Benefits of Camping

What would you wish to do on a long weekend? Relax at home, catch up or meet friends and family, or get away from the same old routine and head for the outdoors? If you choose to do the latter, then camping is a great option that is sure to refresh your mind and rejuvenate you completely. It is one of the best recreational activities that is a favorite among people of all ages the world over. The benefits of camping are multifarious, with each person gaining something different from the experience.

Studies have shown that humans subconsciously desire to connect with the natural world, by surrounding themselves with plants, the wilderness, and the seas. Termed as ‘biophilia’ by medical professionals, it has brought to light a fact we always knew, that the outdoors have a positive effect on a person’s quality of life. So, before you drop the idea of camping, take a look at some of its benefits.

Advantages of Camping

Family Time
Camping is one of the best ways to connect and bond with your family. If a hectic work schedule is leaving you with little or no time for your family, a weekend camping trip is the perfect answer. With no television, computers, and cell phones to serve as distractions, activities such as setting up the camp, fishing, and cooking will have everyone working and spending some quality time together. Add some fun activities like camping games and bonfires, and everyone is sure to have a blast.

Cost-effective
Going camping is possibly the cheapest and most cost-effective holiday option. Money spent on airline tickets and hotel rooms can be scratched out and replaced by significantly smaller amounts spent on driving to your camp site and on inexpensive reusable camping equipment. For those on budget vacations, homemade camping gear will ensure that the cost of your camping trip will stay to the bare minimum.

Immediate Option
A camping trip does not require much prior planning. It can be for one night, a weekend, a week, or more. For short trips, an evening to collect all the supplies you need will suffice. For a spontaneous trip, you can drive to the nearest camping ground and spend the night there. All you will need is food, which can be in the form of sandwiches, water, and a sleeping bag.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Camping opens up the option of several other activities. Many campgrounds come equipped with pools, lakes, and trails, which allow you to go fishing, swimming, canoeing, or biking. Armed with a little bit of research before you leave, you can also try some stargazing or birdwatching. Things to do while camping include a leisurely trip at a campground using tents, motor homes, or cabins in the back country with no facilities.

Love for Mother Nature
One of the biggest advantages of taking your kids along is that it will inculcate a love for nature in them. You can be assured of raising responsible and caring individuals, who will leave the planet in better shape than they received it in. They will also learn basic survival skills and create lasting memories. If you are a nature lover, you can revel in the magnificent outdoors and enjoy some solitude and quiet. One of the best things about camping is that it is a simplified way of life, and is a nutshell experience of the lives of our ancestors.

Health
The invigorating fresh air and exercise that a camping trip affords you is great for your health. Apart from the hikes and rowing, even everyday tasks, like collecting wood, provide a great workout. A weekly or monthly camping trip will not only refresh your mind, but also benefit your body in a great way.

So, the next time you want to get away from the city life, and enjoy a tranquil weekend in the midst of nature, go camping. Armed with a few hiking and camping tips, exploring nature’s wondrous beauty is easy enough. Another benefit is that it removes you from the structured, amenity-dependent life in the city and allows you to get in touch with your untamed side. For families with younger children, the importance of camping activities should not be ignored. While older children and adults can connect with nature, younger children tend to get bored and would need fun camping activities to enjoy at camps. For those who think that a few days away from indoor plumbing and air conditioning is a torture, a star-filled night sky away from city lights and the magnificence of creation is exactly what they need to change their mind.

Cheap Camping Equipment

It’s your annual father-son weekend, and you promised your son that this time it would be different. This time it wouldn’t be a weekend at some amusement or theme park (though you thought those were fun), this time your son wants some adventure, and he wants to use his boy-scout skills. So yes, you have promised to take him fishing, hunting, or camping.

If you are looking for an enjoyable weekend, one that is stress-free and without any trauma, you need to have the right kind of camping equipment. The right equipment will ensure that your weekend is a success. A camping vacation is a great way to have fun among nature, away from the noise and pollution of the city, but if you do not want to end up drenched or uncomfortable on your trip, you need to have a few basic camping supplies.

