What To Do If You Lose Communication While Camping

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For many of us, there is nothing like going into the great outdoors to get away from the stress and strife of modern-day life. Unfortunately, however, while being out in the wilderness is great to unwind, it’s still nice to have some connection to the outside world, which is why we also bring our phones with us. However, trying to get reception can be a huge pain, and if you ever lose your device while out in the woods, it can be almost impossible to retrieve it. For that reason, we are going to go over what to do if you lose your communication and how to find your phone with AVG if it is lost.

 

Maintaining Reception

lose communication 2If you are worried about losing your signal while out camping, you can plan ahead by bringing other devices that can offer you cell service no matter where you are. These include mobile wireless routers, cell phone boosters, and portable battery chargers to help you maintain access to your device at all times. These are the best ways to stay connected, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones.

 

lose communication 3If You Lose Signal

For those that didn’t plan ahead, you can help improve your signal in a couple of ways. First, you can find a clear, elevated area that can give you more direct access to a signal, or you can craft your own makeshift antenna. Chip cans and aluminum foil can help boost your phone’s range if you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help.

 

Losing Your Phone

lose communication 4If the worst happens and you misplace your device while camping, all is not lost. If you have AVG as your Android security and antivirus, then you can track your phone’s location, even if it’s off. This will help you pinpoint where exactly you left your phone so that you can retrieve it. Fortunately, if it’s in the woods somewhere, then you shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing it.

 

 

Overall, the best way to keep your phone in tip-top shape while camping is to plan ahead and have AVG antivirus installed beforehand.

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Article provided by Lizzy and our friends over at AVG Anti-Virus.

The 11 Step Guide to Planning a Problem-free Group Camping Trip

11 step 1

By Alex Gulsby

If you have ever attempted to coordinate a trip with friends or family, you know how difficult the process can be. Logistics get hairy, people cancel or maybe one of you gets dragged off your United flight on the way there. The destructive possibilities are endless.

If you’re planning a trip to go hiking or camping, it can be even worse. Varying skill levels, experience in the outdoors and the amount of gear required may mean that you’ve already lost before you started.

But fear not and know that it can be done! It just takes a few extra steps of planning. I’ve put together the 11 step checklist to making sure the trip really does happen and that it’s a trip everyone will enjoy.

Designate a Trip Coordinator

11 step 5

If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’re probably the trip leader. The cats you’re herding need some sort of guidance. As you continue this guide, remember that you are allowed to delegate tasks and tell others what to do.

Opt for the road trip

For your first camping trip, it doesn’t hurt to stay as close to home as possible. If you’re all getting on a plane and flying to a location, the cost can skyrocket and complicate how you do all your grocery shopping and planning. Accessibility is key. Carpooling or convoying gives you the opportunity to pack a lot more glamping and camping gear. Besides, you’ll be able to get as messy as you want without worrying about a rental vehicle.

11 step 4

Make All your Reservations

Depending on where you stay, chances are you’ll be in a national park, forest or state park. Some campgrounds are “walk-up” only which means you can’t make a reservation. For large groups, this is risky. Try to find “reservation only” camping and read the specifications for group size.

Research the Campground

Large camping groups want to party, because duh…wilderness. Some campgrounds have quiet hours and depending on what your plans are, you may not want to shut the party down at 10am. When choosing a site at a campground, pay attention to the park map.  Look through every photo they provide. How close are the camp bathrooms? How close are your nearest neighbors? Do they offer potable water? Electrical hookups? Are there any cool features like rivers or rock climbing nearby?

When you get there, it’s not a bad idea to befriend the camp host too and tell them your plans. If the night gets rowdy, you’ll thank yourself that you have a friend.

Research the Area

As much as I love day drinking by a tent all day, it’s a good idea to actually plan some activities for the weekend. You are not guaranteed phone reception at a campground so do it beforehand! Float the river, hike the trails, climb a mountain, explore a cave or chase some waterfalls. Learn what the region has to offer!

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Figure out the money early

You’ll be paying for gas, groceries, beer, camp reservations, (maybe) hiking permits, gear, and firewood to mention a few. It adds up and since you are the trip coordinator, you’re at risk for paying for a lot more than you should. Plan ahead and don’t be afraid to put stuff in writing.

Start a Google Doc for the Gear List

The honey-do list will inevitably grow and get out from under you. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve realized that. Unlike your typical travel trip, you’re probably not just packing clothes and toiletries. Set up a sharable google doc with everyone’s name listed. Make a gear list of everything the individual will need (backpack, hiking socks, sleeping bags, puffy jacket, pool float, whatever). Likewise, make a “group gear” list of things like the camp stove, tents, ice chests and music speakers. Note who has extra of something and who has none.

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It may seem excessive but it will allow you to make sure that everything is squared away. And when the trip is over, everyone will still remember who borrowed what.

Plan your recipes ahead of time

If one of your friends is a culinary genius, awesome! Can I borrow them? You can designate them as a camp cook….or not. Either way, decide what you are going to cook, how many you are going to cook for and when you’re going to cook it beforehand. It makes the grocery trip a lot easier when you have an objective.

