Are you ready to go camping?

By Mir
July 21, 2010

Yesterday turned out to be one of those days where we look around at the end of it and say, “… and let us never speak of it again.” Nothing horrible, really, just not a good day in terms of patience and kindness to your fellow family members. It turns out that sometimes absence DOES make the heart grow fonder, especially if you’re talking about escaping a small box by taking a walk for a while. So.

Accordingly, then, rather than regaling you with more tales of our exploits, I thought there’s been so much general interest in camping that I might help some of the on-the-fence amongst you decide if camping is right for your family. You know, because I’m an expert. Or I play one on the Internet. Or something. I forget.

Really, there are just a few key things you need to ask yourself if you’re considering taking your family camping. And—as usual—I’m here to help. Don’t be scared.

Do you enjoy sleeping under the stars, and by “under the stars” I mean “with nothing but nylon separating you from the wild, in extreme temperatures, and possibly being eaten by bears?”

If the answer is yes, you’re probably ready to go camping in a tent. Also, I think you’re nuts, but whatever.

If the answer is no, don’t worry! Camping may still be right for you! Keep going.

Has it always been your desire to either tow a small room around OR spend your kids’ inheritance on a house-on-wheels?

If the answer is yes, congratulations! You should go shopping for a camper. Spend accordingly: If you are like me you should feel free to calculate out the cost of the average hotel room and meals vs. the average campground fee and after some fancy math arrive at the amount of money you can spend on a small camper (preferably a bank repossession, because, you know, BARGAIN). But if you’re independently wealthy and can justify skipping braces and college for the kids, feel free to go straight for the motor home.

If the answer is no, you may be interested in renting a camper for a trip. Be advised, however, that rentable rigs generally say WOOHOO RENT A CAMPER ACROSS AMERICA YEEHA 1-800-CAMPER-RENTAL or somesuch on the sides, which is the campground equivalent of an I’M A NOOB, KICK ME sign on your back. Just sayin’.

Do you enjoy miniatures?

If yes, camping in a trailer is right up your alley! You’ll enjoy a miniature kitchen, a wee dear little stove, and a tiny fridge where that infernal stick of butter is always hiding behind the beer. Don’t forget about the bathroom too small to turn around in, either. It’s all simply adorable.

If no, don’t worry! You can either buy a giant rig where your kitchen is actually kitchen-sized, or you can eat out all the time and use the campground facilities. See? Problem solved!

Is someone in your family incredibly handy?

If yes, perfect. It’s always good to have someone with a bit of fix-it know-how along, so that when random things go wrong, it’s not a disaster. Say, for example, that you turned on the little exhaust fan in the bathroom and the blades whirred to life and then EXPLODED. Sounds crazy, right? It happened! Yesterday!! Otto ran over to Camping World and purchased a replacement, and he actually knows what to do with it. Me, I stood in the bathroom looking up at the blade shards sitting there on the screen and said, “Holy crap.” (Not actually all that helpful, in case you were wondering.)

If no, well then you now have the perfect excuse to find yourself a “handyman.” I put it in quotes because personal interpretations may vary and there’s probably not anything wrong with that. I mean, I understand that not everyone has an Otto.

Do you have a dog or three?

If yes, you are totally ready to go camping. Cat people are not allowed to camp. (Kidding! You are allowed to camp, but don’t bring your cats. They are perfectly happy hating you from home, no need to bring them along.) Here’s a handy guide to dogs and camping:
If you own…
1 or 2 really big dogs: Camp in a tent.
1 or 2 little dogs: Camp in a modest trailer.
3 little dogs OR 2 medium dogs OR 1 big dog and 2 little dogs: Camp in a giant motor home.
4 or more dogs of any size: You live in a permanently parked trailer in the campground.

If you don’t own any dogs, don’t worry! You can still go camping and glare at all the dog people at the campground. In fact, the glaring will probably take up most of your time, saving you the trouble of finding things to do.

