As an avid car camper, or glamper as some might put it, I enjoy getting the most of the outdoors in style.
Whether escaping the city for an evening under the stars or attending my beloved camping music festivals, comfort keeps me focused on having fun rather than the inconveniences camping brings.
I get it. Some prefer the survival aspect of the great outdoors and forgo the luxuries of every day life.
I simply am not one of those people, at least not yet.
I know my survivalist friends out there groan at the thought of glamping but hey, maybe if you’ve joined one of my party camping extravaganzas, I may have a new glamper convinced.
And even if glamping is not your idea of outdoor adventure, there may be a time that you might need to know a few tricks up your sleeve. Hosting a big group? Trying to get your non camping friends out? Music festivals? Who knows? A few glamping tricks may be exactly what you are looking for to spruce up your site.
So to start things off, what are the biggest things to make your campsite more comfortable?
- A good nights sleep
- Great food
- Staying organized
- Creating a fun atmosphere
I don’t think I really need to explain why sleep is important but while camping, it can be a challenge. As my non camping friends ask, ‘why would you ever sleep outside by choice?’
Well, when you figured out a way to make your outdoor sleeping experience comparable to your home, you can now focus on the great joys of being outside at night rather than focusing on the problems of sleeping outside .
Have you ever seen a perfect sky of stars? It’s breathtaking. On warm clear nights I keep the rain fly off so I can literally drift off to the view.
Now when it comes to food, many people enjoy the nostalgia of traditional camp foods. While I do enjoy a hot dog over the open fire now and then, it gets old. I love food. I love to cook. There is really no reason that this has to end while eating outside.
Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean your taste buds have changed. Much of camping is cooking and eating. Let’s make it a meal you’d want to eat.
One thing that always frustrates me while camping is when you can’t find anything at your site. The struggle gets very real when it’s dark and you can’t find a flashlight. Combined with the fact that I’m kind of afraid of the dark, this problem sucks.
I can give countless examples on the annoyance of not being able to find things while camping but I’m going to stop here. I mean, I’m getting a bit annoyed remembering those times anyways.
Lastly, the glampiest component of them all. Ambiance. If you saw my apartment, you would understand. I like to decorate. A LOT. Let me put it this way, at my old job, the first thing I did when I got an office was buy a rug. My office was awesome.
I know it’s not necessary, but it definitely gives my campsite a nice glam feel. Now that you know the key elements of camping in comfort, here is how you obtain it.
CREATE A BED THAT RIVALS YOURS AT HOME
Get a sleeping pad
You’re going to want to sleep on more than just the tent floor.
Unless you have great sleeping bags, sleeping on the floor will not keep you warm. Honestly, many who spend big bucks on a sleeping bag would probably buy some kind of sleeping pad below them as well. Why? Because it is awesome.
So what kind of sleeping pad should you get? I know it may seem like one of those big air mattresses are the most luxurious choice but do not be fooled. Not only does it go flat by the morning, the cheap ones have zero insulation.
Think of it this way, all the air inside gets cold which in turn, gets you cold. Sleeping while freezing is not fun and there is a way to prevent this.
Recently, I splurged on this Big Agnes double self inflating sleeping pad. IT IS AMAZING! If there is any piece of equipment I recommend splurging on, it is this one.
Let me put it this way, on an early April morning trying out this sleeping pad for the first time, we woke up to snow. Still, it was the best sleep I’ve gotten while camping ever. And it snowed.
This nicely insulated sleeping pad is graded down to 15 degrees keeping you warm and comfortable. People often forget that a cold ground makes a cold camper. Between that and the nice padding you get, especially when you blow a few extra breaths into the air portal, you can hardly remember that you are camping instead of in your bed. (Ok, a bit of a stretch but still.)
This particular brand is also made in Colorado by people who enjoy the outdoors and give back to outdoor groups so the splurge is a bit more worth it.
Regardless on which brand you go for, a great camping pad can seriously make or break the night of sleep you get.
Block out the sun and noise in the morning
The outdoors are great and I love getting that natural light but if we were at the campfire somewhat late, the peak of dawn might not be so welcoming in the morning.
Even at home, I wear an eye mask and boy does it make me sleep well. I generally have a hard time falling asleep so forcing my eyes shut with a sleep mask usually does the trick.
