My family camps, a lot. Well, a lot compared at least to our friends, especially the ones with multiple kids (we have 5). Last summer we typically went camping 3 times per month and each trip was 2-3 days. The summer before we often did mid-week, close to home camping trips followed by weekend camping trips further away.
I know that to some of our readers that’s nothing (you people are awesome!), but to me and my family, that is a lot of camping.
Getting out and camping this often, we have met a lot of different people (some of whom live on these campgrounds during the summer), had a lot of interesting conversations and learned a lot about ourselves and camping.
Now, the title of “10 Secrets Regular Campers Won’t Tell You” may be a touch deceiving. It’s not like these are hot stock tips or anything, honestly, most campers would probably admit most of these, but I wanted to share a few things and really `tell it like it is`. So here are my 10 Secrets Regular Campers Won’t Tell You.
1: Camping Is Not Always Fun
Like with any other trip, camping does not always go 100% smooth. In my experiences I have woken up soaking wet after a storm, had weekends of endless kid fighting, sunburns, got giardia from drinking downstream from a beaver dam, fought with my wife, ripped my $800 tent, backed my camper into a tree branch that I did not see and damaged the roof and much more (I could go on!). So no, camping is not always fun.
2: Everyone Feels Like A Newbie
No matter how many times I go camping I always feel like everyone else at the campsite is an old pro and I am just a newbie. They MUST be judging my fire building skills, my tent assembly, my camper backing up and more. Yet every family campground we visit and start talking to fellow campers shows me the exact opposite, they are impressed, friendly and felt the same as I did. Why can’t we just not worry what others will think and enjoy ourselves!
3: Modern Luxuries Make Camping Way Better
Don’t get me wrong, I love getting out into some deep woods camping, camping in the boundary waters and all of the me against nature stuff. But even on those trips, modern luxuries can really makes things easier. From running water and electricity at a fancy family campground, to an ipad for the kids if it is raining, gps in the Boundary Waters and last but most importantly some super awesome water filtration (see #1!).
4: Book A Site In January For The Best Spots
If it’s Wednesday and you want to go camping on a lake in Minnesota on Friday, you may want to think again. In Minnesota you can book state campgrounds up to two years in advance, and many do. If you want to travel to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, permits for that open in late January of the coinciding year.
But wait, you’re not entirely out of luck. While you may have trouble finding a campground on a holiday weekend, there are still plenty of campsites available for reservation on less busy weekends as well as first come first serve sites at every state park.
5: Camping Over The Holidays Is Nuts
Honestly, we don’t camp on holiday weekends anymore. Many family campgrounds become crazy cities, a bit noisy and the line waiting to dump your camper or rv sewage…oh the line…
6: You May Be Ruining Everyone Else’s Trip
If you are going to a campground, state, private or any other, you have to be considerate of the other campers there. This means that drinking until 3 am and being loud is completely not acceptable. Running a generator on a non-electric site makes you “That Guy” (yes we can hear it 10 sites away!). Excessive cussing, dirty campsites and uncontrolled kids (see also excessive crying, wondering into other campers sites and unsupervised) are just a few of the ways to piss off your camping neighbors.
7: Ordering Pizza Is OK (and sometimes Preferred)
When we have been camping close to a city with pizza delivery we almost always order pizza at least one of the nights. And guess what, this doesn’t make our family camping trips any less “authentic”. It actually makes them even more fun. This way we have more time to spend with our kids, enjoying nature and just having a good time. Plus, we can still make the most elaborate breakfast our heart desires.
8: Going Home Early Is Also Ok
There are times when you will be camping and everything will go wrong, literally, everything. Sometimes it can be a good idea to admit that you are not having any fun, pack it up, head home and try again another time. It could be that you were under prepared for your trip, the nights are miserably hot or everything is wet. Whatever the reason, don’t force yourself to stay, we have gone home early many times and never regretted a thing.
9: Good Sleeping = Good Camping Trip
Pay attention here. If you are not sleeping well, your entire trip will be miserable. If you are camping during hot months, be prepared for hot nights. Bring a battery powered fan and cooling towels. If you are camping during cold months, make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the cold. Other things to consider would be ear plugs in case you run into noisy neighbors, sleeping pads, air mattresses, a high quality tent and a good pillow.
10: You May Become Addicted
Even after all this, you may very well find that you love camping and can’t wait to get back out. Be careful. It’s addicting!