Do you own any number of family board and card games that make you want to chew off your own face to escape them?

If yes, hooray! Every night is family game night when you’re camping! Feigning your own death to escape is generally frowned upon. And who doesn’t love a really cutthroat game of Apples to Apples now and then, anyway? Exactly.

If no, well, listen. Uno will cost you about $4. There; you’re ready to go.

Do you enjoy spending two solid days packing, beforehand, and two solid days doing laundry, afterward, so that your kids can kick at the dirt and proclaim “I’m booooored!” for the majority of the time you’re away?

If yes, camping is DEFINITELY for you.

If no, and if you’re saying no because your kids never complain of boredom, I would like to switch kids with you before our next trip. Thanks.

Do you own a wireless Internet connectivity device? A smartphone? Several laptop computers?

If yes, getting back to nature is for you. On account of you can still have all of the trappings of home, including clients emailing you asking for things while you’re trying to roast marshmallows, dammit.

If no, you probably already live in the woods, so why on earth do you want to go camping?

In conclusion, camping really is for just about everyone. Except cats.

You’re welcome.


  1. Tracy

    I love “camping” but in a 5th wheel camper which is For Sale if anyone is interested. Not because I no longer love “camping” but because I no longer have time to go camping…and gas prices (which aren’t so bad NOW).

    Camping to me is nothing but eating and sleeping the entire time. Everything just taste better camping and the sleep is unbelievable. But I’m not the “roughing it” type of camper so some would say it really isn’t camping. So, don’t ask me.

  2. Beachgal

    the last time we went camping, there was a group in a big giant tent that brought their cat. No lie. she wandered the campground by day and slept in with them at nite. Our dogs stay home. They would not like camping. Or, rather, I’m supposed to be relaxing while camping, not stressed out that the dogs are barking again at something or someone.

    And, incidentally, the blades of the exhaust fan in our camper bathroom also exploded upon attempted use. We just, uh, haven’t replaced it yet.

    Enjoy the rest of your stay, it’s gonna stay HOT HOT HOT all week.

  3. Heather

    This entry cause several near-water-through-the-nose incidents. Just so you know :P

  4. Janet in Toronto

    I have sent this to everyone who has been on my case to go camping, and those who haven’t, just for the laugh. This is great!

  5. Lady M

    I am sooooo not a camper. Is there high speed wireless internet access? Room service? Then no thank you. The boys can camp downstairs in the living room, thank you. Or maybe the back yard.

  6. Lori N

    I grew up camping and now have access to a tiny pop-up trailer (sans toilet) that my in-laws own. My excuses for not going camping are getting slimmer and slimmer. Except the whole too busy mantra. And the I don’t want to spend the 4 days prepping before and cleaning after. I really don’t remember that whole part of the process as a kid. Yes, I was spoiled, so? :)

  7. The Other Leanne

    What’s really woodgie-woodgie about your post is that JUST THE OTHER DAY I saw a beautiful Tioga Ranger and was thinking “if I could get one of those (wow, are they pricey!) would I bring the cats with me?” And then I slapped my forehead very, very hard.

    I used to take the (now dear-departed) Huskies tent camping; the big boy had so much anxiety in campgrounds that he couldn’t eat and would barf every few hours. He busted off his leash once and started running full-tilt, not to escape but to jump in the back of the truck so he couldn’t be left behind.

  8. Katie in MA

    Wait, wait, wait! I have one to add! If you still remember all of the camping songs you learned from all those times you went camping with Girl Scouts, and your wee little daughters have just figured out that you’re not really singing it for *them*, but rather to amuse *yourself*, then you are DEFINITELY ready to go camping. :) Or, so I’d imagine. Ahem.

  9. Emily in IL

    Thank you for this handy guide! I will print it out for my husband as scientific proof that we should NOT go camping for one main reason:

    The rule about big dogs = camp in a tent is in direct conflict with my sheer hatred of tents.

  10. MomCat

    Oh, thank goodness, being a cat owner exempts me! I knew they were good for something!

