The “I Hate Camping” Person’s Guide to Surviving a Family Camping Trip

published Jul 22, 2015
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(Image credit: Marcia Prentice)

So you somehow got roped into a family camping trip this summer. If the word camping inspires a particular feeling of dread in the pit of your belly then you need our help. You CAN get through your ordeal vacation. Follow this guide.

Identify what you don’t like about camping and then work to fix it

Maybe you think sleeping on the ground is for suckers or maybe you don’t fancy the idea of being shower-free for multiple days. These problems have solutions! If an extra air mattress (or two) would help you be more comfortable all night, then lug them along — it’ll be worth it. Or plan that the camping takes place at a semi-civilized spot like a national park (which will usually provide you with bathroom AND shower facilities. Luxurious.) My tried and tested last resort shower substitute? Wipes! Pre-moistened wipes will at least let you wash your face if you are forced into a situation where you truly have to rough it.

If you can’t fix it, accept it

No matter how much you try to prepare, there are things about camping that you probably just won’t like. Sorry. But here’s the thing: you’re not going to make your experience any better if you force yourself to stay miserable the whole time as a protest. Get annoyed at the dirt or the bugs and then move on and notice the fresh air and pretty views. You don’t want to miss the good things because you’re so focused on the bad.

Savor the food

Camping does have one big perk that everyone can appreciate: S’mores. Even though you can now order them with rustic grain graham crackers and artisanal chocolate at every bistro in America, they really do taste better outside, old-school style. Then there are the hot dogs, the scrambled eggs made in foil packets and the magic baked potatoes that roast right in the fire. See? Cooking while camping is fun and takes up a ton of your time. If you’re still miserable then enjoy another great camping tradition — beers by the fire. Have an extra one and you’ll start to hate life a lot less.

Get out and do something fun

You’re hanging out somewhere beautiful so don’t sit around your campsite all day swatting away the flies. There’s probably a place nearby to swim or hike or see something cool so get your butt to that thing. This is a family camping trip so this is the time to hang out and have fun with those people who are obligated to like you, so try and join them in some good times.

Bring a friend

How did I get through my many forced family camping trips as kid? I brought along a friend for company. This is a great strategy to help get kids excited about camping, but it works for adults, too. Camping with another family is great because you can pool resources, designate responsibilities and have built-in entertainment. Remember, braving the wilderness isn’t the best time to get to know someone new, so only team up with trusted friends.

Campers, help us out! How do you help those who are less than thrilled with roughing it come around?