Camping Equipment: The Essentials

What sort of equipment you buy depends on personal choice, budget, and requirements. But there is some essential equipment that every camper should have, irrespective of whether he is in an RV, trailer, car, or on foot.

  • Camping Tent: Now, this is the most essential camping gear. These days there are different types of tents available, depending on the style, fabric, frame, or color. The most common type of camping tent is the pup tent, or the traditional inverted V tent that is suitable for 2 people. Pup tents also come in different versions. The one you should look at is the larger variety, suitable for taller adults and children to walk in comfortably. Hexagonal tents offer more room for a larger group of people. When you go to buy a camping tent there are things to consider, like the durability, the number of people occupying the tent, and also ease of use. You also need to consider the weight of the tent, if you are carrying the tent on your back while hiking.
  • Sleeping Bags: These days you get a whole wide variety of sleeping bags, which are light-weight, warm, and durable. You can buy different sizes, like children’s sleeping bags as well.
  • First Aid Kit: Another essential part of camping gear is a first aid kit, especially if you are going camping near woods or lakes. Your first aid kit needs to have antibacterial cream, disinfectants, bandages in different sizes, gauze, pain pills, scissors, and other creams and lotions for scrapes and burns.
  • Cooking Surface: Always have a cooking surface with you, you never know when it may start raining, putting your campfire out, leaving you with no food. A portable propane stove or charcoal grill are perfect for camping trips.
    Food: Though food isn’t equipment as such, it is a camping necessity. Take more food than you think you will eat and is necessary. Freeze-dried and pre-packaged food are light to carry and great in emergencies.

Getting Cheap Camping Equipment

It is important that you know where to buy your equipment, so that you get good quality, and a low price. There are several places you can choose from. One of the most popular places is a sporting goods store, or a camping goods store, this is where you will find a wide variety of goods at different prices; you can buy what you need according to your budget.

Another option is buying online. The Internet is a great place to buy inexpensive equipment or gear. All you need to do is search for online stores or go to an auction site. Just make sure that you are getting what you want, as in the right size and material. The best way to avoid any problems is to go to your neighborhood mall and check out the supplies there and then order online.

At the end of it, just remember to be safe and have fun while camping.

Factors to Consider While Choosing a Camping Tent

Camping in tents is becoming an increasingly popular activity. The variety of camping gear available in the market is tremendous. With such a vast variety to choose from, how do you know which one will suit your needs the best? After all, the quality of your outdoor experience will be largely dependent on your choice of the right tent.

Take Space into Consideration: Even if the specifications of the tent may be for four people, it may get cramped when four people actually use it. Hence, it is best to check out the actual measurements of the camping tent. Take into consideration various factors like the number of people that will use the tent, what will the tent be used for apart from sleeping, whether you will need to seek shelter in the tent during bad weather, and the amount of things you will store in the tent, the terrain of the camping site, and the space required for putting up the tent.

The Material is Important: Since there are always chances of getting caught in the rain or storm in the outdoors, always make certain that the tent you are looking at is weatherproof. Usually, tents that are made of a single layer of material have the potential of developing leaks and start to drip when there is a buildup of moisture. Extra layers add extra protection against all kinds of weather conditions. Also, screens that can be opened and closed provide more protection against cold weather. If you plan to be camping out in the open in hot weather, choose a color of the camping tent that reflects the sunlight, which will prevent it from getting too hot inside. Also, check out the kind of flooring material the tent has, and choose one according to your needs.

Choose the Shape Wisely: Tents basically come in four types of shapes: the A-frame, the wall, the dome or geodesic, and the umbrella. The A-frame tent is the common pup shape, although it can also be fairly large. The wall shape is similar to the A-frame, however, it usually is larger, with side walls that are vertical. The geodesic or dome comes in many kinds of shapes, although all of them are made up of connected triangles. The umbrella shape is the most common type chosen by families that go out for camping. It comes with large size windows with rain flies on top, plus it also has plenty of standing room. Tents that have their floor in a square shape are the most convenient for arranging the sleeping and other gear. If you select a geodesic shaped tent, which has a round floor area, make sure to allow for some extra floor area, since the round space layout is less efficient.

