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Sweet Camping

Home-Sweet-Tent: Luxury-Centered Camping Tips
By Kathryn D'Imperio

For a more relaxing and comfortable camping experience, you need not invest in a costly travel-trailer, pop-up camper or mobile home. A few inexpensive items that are easy to come by can make your tent a more enjoyable home away from home.

*Maximize Sleeping Accommodations:
Either before you leave home or as soon as you arrive at your destination, purchase an inflatable air mat at the nearest superstore, convenience store or trading post for each person in your group. The 20 to 30 minutes it takes to blow it up will be well spent as you reap countless hours of peaceful sleep without noticing the bumpy roots, pinecones, stones and twigs below you.

Furthermore, these air mats double as a raft (their true purpose), but in the sense that if some unexpected water seeps into your tent during the night, you remain dry! Use as many blankets and sleeping bags as you like, and when the vacation is over, your couple-dollarsí investment will have been well worth it. Dispose of the air mat prior to returning home or keep it with your camping gear for next time.

*Maximize Cooking and Meal Choices:
Tired of the traditional hotdogs and símores over a campfire? With the right tools and food selections, you can cook just about anything your heart desires, from french fries to macaroni and cheese or Ramen noodles. Just follow this quick, easy and inexpensive checklist:

To diversify cooking, bring these items:

  • Mini Charcoal Grill
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Matches
  • An Old Pot or Pan
  • Tinfoil

Small charcoal grills can be purchased for as little as $10 or sometimes even less. With the grate that comes with the grill, you can make hamburgers, chicken, fish, baked potatoes and much more. Grill a muffin toast a bagel for breakfast.

Having a pot or pan in your inventory allows you to boil water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, make soup, cook noodles and so forth. Place the pot directly on top of the grill, but realize that the flames may discolor its original shine and may also leave an ashy residue. Be sure to bring a spoon and potholders or an oven mitt to avoid burning yourself.

Though it is great for storing leftovers, tinfoil can help you cook smaller items, such as french fries, chicken nuggets or roasted veggies. Cover your grill top with it to reduce the mess made when cooking meats and other meals directly on top of the grill.

Be creative and all of your cravings can be satisfied with the right cooking tools and equipment.

Other items to bring:

  • Skewers (or gather sticks once you reach your campsite)
  • Paper plates
  • Insulated mugs to keep hot drinks warm and cold ones chilled
  • Utensils
  • Grill tools, such as tongs, large fork, flipper, etc.
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags

*Maximize Your Living Space:
Staying Dry: Put a tarp below your tent prior to pitching it to help prevent water on the ground from seeping into your living quarters.

  • Also, try to rig a tarp above your tent by suspending it from the trees with rope so that rainfall is diverted away from your tent. Those inflatable air mats you use for better sleeping will also keep you dry in case of a leak (unless it is right on top of you!).

Keep all open food items sealed inside a cooler to avoid encounters with wildlife.

  • Also, hang your trash bags from a tree branch to keep it away from wildlife.

*Make Your Tent a Home:
Put up indoor/outdoor lights/lanterns to help you and others quickly identify and locate your tent in the dark. A string of small, fun-shaped lanterns would work well-especially when they stand out from those anyone else might use.
Bring a CD player or radio so you and your tentmates can enjoy some music.

Donít forget to bring your own creative additions to make the most of your camping vacation!

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