Camping: Tips, Tricks & Hacks

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Even in a country defined by luxury and convenience, Americans continue to fall victim to their packed-to-the-brim schedules and fast-paced lives. Sometimes a short vacation is the only remedy to recover both peace of mind and those long-ignored inhale-exhales. While a relaxing break could certainly be achieved at a resort or hotel, it may be even more beneficial to forego modern comforts and pursue nature’s all-inclusive  getaway: camping.

Whether you’re seeking something cost-effective, trying to be more active, or simply craving a little adventure, camping fits the bill as a prime vacation candidate. In fact, in the past couple of decades, camping's popularity has risen as swiftly as a pop-up tent.

According to the results of the 2017 North American Camping Report, Millennials are the force behind this swelling growth. These 20-to-30-year-olds account for 38 percent of the 75 million actively-camping households in the United States. The trend only seems to be escalating as people continue to discover camping to be a personal, emotionally-charging experience.

Whether you’re a camping newbie or a seasoned tenter, consider utilizing the following hints and tips the next time you take on your next outdoor escapade.

Board Games over Boredom: Camping typically conjures up images of wild adventure—hours of outdoor activity, treacherous hikes, and physical sport on both land and water. Often times, however, Mother Nature has her own plans in mind, and in an instant, inclement weather conditions could move everyone’s fun beneath a waterproof nylon tent peak. In these cases—which are bound to happen at the most unexpected and unfortunate times—it’s important to have things along that will keep the entire family occupied and in good spirits. Hardly anything does this job better than a classic board game or standard deck of cards. Adults and tikes alike will be able to find enjoyment in games that get everyone involved and keep weary minds off the weather. In fact, even if the ground is dry and the sun is shining, it’s always good to bring games along for those who may prefer quiet, indoor activities to constant physical exertion and outdoor play. 

Glamping Gang: For some, camping presents itself as much more  of a cumbersome chore than a nature-filled getaway. To those of this opinion, staying home and engaging in the mundane routine of life is a far better alternative than spending several days in the wild—void of memory foam, hairdryers, and daily mugs of Keurig medium roast. Luckily, if someone in your party falls into the anti-camping club, it might be time to give “glamping” a try. Over the last decade, the concept of glamping emerged as a way to fuse the rugged, adventurous spirit of camping with the comforts and luxuries of hotels and other indoor accommodations. Glamping sites have sprouted in locations all across the globe and offer the perfect experience for those who crave the seclusion and natural surroundings of camping but don’t particularly enjoy waking up in a damp tent smelling like smoke and DEET...with a kink in their neck...and a mosquito wining in their ear as a cheerful morning alarm.

Camping Classroom: For parents of temperamental tots and angsty teens alike, a camping trip can provide countless opportunities for teaching children valuable skills and life lessons. Whether it’s mastering the art of stoking the perfect flame, using teamwork to pitch a sturdy tent, or learning how to distinguish the edible flora from the poison, survival 101 is best studied in the natural classroom known as the great outdoors. When kids accomplish tasks where the results directly impact the quality of their overall experience, the work will seem more purposeful. This will ultimately boost their confidence and make them feel more involved in the trip’s success.

Jazz up Drab Camp Grub: Cooking around the campfire can be one of the most memorable parts of the camping experience. It’s where stories are told, laughs are shared, and smoky, on-a-stick fare is chowed over checkered tablecloths. Sometimes, however, even the best ‘mallow and Oscar Meyer meals can get pretty dull. Luckily, there are plenty of easy recipes, simple swaps, and cooking tips to spice up humdrum tenting fare. For some ideas, try downloading the Trail Chef app described in the following section. Another way to make camp food more interesting is by transforming a classic: the s’more. While marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers seem to be a match made in heaven, trying out new and unique combinations and ingredient alternatives can revamp the s’more into a fresh, customizable treat. For your next camping trip, use the guide below for some toasted, gooey snack inspiration.

Instead of honey graham crackers try: Chips Ahoy cookies, Oreo cookies, Fudge Stripe cookies, saltine crackers, waffle cones, chocolate or cinnamon graham crackers

Instead of plain chocolate bars try: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Creme, peanut butter, Nutella, York Peppermint Patties

Tasty extras: bananas, coconut flakes, caramel sauce, raspberries, flavored marshmallows

App Happy: While one purpose of camping can be to provide an interruption in the constant usage of (and total reliance on) electronics, certain smartphone applications can actually enhance a camping trip’s success—as long as, of course, the technology doesn’t become an all-consuming distraction. From nature guides to navigation tips and everything in between, the following apps can be exceptionally useful resources with a few effortless clicks, taps, and swipes.

Leafsnap: The entire family has the opportunity to become botanists with this app, which allows users to identify almost any variety of tree and plant life through photo recognition technology. Snap a picture of any plant’s leaf, and this field guide will provide you with detailed information and high-resolution images of the particular species you discovered.

AllTrails: This hiking application contains reviews, photos, and information for over 50,000 trails throughout North America. Whether you’re searching for an easy jogging path near your campsite or seeking a more intense, rugged climb through the mountains, this app has your back.

Star Walk: Hardly anything is more breathtaking than a night sky peppered by trillions of glowing stars—especially during a camping trip where the radiant Milky Way is unhindered by the glare of city lights. The stargazing experience gets even better with Star Walk, which allows users to find and identify planets, stars, and constellations with a simple tilt of their phone towards the sky.

First Aid by American Red Cross: From minor injuries to emergency medical situations, the First Aid app by American Red Cross can be a lifesaving tool when help resources are scarce. Users can easily access safety and precaution advice, step-by-step first aid information, and quick guidance for crisis scenarios.

Trail Chef: In order to avoid forgotten ingredients, mediocre meals, or grumbling stomachs on a camping trip, it’s always important to plan ahead. Thankfully, with this app, campers can easily arrange and organize menus for their entire trip. Complete with over 60 recipes, Trail Chef is the perfect meal-planning tool for hungry hikers.

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