Decide on the Material of the Poles: You can choose from either fiberglass or aluminum poles. Most camping tents have poles that are connected together with an elastic shock cord, which is helpful while setting it up. Poles can break or bend, hence many manufacturers supply emergency repair links that you can take along on the trip.

Check the Ease of Setting it Up: There are tents that require just a few poles to be clicked together to put them up, while there are others that are far more complex and which require a lot of assembling. It is advisable to choose a camping tent that is easy and simple to set up if you are a novice camper. Another thing you should make certain of is that it comes with sturdy stakes, which will help in anchoring it securely to the ground. Also, it is a good idea to try out setting up your tent in your backyard before actually heading out for your trip.

Check Out the Extra Features: Camping tents come with various options these days. There are tents that can be zipped together to form a larger tent. There are also tents that have special vents, which help in keeping the circulation of the air going.

Keep in Mind the Cost: Generally, camping tents that are more expensive have stronger stitching, are made of stronger fabric, and have stronger poles. They have the ability of withstanding heavier rain and stronger winds. They also last long. However, not everybody requires this kind of durability and strength. Actually, the cheaper tents can be good bargains if the climate is drier and milder and you plan on camping fairly close to home. Also, it makes more sense to go for an inexpensive tent if you are just a beginner, and do not know yet whether you will actually like camping. If you do find that you like going out on trips, you can always get a better tent, keeping the less expensive one for camping in milder conditions.

Checking out all your options will ensure that you will get the best camping tent according to your requirements.

Things You Must Have in a Camping First Aid Kit

Although first aid kits are useful irrespective of where you are, they are especially important to have with you when you go camping. When you are outdoors, the chances of getting injured are much higher. For example, you are exposed to reptile or insect bites; you could get scratches or scrapes; extensive hiking could result in blisters; or you could even experience serious emergency situations far away from civilization, in some backcountry. A well-equipped first aid kit could come in useful to alleviate the pain of a sprained ankle or perhaps could even be a lifesaver.

While the items you include in your camping first aid kit will depend upon your activities, there are a few basic things that should be included in all kits. Given below is a list of items which you can keep in a container such as a cosmetic case, or a small drawstring bag, or any handy container that can be secured with a lid.

A typical camping first aid kit for the family should include:

  • A pair of scissors
  • Tweezers
  • First aid tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • A couple of large sized compress bandages
  • 4-5 large sized gauze bandages
  • 4-5 smaller sized gauze bandages
  • Liquid pain relief spray
  • Either a large tube of antibiotic ointment, or smaller individual tubes
  • Different sizes of ACE bandages
  • A small bottle of aspirin
  • A small tube of hydrocortisone
  • A breathing barrier kit for CPR
  • A couple of pairs of latex-free medical gloves
  • An oral thermometer which contains no glass or mercury
  • A blanket for emergency

Although the above are the minimum requirements that you would want to have with you when you go on your camping trips, many outdoor experts also recommend adding the following items as well:

  • Insect and bug repellent
  • Eye wash or eye drops
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Aloe vera lotion or any sunburn relief spray
  • Eye patches
  • Pain relief medication for toothaches
  • Smelling salts
  • Calamine lotion
  • Various medications to combat common ailments, such as colds and coughs, headaches, stomach upsets, and so on.

There are many companies that have ready-made camping first aid kits on offer. If you plan on bicycling or hiking outings, or any other kind of outdoor activity that will involve moving away from the camp, you will require taking along an additional smaller sized first aid kit, with fewer supplies, that you can carry in your backpack.

And finally, keep in mind that maintaining your camping first aid kit is as important as taking care of your other camping gear. After coming back from a trip, check the supplies in your kit and replenish anything that has been used up. Remember to include the amount of supplies according to the number of people going on a trip. Check for expired or outdated supplies and medications, making sure to replace anything that you throw away.

