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Glamour Camping: What to Pack

More and more baby boomers are retiring and heading back to nature after decades of material excess. But we‘re no longer interested in crawling in and out of a small tent, sleeping on the ground, scrounging up a meal over a 3 inch burner, and deploying the grunge look for that week in the wilderness.

Camping has an irresistible nostalgic allure, is a very affordable means of travel and unfortunately, still has many women digging in their 3-inch heels against it. Baby boomer or not, female or male, this article is for all of you who want to camp, but can’t (or don’t want to) hack the roughing-it part.

The first article in this series: So You Want To Be a Glamour Camper covered camping tips and tricks to help ensure you get a good night’s sleep while camping (including discussion about what tent to buy – so start with that post and add this information to it).

Eventually though you have to step outside the tent. Listed below are the things you should bring along to make that experience as pleasant as a good night’s sleep.

Other camping related posts in this series:

Camping Etiquette

Glamour Camping Tips & Tricks

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Someone has to take pictures while everyone else is setting up.

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a shower. a cocktail. in that order. she's laughing at the portable seat. or maybe just LIFE. It's pretty sweet in the great outdoors.

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Looking for the good stuff.the glamour camp dog. gotta have one.

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Glamour Camp decor

Next week, Campground Etiquette. Week after that: Camp-out RECIPES! and a basic food list.

The Glamour Camper’s Packing List

  • A 10 ft x 10 ft EZ Up (pop up) canopy. It’s a $140 roof for your campsite. Place it over your picnic table area for taking meals out of the sun, cooking, playing card games, etc. They’ll make your camping area look like a Saharan caravan. They come in a heavy duty carrying case, and are a breeze to erect and store. Tip: you can find them at Academy or similar sporting goods’ stores for less than online. But the EZ Up online site is helpful for seeing what’s available. The website is below.
  • Two burner camp stove. These run the gamut from the basic table top model to fancier ones that are free-standing. For our general camping trips we still use the table top model placed on the end of a picnic table; plenty of propane bottles for the stove; striker to light the stove.
  • One cast iron skillet or non stick skillet.
  • A pan for heating water.
  • A camp coffee pot.
  • Coffee (the only food item I’ve listed and the only one I won’t live without).
  • Insulated cups for coffee, tea or soup.
  • Utensils.
  • Heating pads/gloves.
  • Kitchen towels.
  • Paper towels.
  • Salt & Pepper (Grinders makes a pair of small, plastic shakers perfect for camping – buy them at the grocery store).
  • Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap (comes in other scents but the peppermint smells so clean). It’s concentrated so a little goes a long way even in cold water. You can use it for everything, even bathing, and it’s easy on the environment (biodegradable).
  • Scrub pad for clean-up. Spray cleaner, plastic tub for transport of dishes.
  • Foil.
  • Spray oil.
  • One cookie sheet (multi-purpose).
  • One multi-tool. No household should be without one of these, much less a camp site! Otherwise: bottle opener, screw driver, scissors, knife, pliers, tweezers, toothpicks, file, wire cutter.
  • Cork screw, bottle stopper.
  • Camp lantern.
  • BATTERIES.
  • Toilet paper and handi-wipes. Put them in an open weave mesh cinch sack and tack them to a tree.
  • Bag chairs for everyone. Preferably with the drink holders in the arm.
  • A large rubber mat for your tent’s exterior door mat. You can find these at kitchen supply stores.
  • Small camp/bag/lawn chair to be kept outside your tent door for putting on shoes, etc.
  • A small card table. Metal works great here since it’s easy to clean, the weather won’t affect it, and they’re lightweight. This table is indispensable in the camp cooking area or as a place to sit the kids to work on a puzzle, play games, or take their meals.
  • Marine cooler with plenty of block ice; ice pick. Makes a great bench.
  • Separate cooler for drinks and food.
  • Vinyl tablecloths to cover the picnic table and the small extra table for the camp kitchen.
    You know when it rains or there’s been heavy dew and you have to sit at the picnic table? To alleviate this issue I pack a couple of what I call “gardener’s knee squares”. They’re a square piece of closed cell foam, fit most behinds perfectly, serve as a shield from the dampness, and provide some cushioning!
  • An assortment of bungee cords (different lengths), large “S” hooks, clothes’ pins, various sized carabineers, etc. for an plethora of needs. The clothes pins can be used to close food packages, a use I overlooked for years.
  • Plenty of nylon parachute cord. Besides making a great clothes line, it’ll come in handy numerous other unfathomable ways.
  • Throw in a few nails. They come in handy for tacking the trash sack to a tree or making a place to hang the mesh bag for TP and handiwipes.
  • A package of wood wedges for leveling things in the tent and around camp. Makes life oh so much more pleasant.
  • Several packages of Extra large Wet-ones for tent bathing, kitchen clean-up, etc.
  • Hand pump of sanitizer to keep in camp kitchen.
  • A small hand ax. Many campgrounds provide fire rings and while you can purchase firewood and bring it with you, it’s fun to take a little walk in the woods and gather it yourself (watch out for poison ivy, snakes, etc. – know what the dangers are in your area). Make sure your campground allows this. And I’m not talking about felling any trees. Rather picking up fallen limbs, sticks, etc. P.S. don’t bother with green wood.
  • Fire starters. There are several types available. My favorites are “Magic Fire Starters”. You can get them at Cabelas.com.
  • Once you establish whether or not you can have a camp fire which will be dependent on the camp grounds and weather conditions, choose the appropriate “paper” ware. If I know we’ll have a campfire, I prefer paper cups, plates, etc. and then carefully burn them in the fire ring. If not, then you’re stuck with plastic, but with those you can wash and re-use them to an extent.
  • A black Sharpie for marking drinking glasses, etc. Attach it to a cord and keep it in the camp kitchen. Anyone removing it and not replacing it gets a pop of the dish towel.
  • I’m getting greener and so purchased a Lexan fork/spoon/knife set that I wash and re-use for every meal.
  • A large heavy duty trash sack. I’m in the market this year for a folding trash can (in which I’ll put the trash sack instead of tacking it to a tree). Actually they’re sold as pool side accessories, but they work great for camping and fold down to take up only a tiny amount of room when storing. Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, among others sell them.
  • Being outside all day chaps my lips. They sting at night, which experience has taught me interferes with my sleep, as in miserably interferes with it. SO I bought a long lanyard and attached to it a tube of Eco Lips “Face Stick” a small stick of 30 SPF sunscreen that can be used on face or lips (website information below), a tube of Burt’s Bees replenishing lip balm for nighttime use, and a whistle. The whistle is great for calling kids (my son is grown now but I’ve got just under 20 nieces and nephews), calling out in the wilderness if you need help or to find other’s in your party, etc. I get up every morning and put the lanyard and headlamp around my neck. I never have to look for sunscreen or chapstick and I never get caught at night without some light to guide my way back to the tent.