11 step 2

Decide on a moderate trail that everyone can complete (if you’re hiking)

Remember and respect the varying skill level of your group and leave your pride at the trailhead. There is nothing more dangerous or unpleasant than putting someone in a position of uncertainty out in the wilderness. I promise you that literally nobody will be having fun.

Bring more water than you’ve brought booze

Nothing spurs stoke quite like an epic camping trip. However, you are out in the wilderness. Just bring an absurd amount of water to support your hiking hangover. You’ll thank me later.

And as always, before you set out:

Buy a map, touch base with rangers, and check the weather!!!

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Did you enjoy this 11 step group camping article?

You can follow more of Alex’s adventures at www.wanderwritings.com

 

Happy Second Birthday Camping for Women

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By Nicole Anderson

Camping for Women is now officially 2! So we are marking our ‘happy second birthday’ with this brief message.

The website www.campingforwomen.com went live with its first blog post on 23 May 2015 and it’s hard to believe that was two years ago.

We had a very busy second year as we built on the foundations laid in the first year.

Top 10 achievements for this past year include:

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  • Published The 3 in 1 Camping Cuisine Cookbook for hikers, campers and glampers
  • Launched an online shopping portal: The Global Outdoor Adventure Store in conjunction with Amazon
  • Produced checklists for hikers, backpackers, campers, and RVers for free download
  • Built on our library of 91 articles written by outdoor women adventurers to over 250
  • Launched a Travel and Adventure tab on the site to include specific travel content
  • Increased regularity of free article posts for subscribers and facilitated comments for these
  • Partnered with Brown Gal Trekker on the International Film Project to promote outdoor women based on the piece ‘Don’t Date a Woman Who Treks’
  • Expanded recognition of regular contributors through dedicated pages and contributor logo
  • Promoted other women outdoor adventure blogs of interest to readers and subscribers
  • Recognised with the Versatile Bloggers Award given by bloggers for quality content

So much done, but so much still to do…

So what’s being planned next for year 3?

Well, we have a few things that we are working toward right now including:

  • Launch of an exciting new video show addressing all outdoor women issues where subscribers can ask questions to have answered by a columnist in conjunction with another fabulous outdoor women’s group
  • Launch of ‘The 4 in 1 Camping Cuisine Cookbook’ following the successful first publication
  • Completing specialist guides being written on Canyoneering, RVing and stress reduction
  • Continue to build a bank of useful articles, tips and information for women who love the great outdoors delivered via our free subscription
  • Providing a service to assist women produce and share videos with other women

Check out our second year video here:

As we hope you join in wishing Camping for Women a happy second birthday, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas for what you would like to see for the future. Just send us a message on the ‘Contact’ page of the website or email us: info@campingforwomen.com

Here’s to another great year serving fellow outdoor women adventurers everywhere…

Help us celebrate a happy second birthday:

So we hope you might join us in briefly celebrating our second milestone by perhaps making a comment or two below.  We always love to hear from you.

But most of all we want to again take the opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and ongoing encouragement to continue to develop the best global resource possible.

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

By Nicole Anderson

Camping for Women has just received the Versatile Blogger Award, recognizing the efforts of everyone involved with its blog.

So what is the Versatile Blogger Award?

Versatile Blogger Award 1It is a peer award where bloggers nominate other bloggers who they believe deserve some recognition for their high quality standard of writing, images, uniqueness of the bloggers content, passion and love displayed throughout the website.

In this case, Camping for Women was recognized for all its efforts made to benefit our subscribers and readership. We especially want to make mention of all our wonderful contributors who provide so much value and are passionate in their love of the outdoors.

Who nominated Camping for Women?

Logan & Kallsy Page are a United States couple in their late twenties with a passion for adventure and experiences. Being a medical student and a teacher, they mostly focus on budget travel in iconic locations. This spring and summer you can find them road trippin’ around the Southeastern USA with their dog, Bentley. They love finding a blend of new experiences in urban cities and the great outdoors.  They are the couple behind the blog Pages of Travel.

Versatile Blogger Award 2

Part of the nomination acceptance process is for the award recipient to tell the nominator 7 things about themselves that they may not know.  So the team at Camping for Women selected founder Nicole Anderson to outline 7 things about her.

7 Things you may not know about Nicole Anderson

  1. For the most part, Nicole grew up in regional Australia – her family came from the rural town of Bendigo, in the state of Victoria.
  2. Nicole spent part of her schooling in Japan where she learnt fluent spoken and written Japanese.
  3. Nicole is a breast cancer survivor and a member of the Dragons Abreast Dragon Boating Sport, and has represented her club in regional and international regattas in Australia and North America.
  4. She is now engaged to be married, having been proposed to by her partner James while they were on holiday in Tahiti in January this year.
  5. Nicole has had the travel bug for some time and has now explored many countries in 5 of 7 of the world’s continents. She has not seen anything of Africa or Antarctica (as yet!).
  6. When Nicole decided that she wanted to get a dog as she moved into her new home, she decided on a name first before seeing the dog. The dog’s name was to be Flannigan.
  7. Nicole and her partner James have just built a brand new 4 bedroom home in the beautiful and famous Gold Coast, where they have chosen to live.

