If you have been following your state’s or city’s guidelines for quarantine and social distancing, you are probably looking forward to a vacation. For many people, that may include a camping trip.
Now that places are starting to open up, it seems like a lot of Americans are eagerly pitching their tents and getting out into nature bit. According to a report from Campgrounds of America, over 40% of people plan to take a camping trip at some point this year. The majority think that camping or other “off the grid” activities are the safest forms of travel during the pandemic.
While camping typically doesn’t involve interaction with lots of other people, it is still important to take all necessary measures. In addition to following traditional camping safety precautions - like fire safety and basic first aid principles - there are additional measures to take to camp safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are four tips to help you and your group stay safe.
1. Be Prepared for Anything
It is always important to be prepared for the unexpected when camping – but this is especially true these days. You do not want to risk the chance of being without necessary equipment when you are out in the middle of nowhere. You need to be prepared for anything.
First, stock up on all medical supplies and items that can be used in the case of an emergency, such as:
Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
Bug bite treatments and sprays
Epi-Pens if needed
You should also research the area you will be visiting so you know exactly where the closest hospital or medical centers are located. Be sure you have all of your updated medical information handy, such as lists of allergies, insurance information, and contact numbers for your doctor.
Next, stock up on all the other types of supplies you may need for a comfortable trip. You cannot necessarily rely on smaller convenience stores to have all of the necessities these days (especially considering the recent toilet paper shortage). So, make a run to a store that has everything you will need before you leave.
2. Stay Sanitary
We are all taking extra precautions when it comes to health and safety these days – and this doesn’t need to go out the window just because you are “roughing it” in the wild.
The National Institute of Health has stated that the coronavirus can live on hard surfaces for hours or even days given the right conditions. Therefore, you need to be doing all you can to keep everything clean while you camp.
Of course, this can be a bit difficult since you do not have the same access to running water and cleaning supplies like you would at home. Further, harsh chemicals like bleach can be extremely dangerous to use in nature, as they can poison natural water supplies or harm the native wildlife.
So, be sure that all cleaning products you use are safe for the environment. Go for biodegradable soaps to wash hard surfaces, dishes, and other supplies with a bit of hot water. Alcohol based cleaners are also good to use. You can even make this yourself by diluting it with a bit of water.
Also, bring camping supplies that can be easily cleaned. For instance, an inflatable sleeping pad with a built-in pillow can be washed off far easier than a foam sleeping pad and traditional stuffed pillow. You should also pack a laundry bag to keep soiled, dirty clothes away from clean ones. If you are planning on spending several days on your site, consider bringing along a portable shower so you don’t need to use a public shower house - which could be quite unsanitary.
3. Be Cautious about Your Destinations
There is currently a huge rush to campgrounds as parks are starting to re-open. While it is exciting that things are sort of returning to “normal”, this large rush could be quite dangerous, and it is best to avoid large crowds as much as possible.
As you plan out your itinerary, search for smaller campgrounds that are less popular to give yourself more space. You should also give campgrounds a call before you book to see if they are expecting large numbers for those dates. This will give you a better idea on where and where not to stay.
Do your best to avoid common gathering areas during your camping trip. Popular destination spots like hiking trails can easily become overcrowded, so consider going to places off the beaten path instead. Why not check out the spots that locals rave about to get away from all of the tourists?
4. Stay Safely Entertained
Finally, do your best to stay close to family or friends instead of venturing off. Bring lots of forms of entertainment that can be done safely near your campsite or in areas that are far away from others.
For instance, now is a great time to teach your kids how to fish in the river or go for a kayak adventure on a nice family camping trip. Be sure to bring stuff to stay entertained in the evening hours too, such as board games, a deck of cards, books, or arts and craft supplies.
It is probably best to bring your own supplies - even if you are staying at a campground that provides equipment like boats, grills, or fishing gear. Although many businesses are stepping up their sanitation practices, camping grounds are not necessarily known for being super clean. For now, it is best that you bring your own so you can be sure everything is safe and sanitary.
Going camping is a fun family tradition for many people as well as a welcomed escape from the stress of everyday life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking for ways to get away and unplug for a bit. Getting out into nature could be just the break we all need – and deserve.
However, it is important that people do all they can to ensure that everyone can enjoy their time safely. Be sure to follow all of the necessary precautions to keep you, your family, and other campers safe.
Kevin is a proud San Diegan originally from Iowa. He loves hiking, surfing, rock climbing, and experiencing the outdoors in as many ways as possible. His love of exploring and writing motivated him to start Impulsive Wanderlust – a travel + leisure blog providing recommendations to travelers around the world.