Whew!

Once you’ve got these things assembled, you’ll need a way to organize and transport. I recommend the large, clear storage boxes now available everywhere. The lids snap down with handles on both ends.

An Oh-so-important final suggestion:

Last summer after many camping outings, my husband and I sat down to eat the wonderful one skillet breakfast he’d prepared of eggs, sausage, peppers, hash browns, and cheese only to discover I forgot to pack forks or spoons. When it comes to camping, improvisational skills are vital! We ate our meal by alternating the spatula he’d used to cook the meal. The thing was so big we could only use the corner of it – a very memorable meal!

*** My last suggestion is this: Make a list and put it in the permanent camp box. Add to it as needed. Then follow it.

Here’s a list of websites that will get your camp stocked in no time.

Cabelas
Sierra Trading Post
Campmor
Eco Lips
Burt’s Bees
REI
EZ Up Direct

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

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Not on the list, but an oh-so-nice detail.

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one of the reasons we go

I’d hate for you to think I ONLY Glamour camp. Not so. Here’s proof.

A blister to beat all blisters

Coming out. A blister the size of Texas hobbled me the last 12 miles of hiking. Made for great stories later.

The Only Girl. 6 days of grueling backpacking.Some of the best flyfishing in the world.  An icy cold beer to welcome us back to civilization!

The celebrated end of a not-so-glamorous backpacking/camping trip. Backountry. Wind River Mountain Range, Wyoming. Only girl.

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So You Want To Be a Glamour Camper?

Glamour Camping

Definitely NOT me. But my long-term tent is like this, as in it's the same size. This is Judy, the glamour camping Queen. But I did take the pic. She gives me something to strive for. Or not.

As a long-time camper I’ve morphed over the years from a pup tent with a ¼ inch mat to cushion my body against the ground to a more luxurious camping experience. Once or twice a year the one-man tent and the mat still come out for a backpacking foray to fish for wild trout in backcountry streams, albeit the mat has grown to a ¾ inch thick cushion. Once a year for a 10-12 day stay my husband and I pull out all the stops and glamour camp “glamp” in a remote part of Wyoming.  All the other times which approximate ten to fifteen 2-3 night stays, fall somewhere in between on the comfort scale.