Now let’s get back to glamping. If you are an early riser eager to see the sunrise, this might not be a tip for you. However, if you want to get the nice extra hour in, shielding your eyes from the unforgiving light is the best way to go.
Couple this with some earplug and you’ve got a sleep that will last until the time you actually want to get up. Remember, this is glamping.
If you are camping with a partner, invest in some double sleeping gear
I’ve camped with my fiancé Robb for the last 7 years. We like to snuggle when it’s cold so we used to unzip our bags and place them on top of us like blankets. These almost always fall off.
Fortunately, we are not the only snuggly campers in the world and there are products to help with that.
You can usually find double sleeping bags at any outdoor retailer. Big Agnes has one that goes with the sleeping pad which can run up around $250.
Given that we already splurged on the pad, I looked for a cheaper option. I use this Ohuhu one for only about 60 bucks and it does the trick.
Maybe one day, I’ll splurge on a nicer bag. I mostly wanted something that we both can cuddle in so that camping feels less like a sleepover and more like a romantic getaway.
Don’t forget the pillows and extra blankets
Would you sleep at home without them? If you have space in the car, there is no reason to forget them now.
Adding the extra blanket also help when you might have not splurged on a deluxe sleeping bag. As we discussed earlier, trying to sleep when it is cold is less than ideal and spending a lot on a deluxe bag is low on my list of camping gear splurges, especially when I can make up the difference with extra blankets.
And if you’re feeling cold at the campfire, what’s better than wrapping yourself in a blanket? Just bring them. It’s worth it and it will make your tent much more glam.
Bring a beanie
If there is any item that I get bummed out about forgetting, it’s the beanie. When your head is exposed at night, precious heat escapes. A nice beanie solves that problem instantly and is pretty comfortable to sleep in. I always throw in a beanie or two into my backpack when camping.
Bring cooking gear
This is a no-brainer. If you don’t have a way to cook, it’s going to be a lot harder to cook. Yes, you can use the campfire but always have a plan b. You never know when the weather might prevent a fire.
I usually at very least bring a small camping stove. It’s cheap but works like a charm. Plus, it makes it a lot easier to make things like coffee or tea. It’s worth it.
Sometimes, I’ll add my small grill to the camp kitchen but it isn’t as important as the stove. A nice touch if the grill isn’t working or can’t fit is bringing a grill plate or that top of the grill. You can throw that on top of the fire and wallah … grill!
My small grill broke on a trip once and I simply used the grate on the fire. It worked like a charm.
Just like at home, having the right cooking gear can help you achieve your culinary goals. I have a cheap set of cooking essentials I keep with my camping gear.
Use foil as make shift cooking gear
On that note, if something breaks or is forgotten, you can always make it out of foil. I’ve made lids, stands, grates, and plates. Plus, you can always create a foil pack to simply throw your food in the fire to cook. Possibilities are endless.
Foil should basically always be in your camp kit. You never know when you will need it.
Being prepared helps make your camping trip more enjoyable. If you are car camping, there is no reason to not bring everything that you need. You will not regret it.
Don’t forget your dry spices. It takes almost no room to bring a bit of spices camping. You cook with spices at home. Don’t skimp out just because you are camping.
You can even use a pill case to make a new set of essential spices for your camp kit to save space. Don’t eat bland food. You’re outside, not dead.
Think outside of the camp food box
You can make almost any type of food outside with just a little creativity and imagination. Tacos? Sure. Pizza? Yup that too.
Depending on your refrigeration capabilities, you can adjust your ingredients for just about anything.
I’ve made some pretty great green chili chicken tacos on day 4 of a desert camping trip with no ice. Hello canned chicken, canned green chilies, avocados, and hard cheeses that can last a few days without refrigeration.
Also, you can always add fruits and veggies that don’t need refrigeration to add that extra oomph that you need. As a millennial, you can bet that I love avocados. The wonderful creamy texture can glam up any sandwich or taco without the fear of going bad like mayo. Plus, it’s healthy.
Check out my menu for camping without refrigeration here. Trust me, when I say this, it’s not your everyday kind of camping menu.
Research and make plans for your meals
Before camping, I make a daily menu to help me plan what I will need. It sounds like a no-brainer but after switching from simply throwing burgers into the cooler before heading out to planning it out, I will never go back.
