Don't forget the tent.

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“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.” So says acclaimed nature writer Edward Abbey, who isn’t wrong, exactly. But the majestic wilderness isn’t for everyone. If you think of shopping at an outdoor mall as roughing it, here are some things to avoid the next time someone talks you into a camping trip:

  • Don’t believe a significant other who claims camping “isn’t really that buggy,” as doing so will cause you to ditch both your citronella candles and your DEET-based insect repellent. Even combined with your venomous swearing, a half-empty bottle of lavender oil won’t do much to stop the mosquitos from coming at you.
  • Don’t pitch your tent right next to the river, a good long way from the campground bathrooms. You’ll have to pee all night. By your umpteenth trip, you won’t even flinch when you feel something creep-crawly skitter over your feet—which, let’s be honest, would be the opposite of natural. And bring toilet paper. Trust us. Just do it.
  • Don’t pack the makings for a lovely four-course campfire meal and forget the salt and spices. Your food will be both half-cooked and blander than blancmange. (Also, you can’t live on trail mix for three days, so don’t even try.)
  • Don’t listen to the S.O. who insists that because the forecast calls for clear skies, there’s no need to bother with the rain guard on the tent. Believing that malarkey is the reason you’ll wake up sopping-wet, sputtering, “I told you so!”
  • Don’t leave home without scouting out the motels and hotels closest to your campsite. Sometimes cell phone reception can be dodgy in the wilderness, and when you’re dashing through a downpour to the car with your partner, dog, and whatever else you had time to grab before the monsoon got going, it’s best to already have a backup plan in place.
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