Wyoming Glamour Camp

Two weeks in the wilderness for two couples. Not exactly roughing it!

The single piece of equipment that sets apart the long glamping trip from all the other camp-outs, is the tent.  For the Wyoming annual outing we purchased a 10 ft. x 18 ft. tent, large enough to enter from either end standing upright all the way through. We dubbed it the B.A.T. as in Big Ass Tent.  The initial cost was $300. We’ve used it 4 times, which breaks down into a lodging cost of about $8 per night ($300 / 40 nights).  The effort expended to set it up precludes using it for shorter trips.

Camping Tablescape

Wyoming wildflower centerpiece.

flyfishing on the North Platte, Wyoming

One Mile Upstream from Camp - North Platte River, Wyoming

Before we get to the good part, here are other camping related posts you might like:

Camping  Etiquette

Glamour Camping: What to Pack

Now back to the good part.  Assuming you want to pursue camping outings in the range of say 2-5 nights, you don’t want to do the crawl around on your hands and knees routine, and you’re starting from ground zero or your equipment is outdated, here’s a list of basic items I recommend you consider.  Since a good night’s sleep is so critical, this article will cover the basics for that. In my opinion once you have that down, everything else is a piece of cake.  And short of that if you’ve got plenty of rest, you can handle the other potential mishaps that are inherent to interaction with the great outdoors.

  • A tent in the range of 9 ft. x 12 ft. with a large “D” opening on the side (not end) will provide a moderate amount of space and be quick to set up.  You’ll want to ensure there’s a gear loft and gear pockets in it for storage. Tents have come a long way in the ease to set-up department. Color codings on the tent poles, amenities such as gear lofts and pockets, and various ventilation extras will surprise you if you’ve not seen a new tent in the last 5 years.  A new tent purchase comes with everything you need to set it up (rain fly, stakes, instructions, poles, guy wires, etc.), with the exception of a ground cloth.  However, I recommend purchasing a separate set of heavy-duty tent stakes in lieu of those that are included. You’ll need to purchase a ground cloth, which does NOT come with the tent.  The ground cloth should be a heavy duty plastic tarp, about the same size as the footprint of the tent (bigger is better here because you can tuck under the excess – too small and you’ll still have a wet tent floor which is what you’re attempting to prevent). This is laid on the ground first; erecting the tent over it and then tucking any visible ground cloth in under the tent once the tent is completely staked (do not stake the ground cloth to the tent!). The ground cloth is critical to keeping the floor of the tent dry in rainy weather, or even heavy dew.  If the tarp is larger than the tent and you leave the ground cloth showing it’ll gather water which will seep in between the floor of the tent and the ground cloth, and you’ll have a wet floor.  Misery will be the result.  A rain fly keeps the top dry, a ground cloth the bottom. Both are critical.
  • A hammer for pounding in stakes should be thrown permanently into the tent bag.
  • Bedding has also come a LONG way. Several years ago we began searching for a way to get the bed off the floor of the tent and discovered they now make frames that stand about the same height from the floor as a normal bed. The frame we purchased from Cabela’s has a pocket into which you insert an inflatable mattress so you never have to worry about sliding off the frame. Tip: partially inflate the mattress then insert into the pocket before topping it off. We purchased a Queen size Coleman inflatable mattress and the Queen sized stand and now camp with a bed that sleeps almost as well as any bed you could hope for.  Another wonderful advantage of the frame is the storage underneath.  We shove tons of stuff that won’t be needed until the tear-down under the bed and out of sight.  The frame folds neatly into its own container for storage.

The 9×12 tent I spoke of previously holds a Queen sized bed with plenty of walk around room.

Tip:  inflatable mattresses expand and contract with temperatures.  To keep the bed comfortable, take the time to add some air at the end of a cool day.  But be careful! If the temperature swings are broad, overfilling can potentially result in a busted seam during the days rising temps.

  • Look for a mattress that comes with a BATTERY powered inflating unit (Coleman includes these with their beds) since there won’t be an electrical outlet in your tent!  Purchase plenty of appropriate batteries for the unit.   DON’T FORGET THE BATTERIES.

Perform a test run of setting up the bed/frame/mattress at home just to make sure everything works.