Nominees:

When you only have a maximum of 15 blogs you can nominate among all the fabulous blogs that exist in the world, this can be a really hard task.

However, we had to draw the line somewhere and go with some that are our favorites.

So here they are our nominees, presented in alphabetical order…

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Born to be Adventurous

Versatile Blogger Award 4To founder Annika Mang, having a baby didn’t mean the end of adventures; instead it was the beginning of grander ones.  Born To Be Adventurous was created as a platform to share and inspire families to get outdoors and adventure with their kids with an eco-focus. Annika shares her family’s and other families outdoor adventure stories and tips and activities. She also runs a green up challenge where her family reduces their waste to a single jar. She encourage followers to choose a green up goal for the month to reduce their families waste. Goals can be as big as reducing their waste to a single jar or choosing a smaller goal like using reusable coffee mugs

 

Brazen Backpacker

Versatile Blogger Award 5Brazen Backpacker is the adventure-seeking, poetic, and often humorous blog of Emily Pennington. Started in 2016, it is already making waves with content syndicated on The Outdoor Project, Camping for Women, Women Who Explore, and many others. The site features Emily’s ramblings on everything the adventuresome soul might desire – from gear suggestions to stories of expeditions gone horribly awry, to tales of falling in love in a National Park, all illustrated perfectly with her colorful travel photography. If you’re in need of inspiration for your next trip or daydream, this website is the perfect place to start.

 

Brown Gal Trekker

Versatile Blogger Award 7Brown Gal Trekker blog was launched in September 2016. In addition to being focused on the outdoors, it further aims to address unconventional or seldom talked about topics in the world of hiking.  Marinel, the person behind Brown Gal Trekker, is an avid hiker and global explorer.  Along with her social enterprise, Peak Explorations, her blog aims to promote women and diversity in the outdoors. Her blog often shares her journeys in off the beaten path trekking destinations, practical advice to assist fellow hikers, and her insight on the outdoors world that can range from why we should hire mountain fanatics to why one shouldn’t date a girl who treks. No matter the topic, Brown Gal Trekker focuses on inspiring and empowering readers to pursue anything and everything that their hearts desire.

 

Female Traveler

Versatile Blogger Award 8Female Traveler is a travel and lifestyle blog featuring destinations, travel tips and inspiration from around the world. Ira of Female Traveler blogs all about her adventures all over the world, but it’s her extensive coverage of Europe that keeps readers coming back for more. Many love reading about her adventures in places that they know and love. Her site has been described like a treasure trove of things to do, places to see, and plenty of inspiration to just keep going and live your dreams

 

 

Get Camping Wild

Versatile Blogger Award 9Getcampingwild.com is a place where campers can share everything they have learned along the (sometimes prickly) way in the wilderness. It’s a place where new explorers can find out everything need-to-know about those first few steps into the great outdoors. The blog is run by experienced camper Lucy Gomez and aims to gather all the best camping tips to inspire and improve camping for all adventurers! Whether you’re an established starlight-sleeper or a first time pop-up-tent, Lucy and her team aim to help you make all your future camping trips stress-free but unforgettable.

 

 

Mountain Mom and Tots

Versatile Blogger Award 10Mountain Mom and Tots is an outdoor family blog that’s all about helping families explore outdoors. With an emphasis on hiking, biking, camping and skiing with kids, creator Mountain Mom shares how she adventures outdoors with three young kids.  Susan, a Mountain Mom who lives with her husband and three young kids near Sundance, Utah. When they are not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, Susan spends her time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 her family travelled 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

 

 

My Perfectly Damaged Life

Versatile Blogger Award 11My Perfectly Damaged life is an adventure/travel/photography blog.  Perfectly Damaged, which started simply as Jennifer Hewitt’s photography name but has since morphed into her blog and social media brand, is based on the concept that nothing is perfect and we are all damaged.  Despite this, we can live a life that is perfect for us despite the damage, Perfectly Damaged!  Jennifer’s hope with her blog is that her readers will see that she is just an average woman getting out there experiencing life, mishaps and all, and as a result get out there as well.

 

 

My Wild Kitchen

Versatile Bloggers Award 12MyWildKitchen.com shares unique but simple home-cooked meals for venison, wild game, and wild desserts, too (think blackberries!). All the recipes Noel shares at MyWildKitchen.com use easy to find ingredients, and are designed to reconnect the hunter (or hunter’s spouse) with the wild game they’ve harvested. At MyWildKitchen.com you will find recipes for venison, feral hog, wild turkey, dove, freshwater fish, and even squirrel, all presented with full-color, step-by-step photos of each part of the cooking process, making it a breeze to follow along no matter the difficulty level of the recipe.

