A few days ago, we arrived back from our camping trip – 24 days in a tent. But, I feel it should be mentioned right here, right at the beginning of my post about camping hacks, that I’m not a natural camper. I like clean sheets and ice cubes and dishwashers and bedside tables that are bedecked with all the lip balms and crossword puzzles that I could possibly need over the course of one night. And, if you’ve seen my bedside table, I clearly think every night is going to be a long one. So, when I go camping, I usually do it with some reserve. Enter: the Bear Grylls of husbands. My husband doesn’t mess around. He makes sure that everything is as delightfully comfortable and inviting as it could be. And I like to believe that this isn’t just to shut me up, but because he’s supremely capable. The most important thing I’ve learnt from him, though, is that camping doesn’t have to be hard. So, I’m sharing some of our personal camping hacks in the hopes of perking all of you hapless campers right up.
Camping Hacks That Make It Not Suck
Tent or Caravan?
We are tenters. We find it quick and easy to set up camp and we don’t have to keep a caravan safe and clean for the other 11 months of the year. Also, having a caravan means less privacy. You may be lying in, but your kids need milk from the fridge. The fridge inside the caravan. Also, if you have kids, you’ll likely need to set up tents outside of your caravan for them anyway. Having said this; our friends have caravans, and they love them. Different strokes.
Keep it Clean
Keeping your campsite clean and neat is an absolute must, in my opinion. Have plenty of groundsheets so that you’re not carting sand and mud into your tent or caravan, and put doormats at the entrance of each tent. Wipe down your surfaces often to avoid dust, ants and cockroaches. And shower. Please. Going to bed with sandy feet once is going to mean days of gritty bed sheets. Nasty.
You’re camping, you don’t need much in the way of clothes. Take less and give it a quick wash when you head to the showers rather than taking too much and having to find space to keep it all. But, pack for all weather. Hot, cold, wet, windy. Be prepared.
My worst camping memories are those when I was sunburnt, very cold, or bitten to smithereens by insects. I lay on my ever-softening inflatable mattress, scratching bites around my ankles, nursing blisters on my shoulders, and wondering how many GenPain I could take before I started to smell colours.
So, have plenty of bug repellant, protect yourself from the sun and be aware of staying comfortable in the long term. More than this, include some of the things that really make you happy. Last year was SO hot. So, this year, we bought a good fan and a misting hose. We even bought our inflatable jacuzzi for the chilly nights, and it was THE BEST.
Have the Odd Spoil
For us, camping is often punctuated by the black river sand under my toenails, frazzled blonde hair that I sweep up into a sad ponytail every day and skin that is not a little biltong-y from all the sun and salt. So, when we visit Yellow Sands every year, we always schedule at least one spa trip. We go into East London and I have a massage (pretty sure they have to use 16 times the normal amount of oil on my dry skin), and maybe have my nails neatened up.
We also go out for dinner with friends from time to time. This gives me a reason to straighten my hair, slap on some mascara, and eat off a plate that isn’t plastic.
Choose Your Campground Wisely
We go to Yellow Sands every year, despite its being at least seven hours away. We’re surrounded by beautiful sites because we live on the Garden Route. Still, we trek all the way to the Eastern Cape, because Yellows is special. Its main selling points for me are the clean ablutions, private beach, gorgeous river (which is great for families with little ones that want to swim), safe environment (people book a year in advance and the facilities are only open to campers, so we get to know one another and our kids have grown up together), excellent facilities for children (trampolines, heated swimming pool, a Netflix lounge, talent shows, bonfires, and so on), and the fact that it is not crawling with exotic bugs. Of course, you’ll get the odd mosquito or cicada, but it’s not one of those wild campsites where you’re dealing with massive spiders, wasps or snakes. We can just relax, and the kids can have a fair amount of freedom without us having to keep a constant eye on them.
Shopping / Packing List
Here is a simple, inclusive list of what to pack or buy for a comfortable camping trip: http://www.lovetheoutdoors.com/camping/checklists.htm.
I also like this more detailed one by Outdoor Warehouse.Camping_Checklist Outdoor Warehouse.