How To Plan the Perfect Vacation: Tips for Camping Comfortably

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I just returned from a week-long camping trip with family and loved every minute of it. I've lived in cities for the last five years, meaning I'm more likely to sleep through garbage pickup and late night revelers than the sounds of nature, but I grew up taking frequent camping trips.

Some of those experiences were more memorable than others, for reasons both good and bad. Waking up to the scent of pine, beautiful scenery and breakfast over a fire is one of the pure joys in life to me. Waking up in the middle of the night in a soaking wet sleeping bag as runoff from torrential rains works its way under the tent? Less joyful. Here are a few tips for a comfortable camping experience.

1. Know thyself. What version of camping do you find most enjoyable? Backpacking under the stars, a tent, a trailer, or even renting a cabin all give the experience with varying degrees of amenities. Figure out which appeals to you instead of forcing yourself into a situation you really won't enjoy.

2. Check the weather and come prepared. If you're going to be dealing with the elements, it helps to find out what they might be. A spot that is comfortable in the springtime might be unbearably hot and humid in August, and if you know to expect thunderstorms you can be sure to waterproof your tent (or forgo one in favor of another option). 

3. Learn about the locals. Aka the local wildlife. From pests like mosquitoes to larger threats like bears, educate yourself on what to expect. Respect and understanding go a long way towards peaceful cohabitation. In some places you need to store your food away from your campsite to avoid unwanted visitors, and if you're sensitive to insect bites and stings wearing repellent and avoiding scented products can help you avoid a lot of discomfort.

4. Invest in a good sleeping pad. Even the most carefully chosen site for your tent is bound to be a little rocky. From a basic foam pad to an inflatable air mattress, the extra bit of cushioning will go a long way towards a restful night and a morning free of aches.

5. Bring earplugs. While the sounds of nature are generally considered soothing, anyone who has listened to a bluejay at 5 am can attest that sometimes they can be downright jarring. Neighboring campers can also be noisy, especially considering your walls are quite literally paper thin.

Leave your own suggestions in the comments below!

(Image: Kim Lucian)