Pitching a tent, cooking on campfires and using an outhouse have always been foreign concepts to me. If you consider setting up a 4-man tent in the backyard and spending one night “roughing it” camping, then I am a pro – but my experience beyond that is very limited. A few years ago I was invited on my first ever outdoor overnight excursion – in May – in the deep woods – for three nights. Swarms of black flies and an unfortunate rip in the tent later, I embarked on my second ever camping trip this weekend. Luckily after my first not so perfect experience, I learned a few things to make the getaway much more relaxing – camping is a skill, the more you do it, the better you get. I am a city girl at heart – if I can camp, anyone can do it. Here are my top five tips for surviving a weekend away in the woods and enjoying it too!
1. Plan ahead. Make lists of everything you need – when you are out in the woods it is hard to run out and grab forgotten items. Don’t forget bug spray, garbage bags, tarps, chairs, toilet paper, snacks and sunscreen – just to name a few items.
2. Don’t overdo it. If you will be camping for three days – bring three shirts, three pairs of socks [maybe four] and three pairs of underwear. You’ll really only need one of everything else – one pair of shorts, one pair of jeans, one pair of boots, one pair of sandals. You’ll be in the woods and covered with bug spray – forget looking fabulous for one weekend and bring clothing that is older and you don’t mind getting dirty, smokey, and potentially burned by a sparking fire. The more you bring, the more laundry you’ll have to do when you get back.
3. Comfort is key. A good sleeping bag and a self inflating air-mattress help keep you warm and off the ground – without padding you’ll have a hard time sleeping. Make sure you check your tent before leaving – any unexpected holes will be a perfect opening for unexpected guests of the insect variety – not good.
4. Cover up. Even though the days are warm, the woods get cold at night. It is better to have more layers than not enough, you can always remove clothing but you can’t add what you didn’t bring. Another reason to cover up is to avoid bug bites. Sure, bug spray will help, but showing less skin at night will make it much more challenging for those pesky mosquitoes to feast.
5. Be patient and relax. Camping is about unplugging from your busy lifestyle and gives you a chance to get some fresh air. It’s okay to sleep in and stay up late – or not. Do whatever you feel like, there are no rules. Don’t worry if everyone else is roasting hot dogs over the fire and you’re not hungry, don’t eat – that is the beauty of camping – keep your schedule open and do what feels right, without expectations. Be easygoing, your fellow campers will appreciate that kind of attitude.
Oh and one more – if you’re terrified of bugs and sleeping outdoors, sipping on a few [or more] adult bevy’s is completely acceptable and highly recommended.
Hope you had a relaxing long weekend – I know I did!