  • Since we sleep on a Queen sized bed at home, sheets are not a factor. I’ll grab a set of my nicest sheets (cotton, not flannel  — unless you plan to sleep in the raw, flannel works like Velcro and every turn will be work) and the appropriate blankets from the closet just prior to a trip. Take more blankets than you think you’ll need. Even though you’ll be in a tent, 3-season tents typically mean part of the “ceiling” is mesh.  The rain fly will keep you dry, but you’re sleeping in the great outdoors. You can always remove cover but if you don’t bring it, you can’t add it.  Note: A down blanket is great for camping; light weight and lots of loft and warmth = sweet dreams.
  • An inflatable mattress repair kit should be thrown permanently into the bed container.
  • I sleep with my head elevated so I bring pillows from home.
  • A small LED headlamp is indispensible in camp and I wear one around my neck during the day so that at nightfall I’m not searching for it. And since we’re talking about sleeping comfort, that sweet little headlamp means you can read in bed for a bit before drifting off to the sound of crickets or frogs or owls or nightingales or loons or all of the above.

Oh yes, KIDS!  Assuming they’re old enough for a separate tent (and I have been with all the above recommendations for you), a basic tent with army cots and blankets (again this means you have some storage space beneath the cot) or sleeping bags/pad will have them thinking they’re in heaven.  Hang a small headlamp around their neck, put some flashlights in their tent, and nighttime entertainment will never be an issue.

Come back next week and I’ll cover basic equipment for the rest of the camp site and additional tips to make camp-outs something you’ll daydream about.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

For me, since there’s no travel more rewarding, relaxing, or stimulating (the last two are not mutually exclusive) as road trips, the following travel tips are worthy of this abbreviated list, as hackneyed as they may be.

And really, I hold little close to the vest, so don’t read these and think “these aren’t secrets, she’s told us all this before.”  Well obviously you can think it, just don’t say it aloud. Unless you want to leave a comment, and then of course you can say just about anything you want because comments make bloggers giddy.

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Like this? This was located with a GPS, wasn't even close to an Interstate, and was within my county of residence (at one time).

Jen Laceda of Folie a`Deux tagged me to share three travel secrets and in turn tap five other travel related bloggers and request they do the same on their blogs. “My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets,” organized by Katie of Tripbase.com states “the aim of this game is to unite travel bloggers in a joint endeavor to create an amazing list of top travel recommendations across the globe to share with the entire travel community.”

I believe this list was initially conceived to reveal favorite destinations, but like the secret whispered in the ear of a friend who passes it on to another friend, who passes it on to another friend, it’s evolved into pretty much whatever the tagged blogger wants to discuss.

  • SRT travel not-so-secret secret #1: Spend the money for a GPS or any device that will allow you to leave a breadcrumb trail (so you can confidently return to where you began). For one day of your trip, take your wallet/purse, the GPS and a camera, leave your maps and guidebooks in the hotel room, and hit the streets.  For an even more intense rush, leave your camera behind as well. Leaving the camera behind takes the most guts. No guts, no travel glories.
  • SRT travel not-so-secret secret #2: Speaking of guts, exit the Interstate if you’re interested in seeing anything other than the sterile, stamped out cities they connect.
  • SRT travel not-so-secret secret #3: Take a weekend road trip and stay within your county of residence.

Five travel bloggers that must now make a post regarding their 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets or more of the American highway system will implode:

Notes From the Road

John Batdorff Photograhy Blog

Travel Dreams & Moonbeams

One.Year.Trip

Postcards & Coasters

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.

Wanderlust and Lipstick, by Beth Whitman

The subtitle for Wanderlust and Lipstick states: “The essential guide for women traveling solo.” My readership on this site approximates 50% male so when Beth asked I review the book, I was reluctant to discuss and recommend something geared specifically towards women. Then I actually read the book.

From cover to cover it’s glutted with resources I’ve not seen all compacted in one tidy place and many with which I was completely unaware. From forums (which have become some of the best sources for hands-on information) to dining guides, to websites covering all modes of transportation timetables, to information on how to handle illness or emergencies, the resources alone make this book worth the purchase price.

Beyond the sheer quantity and usefulness of the resources for traveling the world, the book inspires. Beth has ridden a BMW F650, SOLO, from Seattle to Panama, had a grenade pulled on her in Cambodia, and encountered the monster of giardia in Southeast Asia. Without having to say anything, Whitman’s erudition alone is inspiring. But she doesn’t stop there. Her ability to impart nuggets of wisdom and encouragement tells the reader she’s a woman on a mission – her goal is to see others enjoy the empowerment, liberation and rejuvenation of solo travel. She’s done it, she loves it, and she’s going to make you love it too!

