far away from civilization), completely negating the idea behind camping in the first place.
I like to bring eggs (they’re easy to cook over a fire with a simple frying pan), butter, sausage, and orange juice for breakfast.
For lunch, I usually plan sandwiches or something easy, like hot dogs (cook on a stick in the campfire!) or even hamburgers. Don’t forget ketchup or whatever fixings you like. Dinner at the campsite is usually hot dogs and burgers as well, but with a little planning ahead of time, you can make pockets out of foil and prepare all kinds of dishes in the foil, just put them directly in the fire and cook for the appropriate time.
I like to use chicken, with potatoes and carrots, onion, and some simple Italian salad dressing. This is an easy dinner to prepare before you even leave for your camping trip.
The next thing I think about for a camping trip is cleanliness. Obviously, if you’re camping, you won’t be taking long luxurious showers, and if you don’t have a portable shower, you may not be showering at all.
Baby wipes are the perfect answer to this issue. Odds are, you won’t be camping for more than a few nights, so cleanliness isn’t really a huge issue unless it’s the middle of the summer and you’re doing a lot of hiking or work during the day. If you know you’ll be sweating and looking to bathe, camp near a lake or stream and take a refreshing bath in nature’s pool! If this isn’t an option, baby wipes are the next best thing.
Some items need to be remembered even for an overnight camping trip. For example, toilet paper cannot be forgotten. I like to bring some newspaper or fire starter along, just in case I can’t find enough kindling to start a fire the old-fashioned way. Utensils, plates, whether you bring paper, which can be thrown into the fire for easy clean up, or camping dishes, pans to cook on, flashlights and lanterns, and most importantly, some kind of bug spray or deterrent. I like to bring a citronella candle along as well, and I spray the outside of my tent with the bug spray as well.
What can you plan on doing?
Next, I like to think of what activities I plan on keeping myself busy with while I’m camping. My favorite is fishing. Even if I don’t catch anything, fishing, and the anticipation of catching fish with my own fishing rod, is enough to keep me occupied for an entire day. Depending on how many people are camping with you, cards and board games are the perfect thing to keep busy with after dinner.
Hiking, looking for streams or ponds, and exploring trails are usually how I spend my days when camping, plus I have to have an enjoyable book to read when I don’t feel like leaving my campsite.
How about the weather?
Finally, I like to prepare for rain, just in case. I always bring a tarp with me, if it’s not supposed to rain, you can put your tent on it for a little extra padding and protection from the ground, but if it rains, I like to park my vehicle about ten feet from my tent, and use the tarp to keep the entrance to my tent dry.
Plastic bags are also a must have camping essential. I burn as much trash as I can, but bottles and cans don’t burn, and if we throw our trash in the woods, sooner or later we won’t have nice clean woods to camp in. If you don’t plan on having much trash, the bags can help keep things like your clothes and blankets dry in the rain.
Overall, if you leave home prepared, camping can be the most enjoyable vacation to take. With no electronics, and only the sound of the woods to keep you company, odds are you will sleep better, feeling refreshed and full of energy the following day. Camping is the perfect low budget vacation, so if you just don’t have the extra money this year to stay at hotels and go sightseeing, this may be your answer. Making sure you’re well prepared will ensure that you won’t have any major mishaps along the way, and your more importantly, it guarantees a fun trip.