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Camping: The frugal family vacation

By on March 27, 2015

The world is split between those who camp and those who don’t. I have never figured out the fascination with it. I love nature, hiking, cooking outdoors and being away from it all, but I just can’t get into “roughing” it.

Camping friends have told me that my previous camping experiences weren’t well planned or my trips were too long for a novice camper. I think it’s because I’m fond of bathrooms and showers, and the thought of going behind a shrub doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, I know, I could camp at a campground, in a recreational vehicle or rent a cabin, but once I start considering those options, then I might as well stay home, right?

Glamping, which is a vacation trend and short for glamorous camping, seems more my speed. Bring on the luxury! At the price glamping trips cost, my husband won’t mention camping again for a while.

Today, readers share camping tips that have me almost convinced to give traditional camping another chance.

GOODBYE, BUGS: Take a small box of dryer sheets. Bugs tend to stay away from them. I stick a few in my sleeping bags and at the entrance of the tent. — Missy, Colorado

CAREFUL PACKING: Don’t pack the tent first, forcing you to unpack the trunk to get to it. If it rains, all your stuff will be soaked while you’re fighting to get to the tent. If you’re going to a place that has comfort stations, bring shower flip-flops to use in there, and don’t set up camp too close to the comfort station. It’s noisy, and it smells. — Shorty, Canada

BE PREPARED: The more you haul, the more comfortable you will be. It’s just a fact of life when camping. If you’re tenting, inflatable mattresses are great. Bring lawn chairs. Picnic tables have no back support and can get really uncomfortable. Keep your food and garbage in your vehicle. Food draws wildlife like a magnet. Block ice is better than cubes because it will last longer. Better yet, freeze clean soda bottles full of water, and, as they defrost, you can drink it or use it for cleaning up. — pkellyc, Connecticut

Bring a camping box for nonperishable kitchen stuff, such as a can opener, dishes, pans, cutlery, dishpan, dishwashing supplies, etc. We just wash everything after we use it, and it all goes back into the box. Don’t forget the antihistamines, bug spray, adhesive bandages, antibacterial soap and pain relievers. Large plastic containers are good for this and rainproof. Bring your own garbage bags. Bring plastic bags for dirty/wet clothes. Use two coolers, one for the food and one for drinks. You don’t want the food cooler opened often. — Kim, e-mail

LET THERE BE FIRE: Find out in advance about firewood. Some camps don’t have any. — Missy, Kentucky

SHAKE IT UP: For scrambled eggs, place the egg mixture in a jar. All you need to do is shake vigorously. — Marcia, Missouri

PRECOOKED PLANNING:
I take things that are already cooked and require some reheating. These are easy enough for kids to help with the cooking. Pancakes warmed in foil next to the coals are a lot easier than trying to mix and cook them. — Lori, Illinois

HELPFUL REMINDERS:
Pack flashlights for young children so they aren’t afraid of the dark. Don’t pitch a tent near standing water because of critters. Invest in tarps for the top of your tent and to use as a groundsheet. Pack a small broom to sweep out your tent. — Dina, e-mail

DON’T FORGET: If you’ve recently purchased new gear, give it a test run before your trip. Upon arrival at your campsite, set up the tent first. Don’t wait until dusk. Don’t forget camping etiquette. Keep noise to a minimum after 10 p.m. I learned the hard way that a two-person tent doesn’t fit two people. — Jen, e-mail

 

photo by wicker paradise

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