 

 

Revolving Compass

Versatile Blogger Award 13Neha & Abhishek are a couple travel blogger based in Bangalore, India. Revolving Compass is born out of their love for travel and their enthusiasm to share this travel experience with the rest of the world. The couple believes that every travel has a lot of soul enriching experiences hidden in it and they thrive to bring these out to the world through their travel stories, as they travel the world along with their little kiddo. Apart from the travel stories, Revolving Compass covers family travel tips, destination guides, best possible travel itineraries, travel friendly products and talks about how to overcome the challenges of traveling with a toddler and enjoy it to the best extent possible

 

 

Solo Passport

Versatile Blogger Award 14Raksha Prasad is an IT professional who craves and breathes travel. She love exploring new places and meeting new people and mostly travels alone or with any of her travel buddies. ‘Solopassport’ is all about showcasing her experiences and photographs taken along her travel journey.

 

 

Teakisi

Versatile Blogger Award 15Teakisi (pronounced Tee-ki-si), creates a space for African women to empower and celebrate each other, and to unite through their stories. A Teakisi woman has many names: Mukadzi in Shona, Obinrin in Yoruba, Umugore in Kinyarwanda, Daaku in Luo, Aberu in Ateso, Minga in Beti, the list is endless. Teakisi women are vibrant and empowered Africans, with a love to empower others. Teakisi is here to share the voices of these African women. Teakisi stands out for several reasons, but what truly makes it special is that it’s a platform dedicated to the everyday African woman. Most of our contributors are not “professional” bloggers/writers, they’re just everyday women with a story to tell and wisdom to share.

 

 

The Modern Outdoors

Versatile Blogger Award 16The Modern Outdoors is an honest look at life in the wild. Nicole Atkins, the founder of MO, has over 25 years of experience and isn’t afraid to push boundaries. The result is a blog that offers practical knowledge articulated with humor and irreverence.

 

 

Waboose Adventures

Versatile Blogger Award 17Waboose Adventures is an award-winning blog that brings you into the backcountry where every portage takes you deeper, and every step takes you further into the wilderness. Cobi Sharpe shares her adventures in nature through writing and her award-winning photography.

 

 

 

Wandering Lights

Versatile Blogger Award 18Writing and photography has been the vice for of creator Danielle Dorrie for years – and she took this is to the next level with her blog Wandering Lights. Check out all of her thoughts, then head on over to her Adventure Blog – www.LoveMaineAdventures.com. That’s where she talks about the current risky adventures that she has as she grows and invites people to follow her in her journey.  She encourages comments on her work and likes to engage with creative minds and enjoy other blogs in the process.

 

 

Whits Wilderness

Whit’s WildVersatile Blogger Award 19erness is an outdoors lifestyle blog for Texas women, where 6th generation Texan and blogger Whitney shares her tips for hiking, hunting, camping, outdoor cooking, and shooting sports. Her guidance entails what to wear (she calls it “field fashion”), the best trails to hike, tips for a glamorous camping experience, recipes, and comprehensive “Girl’s Guides” to various activities. Her goal is to inspire Texas women to get outdoors and enjoy this beautiful natural world we live in!

 

 

So there are our nominees.  They all have quite different strengths and qualities and we hope you will have as much fun exploring and learning from these blogs as we did.

 

Nominees, Here’s Your Mission:

The next step in the Versatile Bloggers Award process, mean nominees are similarly required to:

  • Thank your Versatile Blogger Award nominator/presenter on your blog and link their site.
  • Select 8-15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly that deserve this awesome award. It is best to make sure they accept the award and can nominate 8-15 other bloggers too.
  • Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. Have fun with this and take advantage of the opportunity for your readers to learn more about you!
  • Display the Versatile Blogger Award on your blog by including it in your post!

 

So many wonderful blogs out there, so little time…

 

6 Safe and Super Fun Ways to Go Camping with Baby

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By Rita Myers

I’ve enjoyed camping since I was little, and it’s probably one of the few activities that have remained constant in my life, from childhood through adulthood. And now that I have a family of my own, I especially enjoy being able to go camping with all the members of our little household.

Yes, that means I regularly go camping with baby in tow. I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t think it’s possible to do so – it’s not safe enough, there’s too much to worry about, etc.

But it can be an incredibly fun and memorable experience that’s completely safe for your infant or toddler if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to go camping with baby.

 

A QUICK LOOK: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN CAMPING WITH BABY (#5 will be your favorite!)

  1. Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items
  2. Be Mindful of Temperature Changes
  3. Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule
  4. Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run
  5. Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!
  6. Get Your Whole Family Involved

 

#1 Bring These 3 Must-Have Baby Items

As indicated in the video above, on top of the basic necessities for your baby, this is the trio that will make camping with your baby convenient and worry-free: a baby carrier, a natural insect repellent, and a safe area for your baby at the campsite.

A baby carrier will allow you to hike and move around while keeping your hands free. A natural insect repellent keeps your baby safe from insect bites – it can be used by the whole family too!

And finally, you need to create a spot at the campsite for your baby where he/she can explore and move around safely and under your watchful eye, be it a mat or a small tent.

Important Reminder: Choose an insect repellent with natural ingredients instead of chemicals. Before using it on your baby, you should read the label carefully and follow instructions closely. Only apply the insect repellent on your baby’s exposed skin and the outside of his/her clothes.

 

#2 Be Mindful of Temperature Changes

Camping with Baby 2

 

Temperatures can greatly fluctuate when you go camping, and it’s easy for grown-ups and kids to adjust to these changes, but you have to be on the lookout when you go camping with baby.

