When you are camping where there are no shower facilities, try this. Spray paint gallon milk jugs flat black. Set it in the sun and, wah lah, shower water.
Just be sure to check the water temperature. It can get pretty hot in the summertime. You can also use hot water for washing dishes or clothes or whatever else you need it for. Next morning, refill and do it all again! 1 gallon per person per day is good.
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Build a good fire at night, it keeps the bugs away. Take all the ingredients for s'mores, a must have for camping. And don't forget the marshmallow sticks.
Make a camp washing machine with a five gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. The plunger does a good job of agitating the water.
I save cereal boxes and use them to stand on after showering to get dry and dressed. Shower stalls are usually full of dirt off people shoes so I open boxes up where they are glued and keep a stack of them in the camper.
Use a blow up air raft, the kind used to float in a pool, as a bed when camping. The air raft carries flat and, when folded, it makes a small package. It is lightweight and it can be used as a float near the campsite if you are camping near water.
A lot of these tips are for tent camping. They are inspired by some hints from an old Boy Scout site.
For a very cheap vacation when you've just married and young, why don't you go camping in your own state. Buy a tent when the season is over and borrow fishing poles or buy them at flea markets.
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I would love to hear other people's camping hints. Here are some of mine:
Hope these suggestions help others and maybe someone has thought up some more.
Have fun camping!
Learned this trick from Girl Scouts...soap the bottom of your cook pots and they won't turn black over the fire. You have to coat them from the rim down the sides.
Break your eggs in a plastic baggie so you don't have breakables like that riding along.
The one item that I find makes our camping trips more enjoyable that I wouldn't have thought of unless someone suggested it to me is a doormat. I put a large doormat outside our tent to reduce the grit and dirt that gets tracked in. Seems pretty obvious, but I took our first couple of trips before someone suggested it to us. Much better now.
Pack your food in clear totes, one for breakfast, one for lunch, one for dinner. Most of the time keeps you from having to dig in all to find what you need.
When you plan to go camping, be sure you take the entire meal for the first night already cooked and prepackaged in foil packets, double-wrapped. It takes a lot of time just setting up camp, and if you have your meal already cooked and ready to warm up on the grill, you can devote all your time to the setting up and placement of the things you'll be using the next morning getting breakfast.
Bake a roast of beef or maybe a couple of chickens with carrots, celery, potatoes and onions, and when it's done, make individual packets of double-wrapped foil with some of everything already cut into bite-sized pieces. Keep them on ice, and when you're ready to eat, place them on the top rack of the grill, and allow them to warm, then fold back the foil and set it on a pie tin and supper is ready. Easy supper and easy clean-up as well. Many times, I'd butter an entire loaf of bread...and many times, it was eaten before we retired for the night. Camping makes everyone hungry, I think.
Plain pound cake is a staple of our camping expeditions. It's good with almost any kind of canned fruit, and will make a good breakfast snack any morning while you're waiting for eggs and grits to cook. If you like raisins, make the pound cake in loaf pans, adding raisins for a nice quick breakfast bread. Easy enough to slice and warm on foil too.
Someone else mentioned using fleece throws for bedding, and I second that and add that they are about the best thing we've found for wrapping around you when you come out of swimming as well. They dry much faster than towels do and are warmer, and they keep you from getting chilled.
Just one little safety tip I'd like to offer and that is to do a good survey of your campsite for anything like broken glass or things stuck into the ground which might trip you in the dark. Experience has been a great teacher.
This is also a safety tip, but actually, I used it to protect my sanity more than anything. I bought tank caps in white and painted a big Red X (using bright red nail polish) on the top of each of my 3 daughters' swimming caps. Anytime I couldn't count three caps, I stopped what I was doing right then until I knew they were safe.
Be sure to take along some card and board games for the rainy days which are sure to come if you're ever camping.
Instead of soda pop, I'd take cases of the small bottles of water, and a large canister of Crystal Lite Lemonade. The kids get a lot less sugar, and drink more water which is really what we want them to do anyway. You can even open a bottle of that water, save a bit of it, and add good dry milk to the bottle, shake it really well, and you have milk for their cereal and for drinking. If they insist on Chocolate milk, add some Nestle's Quick, and it comes in strawberry as well. There are few things as much fun as camping if you are prepared to do some resting along with the fun.
Instead of paper plates, I bought a dozen of the less expensive aluminum pie tins, and we ate from those same pans for years. Nothing tastes as good as hot baked beans eaten from a metal pan with a spoon while sitting around a fire. Kids love to "play" cowboys for most of their lives, believe it or not, and most men enjoy things which are simple too.
Save and take with you as many of the old wire clothes hangers as you can get. I can't tell you how many good uses you'll find for them. You can bend them into loops to hang from tree branches to hold towels, or grocery bags of food, or dirty clothes. They make great "clothes lines" for drying clothes too.
When we go camping, even the grandchildren love to pretend we are pioneers, and we all try to do as many things as we can without a lot of fuss or griping. The "Little House On the Prairie" books have been our source of pioneer information, and they are wonderful.
Our children are all grown now and the grandchildren are quickly getting there, but camping has always been the most pleasurable family experiences we've shared and have provided all of us with the happiest memories.
Go camping. Be safe and make sweet memories.
Julia in Boca Raton, FL