The First Time Camper―Packing Light

To some people, the thought of camping is far from a vacation. To others, it’s a great escape, a chance to spend time outdoors and reconnect with the essence of nature. If you’re a first time camper, it is important for you to differentiate essential items to pack from luxuries you will probably not need. Are you going to have cell phone service at your destination? Do you need your entire makeup bag, or can you get by with a few simple items? And most important, how do you plan to stay warm, dry, and fed on your trip? The key to safe and successful camping is knowing what necessities to bring with you, and what to leave behind.

Your needs may be different if you’re camping in a rustic cabin versus tent camping at a campground, or hiking into the woods and pitching a tent there. Since it is a good idea to have some camping experience under your belt before you go off into the woods, your best bet is to start by reserving a campsite at a campground. Even when camping at a campground though, there are important things to consider when packing for your trip.

Utilities
Before you even start making your list of items to pack, find out if the campground has utilities available. If they do not provide electricity, for example, either leave items requiring electricity behind, or bring alternative battery operated items with you instead. If the campground offers running water and bathhouses, don’t weight yourself down with gallons of water you won’t need. Finally, find out if a grill or fire pit is provided so you can plan your meals accordingly. Gathering this information ahead of time can save you a lot of frustration in the long run.

Weather―Plan for Rain
As much as we would like to believe the accuracy of the weather forecast, it is always a good idea to plan for a variety of weather patterns. This means plan for both rain and sunshine alike. There is nothing more frustrating than waking up in the middle of the night only to find the floor of your tent soaking wet. So regardless of the forecast, place a tarp or large piece of plastic under the tent to help keep you dry.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to also pack a couple of ponchos, raincoats, or umbrellas as well. These items can help keep you dry so that you can enjoy activities even when the weather isn’t cooperating. These items don’t take up much room, so they’re worth adding to your list of things to pack.

Protect Your Skin
Blazing sun can give way to nasty sunburns if you’re not careful. The sun can be deceiving, so make sure to bring suntan lotion with a high enough SPF level to keep your skin protected. Having a hat with a visor to wear while you’re out walking, swimming, or boating is easy to transport, and can offer additional protection during those unexpected heat waves.

Protect Yourself from Insects
Regardless of where you camp, a few different kinds of insects will probably cross your path. Bring at least one can of insect repellent with you on your trip. You will probably enjoy the outdoors a little more if you aren’t spending all of your time swatting away pesky flies. That being said, at the end of the day it is always a good idea to check yourself for lingering insects that may have clung to your clothing.

Think Layers
Because warm days can quickly turn to chilly nights, you will want to pack for all occasions. Go ahead and throw your bathing suit in your sack, but also pack long sleeve shirts, pants, and a sweatshirt. If you are camping in a warm climate, you may not be as concerned about the chilly nights, but it is still important to think ahead, consider weather patterns, and pack accordingly. It is always better to have the option to peel layers off than to wish you had brought warmer clothing.

Food
One of the great things about camping is being able to experiment with cooking. Whatever you decide to cook on your trip, also consider essential tools to make the process easier. Tinfoil works wonders when cooking vegetables, for example, and don’t forget to bring a spatula or grilling fork if you’re cooking meat. As much as you may want to only pack paper plates and plastic utensils, you won’t be happy when your plastic fork melts while flipping steaks over the campfire. This doesn’t mean you need to pack your whole kitchen (after all the goal is to pack light), but you will want a few multipurpose essentials to make your cooking a little easier. Finally, if you are packing meats, condiments, or dairy products, make sure you also have a plan to keep these items cold so they don’t spoil.

Planning for a camping trip may seem like a lot of work, but planning ahead and ridding your packing list of unnecessary items can help simplify the process. When all is said and done, the most important things to consider are your basic fundamental needs: food and water, shelter, clothing, and safety. Everything else is optional and can only add to the enjoyment of your camping experience.

