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How to Make Camping Better: A Guide for the Non-Camper

It's never this nice.

It's never this nice.

It's Official: We Hate Camping!

When I wrote my article about why I hate camping, I didn't really expect anyone to leave a comment since I was a newcomer to HubPages. Since then, however, I have gotten many comments from people who, like me, would rather do most anything than go camping! Despite the fact that our friends and loved ones do know that we dislike camping, many of us seem to end up camping anyway! How does this happen?

From what I've read in the comments section, we go camping to make the aforesaid friends and loved ones happy. My significant other, for example, thinks any summer in which he does not go camping is wasted. Since we will probably be stuck camping again, I decided to write this article as a follow-up and guide for: What To Do When You Hate Camping But End Up Camping Anyway UGH.

I hope this guide helps you anti-campers have a slightly less awful time the next time you find yourself stuck in a tent in the middle of the woods. Of course, nothing can make the experience enjoyable, but this article is worth it if it makes your time even a little better. If you have any more camping survival tips, I would love to hear them in the comments section, since unfortunately I will probably end up in a tent again this summer.

Survival Guide Tip #1: Bring A Lot Of Books

When I was a kid, I used to go camping on the coast of Maine with my parents. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? Camping on the ocean actually did make the experience somewhat bearable (and less mosquito-y). We even got to dig our own clams, and steam them at the campsite. (See? I don't hate every single thing about camping!) Later on, as a teenager, I sometimes went camping with just my mom. She LOVES camping, but because she loves me more, she now says: "Let's roadtrip to Canada! But don't worry, we'll stay in a cabin. I mean, in a hotel." One of my mother's favorite memories of camping is the way I would remain inside the tent for the entire trip and read book after book after book. I, too, remember using reading as an effective camping coping strategy.

Since you will be rather on edge when camping, I recommend choosing books (or even better, a bunch of books in the same series) that are not too dense. A light mystery series works perfectly, for example. I find that when I have a lot of reading material ahead of me that I know I will enjoy, my stress levels go down vastly. In my article about summer seasonal depression, someone mentioned in the comments that a good book helps her cope with feeling blue. I think the idea here is similar, and maybe we have hit on a new diagnosis: Camping depression! Or maybe just camping melancholy. In any case, books are one of my tried-and-true methods for camping survival. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other puzzles are also a good option for keeping your mind off your situation.

If you have access to WiFi or just an electrical outlet, you can bring your iPhone, iPad, or even laptop to use at the picnic table.

Let's get real, ladies!

Who do these girls think they're fooling?

Who do these girls think they're fooling?

Survival Guide Tip #2: Bring Your Favorite Comfort Foods

A lot of people are drawn to food when they feel stressed and anxious. This usually has the unfortunate side effect of weight gain as a result of comfort eating. The beauty of comfort-eating while camping, however, is you really do need to consume more calories to survive out there in the wilderness. (If you think I'm just saying this to make myself feel better about scarfing down bags of cheese curls while camping, well... shhhhhh. You are probably right, but shhhhh.)

If you're doing a lot of camping-related hiking, swimming, or the like, however, you really are burning more calories than usual, so you can eat with abandon and not feel guilty. Also, if you're like me, you get cranky when you are hungry, or even mildly hungry. Honestly, I start to feel grouchy when there's even the possibility of feeling hungry later on. To avoid this, make sure you bring plenty to eat while you're out there in the wild. When I go camping, I don't bring a lot of the typical camping-related foods like trail mix and power bars; I prefer to chow down on more traditional comfort foods like cookies and Doritos. I know, so unhealthy! I'm actually a very healthy eater in "real life," but when I'm camping that just goes out the window. Anything to avoid getting cranky and ruining the trip for everyone else with my mood swings. My mom was really great at choosing great foods for camping; along with the steamed clams, we always had crusty baguettes with butter and an easy and quick camping food, instant noodle soup! The hot soup always hit the spot as the sun went down and the air got chilly.

As a side note, be sure that your comfort foods are safe! If you bring anything that needs to be refrigerated, bring along a cooler and plenty of ice and store the cooler in a shady area.

Camp fire, anyone?

Campfires are pretty and everything, but not pretty enough to make me want to sleep in the woods!

Campfires are pretty and everything, but not pretty enough to make me want to sleep in the woods!

Camping Survival Guide Tip #3: Be Organized. Be Really, Really Organized.

Be organized? But... isn't camping supposed to be all spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants? Maybe for some people, but I say no thank you! to that idea. Something about camping sends my Virgo organizational skills into overdrive!

I absolutely, definitely could not stand to camp if I did not do a bunch of planning beforehand. I recommend:

1. Start preparing long before you go. One of my biggest beefs with camping is the amount of stuff you have to lug along with you - from your house to the car, from the car to the campsite, arranging everything within the campsite, packing it all up... yuck. It's far worse, however, if you forget something that would be really useful, so make sure you plan everything out well ahead of time. The morning of the trip is not a good time to be throwing stuff into bags willy-nilly.