You could have him/her all bundled up because it had gotten cold overnight and into the early morning – thick blankets and a few layers including a hat – but within minutes, it could go from very cold to very hot, making the layers you put on your baby incredibly uncomfortable.

Be particularly mindful of the temperature inside your tent and dress your baby accordingly.

 

#3 Keep your Baby on the Same Eating and Sleep Schedule

Camping with Baby 3

 

Babies need to regularly eat and take naps – try your best to stay within his/her regular routine even while you’re out camping.

It would be great if your baby is able to fall asleep on a carrier, so you can continue on with your hike while he/she does so. Otherwise, you’ll need to adjust your itinerary to make sure you give your baby enough time to nap.

You should also stick to your baby’s eating schedule as much as you can. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure you’re able to find a spot for you to do so even while you’re en route to your campsite.

 

#4 Choose a Nearby Campsite and Do a Test Run

Planning for your first camping trip with your infant can be a daunting task, so try to keep things as simple as possible. Start small and eventually work your way towards bigger and better camping trips.

For starters, choose a campsite that’s near your home, so that in case things don’t work out or something goes uncontrollably wrong, you can quickly pack up and go home.

You can also opt for a familiar campsite, one that you’ve already visited previously. This way, you already know what kind of surroundings you’ll have on the trip. That’s one less thing that’s unknown and unexpected for your trip.

And before you go on your camping trip, take time out to do a test run. Go on a simple road trip with your infant and see how you and your partner will handle traveling with your baby.

That way, you’ll have an idea of what to expect when it comes to the real deal. You’ll also get a good idea of the items you’ll need and what items you can live without in order to minimize your packing.

A test run can also be a bit of motivation – when you witness your baby enjoying him/herself and discovering the great outdoors, it might turn out to be the final push you need to go on a camping trip. Which is related to my next and final tip on how to go camping with baby!

 

#5 Don’t Worry Too Much and Relish in Your Baby’s First Camping Experience!

I believe that a lot of the anxiety that comes with camping with your baby is during the planning stage, when you don’t know what to expect and you want to be prepared for anything. But by the time you actually start the camping trip, you should worry less and enjoy more.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and allow yourself to witness your child discovering the great outdoors. Take your camera out and capture those memories that you’ll want to remember forever. Let your child go a little bit, and don’t be afraid to let him/her explore the immediate surroundings (but under your watchful eye).

Getting your child started on camping early can be the beginning of a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a great bonding experience for you and your family. So don’t worry too much and have a great time with your partner and child!

 

#6 Get Your Whole Family Involved

Camping with a baby requires team effort, so ask the rest of your family to pitch in. You and your partner should take turns spending time with and taking care of your baby, while the other kids in the family can have smaller responsibilities like bringing some of the baby’s items and the baby’s toys.

If your kids are old enough, you can even ask them to take care of their youngest sibling while you do some chores. Don’t leave your kids unattended, but that doesn’t stop you from giving your older kids a sense of responsibility by asking them to take care of their sibling (still under your watchful eye – always!).

Quick tip: don’t make pitching in to take care of the baby feel like a chore for your older kids – instead, make it fun by presenting it as a mission or a game.This can also be a good lesson on responsibility for them!

 

Conclusion

Camping with Baby 4

Not only is camping a great way to take a break from the stress and pressure of daily city life, it’s also an awesome opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s a chance to reconnect, reflect and recharge!

So don’t be afraid to go camping with baby! It’s one of the many firsts you’ll want to witness and enjoy for yourself.

The planning and the preparation might take longer than for your usual camping trip, but the extra effort will be worth the joy and satisfaction you’ll feel as a parent. Happy camping!

 

Was this list helpful? I hope so, because I want to break the notion that you can only go camping with baby when he or she reaches a certain age. Camping is an activity that can and should be enjoyed by everyone!  You can even find free checklists to help when camping with your kids (of all ages and stages) by going here.

I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so please post them in the comments section! And do share this article if you enjoyed reading it. Wishing you well on your camping adventures!

 

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Free Checklists image

By Nicole Anderson

Many of us live for the time when we get to experience the outdoors.  We are constantly planning the next great escape from the city to again be at peace with the serenity, majesty and wonder of nature.

Often in our pressured, busy lives it is so easy to forget a few things that would make our experience in nature all the better.  How many times can you recall running late to get away from your routine and in your rush, you overlooked things you wished you hadn’t?  If you’re anything like me (human, that is), then you can surely relate.

And let’s face it.  On some outings, be they for a short or a long while, there can be so many things to remember, depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it with.

So with the above in mind, a few Camping for Women contributors have come up with some checklists to help make our planning and getting things together a little easier.   There are 6 checklists that we have put up initially and more will be added to in the future.

Enjoy the Free Checklists!