  11. meghann

    My idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel that doesn’t offer breakfast.

    We just “camped” in the Smoky Mountains over the weekend, in a cabin. That was fully furnished and had cable and a hot tub and a pool table. Totally MY idea of camping, yo.

  12. Karen

    I resisted camping for years. My experiences with primitive Girl Scout camping left me with no desire to ever, ever, EVER use a latrine again.

    But my husband finally convinced me to try car camping, and I love that. Tent technology haas improved a lot in the last 45 years, and we have a large, airy tent (LL Bean) that sets up in about ten minutes. Plus a bed-height self-inflating mattress that is more comfortable than any camper mattress I have tried. And nearby bathrooms with (usually) hot showers and flush toilets.

    We camp with a group of friends — who all have at least one autism-spectrum offspring — in adjacent sites, and share the meal prep and other work of camping. It is a lovely, social time. No boredom issues.

    The five cats stay home with a cat-sitter.

  13. Dragon

    My parents in law take their cat camping in the trailer. The cat is highly anti-social. She likes to go with them so she can find new people and environments to glare and hiss at.

    So there you go, even cats and cat people can camp.

  14. paige

    Dude. My idea of camping is being a towel short at the Marriott. My idea of roughing it is a Motel 6.

    Which is why we don’t travel much, I guess.

    I’ve been camping. I went on a camping trip with my future husband all over Utah in July in an unairconditioned Chevette, with my hyper English Setter along, too.

    At the end of that three weeks, we were still speaking to one another and the dog was alive.

    I have done my time camping.

  15. Nancy

    My parents started taking me camping (tent) when I was 2. I camped until 10 years ago when I got a divorce – it was one of those things I gladly said I would never do again.

    Our camping was usually in campgrounds with bathrooms and running water, but once a year we went camping in Maine during blueberry pickin’ time with no water, an outhouse, but all the blueberries we could bring home because our friends owned the land.

    9 years ago Mom and Dad bought a cottage in Maine – so we get the benefit of ‘away’ without the tent. I mostly loved the friends we camped with, and the fires at night. I remember more laughter then than any other time in my life.

  16. Chris

    If there is no room service, I consider it camping. I am not interested in being one with nature thankyouverymuch.

  17. Tammy

    Mir, I love your post but somehow I don’t think the people from are going to be banging down your (virtual) door for a writing engagement. ;)

    How dare your clients email you during marshmallow toasting time? Don’t they understand the skill required to achieve the PERFECT level of marshmallow roasting for maximum smore-ness? The nerve of some people.

  18. SillyMe

    taking the cat makes way more sense than taking the dog. It seems odd that you found the cat-bringing people weird. Maybe it’s just because our dog is an idiot. -I don’t mean anything mean by it. We love her to death, but she really is stupid and would not be safe camping. Plus we would be earning those evil stares. The cat on the other hand would be a joy to take. I still wouldn’t take her because I feel like there is enough on my plate without adding a cat who would be just as happy at home. On second thought, I think I would be much happier at home too. I’ll stay with the cat and everyone else can go hand out with the bugs and general discomfort. I’ll be having a bubble bath. With wine. and a sundae. -and quite possibly my dog because she is dumb enough to jump in before realizing (yet again) that she hates water.

  19. mom, again

    I miss camping.

    Also, when we go camping again, even if with a tent, I’m totally taking the slow-cooker, and possibly also my electric espresso maker. Even if I have to plug it in in the bathhouse. OH, I totally see a way to off set expenses by selling espressos to the early risers who must shower, completely do their hair and put on makeup every morning. In the woods with no one but their family around. Well, and lots of strangers who will never see them again so why are they thinking we care?

    If I were better at being a loyal reader, when I mentioned your blog on Kitchen Daily in a comment about cooking on vacation, I would’ve put a link, or given the blog name, instead of just saying ‘I read a blog about a family, and they take their crock-pot camping.’