Camping is an opportunity to reconnect with nature, enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, and experience a different way of life. Enjoy the essence of camping by leaving a few luxuries behind, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday routine. By keeping it simple and planning ahead, camping can be a fun and stress-free way to enjoy the great outdoors while spending quality time with friends and family.

Going on Vacation By Getting Back to Nature

Airfare and hotel accommodations are getting more expensive every year, and forcing more and more families to look for a vacation they can take without having to spending a ton of money, or go into debt with their credit card. So how does one accomplish an affordable vacation that’s still adventurous and fun? The answer lies in packing up and going camping. Camping does not have to cost a lot of money, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

First, there’s no need to buy transportation tickets or plan your schedule around travel times. You don’t need a camper or RV to go camping, either. The family vehicle will do nicely as transportation, as most camp grounds are paved or have very well-maintained roads. Some campgrounds even offer camping cabins for a slightly higher fee, if you don’t want to go the tent route. Find out about your campsite in advance; some have electricity available at campsites, which comes in handy for lanterns, radios, and even small appliances. Many campsites have water available also, which makes it easy to clean up after meals, brush your teeth before going to bed, and wash your face in the morning.

There are usually only a few things that can get a little pricey if you have to buy them. The tent, a camp stove, and a lantern are all pretty standard items for camping, and they come in all types and all price ranges. But before you buy any equipment, particularly if you’re new to camping, you should check around with family and friends; you may be able to borrow most, if not all, of the equipment you’ll need. If not, your local Rent-All center may have tents and stoves, and perhaps other camping gear.

Some military surplus centers have a ton of different types of camping gear. If you have more than one surplus center in your area it would pay to shop, as their pricing is anything but uniform. Last, but not least, you can check out the sporting goods stores in your area. Even chain department stores like K-mart and Walmart have camping supplies, and usually in different price points. It depends on your needs, but if you have to buy new equipment, a new small 3- or 4-person tent can be had for under $100, and a camp stove for about $40. A good lantern can cost anywhere from $10 for a battery-operated one to $35 for one that takes white gas or propane. If you have a choice, get a stove and lantern that use the same fuel, as it will be cheaper and easier to pack.

As far as the rest of the gear goes, just use your common sense. Sleeping bags will not be needed when it’s warm. Bring an old blanket or comforter and some sheets from home. Everybody already has at least one cooler, so you can use that to take food with you. The rest of the equipment is whatever you think you might need―flashlights, pocket knives, a compass, a first aid kit, the correct clothing for the area you will be camping in, etc. If you’re taking children camping, be sure to bring along any games the kids might like to have. Getting them out of the house and into the outdoors may be your opportunity to get them away from the iPod, cell phone, or video game machine. There are plenty of adults today who grew up with old-fashioned board games and puzzles and that’s it―and they turned out okay! Besides, there will be hiking, maybe fishing, and lots of things to see and do while camping, whether you’re at a modern campground with facilities and planned activities, or out in the wilderness away from civilization.

As far as food goes, bring what you want. It will be much cheaper to prepare it yourself than to go out and eat, and there’s a certain charm and adventure to cooking your own food outdoors over a fire. You can easily take perishable food camping; just freeze your meats and store them in the cooler on the bottom by the ice, and if your cooler is a good one, the meat will stay cold for a couple of days while it keeps everything else in the cooler fresh. As for the meal plan, the simpler the better. Eggs, bacon, or sausage are fantastic when cooked outdoors on an open grill. Hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, or chops for grilled meats, and potatoes cook nicely in the coals from a campfire. As far as other vegetables go, canned vegetables can be heated up in a pot placed on a grate over a fire, or freeze-dried vegetables may work well if you have a good clean source of water.

Think about your utensils and select the ones that can be used in many different ways. Don’t double up on them, as they can be heavy. If you stay at a campground that has sites with electricity, consider taking along an electric frying pan, which is the most versatile of all small appliances for camping. You can prepare most meals in an electric frying pan―from sausage and eggs to sautéed vegetables, grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and stews, and even toasted bagels. After dinner, just heat clean water in the pan and it doubles as a place to wash the dishes. As for basic cooking utensils, be sure to take at least one good knife, eating utensils, one or two serving spoons, and a spatula. Just use your imagination, and if you forget something you can always pick it up in town, or at the camp store if there is one.