The totally free checklists that have been prepared for anyone to download and use below:

 

Free Checklist Hiking and Backpacking

The Hiking and Backpacking Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

hiking-and-backpacking-checklist.pdf (118 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists CampingThe Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-checklist.pdf (104 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists Camping with kids at all stagesThe Camping with Kids at all Stages Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Camping-with-kids-at-all-stages-checklist.pdf (94 downloads)

 

 

 

Free checklists the ultimate road trip checklistThe Ultimate Road Trip Checklist by Janessa Tice Miller

Click below to download:

The-Ultimate-Road-Trip-Checklist.pdf (101 downloads)

 

 

 

 

 

Free Checklists first aidThe First Aid Kit Checklist by Amanda Parent

Click below to download:

First-Aid-Kit-Checklist.pdf (96 downloads)

 

 

 

Free Checklists post camping

And lastly, but by no means least:

The Post-Camping Checklist by Lynley Joyce

Click below to download:

Post-camping-checklist.pdf (98 downloads)

 

 

 

Use, share and tailor the checklists

You can also tailor these checklists by adding other things that may be particular to your circumstances, activity or location.

And in the future, Camping for Women plans to add to these checklists with different activities that readers tell us are useful.  Future free checklists and any updates to these initial lists will always be accessible from the Resources tab at Camping for Women.

You will be able to download which ever free checklists you like in future directly by going here.

We sincerely hope you get great value out from these checklists and that they save you some time and hassle that often goes with forgetting to take something that you really felt you needed to have.

Be sure to share this resource with your family and friends who love the great outdoors too!

Free checklists for lovers of the great outdoors

Personal protection against bears – guns or bear spray?

bear spray 1

By Carley Fairbrother

I spent seven years as a backcountry ranger in northern British Columbia, and one of the question I got asked the most was, “do you carry a gun out there?”  They seemed genuinely concerned when I told them that I usually just carried bear spray.

To many folks in the north, and I’m sure wherever gun culture is prevalent, bear spray is seen as something a gimmick. I can understand that.  I have been approached by an angry grizzly, and let me tell you, that can of bear spray made me feel a little like I’d shown up to a formal ball in my Pjs.

Yet here I am, years later still traipsing around bear country without a gun. Here’s why.

bear spray 2Effectiveness of bear spray

This may be counterintuitive, but bear spray does work better at deterring bears than firearms.  It’s nasty stuff, and when an animal with the sense of smell 100 times more powerful than a human’s gets a face-full of it, it’ll usually stop its charge immediately.  Bears, particularly grizzlies, often continue their attack, even after a fatal shot. It’s not surprising then that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that around 50% of people using firearms in a grizzly encounter still suffered injuries.  Those using bear spray suffered from much fewer and less severe injuries.

A 2008 study by biologist Tom Smith looked at 600 bear encounters in Alaska.  Bear spray proved 92% effective in the 72 cases that it was used.  Four years later, Smith did another study in 2012 looking at bear encounters involving firearms.  Depending on how you interpret the study, firearms were somewhere between 58% and 76% effective.

Speed and Ease of Use

bear spray 3Even a good marksman or markswoman will take at least a few seconds to unsling a gun, chamber a round, aim, and fire.  Even if you are in ready position with your gun, simply aiming is going to take longer than unholstering a can of bear spray.  To make matters worse, a bad shot may just make a bear angrier. Add to that the panic that comes with being face-to-face with and angry apex predator, and I’d say your chances are a lot better with bear spray.

Weight

Carrying too much weight isn’t just unpleasant, it can be dangerous.  If you are fatigued, you are going to be less aware of your surrounding, less likely to make noise, and slower to react in the event of a bear encounter.

A 12-gauge shotgun is going to weigh 6 or 7 lbs.  Compare that to 8-11oz for a canister of bear and there is no contest.  While a lighter gun may stand up against a black bear, a grizzly needs some serious power to bring it down.

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Unnecessary Killing

Just because a bear is angry at you doesn’t make it an evil creature that needs to die.  Remember, you are in its home, and it’s usually just defending itself.  Sometimes it’s only approaching out of curiosity, and spraying it will simply teach it that humans are best avoided.

That being said a predatory, habituated, or unusually aggressive bears should be reported to the appropriate authorities so they can take action if necessary.

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Human Safety

No matter how safe you are with your firearm, it’s hard to predict what kind of bad decisions you’ll make if you are panicked. There are plenty of stories of people inadvertently shooting themselves or their partners while hurrying to get a shot at the bear.

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What about Wind and the Short Range?

In good conditions, bear spray should shoot at least 16 feet, but some brands will shoot further.  This may seem uncomfortably close, but a bear further away will likely decide you aren’t worth the trouble before it actually attacks. You can also spray a bit earlier to make a cloud for the bear to run through.

In the Smith study, only five of the bear spray cases were effected by wind, and the spray still hit their target.  You may get sprayed a little yourself, but it’s a small price to pay.

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The Law

It’s now legal in many U.S. national parks to carry a firearms, but the ruling is still subject to state laws. Here in Canada it is illegal to carry firearms (with some exceptions for polar bears) in national parks.  Oddly, it is also illegal to carry bear spray in Yosemite, so if you plan on hiking there, bring your bear sense.

Things to Note

Now I want to make a few points clear.  Carrying any form of bear defence does not replace the need to use your bear sense.  Always make noise while hiking, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid hiking alone, keep you camp free of food smell, and know what to do in a bear encounter to avoid an attack.

