When you’re camping and you’ve only got a two-day weekend you want to make every minute count. I’ve been a camper for 53 years; here are 11 camping hacks to simply make it more comfortable.
- Book your campsite before you leave home and make sure you are going with the right people! How disappointing to arrive at the campground only to find there’s no vacancy except in the treeless overflow field.
- Plan your menus and purchase food in advance. Who wants to drive into town to grocery shop when you’re trying to get away from it all?
- Wash fruits and veggies before you go. If you know you’re going to have stir fry, chop and bag the ingredients ahead of time. Who wants to do all that prep work on the confines of a picnic table or having to find and lug fresh water when you could be out hiking. I even assemble my homemade pancake recipe in two separate, spill-proof containers – one with all the dry ingredients pre-measured and one with the liquids.
- Freeze whatever food you can without doing damage to it. It will last longer in your cooler than if it were just chilled. Eat the most vulnerable food first, like chicken. Bacon and hot dogs, for example, have preservatives for longer shelf life. Even some low-fat milk can be frozen without ill effects. Oh, and buy it with a screw-on lid so it doesn’t leak. Not much smells worse than sour milk stewing in the Summer sunshine.
- Fill clean ice cream and yoghurt containers with drinking water, pop in the freezer a few days ahead so they can be used as ice blocks in your cooler and drunk when thawed. No need to spend money on bags of ice cubes that melt in no time.
- Other than my tents and folding chairs, most of my gear is stored year-round in three stackable tubs that fit side by side in the back seat of my car. I can just pick up and go!
- Clean and restock the tubs immediately after returning from a camping trip. If you take nothing else from this post, unpack wet dish clothes, tea towels, swim towels, any wet clothing and wash, or at least dry thoroughly until laundry day. Otherwise, you’ll never get rid of the mould and you might as well toss it.
- In order to beat a hasty getaway from the city after work, pack as much as you can the night before. At the end of the day, go home to get the cooler and the kids.
- Firewood: Carry a small cache of dry wood, though be aware of regulations about moving fresh wood from one region to another. Often the stuff you buy at the campground at the beginning of the year hasn’t had time to dry out and, at the end of the season, they’re cutting so fast to keep up with demand that it can be just as wet as at the start of camping season.
- Do you postpone getting out of your sleeping bag to get dressed on a chilly morning because you dread putting on cold, damp clothing? Pick your outfit the night before and line the sides and bottom of your sleeping bag. By morning they’ll be as toasty as you.
- Last but not least, always bring a roll of toilet paper. Yes, for the obvious reasons but also to: staunch a bloody wound, blow a nose, compassionately relocate bugs, blot bacon fat, clean bird s*** off picnic tables, play tic-tac-toe, dry dishes, patch screening, use as earplugs, sketch your masterpieces…
What are your best camping hacks?