Spending time outside in nature is one of the best parts of summer, and the best way to fully immerse yourself in it is to go camping. Depending upon your personality and travel style, you may choose to rough it in a tent or bring some of the comforts of home with you in an RV. For a unique experience, you could rent a cabin at a park or go “glamping” in a stylish yurt. But however you choose to camp, you can make your experience healthier and eco-friendlier with a few simple choices.
Here are some tips for having the best summer camping season imaginable.
Pack Reusable Items
Washing dishes in a campground bathroom or lugging dirty dishes back home with you might not sound like fun, but camping is not an excuse to produce excess waste. Instead of packing paper plates and utensils, bring reusable cooking and eating tools with you, along with some washing supplies – biodegradable soap, sponge, and a small bucket.
Use Refillable Water Bottles
These days, there really are very few times when you ever need to use a throw-away plastic bottle – and camping isn’t one of them. Rather than bringing along a big case of water bottles to stay hydrated during your camping trip, bring several reusable bottles to fill up at your campground. If you’ll be in the backcountry with no water available, bring along a large bulk water container that holds at least several gallons of water to fill your reusable bottles.
Slather on Natural Sunscreen and Bug Spray
No one wants to come home from a camping trip with sunburns and bug bites, but you don’t need slather your skin with chemicals to stay protected. There are many alternatives to the standard commercial products that work just as well (or better) for fighting UV rays and swarming insects. Natural insect repellents include citronella, catnip, garlic, lavender, and neem oil. You can also make your own DIY recipe for summer sunscreen.
Avoid Poisonous Plants
In addition to mosquitoes and UV rays, you’ll also want to do your best to avoid poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Do a little reading before your camping trip to learn what these plants look like in the wild, what the symptoms are, and how to treat rashes caused by plants.
Pack and Cook Healthy Camp Foods
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you need to switch to a diet of hot dogs and potatoes chips. While roasting s’mores over an open fire is still deliciously essential and should be done at every possible camping opportunity, there are lots of ways to eat natural, whole, and healthy foods in the great outdoors. Consider making your own energy bars or trail mix at home to pack before your trip and prepare meals at home to make camping cooking easy. A quick internet search will yield you dozens of delicious camping-friendly recipes for chili, fajitas, flatbread pizza, overnight oats, and more.
Leave No Litter Behind
Your trash doesn’t magically disappear when you leave a campsite, and it often blows away out into the wilderness to pollute waterways and harm wildlife. When you’re done camping for the weekend, pack out all of your trash and recycle or compost as much as you can. Bring reusable trash bags from home to make these tasks easier.