Much like when you plan meals at home, when you plan your meals camping, you are better prepared for a good meal. You can also figure out ways to glam up your meals.
Burgers are tasty but bacon cheddar avocado burgers knock it out of the ball park.
You can also add the appropriate sides so you aren’t forced to only nom on that big bag of potato chips. With dinners, I like to bring salad kits from the local grocery store so I can have a great healthy salad while camping without bringing dressings that spoils quickly.
If I’m on a longer trip with no access to ice, I can prepare meals that don’t need refrigeration. With just a little research, you can come up with meals and ingredients that don’t need any refrigeration but still tastes good. Trust me, there is more out there than just canned chili.
Make a camping box
Never forget anything again! Honestly, I stole this tip from my future mother in law. When I first met Robb, we’d always borrow her camping box.
What a great idea. When packing on a whim, we often forget a small necessity. We might be able to creatively suffice, but it would be better to not have to worry about it.
This also gives us the ability to get up and go on short notice. A couple months back, it was unusually warm in Denver and we decided to head for the mountains. Only a few hours later, we were up there enjoying the fresh outdoor air!
Group your items
Make sure you keep that box from getting out of hand. I like to use old make up bags to separate my spices, cookware, bathroom kit, flashlights, repair care, or whatever. This also makes it easier to unpack your goods when you get to your site. Simply put the appropriate packs in the designated area.
The box is great but you don’t want to have to search the box in the dark.
I like to use hanging organizers to keep me sane while camping. Basically, you want to have your necessities accessible throughout the trip.
Your camping table may be taken up by things throughout the trip leaving your goods unorganized and on the floor. Think of it like adding a shelf or cabinet to your campsite. We have shelves and cabinets in our home for a reason. Why not bring it out to the outdoors?
Solar powered lights
This is my signature. I love bringing my string lights to boost up the campsite. I even found some that will blink with my music. It’s super cool.
Opt for solar power lights instead of battery. I had a few battery operated string lights for a festival and they broke instantly. My solar powered ones have lasted for years for about the same price. Plus, they charge up during the day and you don’t need to worry about batteries.
These lights add ambiance without overpowering the stars in the sky and it is a lot nicer than leaving on the lantern.
Solar powered speakers
For Christmas, my friend got us one of these bad boys and it is amazing. Not only does it charge up well in the sun, it is completely weather proof, giving us piece of mind as we jam out in the night. Equipped with a usb port and blue tooth, this product is perfect for your next glamping adventure.
Bring a shade
Shade and shelter is not always a guarantee at your campsite. Don’t leave it up to chance. Bring your own.
Whether it is a free standing awning or make shift tarp canopies, these shades can help make your camp site feel a bit more like home regardless of what nature brings. I invested in a fairly cheap awning for about 50 bucks and bring a few tarps and rope just in case I need more protection. If the weather gets rough, I can even seal up the sides of my free standing awning with tarps and tapestries to make a nice little room to stay warm.
No rain is going to stop me from camping in style.
When camping in a group, the free standing awning makes a great kitchen/home base that I can string up lights, stay organized and have a place for us to all set up.
I don’t always bring the awning, especially when camping for only one night but it usually is worth it for long trips.
Robb bought me a double ENO hammock for my birthday one year and it’s awesome. We love to bring it out as an alternative place to rest instead of the tent.
During the day, a tent can get stuffy. Instead, enjoy the rays of sunshine as you hang below the trees. Our glampsite wouldn’t be the same without it.
If you wanted to, this could double as an extra bed. I like to have my ‘master bedroom’ in the tent myself but I know a few of my backpacker friends who love this alternative. If you do, just make sure you get proper insulation, sleeping pads and what nots. No one like sleep while freezing.
Remember when I told you about my love of rugs? Guess what? They make some for the outdoors!
Use an outdoor rug or a tarp to create a nice ground area for under the awning. This can help add a design element to your site while keeping the floor under your shade clean.
I also use picnic blankets with waterproof linings to create alternative seating around my campsite. Sometimes, I may want to lay out in the sun or stretch out my legs. There are a lot of fun colors to really make your campsite pop.
So there we have it. Here are my best ways to make the most out of your camp trip. Planning to go glamping any time soon? Do you have any tips or tricks to glam up your campsite? Leave a comment below!
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