There’s nothing quite as nice as spending a few days camping. Studies have shown that tent camping can help to regulate your sleep cycles and significantly decrease stress. With summer in full-swing, this is really the perfect time to head to a campground and enjoy relaxing family time. Unfortunately, camping can often end up being wasteful and have a negative impact on the Earth (and our bodies with extra chemical exposure!).
Hopefully, some of these tips will help!
Before you go-
Make sure to check local fire laws. I’m in Colorado a few miles down the highway from a major fire. We have bans right now and illegal fires are still being busted. Make sure to have an alternative plan for cooking if you can’t have a fire! You could always go to a site with electric and bring a toaster oven, hot pot for water and electric burner. If there is a fire ban in place and you really wanted to cook out over an open fire, some campgrounds will waive cancellation fees.
Learn about local pollen counts, insects, poisonous plants and any other potential hazards– If anyone in your family tends to have seasonal allergies you’ll want to check and see what pollen levels look like in the area. We traveled to Lake Tahoe last month and the trees were giving off so much pollen it looked like snow! ALRG is good to have on hand. You’ll also want to research anything else that might cause any problems on your trip. Make sure you know what any of the dangerous/ poisonous insects and plants in the area look like so you can avoid them. It’s also good to know what ticks look like and what the bites of any of the local hazardous insects look like. (And make sure to know where local emergency rooms are, just in case). Other hazards might include flooding, fires, bears, etc.
Research local herbs and animals- Camping is a great time to learn more about herbs and animals! Check out a book from a local library about plants and/or animals of the local region. Kids love to find plants and learn about how herbalists make use of them- you may even consider making a salve or poultice with local herbs. Here are some common wild herbs. They’ll also enjoy identifying different birds and other critters- think about bringing some binoculars along!
Consider your waste- Many people bring along mostly pre-packaged and disposable items when they camp for convenience sake. Unfortunately, these items will take years to decompose, if they ever decompose at all. Try picking up a lightweight set of stainless steel or bamboo dishes and cutlery and do a bit of prep work at home to pre-make meals and snacks that you can bring in your own reusable containers. Trail mix is easy to make from the bulk bins at the grocery store, dried veggies can be made up in soup mixes and you can pre-make and freeze some meals which could serve as extra ice for your cooler until they thaw for you to use them. Check out some “zero waste” camping ideas online.
Check the forecast and plan for changes- It’s easy to forget that if you’re camping in the mountains the weather can be significantly cooler than the city. Make sure to check out the forecast and bring along an extra outfit for the “opposite” weather and rain just in case!
Things To Bring-
The basics- Make sure to remember the basics- clothes, tent, toiletries, flashlight, food and cooking supplies, outdoor and play gear. Women might want to invest in a reusable menstrual cup for ease of use during camping. If you take any medication or supplements make sure to ask your practitioner about proper storage and tips if they need to be kept at a certain temperature.
Herbal/ Home Remedies- If your family has any “go-to” remedies they usually keep on hand you’ll want to bring those. Bring along oatmeal, baking soda, and activated charcoal for any bites or other ailments (make sure to research and understand how to use them). Propolis and/or Lympha Rub are great if anyone in your family starts feeling ill. Your favorite sleep remedy is a good option in case anyone has a hard time sleeping, and Hear No Evil works awesome on ear pain. One other remedy to consider is something for digestion/ heartburn if anyone in your family is prone to struggles with those.
Sunscreen- Sunscreen has been a hot-topic over the last few years. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) puts out a great sunscreen guide every year. You can also make your own sunscreen very easily. Wellness Mama provides information on ways to support your body’s ability to avoid sun damage with food too! It’s also a good idea to bring along pure aloe (avoid anything with additives) and Soothing Salve in case you get a burn (it’s also lovely for any scrapes, bites, scratches, burns, etc.)
Insect Repellent- There are many all-natural insect repellents available at your local health food store. You could also make one of these bug-repelling mason jars. If you have a battery operated essential oil diffuser bring along oils like citronella, rosemary, lemon eucalyptus and peppermint to help repel insects. (We also have a whole blog post dedicated to natural ways to repel insects)
Gear for weather- Camping, especially in the mountains, can come along with drastic weather changes. Make sure to bring gear for wind, rain, hot temperatures and maybe even snow (here in Colorado it can realistically snow any day of the year in the mountains!)
Emergency Supplies and Food- This goes along with bringing appropriate gear. It’s always a good idea to have a couple extra days worth of food and water, warm/ dry clothing, matches, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, shelter and maybe even a solar phone charger. Check out suggestions for emergency supplies in the local area as well.
At the Campsite-
Double-check campground rules- Most campgrounds will have rules clearly posted. If you’re not sure about any of them or have questions look for the site that has a “campground host” sign. If they’re not available leave a note with your campsite number.
Get to know your neighbors- You can meet some really fascinating people camping and your kids can find new friends to play with. Introduce yourself and consider getting together with your neighbors for a meal or a hike.
Avoid un-welcome guests- Make sure to get your food high up in a tree or secured away in your vehicle or another approved container. Bears aren’t the only concern with leaving food out- raccoons, squirrels, birds, and other small animals and rodents would love to eat your food. Make sure to put away any yummy-smelling herbs and essential oils too!
Unplug– Turn off the phone, leave the computer and iPad at home and give yourself a tech break!! Your body and mind will feel even more refreshed from your trip.
Get grounded- Grounding, or Earthing, involves bringing your body in direct contact with the Earth and many people report increased health, decreased pain and greater energy levels.
We hope you have a great time getting out and camping this summer!!