Okay, I don’t actually hate camping, but do have some friends who aren’t big fans of it. After having camped a lot myself, I learned that camping can sometimes suck.
As fun as camping is, it can also be dirty, boring, and expensive. There’s bugs, bad bathrooms, and there’s no avoiding the weather.
To sum it up:
This year millions of Americans will be underhoused, underclothed, underfed, underbathed, live in unsanitary conditions and relieve themselves outside. They will be camping.
And many people feel the same way. Humans have spent thousands of years advancing technology to get away from nature. Why would you purposely make your life harder?
Here’s what a few not so happy campers chimed in with:
Bugs, the rain, having to drag all that equipment with me, bugs, no shower or toilet, sleeping in a tent – did I say bugs?
I like comfort; soft bed, being dry and warm, being able to easily cook or order a meal. I don’t see the appeal of intentionally making my life harder as a recreational activity.
Everything you do is a huge hassle. Eating, cooking, using the restroom sleeping and boredom like you can’t believe. Bugs, smoke from fire, the kids getting bit by bugs, and everything is a huge pain in the ass.
There are a few key aspects of camping that can make or break a trip. The two biggest factors you’ll want to nail down are:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well
If you’re in good company and nail these two aspects, you got your basic covered. However, there are lots of other little pieces that can make you hate camping.
I’ve listed the most common camping problems and solutions to making camping more bearable.
Mosquitos Have No Mercy
The worse thing about being in the woods? Bugs. Mosquitos and midges are relentless. And after squatting these buggers all day and night, they will get annoying.
Even if you could hide from them all, there’s always that one little bugger that finds your way into your tent. You try to ignore it but after 5 minutes, the buzz becomes unbearable and you’re forced to get up in the middle of the night to swat it.
Solution: Bug spray and Deet will help. However, there are two problems with bug spray. The first is they aren’t always healthy, and secondly, the smell isn’t pleasant. What I think works much better is to use citronella candles or tiki torches.
The cheapest option is bug spray, but if you want to have a better camping experience, use candles tiki torches instead. You can place this in a perimeter around the common areas to create an insect shield and adds a bit of flair to your site.
Sleeping on the Ground Hurts
No matter when or where you go camping, you going to need to sleep somewhere. One thing I did not look forward to when camping is sleeping on the hard ground. Even with a sleeping pad (do you really need a sleeping pad?), it would take me forever to fall asleep. Not only that, but I’d wake up with sore hips and a sore back, still tired.
Solution: Air mattresses can work, but they are heavy, take up space, and the cheap ones always deflate during the night. If you do invest in an air mattress, make sure it’s a good one. Cots are one option, but my favorite way to sleep is in a hammock. Ever since I discovered my ENO hammock, it has made a world of difference for me.
It Rains Almost Every Time
Going camping? Chances are it’s going to rain. And if you’re not a seasoned camper with a lot of gear, it won’t make for a fun trip. Not only does it get everything wet, but it makes everything more difficult. Want to cook? It’s raining. Want to have a campfire? It’s raining. Want to even go to the bathroom? It’s raining. And hopefully, you don’t find out later why not all tents are waterproof.
Solution: One of the best pieces of equipment to keep you dry is an E-Z Up (See Amazon Price). These are foldable popup canopies that are specifically designed to keep you dry. You can cook under them and they also provide shade when it’s sunny out. A must-have in big groups.
Being Bored out of Your Mind
The biggest reason why camping sucks is being out in the woods can be pretty boring. The reality is, there is a lot of sitting around during camping. After all, you can only eat and watch the fire so much. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t do well without technology, then it gets worse.
Solution: Bring some friends and plan ahead. Swimming, biking, hiking, visiting local attractions, and board games are all ideas to pass time. Make an effort to bring some fun activities like cornhole, horseshoes, or ultimate frisbee. Bring Bluetooth speakers for music, listen to podcasts, or read a book.
It’s Noisy and Crowded
If you’re camping during the summer, campsites are going to be packed full. Most campsites don’t have a lot of space between them either, making it seem like your staying at an apocalyptic refugee camp. Not to mention the loud drunks and crying kids. RV parks can be especially noisy too with their generators and AC compressors buzzing all night. Oh, and don’t forget random singing, doors slamming, and car alarms at 3 am in the morning.
