You might not know this about me, but I used to be a Scout. Be prepared and awesome uniform included. Since then, quite a lot of time has passed and I turned into a rather girly girl who actually preferred sleeping in a car to building up a tent during a festival – although to my defence, it was pouring down and the tent would have been full of mud inside and out by the time we could have built it. Long story short, when I got invited to a camping trip, I was slightly sceptical. However, it sounded like a fun opportunity for a nice weekend with friends, so I decided to risk it and believe it or not, it was one of my best and most relaxing holidays ever! So I decided to give you some tips on how to survive a camping trip – even if you might think that it’s not quite your cup of tea.
Get the most amazing spot
One of the cool things about camping is the fact that you can access place you would otherwise have no chance of going to. We put up our tent right at the beach, so whenever we got up in the morning we just opened our “door”, felt the sand under our feet and jumped right into the water – what’s better than that? Especially when you enjoy your wildlife, there is no better thing to do than camping. My friend told me that when touring through the outback at quite a few stops they were having breakfast with kangoroos and dinner with wallabies. As most Aussies prefer to camp in national parks you also get your fair share of wildlife, and the animals often are used to people so you will get your awesome kanga-selfie.
Get chairs and a table
Now I know this might sound like a minor thing to you, but trust me. At some point you will be sick of having sand and/or dirt all over your body, and the “special ingredient” makes everything taste funny. By sitting on an actual (camping) chair – or at least a stool – you can try to avoid at least some of the dirt, and the food is just so much nicer without the crunchiness of sand and dirt. Hence, try to have something to prepare your food on – and just a plate does not really do the job. My cheese kranskies tossed in sand can tell you more about it.
Make a bonfire
What’s camping without a bonfire? It keeps you warm, heats your food and creates the perfect atmosphere. Just bring allong your marshmallows, sausages, corns and everything else you could possibly grill on a piece of wood, toss some potatoes in the fire and try not to get too much dirt on your munchies. Enjoy!
.. but also bring a gas grill
I seriously am a foodie with all of my heart, so I have to really stick to my point of telling you to not toss all of it into dirt. While bonfires are amazing, after about two days you will be sick of all the food you can prepare with just a piece of wood, so a gas griller is your rescue – and it’s much easier to not accidentially dump your food on the floor while manically pointing at a firefly with your stick when using a grill. Easiest thing to prepare on a gas griller are all kinds of stews, but if you feel like that’s too much work, you can also just fry up some eggs or bring along baked beans and heat them up – it’s never too late for breakfast, right?
Invest in a sleeping bag (and maybe an airbed)
First time I was camping outside my house with a friend we just brought all of our bedsheets, pillows and stuffed animals into our little tent – and about 30 minutes later we decided that we didn’t like it and just moved all of our stuff back into the house. Especially when you camp further than 20 metres away from your bedroom, you will need a good sleeping bag. I am freezing basically always, so I invested in a rather good one, but you can find really cheap ones for instance at Aldi – they generally offer quite good value-for-money camping stuff, so check if they have something in the near future before you go camping, and maybe even get a sneaky camping chair. My friend also got herself an airbed to sleep on – I’ve never seen that before, and to be honest, I would be way too lazy to pump it up especially because I sleep like a stone no matter the ground, but if you want a nice and cosy bed, getting an airbed (and a pump) is a pretty genious idea.
Find some camping-experienced company
Never built a tent or made a bonfire? That’s cool. But maybe try to find someone to join you who has actually done both of these things before. While it’s not too hard to get a tent to look reasonable, people with a bit more experience usually know how to make sure it will also be there after a little bit of wind and rain, which can be a big plus. And bonfires can be tricky. On another trip I did this year, the guys tried for about an hour to get their fire to burn, and then someone else took over and the job was done within minutes. Don’t mind me, feel free to be all adventurous and try by yourself, but it makes your life a lot easier when you have someone who can tell you how to put your hammock on a tree without the tree breaking down as soon as you decide to chill in it. Plus, they might even have a big extra tent to stay under if it should start to rain one day.
Bring some entertainment
When camping, you basically don’t have anything to do all day. You might need to prepare some food – but that’s usually rather quick – and that’s about it. So make sure to keep yourself entertained. When on your own bring a book – electricity might be tricky, so don’t rely on your phone – and just relax for a while. When in company, you will naturally have a bit more of entertainment anyways. Bring some cards, maybe a football and a frisbee and in the evening get to know each other in the way you never wanted to get to know each other during a lovely game of never have I ever and a little too much sangria. And don’t forget to look at the stars while out in the wild, they never look as pretty as they do without city lights.
Be wise about what to pack
Now I’ve mentioned quite a few of the essentials before, but also in terms of clothing and beauty stuff, there’s just so much that works slightly different when camping. I had a massive backpack full of things and ended up using probably the upper quarter part – and that was only partly because my backpack sucks and I couldn’t access anything below that point without unpacking the whole thing. Some shorts you don’t care too much about – perfect. A big jumper keeping you warm at night – a must. Foundation and enough make-up to prepare all faces of Cats – The Musical – not quite appropriate, because let’s face it, the make-up will just be all over the place and way to much of a hassle to put on while in a tent with horrible lightning. Generally make sure to pack some things you don’t mind getting dirty, flip flops for shower and bathroom, facewipes and hand sanitizer if you don’t have proper access to running water and try not to overpack, because usually, you will have to carry your things at least for a little while.
Embrace the dirt
And now to the part I dislike the most. It will be dirty. I’m not sure what it is about me, but while most other people tend to look like reasonable humans while camping, I look like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. But even if you don’t have this natural talent like I do, you will not have the hygenic standards you get in a four star hotel. Toilets – if existing – will smell rather bad (never breathe through your nose), and showers are luxury – just hope there’s a river or the sea nearby, or you will have to sacrifice on of our precious water bottles. And about five minutes after the shower you will feel as dirty as you did before. But you know what? Everybody surrounding you is the same! And after your first bonfire night you and your tent will be coated in the lovely smell of smoke, so you luckily won’t be able to smell your neighbours anyways. Just stick through it, and put some oil in your hair before you take your deserved shower back home – or otherwise, you will end up with a lovely bird’s nest on top of your head.
Did you ever go camping? If yes, what did you enjoy the most – or did you hate every part of it?
xx, K (: