WTF are these people on????
Amongst the – serious – tips I read were:
- Cut up a straw and fill the pieces with antibiotic ointment or toothpaste for single-use packets
- Make travel coffee bags out of coffee filters and dental floss
Personally, if I didn’t have much room in my toiletries bag I’d just buy a smaller tube of toothpaste, or take the one I’d been using at home and roll up the end. And if you can’t fit a small tube of antibiotic ointment in your first aid kit, then you need a bigger first aid kit.
As for home made coffee bags – yewww. (I have heard that’s a good word these days, but I haven’t changed the meaning yet!). If you want real coffee (I do), then it’s just as easy to put a stove top percolator on the fire as it is to boil water for instant coffee (two words that really should never be used together). I’m so obsessive about my coffee I also heat my milk in a tin coffee cup and froth it with my milk frother for a real latte.
The thing to remember about camping is it’s supposed to be easy, and relaxed. If you have to go to the trouble of cutting up straws, filling them up and sealing the ends, then you’ve lost the point of the whole exercise.
I know I’m lucky – I have a car that’s designed for camping, and fitting in camping gear. Not everyone has that luxury, but I’ve seen plenty of people in ordinary sedans or hatchbacks out camping while I’ve been travelling. The thing they all have in common? Simple pack ups, and taking only the essentials.
My tips for an easy and fun camping experience:
- Keep it simple. You’re out there to have fun and get close to nature, not to have the best set up camp on the block! If you do that you’re more likely to look like a wanker than you are to impress anybody else.
- Unless you’re doing lots of camping and going out for long periods of time (in which case you probably don’t need these tips at all) you don’t need purpose built camp kitchens to pack your cooking gear in – a plain box will do. Doc and I packed things into boxes for ages before we fitted the cars out with drawers. If you pack things into separate boxes (ie cooking gear in one, food in another, recovery gear/car parts into another) you can find what you want quickly and easily. Boxes also pack very neatly into the back of the car or the boot.
- As long as your kitchen pots & pans can withstand direct fire (that is, if you have battered old saucepans like most of us) take them. If you don’t want to use your kitchen pans go to an op shop and buy old second hand ones. New ones are only going to look like that after one use anyway!
- If I was going to recommend one essential cooking item it would be a billy. It can be used as a deep saucepan or just for boiling water for a cup of tea. Even for cooking two things at once! A good billy is designed so that you can put the handle at an angle and pour hot things straight out without the need for oven mitts or tea towels. “Billy’s are magic” as one young child said to me.
- Pack your clothes into a soft sports bag. It makes them much easier to pack into the car as a the bag can be squeezed in between other items. If your clothes & toiletries don’t fit into a small sports bag – take some out, you’re taking too much with you.
- Take only the essentials. Lots of things are “nice to have”, but they take up space in your car and you probably won’t get around to using them anyway. What is essential depends on where you’re going, and how long you’re going for – more on that in another blog.
- Don’t panic about food and cooking. You don’t want to spend all your time slaving over a campfire, but the reality is if you can cook it at home, you can cook it out camping. I take basic ingredients rather than ready cooked meals so I can cook whatever I feel like at the time – or just have biscuits & cheese and a glass of wine. If you have to heat something up, you might as well cook it from the beginning. I’ll do more on cooking in a separate blog as well.
- Go camping yourself first to see what works for you and what doesn’t, and what type of products would make the experience better and easier for you before you buy anything that looks like it would be a “good idea”. If you haven’t been camping before and want to try it out – I’m here to help!
The most important thing is to relax. It’s supposed to be fun, not hard work. The one tip I read that I really did like was:
- If you come home in the same clothes you left in, you’ve had a good time