Going camping is simultaneously a rite of passage, a cost-effective way to spend a weekend, and a great bonding experience for friends or family. However, even though it takes place in the rugged outdoors, having a great camping experience can be a surprisingly sensitive event! You may have heard that all food tastes better when it’s prepared outdoors—and that’s definitely true. But, on the flip side, if any of your gear gets a tiny bit cold or wet—or if you forgot anything important, like your power station—then the entire trip may be ruined.
Let’s talk about the six most common ways that camping trips can be ruined—and figure out some strategies to make sure that your trip is more fab than drab in an actionable, achievable way.
1. Failing to Set Up Camp Appropriately. Things like a tarp under your tent or the so-called ‘optional’ rain fly when the forecast predicts sunny weather might seem like a waste of time or money. However, setting up inadequate gear inappropriately is the easiest way to make sure that you wake up cold, damp, and miserable. Always prepare for weather worse than expected—and take the extra fifteen minutes to set your camp up the way the instructions tell you to!
2. Forgetting that You Need a Power Source. Campers of yesteryear might have been able to get by without a power source, but in today’s day and age, you likely need at least a way to charge your phone or have a light on to head to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Sometimes your car’s battery might suffice for this—and, sometimes, it might not. When you’re shopping for your trip, make sure to pick up a portable power station to make sure that your camping experience goes smoothly.
3. Failing to Put Away the Food Properly. No matter in which region of the nation you’re going camping, there will be wildlife around. That’s part of the reason you wanted to go camping in the first place, right? However, to avoid having unexpected and unwanted visits from large animals in the middle of the night, you need to make sure that you put anything edible back in your car. Otherwise, you might wake up to a bear ravaging your supplies—and that won’t make for a great experience.
4. Not Knowing Your Poisonous Plants. The last thing you need if you’re going on a hike is to come back with uncomfortable welts and rashes. Is the spin-off trail that you’re thinking of going down to see the beautiful gorge covered with poison sumac? Hopefully you know! It’s a good idea to take a few minutes ahead of time to make sure that you know the basic ‘leaves of three, let them be’ types of monikers that can help you know which plants to avoid.
5. Not Wearing Appropriate Gear for Hiking. The one thing that might be able to help you if you don’t know your poisonous plants? Wearing the right types of shoes and pants for hiking. The right shoes can protect you from much more than just an itch, however. There are snakes in the wilderness, and some of them bite to kill. Make sure that you’re fully protected by investing in a good pair of snake boots — the shoe that may literally be able to save your life.
6. Getting to the Campsite Too Late. If you’ve chosen a campsite that’s far away from your home, if you hit traffic on the way there, or if anything happens to get you to your campsite after the sun goes down, you may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride. Setting up a tent properly is not a difficult thing to do—but if you’re doing it with your flashlight held in your mouth, it’s going to be exponentially harder. Not only that, if you’re setting up camp late at night, wildlife is likely to be just waking up—making it easier for small spiders and squirrels to crawl over to see what you’re doing. You’re also more likely to forget to set up your power source, run out of time to build a fire, or forget to put away your food if you’re running late!
Going camping can be a fantastic and economical way to have fun! However, you want to make sure you definitely do it properly, or it can be more an exercise in torture. Be prepared, know your plants, and get ready to have a great time.
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