Also, no matter what you choose to carry, know how to use it.  If you choose bear spray, practice unholstering your bear spray and removing the safety, and ALWAYS keep it somewhere where you can grab it.  Should you have an expired canister, practice discharging it.  If you choose a gun, make sure it’s going to be powerful enough and practice getting it ready and taking aim in a variety of situations.

Sources

U.S. Fish & Wildife Service. Bear Spray vs. Bullets: Which offers better protection? Living with Grizzlies http://www.bearsmart.com/docs/BearSprayVsBullets.pdf

Tom Smith et al.  Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management. 76(5):1021-1102J. July 2012. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/326124/efficacy-of-firearms-for-bear-deterrence-in-alaska.pdf

Tom Smith, et al. Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 72(3):640 – 645 · December 2008.  http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/bear/files/JWM_BearSprayAlaska.pdf

Video

Also, check out this video put together by Carley Fairbrother, together with a giveaway she is running this month:

 

 

Cute Romantic Gestures For Hiking Lovers

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By Oceana Setaysha

Hiking is a wonderful activity to do with someone you love. If you and your partner both love to hike, it can be fun to bring a bit more romance into your hiking adventures. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few ideas for little romantic gestures you can do to really make your significant other feel loved, even when you’re out on the trail!

 

Plan A Surprise Romantic Getaway

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While it’s great to plan and organize a hike, there’s something really nice about not really having to do the planning, but still getting to enjoy the hike. So, one simple but romantic gesture you might want to do for your partner is to plan a surprise getaway that includes a few really nice hikes. You could go just for the day, or a few days, and either visit somewhere that has been a favourite of yours as a couple, or somewhere they’ve never been. You take care of all the details, and just encourage them to pack a bag and come along for an adventure!

 

Bring An Unexpected Snack

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If you’re going on a hike with your partner, a short-notice but effective romantic gesture you can do is to bring an unexpected snack with you. Now, there are lots of foods that people consider to be romantic, but here you need to think about portability and preferences. Chocolate dipped strawberries are great, as long as you keep the chocolate separate in a small, sealed container. A pair of small bottles of wine make a great surprise, or champagne to celebrate a relationship milestone. Even a small selection of cheese and crackers can really make them feel loved and appreciated.

 

See The Best Of Nature

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There are so many lovely things out there in the world, so many things to see and enjoy. But you can’t argue that it’s nicer to do them with someone by your side. So, if you’re looking for something romantic to do, try and see some of the best natural wonders in your area. Whether they’re a natural landmark, a stunning sunrise, a gorgeous sunset, or a sky full of stars, take your partner out into nature to see the best that’s on offer. Spend an evening stargazing and searching for falling stars and satellites, or pack a thermos of tea and watch the sun rise or set. It’s sure to be a hike to remember.

 

Go On A Geocaching Adventure

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Doing something together with your partner is a great way to further cement your bond. So, while you both might enjoy hiking it can be even more fun to hike with a specific goal in mind. If you’ve climbed a few mountains and you’ve completed the hikes in your area, have a go at them again with geocaching in mind. If you’ve never heard of geocaching, it’s basically a treasure hunt you do with GPS. People hide containers, called ‘caches’, and you have to find them. Many people lay the caches out along hiking trails, allowing you to enjoy the hike and collect the caches. For a truly romantic gesture, organize to lay a cache yourself, and name it in honour of your partner!  You can also read more about geocaching in our article about it here.

 

Walk A Heart

This is one for the forward thinkers, which might not be easily pulled off but is sure to make a statement. Encourage your partner to install, and then use, a fitness tracker app under the pretense of seeing how far you have walked and how fast. You could also use a GPS. Then take them on a hike that you’ve planned in the shape of a love heart. You’ll need some basic plotting skills for this, but you can easily program the hike into your GPS. For extra points, have the start/end point of the hike at a gorgeous spot where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the wild.

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Explore the Magical Desert of Joshua Tree, California, USA.

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By Lucy Gomez

Explore the Ancient Desert at Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree Park is considered as a magical and massive desert land, which is about 790,000 square acres. And speaking about the desert, here you need to know that there is absolutely no electricity, no lights, no food service and mobile receptions. Water is a scarce resource, so when coming here make sure that you bring enough to last during your visit. Luckily, there are toilets available, however, they’re not the flushing type, so you better be prepared.

Feed Your Soul with Creativity

Joshua Tree is the home of numerous artists, and many visitors are inspired by the artworks created by these amazing individuals. From the Farmers Market to the different Art Galleries scattered around the place, you’ll definitely feel the creative juices flowing.

Visiting the town proper is an amazing part of the Joshua Tree camping experience. In this area, you’ll be able to find various restaurants, boutiques and shops, as well as music events and galleries. The Downtown area is situated on the corner of Park Boulevard and Highway 62.

The citizens of Joshua Tree have been going the beyond the limits in preserving the authenticity of the place. For this reason, you won’t be able to find any fast food chains, or high rise buildings or even the famous malls and super stores. Exploring the place will give you a different sixties feel while helping the locals in promoting their own products and their local economy.

