The First Time Camper – Top Travel Tips

With summer comes the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the long warm days and the cool crisp nights. It’s a time to leave the confines of the city and head to seclusion of the wild. Leaving your cares and worries behind, so you can simply relax and in turn, relax simply. It’s time to go camping.

So, let’s be honest, for some people the mere thought of camping is far from a vacation. To others, however, it’s a great escape; a chance to spend time outdoors and to reconnect with the spirit of nature. Now, if you’re a first time camper it is important for you understand a few things up front. Unlike staying in a traditional hotel or condo, you have to differentiate between essential items to pack and those that are more luxurious and probably not needed. For example: will you be staying in place that has cell phone service or Wi-Fi? Do you need an entire make-up bag or can you get by with just a few basic items? Most importantly, how do you plan to stay warm, dry, and fed during your camping trip? The key to safe and successful camping is knowing what necessities to bring with you and what to leave behind.

Your needs may be very different depending on the type of camping you plan on doing. If you are camping in a rustic cabin, tent camping at a campground, or hiking into the woods and pitching a tent they will all call for varying items. Since it is a good idea to have some camping experience under your belt before you go off deep into the woods, your best bet is to start by reserving a campsite at a campground. Even then, there are some important thing to consider when packing for your trip.

Utilities

Before you even start to make a list of items to pack, be sure to find out if the campground has available utilities. If they do not provide electricity, for example, then bringing that plug in cappuccino machine won’t be of much use. Alternatively, you can bring battery operated equipment, but be sure to take additional batteries. If the campground offers running water and hot showers, then you don’t have to worry about taking gallons of water to weigh you down. Finally, find out if there is a grill or fire pit provided so you can plan on how you will be cooking your meals. Getting this information ahead of time will go a long way in avoiding unneeded frustration later.

Weather- Plan for Rain

As much as we would all like to think that our trip will be rain free and that weather forecasting is a perfect science, the fact is, it is always best to plane for the worst. This means planning for both rain and sunshine alike. There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night, only to find the floor of your tent soaking wet. So regardless of the forecast, place a tarp or large piece of plastic under your tent to help keep you dry. Also, be sure to have plenty of seam sealer and duct tape, just in case you spring a leak… or two.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to also pack some ponchos, raincoats, or umbrellas as well. These items can help you stay dry so that you can still enjoy your activities even when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. I always like to bring additional socks with me, too. Since there is no clothes dryer nearby, it is pretty miserable to have to go around with wet feet. These items don’t take up much room, so they’re worth adding to your list to pack.

Protect Your Skin

While it can be fun soaking up the warmth of the hot sun, it’s no so fun getting a nasty sunburn. The sun can be deceiving, so make sure to bring sunscreen with a high enough SPF level to keep your skin protected. Generally, this is going to be a SPF of 30 or higher and I tend to prefer the type that won’t run with sweat. Be mindful of younger children, the elderly, and those with fair skin may need a stronger version. Having a hat with a visor to wear while you are out walking, by the lake, or on the water will add an additional layer of protection during those unexpected heat waves.

Protect Yourself from Insects

Regardless where you camp, a few different kinds of insects will probably cross your path. Bring at least one can of insect repellent with you on your trip. You will most likely enjoy the outdoors a lot more if you’re not spending all of your time swatting away pesky pests. That being said, be sure to check your clothes for any insects that might be hiding in there.

Thick Layers

Because warm days can quickly turn to chilly nights, you will want to pack for all occasions. Go ahead and throw a swim suit in your bag, but you will also want to pack a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and a sweatshirt. If you are camping in a warm climate you may not be concerned about the chilly nights, but it is still important to think ahead, consider weather patterns, and pack accordingly. Bottom line; it is always better to peel layers off than to wish you had brought warmer clothing.

Food

One of the greatest things about camping is being able to experiment with cooking. Whatever you decide to cook on your trip, also consider the essential tools to make the process easier. Tinfoil works wonders when cooking vegetables, for example, and don’t forget to bring a spatula or grilling fork if you’re cooking meat. As much as you might like to only pack paper plates and plastic utensils, you will not be very happy when your plastic fork melts while flipping steaks over the campfire. This doesn’t mean you have to pack the whole kitchen (after all the goal is to pack light), but you will want a few multipurpose tools to make your cooking experience a little easier. Finally, if you are packing meats, condiments, or dairy products, be sure to have large enough cooler that will maintain temperature during your trip. Remember, depending on where you are staying, ice may not be readily accessible. You don’t want your food to spoil before it can be eaten.

Planning for a camping trip may seem like a lot of work, but planning ahead and ridding your packing list of unnecessary items can help simplify the process. When all is said and done, the most important things to consider are your basic fundamental needs: food and water, shelter, clothing, and safety. Everything else is optional and can only add to the enjoyment of your camping experience.

