So…you want to go camping, but you’re not really a big fan of sleeping in the cold, on the hard ground, eating nothing but hot dogs and chips for days on end? I get you. On the other hand, camping is an awesome way to travel, get out into nature, and go on adventures for much less money than it would cost to stay in a hotel room.
So what’s a person on a budget with minimum comfort standards to do?
I’ve got some tips that might help…
First, let’s talk about your tent. Unless you own an RV (in which case I’m sure you wouldn’t be reading an article about how to make camping more comfortable), you’re probably looking at spending the night inside a sleeping bag in your tent. I’m with you, there. However, a few little tweaks in the kind of gear you take camping with you can make all the difference in the world. Let’s face it…tents are usually way too small and way too uncomfortable (and cold!) to really get a good night’s sleep. I recommend buying a larger tent than you think you’ll need. When you see a tent labeled ‘2 person tent’, that means that the tent can fit two people. It doesn’t, however, mean that you’ll be comfortable. Instead, get yourself a 3 person, or even 4 person tent to house the two of you, and you’ll have a lot more space to move around. You’ll thank yourself when you’re not elbowing each other in the face all night long.
Second, let’s talk about sleeping arrangements. Everybody knows you need a sleeping bag when you go camping (duh), but I like to kick it up a notch on the comfort scale when I go camping with a little mattress underneath my sleeping bag. I bought a Queen size Japanese roll up futon pad that I place on the floor of my tent (over a sheet so I don’t get it as dirty). Here is how I sleep in the tent, in layers, starting at the bottom: Sheet, roll up futon, another sheet, sleeping bag, on top of sleeping bag is several thick blankets. Once I get into my little cocoon, I’m not only extremely warm, but I’m also quite comfortable, with the soft feel of the futon pad underneath me rather than the cold, rocky ground. Luxurious!
Third, let’s talk about food. I wrote a post previously about how to up your food game on your next camping trip, so I won’t go into the descriptions for too long here. Do click on the link to read more tips about better camping food, but for now I’ll just say to think way beyond the hot dog and the hamburger.
Fourth, if you’re not into camping because you hate being cold and uncomfortable, you probably don’t like being smelly and using the bathroom in questionable places either. There are plenty of campgrounds out there with really nice, clean facilities. Some of them have flush toilets and hot showers, so make sure when you’re looking for a campsite you look for these amenities on the campground’s website. Some, particularly in national parks, have lodges with restaurants where you can stock up on provisions and even sit down for a hot meal that you didn’t have to cook over an open flame. My other tip in this regard is to look at the map of your campsite when booking and try to book a space that is closer to the restrooms. You’ll thank yourself when it’s 3am and pitch black outside, and you have to get out of your warm Japanese roll up futon cocoon and march to the bathroom.
Fifth, your gear matters. You don’t need a lot of stuff, but make sure you have a cooler for your food, and some sort of pots and pans with which you can cook and boil water. Also, bring coffee. No camping trip has ever been pleasant without coffee. Bring more coffee than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing better than sitting by the fire in the morning during a camping trip and sipping on luxurious cup after cup of sweet, sweet coffee.
Hopefully these tips help! Oh, and here’s the link to the futon pad I bought on Amazon in case you’re interested. But really, anything similar would work.