Based on the comments to various posts and other interaction with the male readership on this site, you face the same strongholds towards solo travel that women do (and why wouldn’t you?). There’s logistical, psychological, and sociological issues with solo travel and these issues do not discriminate between the sexes.

So guys, if you’re not comfortable ordering the book for yourself, order it for a woman (or two) in your life and read it before tying on a bow.

Beth’s website, www.wanderlustandlipstick.com is another great resource (and entertaining), with gear reviews http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/wandergear/wander-gear/ and ideas for world travel http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/wander-tales/. Check it out!

The book is $15.95 and can be purchased on the Wanderlust and Lipstick website: http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/books/solo/

SRT readers, let me know if you enjoy this post and/or find it informational. It’s a departure from my normal road trip fare, but worthy of the detour.

Take a Solo Road Trip!

We’re a nation teetering on social burn-out. The multitude of devices designed to bind us together like links in a chain has made it difficult to go to the bathroom and be alone. Articles on efficiency are prolific: how to cut a minute off some task, make your morning shower more efficient, and speed up this or that. And yet I know more discontented people than ever. When the pundits start messing with your morning shower, who wouldn’t be unhappy? It all begs the point, if being continually connected to a large group of people and having your life maximized for efficiency can’t deliver happiness, what’s missing? Some solo time my friends.

Water Drop

Liquid Light

Ester Schaler Buchholz, PhD, an outspoken advocate for solitude, in her 1997 book The Call of Solitude writes: “We live in a society that worships independence yet deeply fears alienation. The earth’s population has doubled since the 1950s and in cities across the world, urban crowding and the new global economy have revolutionized social relationships. Cellular phones now extend the domain of the workplace into every part of our lives; religion no longer provides a place for quiet retreat but instead offers “megachurches” of social and secular amusement; and climbers on top of Mt. McKinley whip out hand-held radios to call home. We are heading toward a time when, according to the New York Times,” portable phones, pagers, and data transmission devices of every sort will keep us terminally in touch.” Yet in another more profound way, we are terminally out of touch. The need for genuine and constructive aloneness has gotten utterly lost, and in the process, so have we.”

More than Dew

Solo road trips (SRT) strike fear in the heart of many. Either the brain conjures up “solitary confinement” and goes downhill from there or the thought of a road trip disgorges memories of the family sedan and their Dad’s mission to see America at 55 mph. But it’s not about getting away, it’s about going somewhere….with yourself. I read an article on solo travel that recommended spending some time on a psychological sofa before heading out on a solo road trip. I beg to differ. The trip IS the psychological sofa. And there’s no astronomical hourly billing attached. Few things in our lives are as liberating, empowering, and rejuvenating as a solo road trip. Yet as good as that sounds, most people have NEVER taken one. Friends can face down a room of professionals in a board room, or the crush of orders coming in for burgers and fries at high noon, but they can’t face the prospect of being alone.

Let’s debunk a myth right off the bat about solo travel. There are those who believe the only experiences that really matter are those you share with someone else. Pifel! That’s my mother’s favorite exclamatory word and provides a more politically correct substitute for my favorite words: bullshit, crap, crapola, and whatacrock. If you asked these people in a question format “do you believe the only experiences that really matter are….” they would likely say “no.” But my SRTs have become a curiosity, and with that I’ve become a curiosity. So I hear feedback about them and I can tell you a lot of it is negative and without any ability to relate. Why? Because deep down they believe the myth and they can’t relate to those of us who don’t. Various friends and family members are so unable to relate to my road trips, they can’t talk about them. Upon my return last fall from 9 days on the open road, a best friend called and said “Okay, it’s just not right you wanting to have all that fun to yourself, and I demand to go with you on the next one.” Judy. Then it wouldn’t be a SOLO road trip. The concept is beyond her; fun should be shared. End of discussion. But it’s not the end. If it were, I’d have nothing else to write. And I’ve plenty to say, so stay tuned.

pink plate

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The Grand Climb

 

Tammie DooleyAbout SRT... I’m a traveler, writer and photographer for whom the open road frequently summons. Adventurous solo road trips are a staple for me, and a curiosity. So I created this website to share them and inspire you to step out and give them a try. Welcome!

A soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone – Wolfgang Von Goethe

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