As you can see, there is a way to take a relatively inexpensive vacation and get some good family bonding time in also. If you’re not sure whether you or your family will like camping out, plan a few days somewhere with an inexpensive motel close by, but don’t tell the family. Then, if it doesn’t go very well or the kids just get tired of it, you have an out and will be the hero all over again. Some of the best, most memorable times a family can have will be discovered on camping vacations.

Family Camping the Old-fashioned Way

Camping is a great way for the whole family to enjoy quality time together. It is best to start out when the kids are young, but getting older kids to go can be quite enjoyable also, if you can pry them away from their electronic entertainment. Camping gives a family the chance to reconnect with each other without all the outside trappings that we live with today. Remove the computer, TV, game boy, cell phone/pager, and you will be amazed how easy it is to get everyone’s full attention. When my siblings and I were very young, everybody looked forward to the camping trips we took regularly―they were fantastic adventures. And despite having to rough it for a few days―or perhaps because of having to rough it―my parents benefited from getting away from all the daily distractions. Camping is now easier than ever, with all the new equipment and camping gear, and family campgrounds popping up all over the place.

Camping does not need to be expensive, either. You can rent most of the equipment you’ll need locally, or just use your imagination and travel light. Tents can be had for a reasonable price, and then you could use your own blankets as sleeping bags. Bring whatever you will need from home to prepare meals. The best idea when it comes to food preparation for a camping trip is to keep it simple. One well-made cooler can carry sandwich meat, cheese, fresh vegetables, and eggs; nobody’s going to starve if they have to do without a four-course meal for several days. (Most folks would benefit from skipping a meal now and then anyway.) Get the kids involved, and all will enjoy the experience. Most campsites have a grill or pit for starting a fire for warmth, food preparation, or just plain fun. No five-star restaurant can beat the flavor of a steak grilled at a campsite, and for dessert, s’mores beat tiramisu hands down.

You can use your car; you don’t necessarily need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, as almost all campgrounds are easily navigable. Many modern campgrounds even have paved roads, laundry areas, hot showers, and sometimes small convenience stores. You can camp for as little as a weekend or all the way through to a two-week or longer vacation―there is no limit to where or how long you can enjoy this great outdoor activity.

Once you decide you want to take the family camping, you have to decide where and when to go. This is what makes camping so much fun, because the wide variety of choices available makes it easy for your family to get back to nature and see things you’ve only watched on TV or heard about. There is no greater feeling than seeing things live right before your eyes. There is literally an endless supply of places to camp. On selecting the right time, you need to be aware of seasonal considerations. Off-season camping is the most enjoyable to many people, because there are very few people around. Fewer people means less competition for the best campsite, and the more vacant campsites there are, the quieter and more peaceful your evening will be. Sometimes, having fewer people around makes camping more enjoyable, simply because wild animals will be more plentiful without a lot of activity scaring them off. If one was to camp every day for his entire life, he could never visit all the places available for camping in North America―probably not even in two or three lifetimes.

There are lots of great resources that will help ensure that your camping trip is a terrific experience that you and your family will never forget. If you belong to the AAA auto club, they have excellent resource books available on each state and camping, updated each year, and they are free to members. Your state or local government will also have a lot of info about all the camping in various local jurisdictions, particularly historical areas and state parks. Maps, periodicals, and camping guides are useful on every camping trip, because they are excellent resources for finding just what you need and when you need it. If you plan to do a lot of camping, it’s easy to put together a permanent packet of resources in a briefcase or small suitcase to take with you everywhere you go. Be sure to replace outdated material once a year.

Remember, you have to get away sometime―from the job, TV, computer, and daily life―and there’s no better way to escape than by taking your family camping. The sooner you do, the better off you and your family will be. Most of all, have fun!