Camping is an opportunity to reconnect with nature, enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, and experience a different way of life. Enjoy the essence of camping by leaving a few luxuries behind and getting away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday routine. By keeping it simple and planning ahead, camping can be a fun and stress free way to enjoy the great outdoors while spending quality time with friends and family.

Outdoor Gear Care Tips – How to Clean a Backpack Like a Pro

You tried, after that last hiking “incident” you swore it would never happen again. But who could have guessed that the rock would have been so slippery? Now, your best backpack is filthy, dirty both inside and out. And it’s still sitting outdoors because of the spoiled food smells. What should you do now: clean it or throw it away? Once you know how to clean a backpack using the following tips, you never have to worry about throwing a “nasty” backpack ever again.

Cleaning a Backpack Inside

o Turn the backpack completely inside out. If it has metal stays, remove them and set them aside. Dump any debris out onto a newspaper. Use a soft brush to clean off any dried dirt or residue. If you have one available you can always, use a vacuum with a brush attachment.

o Wash off the interior using a little mild detergent with a damp sponge or cloth.

o Be sure to clean in all the nooks and crannies and seams. Use an old toothbrush to dig in deep.

o Rinse using cold water and clean sponge or cloth.

o Use paper towels to dry the interior of the bag completely.

Cleaning a Backpack Outside

1. Turn the backpack right side out now. Use a dry brush to remove any loose dirt or dried mud.

2. Wash off the exterior using a little mild detergent (dishwashing liquid with degreaser) with a damp sponge or cloth.

3. Be sure to clean in all the pockets, flaps and seams. Use an old toothbrush to clean around the edging.

4. Rinse using cold water and clean sponge or cloth. You can submerge the whole pack into tub of cold water or use a hand held shower head or hose to remove all traces of soap both inside and out.

5. Hang the backpack upside down to air dry for several days, preferably outdoors. DO NOT use the dryer.

6. If the backpack is still funky smelling, spray with Fabreze® or hunters’ Scent-A-Way®. But be careful because these may remove waterproofing chemicals like Scotch-Guard ®

7. Store in a cool dry place. Don’t cover with plastic.

Cleaning a Camping Backpack in the Washer (if all else fails)

o DO NOT soak in soapy water. This could cause the layers of the backpack to delaminate or any waterproofing to deteriorate.

o Follow the steps 1-3 from above.

o Place the backpack in the washer. Wash with cold water only on the delicate cycle with a very mild laundry detergent (Ivory Flakes or Woolite). Rinse and let air dry for several days.

o NOTE: This method is for using at the last resort ONLY. Cleaning a camping backpack in the washer can cause the materials in the pack to fall apart. So machine wash at your own risk!

Backpack Zipper Care

Clean a backpack zipper is really easy. First, use an old toothbrush to clean out any sand, salt or dirt and mud from the zipper teeth. Vacuum if necessary to remove debris. Trim any stray or loose threads to prevent tangling. Spray very lightly with a silicone spray, occasionally to lube.

Now that you know how to clean your best backpack, you never have to toss out a malodorous backpack again.

Affordable Travel Packages: Tips for Choosing the Ideal Vacation Package for Your Upcoming Trip

Finding and choosing the right vacation package has never been easier. There are so many tools on the internet to help you find discount hotel deals, bargain airfare, and more. Whether you’re looking for last minute deals or all-inclusive vacations, all you have to do is look over affordable travel packages and compare all of the offers. Which one is ideal for your travel needs?

When evaluating a package, one of the important things to consider is accommodation. There are so many types of accommodation, including budget hotels, chain hotels, hostels, cabins, inns, large resorts, serviced apartments and condos, etc. If you plan on spending most of your trip outdoors and have access to reliable transportation such as a rental car or bus, it’s okay to stay at a cheap hotel with basic amenities.

Do you really need an all-inclusive package? Are the “inclusions” even worth paying for? It all depends on what you really want out of a vacation. For most people, airfare, clean room, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi is enough. Before selecting an all-inclusive package, ask yourself if you can do without some of the stuff it comes with.

Another important consideration is location. There can be hotels all over a city. Don’t think that just because you’re getting a room at a low price that you will be saving money. Depending on its location, you could end up paying more on a car rental, bus, or taxi. You might not even have to rent a car if your hotel is located walking distance from all of the places you plan to visit. At the very least, there should be a supermarket within walking distance so you can grab a few necessities.

Beware of Scam Affordable Travel Packages

Always know EXACTLY what you are booking and paying for. Don’t get scammed by so-called “affordable travel packages” that have hidden fees. Not that all of them do – some really are good bargains. You still need to be careful. It also helps to read the terms and conditions to understand the cancellation process. Some packages will charge you money if you have a change of plans and have to cancel. You might even come across some no-refund type of offers.

Use Google Maps or some other type of interactive street map for a better understanding of where a hotel is located in relation to restaurants, shops, bus stations, the airport, train stations, beach, etc. Having an idea of where everything is located will make it easier to sort through affordable travel packages.

