When I tell someone that I have a camping business, I’m usually met with one of two responses — either the person on the other side of the conversation is crazy enthusiastic about exploring or they’re frantically ready to pick my brain about all the ways they can be more comfortable while camping.
Both reactions to the camping world are equally valid.
As people, we have a natural fight or flight instinct. If things get uncomfortable or feel too far outside of our comfort zone, we’re naturally read to flee. Because of those experiences, many people also feel hesitant to go camping, even when their spouse says it’s time to pack up and go make some new memories with the kiddos.
How do I know? I was like that too. Until we bought our first camper, I was very camping hesitant, but one night in, I knew I could make this type of travel work for our family. The key? Keep it comfortable and everyone will stay happy.
Here are 5 ways I stay comfortable while camping. Buckle up, because this isn’t the advice a survivalist, self-proclaimed outdoors enthusiast, or person who grew up “roughing it” (ugh) will give you. Instead, this is my advice to anyone who just wants to get a good night of sleep while still getting a view of the stars.
Comfortable Camping Tip #1: Bring Three Types of Cups
Cups? Comfortable? Heck yes. But if you ask a hardcore outdoorsy person, they’ll tell you to pack light and never pack more than you need. Three cups seems a little overkill, I’ll admit.
While there’s a place for the ultimate light packing strategies, RVing doesn’t have to be one of those times. Yes, save the weight, but no, a couple of extra cups aren’t going to add to that weight enough to make or break your towing capabilities.
These are the three cups I love having available while camping.
- A covered mug that will keep my coffee hotter for longer in the morning (because sipping coffee with kids around just isn’t as easy to do as some might think)
- A 32 oz or bigger water bottle that helps remind you to stay hydrated just by being in your presence. You see it. You drink it. You don’t get a headache at the end of the day.
- A mug for the fun drinks, whatever that might be — cocktail, mocktail, wine, beer, hard sparkling seltzer, you name it.
Comfortable Camping Tip #2: Bring Layers (and Yes, Blankets Count as Layers)
When I’m packing for our camping trips, the goal is to only bring what’s needed. Often that means I leave a layer or two behind for myself. Usually, I regret that decision right about the time when dusk hits and the temps drop. Or, I’ll regret it mid-afternoon when the sun is hot and I wish I’d brought better clothes for the warmer temps. It goes either way but it’s taken practice to get the balance just right.
You know your body, and you know your comfort levels.
While packing, think through three times of the day when you’ll want to be the right temperature. Here’s my strategy and checklist I think through while packing clothes.
- Morning: It’s hard to wake up to the frigid cold. Yet the coldest time of the day is right when the sun rises. Make sure you have some extra snuggly items to cozy up in as you get that morning cup of coffee brewing.
- Afternoon: Temperatures can quickly fluctuate throughout the day. Look at the temperature range for where you’re going and plan your clothes accordingly.
- Evening: Curling up around the campfire is probably one of America’s best pastimes. When you do, you’ll want to be warm, but not too warm because you’re fireside. Having a blanket to throw over your legs or wrap around your shoulders is the perfect way to cozy up after a fun day at the campground.
Comfortable Camping Tip #3: Indulge in Comfort Food
Camp cooking is some of the best cooking around. When you pair that with good company and being outside to enjoy the food, it’s even better. Some of our favorite memories are made while stuffing our face full of whatever we just cooked on our Blackstone or over the campfire.
Probably the most fun part about it is that this comfort food changes with the season, so your meals never get worn out or boring.
Here are some of my go-to meals to cook each season.
- Summer: Charcuterie boards and Pimento dip — light and easy
- Fall: Probably nothing screams cooler temps than campfire chili
- Winter: Beef stew — hearty and warm to the soul
- Spring: Lavender scones (made ahead of time) warmed up and smothered with lavender jam
Comfortable Camping Tip #4: Make Your Poop Plan
Let’s get the obvious out of the way — I could have ordered tip #3 and #4 a little better, because no one likes talking about poop. But the reality is, we all do it, yet pooping while camping is one of the most uncomfortable parts of the experience for some.
A few years ago, as we were getting ready to drive through Raton Pass on our way to Colorado, I realized I probably needed a better poop plan than, “you’ll figure it out.” We were on our way to my husband’s family’s land and would be off-gridding it for 3 nights. I wanted to be respectful about waste but also knew that poop happens. So, before I lost cell service, I Googled, how to poop in the woods.
Tell me you’ve Googled something more embarrassing.
The results I got weren’t very helpful. Sure, I was taught to find somewhere private (duh) and dig a hole so you could leave less of a trace (that was a given too). I also found a few tips on how to burn your toilet paper when you were done, but that wasn’t helpful given that the area we were staying in had a fire ban (imagine that news headline). So, I came up with my own plan. Here it is for any other comfortable campers who want to explore the backwoods:
1. Put together your personal poop packet
In mine, I had wipes, a pet waste bag, and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. I decided that the ground was plenty soft, I could easily dig a hole using a stick or rocks rather than add a small shovel into the mix.
2. Pick a Pocket
Few people like to advertise that they’re going pooping, yet grabbing your poop bag off the table is exactly that — a non-verbal announcement that you’re ready to do some primal business.
Instead, what I did was picked a pocket. For the entire trip, my jacket pocket had my poop bag. It was cold enough that the wipes, waste bag, and hand sanitizer could sit in there without being noticed, ready for when the moment struck.
3. Pick a Spot
When it’s time, you want to know that you’ll have complete privacy to do your thing. When you get to the campsite, scout the area for the best tree or boulder. It probably goes without saying that this tree or rock should be far from your campsite so no one unintentionally digs it up or rain washes it away.
Comfortable Camping Tip #5: Bring Two Pillows
I don’t know if it’s my Danish heritage, or if I’m just human, but there’s something in me that loves a little added fluff while cozying up at night. You too?
When I first started bringing two pillows with me in the camper, I heard it all. They’re extra weight! You don’t need two pillows, we’re camping (said in the type of voice that made me feel like I wasn’t being adventurous enough).
I brought the pillows anyway. *insert sly smirk here*
One time, it came in handy because I, mom of the year, had forgotten a pillow for my oldest son.
Another time, I’d accidentally packed two pillows for my husband *and* myself. Turns out, that trip, he said he slept better than he has in the camper.
Two pillows aren’t just for comfort though. They’re nice added insulation. They’re also nice added fluff when the camping mattress just isn’t as soft as your home mattress. There are benefits, but comfort is probably the biggest one.
How Do You Stay Comfortable While Camping?
Comfort while camping isn’t just some posh thing. Sleep matters. Relaxation matters. The whole reason for hitting the beautiful outdoors is to allow time to stand still for a little bit. If you’re distracted by cold, poor sleep conditions, or worry about how you’ll do the most basic human things, that beauty is lost.
I want to see your comfortable setups. Come tag me in a story on Instagram and show me how you’re hitting the road in comfort and style.