How to make camping more fun and less fuss

  • By Solvej Schou Associated Press
  • Friday, May 30, 2014 12:35pm
  • Life

Growing up in Los Angeles, I loved camping.

My family and I regularly escaped the city’s concrete sprawl for California’s wilder edges. We’d set up a tent and plunk down sleeping bags, each trip a dusty, if slightly smelly, adventure.

Then something changed. As an adult, I stopped camping. Though still an avid nature-lover and hiker, I didn’t want to abandon the modern perks of home — roof, electricity, bed — or similarly equipped hotels.

This year I decided to break that 15-year-long camping drought. The experience turned out fun, freeing and easier than I thought it would be.

Here are five things you might be worried about when it comes to camping.

Sleeping

Forgoing a comfy mattress for a sleeping bag may not sound appealing, but there are ways to lessen the ick.

  • A tent you can stand up in. The taller the entrance to your tent, the less it affects your back.
  • A self-inflating mattress, like a Therm-a-Rest, or an air mattress you can inflate with a pump, or a collapsible camp cot.
  • When it’s cold, go with a down-filled mummy-shaped sleeping bag that cinches around your face.
  • Your own bed pillow.

Unplugging

Some commercially operated campgrounds offer Internet access, but wilderness parks may not even have cellphone service.

  • Consider using an external battery pack, just to charge your iPhone and take photos.
  • Remember that the internet will still be there later. Play cards, eat, drink, breathe in fresh air, hike, build a campfire and enjoy the company of others.

Critters

Remember: They want your food, not you.

  • Never leave trash, toiletries, dirty dishes, food or drinks unattended.
  • Don’t leave trash and open containers in your car or around the campsite.
  • Look for metal lockers to store trash and food onsite.
  • Keep your tent zipped up.
  • Insect repellent works for ticks and mosquitoes.
  • Major bug phobias or going to an area where biting insects are thick? An inexpensive, lightweight mesh jackets will cover all, including hands and face.

Bathrooms and electricity

Most developed tent campgrounds have communal bathrooms with running drinking water, sinks and showers, but check in advance.

  • Strap on a hat and embrace a wind-swept, natural look.
  • Try gas- or battery-powered lanterns.
  • A headlamp works well for midnight bathroom runs and as a makeshift nightlight.

Meals

  • A decent-size cooler keeps food cold for a few days before the ice needs to be changed out.
  • A small basin for washing dishes will be useful.
  • A propane gas-powered camp stove makes cooking easy.
  • In campgrounds with grills, you can fire-roast anything from portobello mushrooms to zucchini.

“Approach camping as an adventure with possibilities of new experiences of fun, and the possibility of challenges,” my dad says.

“Camping gives you a sense of togetherness in a natural environment you’re not usually in, that you end up enjoying together.”

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