I love camping so much. The feeling of hot air and fresh, green, grass cuddling my mud covered feet makes me feel as if it’s the closest I can get to nature during the day light hours. Whilst the cosiness of laying under a snugly sleeping bag watching stars glide across the midnight sky with the people I love the most. I’m happy when I almost have no choice but to be in the elements. It makes me appreciate the things I have when I am at home and I love the personal tradition of taking something that I learnt home; making a bivvywac or extra prompt cards in mindfulness.
However, this will be my first time, camping as a Minimalist. Although, I have packed up at least ten times the last two years, I am yet to do it as a traditional camper. Using this as a guide, here were the questions I needed to ask myself first. By doing this, I made packing a lot easier and it didn’t take me as half as much time or carry as half as much stuff as I have done in the past!
Now that my packing has been done, here’s my advice to pass onto you.
Note to self: It’s always best to make a check-list that I can easily get access too, before or during a trip, so that I don’t forget to pack anything!
1. What will the weather be like?
If it’s raining or cold, you might need more layers of clothing as well as more in the tent activities to take with. If the ground is wet, it’d be best for everybody to fit in a tent comfortably. Try not to over-pack as this could make finding things you do need harder, plus the time it would take to un-pack and then pack up, much longer, which is something we could always do without.
If you’re unsure about the weather, or the weather is mixed, take a light rain jacket and rain trousers if you have them. Boots if it looks like it could be heavy rain. You are your best judgement on this one. Be wise and try not to over pack.
2. Who are you going with?
What you take, depends on who you camp with. What you might take alone, with friends or with your girl guiding group will vary quite a lot. For girl guiding, I didn’t have to worry about a tent and food as that was already provided, but I did need to take my own activities. For a group of friends, it might be the other way round. Your job could be to provide the tent, whilst another friend brings the food and someone else is in charge of the entertainment.
3. Do you know what is available in the place that you are staying in?
Modern camp sites will always have a proper toilet system and toilet paper. Some will have running showers and less traditional camp sites will have washing clothes facilities, charging points and wi-fi. Do you know if you need to cash for out-of-camp activities? Last time I went, I unexpectedly needed cash to go to the shop as we got Ice Cream at a local garden place. A ball, some bats and a card game is always your best bet if you haven’t got a clue what will be around.
4. How much can you get away with not taking something?
Perhaps, you know how to hand wash your underwear or let the sweat dry out in the heat if it doesn’t bother you, so you could pack less clothing? Perhaps, you don’t need to bother with a bikini because you already know that you’re not going into any lakes? Do you really need to bring oats, if you’re more of a cold cereal person? Could you get away with not bringing a cooler at all? Could you share a lot of your toiletries between 3 or more people? Do you really need to bring 2 man tents for 8 people, if you can get 8 people into 1 tent? Do you need matches if you’re already taking a lighter?
5. Try to go without Technology if you can
For some people (myself included) the whole point of camping is to get away from the temptation of technology. Sometimes taking a basic phone and a video-recorder and camera is handy for capturing memories and communicating with the outside world, but it really is best to leave Facebook and Work E-mails at home, to really get involved in the whole nature of camping.
If you wanted too, you could chat with your group before going. If everybody is taking technology, then you can freely do the same. If not, it might be harder to connect as a group if one person is constantly on their phone, checking emails or updating Facebook. If you are worried about forgetting the memories, write it down on paper or take a camera. Easy solution, sorted!
My personal fear about leaving my phone behind, is with music. I exercise, meditate, write, shower, eat and sleep with music on. It’s encouraging for getting me into the mood. I have found that my journal is the best source for replacing my music, especially for sad thoughts at night and exercising to a rhythm.
6. Is there potential to get stressed out, for mental health or physical health to get triggered?
A lot of campers leave this part out when they talk about Minimalist Camping or camping in general. As someone who is a mental health sufferer, I know that if I don’t bring something to help keep my mental health in check, the camping memories might not go the way I would like.
I personally recommend a notebook and pen to write down your thoughts, a book to escape and a tennis ball to kick or hit for frustration. If you can, a fidget cube can calm most people or especially if someone struggles to sit still, be around people or sleep without music. I know personally, that I’ll need those things. Another thing is this: It’s vital that everybody takes their medication for their health – physical or mental.
Another tip is for stressful situations: A s a regular Guide’s and Brownies camper, I know first hand just how hard it can be to putt up tents and lighting fires. More so, if some people you are with don’t know how to do it or if it takes too long or if people are left with more responsibility than the others. To deal with stress whilst out in the woods or near the lakes, set a plan with the people you are with. Guide them if you must, but remember to be patient and be kind. Failing that, if you or someone else needs to cool down their stresses, make sure everybody knows exactly where you/they are going and agree to not move away from that area. Another suggestion is to arrange a ‘stress-point’ when you get there. A place, anybody can go to either argue in private – to not affect the rest of your companions or where you can only go one at a time. If you’re a large group of people, perhaps choose 2 or 3 places. Whatever suits you best. If the people you are with are younger, suggest that 2 of the group go off together until everybody has calmed down.
7. Finally, have fun!
See forgetting things or taking too many things as a learning curve, not a downside. See bad fire-making skills or a soaked body from the rain as a tool to embrace for next time. Welcome bad jokes, snoring strangers and flies in your tent as a way to embrace being alive, out in nature and surrounded by people. You have the chance, to make incredible stories out of your weekend, regardless of packing minimalist or not.
As the time draws nearer, I will write a blog post of the list of items I am taking with me and the list of items that other people will be taking, for comparison. I want to see this as a challenge to be welcomed. Hopefully, I might encourage people – and myself – to live with less on this trip, but we’ll see. That’s not the point of camping, but it’ll be a welcomed bonus, if it is.
Are you off camping soon? What item are leaving behind that you thought you needed, but don’t? What item are you taking with that you thought you didn’t need, but realise that you do?