Solution: There are two ways to avoid noisy crowds. That is to avoid peak camping season (see the best time to go camping) or find a more rural campsite. Summer is usually the busiest, and even busier during weekends and holidays. Avoiding these times will also avoid some of the crowds.
Another way is to look for more rural or campsites that are tent-only campgrounds. Campsites next to popular parks or cities will naturally be busier. Shop around for campgrounds on places like HipCamp, GlampingHub, and even AirBNB. If you are new to Airbnb, feel free to use my invite to get up to $55 off your first booking. You might even want to consider renting a cabin or learn how to camp in a yurt.
Cooking is a Chore
Cooking while camping is a pain. Either you have to bring everything including the kitchen sink (yes, they have kitchen sinks for camping) or stick to simple meals. Cutting, cooking, cleaning along with packing all the required gear is a lot more to do than when you’re at home.
As one camper put it:
What’s fun about trying to cook anything other than hotdogs over a fire? Ash and embers cost your food while you cook it and bugs climb all over it when you try to eat it – if the wind hasn’t already blown leaves and dirt into it.
Solution: Again, here is where preparation is key. It will still take some work, but if you camping in a group, you can all spread out the work. Come prepared to make simple meals that can be easily cooked over the fire or camp stove. I like to bring my 2 burner Coleman stove to cook pretty much everything I could cook at home. It’s an incredibly good stove for the price (See Amazon Price). One of my favorite meals are chicken quesadillas and tin foil dinners.
The Bathrooms Are Dirty, or None at All
Ah, the glorious bathrooms. What’s fun about feeling sweaty and dirty and all you want to do is take a shower but the bathrooms are muddy and full of mosquitoes? Not all campgrounds have showers, and when they do, they are sometimes dirty, don’t work all the way, or you can’t get the temperature right.
Solution: Do your due diligence and read and find a campground and read the reviews. There are good campgrounds out there with good showers. If you can’t take a shower camping, try sponge baths or using Biowipes. Surviveware wipes are biodegradable, unscented, and hypoallergenic. They are specifically made for camping.
It’s a Hassle
Packing your gear, driving to the campground, unloading your car, then pitching your tent can really take the fun out of camping. And when you’re ready to go, you have to break down your site and back up again. That’s not to mention setting up fires, kitchen areas, and doing dishes. It’s a big hassle for trying to enjoy yourself.
Solution: Plan ahead and split up tasks. Get bigger bags to store gear so you don’t need to try and cram them into the manufacture bags that barely fit. Totes are especially useful. For meals, do most of the prep work at home. Meals can even be made and cooked ahead of time.
If you’ve never gone camping before, you probably don’t have a lot of camping gear. Tents, sleeping bags, stoves, coolers, chairs, flashlights and everything else can get quite pricy. And the food. It always seems like I buy a month’s worth of groceries for a weekend camping trip.
Solution: Take your time planning what gear you need and shop around. Be on the lookout for when camping gear goes on sale and shop around at discount stores and used marketplaces. Borrowing or even retaining gear from outdoor stores are a great option if you don’t plan on camping too often.
So Why Do People Enjoy Camping?
There’s a lot of reasons why people do go camping. For me personally, it’s a time to spend with friends and connect with them on a level I wouldn’t normally.
It’s a great bonding experience with friends. It requires team-work, problem-solving, and ends on a high note around a campfire.
It’s where I can be independent and not need to depend on technology for my own survival. The reward is much better when you have to depend on yourself and what you have.
There is something so refreshing about hiking 12 miles away from civilization and having to be on your own. Stoking a fire, cooking a good meal and knowing you are in control of your own life.
It’s a chance to disconnect from our daily electronics and remind ourselves that primal instincts are alive and well.
Camping Doesn’t Have to Suck
If you hate camping now, it doesn’t always have to suck. Planning ahead, go with the right friends, and at the right time of year can make all the difference. Get out there, have fun, and be safe!