Yes, camping can be a lot of work, if you want to think of it that way. I like to think of it as an escape, a mini vacation. It’s a way to force my brain to think about something other than stressful things in life. Now, putting away the camping gear, that’s work and my least favorite part (I’m going to have to change that mindset).
A lot of my camping trips start on a Saturday or Sunday morning at 5:00 or 6:00am (I wish I could sleep in) a few weeks or months in advance. This is when my brain says, “Get Up!” I have no choice. I get out of bed, make some coffee, wake up, then do something before my brain starts thinking of all the things I didn’t get done at work on Friday and what to prioritize Monday morning. I have a lot of strategies to turn these thoughts off. One is writing: making lists, planning trips, journaling etc. Another is binge watching Netflix.
Here’s how I start:
- Google or Pinterest search fun campgrounds to visit in Virginia (nearby) and pick a place.
- Pick a date and invite my daughter or a friend (Spending time with family and friends is one of the best ways to relieve stress).
- Start a list of items that I’ll need. (See basic tent camping list at the end)
- Start packing a few weeks in advance so you’re ready to pick up and go when the time comes. (Plastic bins work well and you can keep things packed for the next time).
- Go and set up camp. It helps to have 2 people, depending on the type of tent you use. (This is where my husband Rich comes in. Rich hates camping, but he likes to support me in the activities I enjoy. He will come to the campsite, help set up, eat dinner, sit by the campfire, then go home to sleep in his comfy bed).
- Make food. Keep it simple and easy. When I tent camped, I used an electric skillet and always requested a camp site with water and electric. I made hamburgers, baked ziti, eggs and bacon all in one pan. Oh, and paper plates and plastic utensils make dishes easier (unless you like doing dishes like I do).
- Enjoy activities the campground has to offer: Movies, crafts, hikes, music, the list is endless. (No planning ahead for this one).
- Keep clean. Camping doesn’t have to be dirty. There are restrooms and showers available at most campgrounds. Just take a shower caddy filled with your favorite soaps and shampoos (very easy).
- Pack up and go home. Because this is my least favorite part, I stuff everything in my trunk (tent and all), organize it and put it all away when I get home.
So, the next time you are invited on a camping trip and are overwhelmed by all the hard work you think it might be. Take a step back, and think of it as a time to get away with family or friends, relax and recharge. Plan ahead and have fun!
Basic Tent Camping List (My basic list when I tent camped)
- Tent (A pop-up version is the easiest)
- Air Matress & Pump (A necessity for me)
- Blankets & Pillows (or sleeping bags)
- 2 Tarps (1 for under the tent and 1 for a rain canopy)
- Small hammer/ax (For driving steaks, cutting wood)
- Lantern & batteries (For the trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night)
- Electric skillet (Easiest)
- Paper plates, plasticware & paper towels
- Water & other drinks
- Cooler & ice
- Firestarter & matches or lighter (You have to buy wood at the campground)
- Trash bags
- Toiletries & towels
- Dish washing pan, soap, dishcloths & towels (Use biodegradable camping soap found at your favorite camping store)
- Clothes (for hot, cold and rainy weather)