by Regina Wu
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  • Take the time to check the weather report before you go. As noted above, you can't influence the weather, but you can get a sense of what you'll be facing, from sunshine to downpours to snowstorms. Pack or cancel accordingly. 
  • In the realm of thinking ahead, there are some things that you can control. Plan your meals, inspect your equipment, and make a list and check it twice before you leave. This will spare you some stress and reduce headaches in the long run.
  • If there are costs to be shared among the group, figure out how you're splitting the bills ahead of time. Remember to account for reservation fees, parking and other permits as necessary, food, and various other potential charges and expenses. Knowing who's financially handling what makes relaxing and having fun together much easier.
  •  Pre-cook and freeze as many meals as possible. Frozen food will keep your ice chest colder longer, and pre-cooking gives you more time to enjoy nature rather than spending hours at the camp stove.
  • Freeze a couple gallon jugs of water to keep in your ice chest. They will last longer than crushed ice, and you can drink the water as it melts. Bonus tip: Frozen margaritas make a good first night of camping treat.
  • Buy firewood from a shop in the vicinity of your campsite. This saves you the trouble (and potential hazards) of carting it in yourself or scrounging it up once you arrive. Bring homemade fire starters to make starting a blaze super-easy.
  • Unpack with re-packing in mind. Don't scatter bags around and lose track of your rain fly. Keep like with like and make departure as easy as arrival.
  • Always set up your tent before it gets dark.
  • A head lamp surrounding a gallon jug of water, bulb side in, creates excellent ambient light for reading or finding things in a dark tent. Assembling this isn't necessarily easier than just turning on a lantern, but it looks cool, it's cheap, and you can drink the water if you get thirsty in the middle of the night.
  • Designate spaces for site necessities as soon as you arrive: campfire, cooking, eating, cleaning, tent, trash, storage. Knowing where everything needs to go will make unloading and set up much simpler.
  • Place a welcome mat and a sturdy 5-gallon bucket with a lid at your tent entrance. This gives you a place to sit and take off your shoes on your way in and put on your shoes on the way out. Shoes can go directly into the bucket when not in use, significantly reducing dirt tracked into your tent. A solar garden light at the entrance is also a nice touch to help find your way in the dark.
  • Pack extra trash bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil, and gallon sealable bags. They come in handy in all sort of ways you'll discover once you're out there.
  •  Always put water on to boil when you sit down to a meal. That way, it will be ready for dishes and hot beverages by the time you are finished eating.
  • When you wake up in the morning, fold your pajamas, clean socks, and beanie or warm cap inside your pillowcase or sleeping bag to keep them clean and make them easier to find in the dark when you go to bed that night.

by Regina Wu


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