Where can you find the most affordable travel packages? At online websites, there are some amazing deals to be found. Whether you to go on a cruise, fly to a big city, stay at a ski resort, etc., just use online discount codes to get a good bargain.

Outdoor Backpack Buying Tips

Buying an outdoor backpack can be a challenging task. There are various sizes, colors, shapes and of course brands and qualities. So how do you determine which outdoor backpack is best suited for your needs? This article will help you with that by giving you some tips what to look for when you want to purchase one.

The first thing you should look at is where you are going to use the backpack for. Outdoor backpacks come in so many specialized designs, there are hiking backpacks,fishing backpacks,backpacks for water sports and so on. These different backpacks all have their own functionality but you may not need all of those extras. If for example you need an outdoor backpack for a day trip, you don’t need one that can carry a tent or a sleeping bag and also probably don’t need a lot of storage space so a smaller day pack would be fine. When on the other hand you need a backpack to go on a weekend hiking trip, you Will need the space to carry all the necessary items along. If your outdoor activities bring you close to water like kayaking or rafting, it’s wise to look at a more waterproof outdoor backpack. So determine the usage of the backpack as well as the environment you are going to use it in.

Also look at how many times a year you will use the backpack. If it’s for a one time event, a lower quality backpack might be fine,but when you use it more often you’re going to have a lot more fun buying a good quality backpack. This will cost you more but certainly is worth the money.

It is very important that you buy a backpack that fits you well. There is nothing more frustrating then being on an outdoor trip and having back pain or a sore shoulder because your backpack isn’t the right size or adjusted to your body. So it’s better to look for an outdoor backpack that has adjustable straps that you can adjust to your length and body measurements. Look for the backpacks that have a waist band. The waist band will take the weight of your back and let you carry it on your hips. Make sure you adjust the waist band tightly around your hips and after that adjust your shoulder straps. Again, a correctly adjusted outdoor backpack can save you a lot of back pain.

Backpacks also come with a lot of different compartments. If you go on a longer hiking trip you may want to have a compartment for a handheld gps, or for your cell phone that is easily accessible. If you carry your tent and sleeping bag along you may want to look at easy storage compartments that are accessible through zippers on top and bottom of your backpack. This comes in handy when you need an item that is stored on the bottom of your backpack so you don’t need to empty the whole backpack to get to it, but simply open the bottom zippers. When you are hiking in a more challenging dry, hot environment you may want to look for an outdoor backpack that has a hydration pack included. This is a build in water tank that enables you to drink out of a attached water tube without using your hands or holding a water bottle. Also a good backpack for mountain biking or other sports activities.

When you buy your outdoor backpack it’s important that you take your time. If you buy a good quality backpack it will last a very long time and it will be your closest buddy on your outdoor trip. Good luck in your search and have a great outdoor adventure!

5 Awesome Fall Camping Tips To Make Your Trip More Enjoyable

Many campers love to schedule their trips during autumn season. It’s no surprise though – with the cool weather and the breath-taking fall foliage, you’ll definitely want to be outdoors. There are plenty of fun activities you can enjoy during your fall camping trip. Whether you’ll be camping solo, with family or your camping buddies, autumn season offers numerous options to make your outdoor adventure more fun!

Follow these 5 awesome fall camping tips to make your trip more memorable:

Prepare for the cool weather

Even though summer just ended, you should be prepared for cool weather. Autumn weather is very unpredictable – it could be hot and sunny during the day, but very cold once the sun goes down. You wouldn’t want your trip to be ruined because you keep waking up in the wee hours of the morning cold and shivering.

That’s why you need to come prepared – pack layers of clothing and be ready for a variety of conditions. Make sure your tent and sleeping bag can keep up with the cold, too!

Schedule your cooking times

An important thing to keep in mind is that the days are shorter during cool seasons and more importantly, food takes longer to cook when the weather is cold. Schedule your cooking times accordingly to ensure that you enjoy your mealtimes – be sure you cook dinner and clean up before the sun goes down!

Be bear-aware

Any camper knows that taking safety precautions against bears and other wildlife is always a must, but be extra careful during fall season. Wildlife become more active around this time looking for and stocking up on food as winter nears.

Keep your food in tight, sealed containers away from your tent and make sure you properly dispose of your garbage.

Go Apple or Pumpkin Picking

There are numerous apple orchards in the country and many are near campsites. If you’re lucky enough to have one near your chosen campsite, consider apple picking during the day. To get even more in the spirit of autumn, you can also opt to go pumpkin picking. You can also bring your own pumpkins to carve around the campfire! The kids will love it!

Collect Leaves

Fall foliage is breath-taking with beautiful hues of red, orange and yellow. This makes leaf collecting a great camping activity during the autumn season! Collect different colors, sizes and shapes and place them on a scrapbook as memorabilia.

Follow these fall camping tips to make your outdoor trip more memorable!