Let’s talk Camping: the most fun to be had on a Friday night for under $25.

So I’ve written about the history side of She Camps History, now let’s talk about camping…

**Disclaimer: I’m not an expert at anything. Be safe, be smart, and ask someone who has done this more than you before you go off into the woods somewhere.

**Other Disclaimer: If you are looking for hardcore backpacking advice, or you are a minimalist or ultralight camper, this post is probably not for you, but feel free to keep reading anyway. But don’t hack on me for my style of camping. We’re all friends here.

Ok. So There are several kinds of camping I enjoy, depending on the day, the weather, the season, and the purpose of the trip. I grew up camping, in pop-ups, Winnebago’s, and in large travel trailers. About the time I hit my teens I didn’t want to share a bed with my sister (Sorry, Sis!) or listen to my father snore (Sorry, Dad!) in such close proximity anymore, so I bought my first tent with my own money, and from then on, I was hooked as a tent camper. I’ve always had dreams to become one of those hardcore ultralight thru hikers, and while someday I may (I’m working on getting the different gear that shift would require) right now, I mostly do what is commonly called “car camping.”

There are two types of camping with this name, usually it implies that you stuff whatever you feel like taking into the car, drive to a nice established campground somewhere (I HIGHLY recommend any of Tennessee’s State Parks) and set up for the weekend. There’s usually a fire ring, a picnic table, a bathhouse, and water spigot somewhere nearby. This is the easy way to get out into nature for the weekend and have a comfy basecamp near hiking trails or historical attractions (whatever floats your boat.) Sometimes, more recently, I’ve seen “car camping” used to refer to people who literally camp in their cars. Often these are solo women campers with a nice little sport wagon or something, who want to be out there doing their thing, but like having doors that lock at night. Again, no judgement here, just go have fun.

Either way, I think this is a great way to break into the awesome world of camping. You can keep this as simple or as complicated as you please, but in my next few camping posts I’m going to talk about what WE do. We being Me, Mr. D, and our 3 now grown daughters who we have camped with since they were each small enough to sleep in the laundry basket. (Tip #1: A laundry basket makes a PERFECT travel crib in a tent, only costs $6, and you can carry your dirty clothes home in it when you are done.)

Sometimes, I want to get away from them all, so I solo camp by myself. Sometimes, my other mom friends and I want to escape them all together and go have a girls weekend on the cheap (TIP #2: camping is a cheap way to have a great Girls’ Weekend.) Other times the Mr. and I have gone away alone together with a tent. (How romantic!) If the weather is cold? “Camp” in a cabin. Too hot? Torrential rain? Get a camping cabin, or Teepee, or Treehouse, or Yurt… (I haven’t actually stayed in a yurt yet, it’s on my list.) When we made our 2nd cross country trip to Oregon to visit family, we decided we wanted to camp, so we bought a fixer-upper pop-up for around $2000, and popped our way out west. That was an epic camping trip! Since then, I’ve camped in that little camper, with any mix of husband, kids, dogs, friends, kids friends… you name it, we’ve camped it. I think this kind of camping is a great way to get out there and see America.

In my next camping post, I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of what to pack, but for now (Unless you’re in a hurry to hit the trail) I want to give you some food for thought. Take a minute to figure out what kind of trip you want to go on. Where, when, why, what time of year? What will the weather be like? What’s your budget? And how flexible are you? I think that one is important. the more flexible you are willing to be, the more successful your trip will be, especially if you are taking kids, or you are new to this whole thing. I’ll show you how you can do this on a very limited budget (we started camping as newlyweds on an E-5 Navy salary in 1998.) We are still using a lot of that gear we bought 20-ish years ago, and its still working fine. So, here’s your homework: make yourself a little outline, think a little bit about what it is you hope to accomplish, and when I come back, I’ll tell you what my 10 essentials are, and what I would pack for a 3 day “weekend.” (TIP #3: Weekdays are way less busy in the parks if you can swing it.) See you soon!

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