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Chances are, you've heard plenty of camping horror stories, from friends and friends of friends. There's the one about a sneaky bear or raccoon eating all the supplies. Or the one about the horrible bathroom facilities miles away from the campground. With so many stories like these floating around, women are being scared off of the idea of camping faster than you can "Holiday Inn."
There's nothing like the great outdoors
Then again, there is nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, sitting around a campfire, applying and re-applying bug spray - OK, nothing's perfect. But try to listen past the terror tales to the underlying fondness that accompanies the memories of bonding with family and friends on camping trips.
Don't miss out on a great summer experience because you're wary of other people's stories, most of which could have been avoided by knowing how to prepare for a camping trip.
Here are some tips on how to make roughing it as easy as ordering room service.
Yes, sleeping under the stars was mentioned above, but that's for a more advanced camper than you, so for now, you'll need a tent.
You'll need one that is big enough for everyone to sleep in, as well as keep their gear. If it's two people, with very little gear, a two-person tent should suffice, but two people will probably sleep more comfortably in a four-person tent.
Some features you'll be glad you have: a rainfly that extends over the door to keep the rain out, and a roof vent, to get a little air circulation going while you sleep. Buying an inexpensive plastic wrap to set your tent on will keep out the damp.
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Since we're talking summer camping, you don't need to splurge on a heavy-duty sleeping bag with all the bells and whistles. A lightweight basic bag will be fine. But since our camping motto is better safe than sorry, bring plenty of blankets, for layering if it gets cold, and for padding if you find the ground too hard. Don't forget a pillow.
Packing is usually the most stressful part of any trip - most of us haven't yet mastered the ‘bring three items and alternate combinations' theory of packing. Luckily, you don't need ensembles for your outdoor vacation, just layers.
Make sure you bring:
• Sweatshirt and jogging pants - for sleeping and sitting by the fire at night
• Comfortable pants and shorts
• Wool socks, cotton socks and underwear
• Lightweight rainproof jacket
• T-shirts, long sleeved shirts
• Sneakers or hiking boots
• Flip-flops to wear in the shower
• Toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste
• Sunscreen and insect repellant
• Travel wipes
• Deck of cards
• Flashlight (and extra batteries)
• First-aid kit
• Tupperware container of matches
More camping tips:
• Remove rocks from the ground where you'll pitch your tent, otherwise you'll be sleeping on them.
• Don't eat food in your tent and NEVER leave food unattended in your tent.
• If you're bringing children, pack an 'activity box' full of ways to entertain them during afternoon downtime (ie: books, art supplies, travel board games).
• Research campgrounds in your area using the Web, and ask friends for advice. A great campground will make your trip.
See? Not so scary after all. If you're properly prepared, your camping trip will be a blast. Learn from those camping horror stories, but don't let them deter you from tackling the great outdoors this summer.
For more camping tips, expert advice and guides to some of the best campgrounds in Canada, visit our guide to the great Canadian outdoors.