  20. MamaChristy

    We had an RV when I was a teenager and that’s as roughing it as I want to get – and I don’t think I ever want to do it again. Three or four weeks a summer with my parents in a 20′ x 8′ box scarred me for life. I’m honestly surprised that they are still speaking to me and I’m in my 30s…

  21. Melissa B.

    I think the only way La Familia Scribe could go camping is if they took the tent and I took the room at the Hilton. That way, I could make sure the cat didn’t escape in the wild…plus the HBO reception would be better, correctamundo?

  22. Jen

    I’m a pack-everything-you-need-for-four-or-five-days-in-a-backpack-and-start-paddling-the-canoe camper. My idea of camping is getting as far away from other people as possible, even if I have to hike a couple miles of portages with a canoe on my head to do it. Sociable, aren’t I?

    My mom and I used to do an annual fall canoe trip in my late twenties/early thirties and my memories of those times together are very special for me. My now-husband and I went for a week shortly after we met – nothing like a canoe trip to see if you have teamwork skills together. :). Now that my daughter’s almost two, I’m hoping to get out again this fall (no bugs in September!). I’m thinking we should start with a campground trip, but (she whines) there are PEOPLE there.

    Oh, and the dog doesn’t come. At 115+lbs, there’s just no room in the canoe. :)

  23. ccr in MA

    Whew! It’s a relief to hear that as a cat person, I don’t get to camp.

    I mean, awww. Ahem.

  24. Brigitte

    Yay, I have a cat and live in the woods already! ;-)

  25. Brett Gage

    Camping is so much fun, Thank you for the article. The reason the butter is behind the beer is that when camping cook with beer.

  26. Amy

    I call camping “moving” cause you take everything you own and the kitchen sink and spend most of your time packing and unpacking (the car, the tent, the dishes, the food, ugh).

    Let’s just pop a tent over the couch and order a pizza.

  27. addy

    See I knew them dang “rescues” of my daughter would be useful someday! Whoo – Hoo no camping for us. smile, smile, oh wait so sorry camping for us.

  28. Therese

    We love to camp. Both hubby and I have been doing this since we were kids, and it just seemed natural to pass this on to our kids. I have never been a tent camper, and Dawg must stay at home (he hates being leashed). We have upgraded from our 1967 camper without facilities to a 1993 truck camper with air!!!! But now the kids are grown, and we go it alone. One of our favorite things to do is just find a place in the woods and park. Hubby took me to West Virginia last October, and we camped on top of a mountain. He loved it, I waited all night for the guys from “Deliverance” to come and wreak havoc on us.

  29. Sherry

    I love to camp! I camped as a kid. My (now ex) husband would not camp, so for 20 years I mourned the loss. Now I camp on my terms – gotta have electricity, for the hair dryer, microwave & AC – gotta have restrooms with toilets and gotta have a grocery store and restaurant nearby – I’m not so good at that preplanning thing. Bring the dogs and cats – leave the kids!!

  30. Kirsty

    Given how much I disliked my one experience of camping (a weekend in the Vercors part of France when I was 24 with a group of people I barely knew (all rock-climbing freaks, which I – the least athletic person on the planet – am not) and one guy I fancied the pants off but who ended up zipped into his tent with another chick), with its multitudes of bugs and creepy-crawlies and NATURE and grotty “bathroom” facilities, I am VERY, VERY GLAD to say that I am very much a cat person.
    And that I will never go camping again.
    By the way, I’ve just come back from my first ever holiday on my own with my two daughters (their father and I split painfully in May) and we stayed, also for the first time ever, in a hotel for a week and it was HEAVENLY.

  31. djlott

    If you need a new game i recommend the Five Crowns card game… I’ve got my whole extended family playing it!
    Due to bad knees and back I can no longer do the tent camping, so we have a camper that goes on DH’s big diesel truck!! It has a microwave, but since we camp out in the middle of nowhere, I don’t get to use it. But I love the storage space it has! And reading lights while in bed!

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