2. Bring plenty of cleaning supplies. Camping is dirty! You will need trash bags, paper towels, toilet paper, and wipes for hands and faces. If your campsite has the dreaded no-sink bathrooms (or no bathrooms at all), for heaven's sake bring some antibacterial wipes. There are plenty of all-natural versions to choose from as well. I also like to bring along some plastic grocery bags for dirty clothes, so I can stuff them in my backpack without getting my clean clothes dirty. You will also need shampoo, conditioner and a towel, if you are lucky enough to have access to showers. If you are doing dishes, bring along dishsoap and some clean dish towels. Tablecloths or a couple big dishcloths are nice to have on a picnic table, too.

3. Plan out your food! Make a list of everything you are going to do while camping, and write down what you will need to eat during those activities. That way you can rest assured that you have meals planned for every scenario. Even having a box of emergency granola bars can ease your mind when you're out on a hike with a bunch of kids (or a bunch of adults!). I'm always the person who arranges food for everyone, and I hate being caught unprepared. What if you suddenly crave a Cheeto when all you have is an apple? What then? Cue freakout, stage right! When it comes to camping, it's better to be overprepared than underprepared.

Help a Girl (or Guy!) Out

So there you have it, my best tips to make a camping trip more successful for a reluctant camper. If you happen to be the friend or partner of a reluctant camper, you would forever endear yourself to him or her if you took care of a few of these steps. Many times the biggest reason why I don't want to camp is simply because the thought of doing all of the above makes my head feel like it's going to explode. If you really like to camp, you might be able to squeeze a few more trips out of your partner if you cater to her camping needs. After all, she is already stretching herself to the limit by agreeing to camp in the first place.

Good luck! Let me know if these tips ring true for you, too.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Tim on June 06, 2017:

I agree camping sucks, but I always get talked into it... My hint sneak away in the middle of the night....

Canoeguy on December 19, 2016:

I started "wild" camping as a kid in the woods behind our house, grew up in it as a reserve Army member, Practiced it with my family, often on a two week trip after a two week training camp out in the wilderness.Graduated from a 7X7 pole tent to a 10X12 Cabin tent with a large awning big enough for our family of five kids. 10 metal poles, 14 stakes with ropes, and the kids set it up next to an older couple one night and they didn't even know we had moved in. Youngest was 6 weeks old on his first trip. A small trailer held all the camping gear, add the food box, bikes, cribs etc and take off after work on Friday afternoon. Gone for the weekend.Most of Eastern Canada and New England in the USA, from May til October. Now, 45 years later, they still love camping, Wife loves the pop up trailer.

Emma B on January 29, 2016:

First camping adventure recently, best thing i packed was ear plugs.

We got hectic winds during the nights, needless to say i didnt get any sleep the first night.

Luckily for some reason i had ear plugs in my toiletries bag. I put them in every night thereafter, it made for much better nights sleep and a less grumpy camper.

Sherry on January 13, 2016:

Lists, lists & more lists. Clothes packing list for each kid (how many of each item? # of nights +1). List of what preparations need to be done 3 days prior to leaving (start freezing those gallon milk jugs of water for coolers!), 2 days prior etc. Menu including all ingredients. I often take leftovers from home to heat up for at least 1 meal. Chose dishes that can share ingredients. We cook in Dutch ovens whenever possible. Our days of tent camping are over, so some of my suggestions might not be practical - we've graduated to a hybrid camper & we love to camp!

hazelbrown (author) from Central PA on May 29, 2015:

Great ideas, Natasha! I love the thought of a huge army tent with a rug :)

Natasha on May 26, 2015:

I don't care for camping either, although my sweet husband tries to make it as enjoyable as possible. A few things we do to make it more enjoyable. We bought a used tent, an army type, that is huge. You can easily stand up in. This allows room for a cheap area rug (like $15) and a nice raised air mattress. I bring real bedding from home and now it feels an awful lot like home. My husband sets up a "kitchen" for us by using 2 plastic tubs that are about the same size as my sink at home. The first tub he will heat water and add soap for dirty dishes and the second tub is clean cold water for rinsing. These go on one side of the picnic table after meals and make cleanup a breeze. Anyway, these are a couple of things that make camping not so rough...Hope this helps someone!

Josh on March 26, 2015:

Lord help us all. My family lives camping. We go every year sometimes many times in a year. Don't think about books and technology. Look around you at what our world had to offer

DW Davis from Eastern NC on January 03, 2015:

With two boys who grew up in Scouting we spent a lot of time tent camping. Now that they are grown, my wife and I bought a pop-up camper and now go RVing instead of camping.

John on January 02, 2015:

I made a list for camping items on the computer. A week before a trip I print out a couple of copies so that I can cross items off as I pull them out of storage. I use the second list to cross items off as they are packed into the car.

hazelbrown (author) from Central PA on May 07, 2013:

Peter, I would seriously consider camping in a 35 foot caravan :) Thanks for stopping by!

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on October 19, 2012:

Well done hazelbrown,

A very useful guide to camping and in particular the items you forget about. I don't mind camping but my wife hates it. The closest she will come to it is a 35ft fully equipped duel axle caravan which we tow behind the Land-Rover.

kind regards Peter