Take Advantage of the Annual Pass

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As soon as you arrive at the Park entrance, you will have the choice of getting a day pass or the annual pass. If you want to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy the Joshua Tree Park, you need to obtain the annual pass, as you will have the advantage of getting into the Park for free over the next 12 months.

It is a must that you ask for a map and be updated via their newsletters so you will be informed on the latest happenings across the park. Having the annual pass will also give you the advantage to cut in line and get in faster as a priority guest.

Enjoy your Stay at the Campsites

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Staying over and camping at Joshua Tree will give you the chance to sleep and experience the amazing night view brought about by the billions of stars. Start the morning and be amazed by the breathtaking view of the California desert. You may also be in awe as you can hear the coyotes howling from a distance.

Over 300 campsites are scattered within the boundaries of the park, so you just need to choose your own spot and spend the night there. The camping fee is usually around 15 dollars. You have to know that running water and electricity are non-existent in the park, so you do need to bring everything you might need.

Explore the Intersection and Arch Rocks

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When you are coming from the west entrance of the Joshua Tree, the Intersection Rock should be your first stop. This is the perfect place to check your maps and plan your destinations and activities for the day. This rock is situated about on the center of the various highlights of the park. You can also follow the available trails and explore more around the area.

On the other hand, entering through the North or South of Joshua Tree, you will have the Arch Rock as your first major pit stop. Following the trails nearby is also a great idea, but you won’t need to worry about getting lost since all the paths will eventually lead towards the camping ground.

Ask for a Guide

No matter what type of activity you intend to do, especially if you are a beginner, it is better to seek help from a guide. These guides will aid you in a more enjoyable and safer adventure in the park.

Joshua Tree offers an incredible and unique adventure for you and your family or friends. You will be able to enjoy the different and creative culture of the place; therefore, it is important to plan the trip carefully. Make the most out of every event and the views offered by this majestic place. In the end, you will surely come back for more, as the people living here really go for the extra mile in providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for every traveler.

Check out the Joshua Tree Park website here.

Related article and additional information: Dry but Delightful: Hiking in the Desert.

 

Overcoming Fear as a Solo Trekker in Zhangjiajie Mountains of China

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By Marinel de Jesus

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Catching the sunset after landing in China

My very first entry to China was through the Hunan Province in 2014.  As it turns out it, if you’re new to China, Hunan will shock you because it is far from the notion of a foreigner mecca in terms of tourism.  In fact, the entire time I was in this part of China, I only saw one Western foreigner – a European who was studying the language and therefore able to move around the country with ease.  He told me he was on a short break and his parents were in town so he was acting as their guide in this part of China.  He also happened to be staying at my hostel.

The night spent chatting with him was unforgettable.  This said individual challenged my decision to be in Hunan.  He bluntly asked what I was doing there as he was concerned that I didn’t speak any Mandarin at all.  He added that a better move would have been to go visit Guilin first or one of the big cities like Shanghai or Beijing, even Xian.  But Hunan – he asked why.  With enthusiasm, I explained that I was there because I wanted to see the Avatar mountains, also known as Zhangjiajie National Forest.  That explanation appeared to baffle him. Still, why would I start my China travel by hitting Hunan first.  He continued to counsel me that getting around will be difficult and that I should be prepared to navigate my way because even getting to the National Forest will be a challenge.   So, I said, well, I will get a map!  No, you just don’t get it.  Even the map is devoid of English completely, he says.  Okay, I heard the warning.  But I wasn’t dissuaded about my decision to be there.   Even though a bit nervous because he insisted that I will likely get lost, I kept reassuring myself that there is always a way.  Plus, this was nothing new.  I have been in a situation before where I was overwhelmed by the language issue (Guatemala) and that experience turned out to be life changing.  So, hush that worry-wart – it will always work out for the best.

I never was able to shake off that night of conversation with this European guy who was understandably concerned for my sake.  It was amusing but also I must admit a bit disturbing.  After all, it was my very first night in China and to begin with I was already a bit concerned how I would do in this country without much language skills to get me by.  So, that night I told myself it will be alright even if it means I may get lost.  That’s part of the adventure, right?  I didn’t come to a foreign place to be on point with all directions and roads.  I came to see where the roads will take me and what turns I would need to make to find the right way.

On a much more positive note, the hostel I stayed at was one of the hostel chains through the Hostelling International. It was a cozy place for a first night in China.  I was really just looking into resting my head in the upper bed of the bunk for some good night’s sleep.

The next day I made my way to the smaller town of Wulingyuan where I was to catch the bus to enter Zhangjiajie.  On my stop over at Wulingyuan, I decided to check out the cave nearby which was probably the most touristy cave that I have ever seen.   Although the cave was huge and appealing in its size, there was nothing special about it; nonetheless it was a good way to get used to dealing with the “crowd.”  At my hostel in Wulingyuan, I met by a coincidence a Cambodian traveler and we chatted a little.  He was traveling for a few months and had positive things to say about his travels in China, which was a refreshing moment compared to the night before.

The next morning I made it to Zhangjiajie without a problem. Thanks to the hostel staff who explained to me how I could get to the place.  The European guy was right.  There was no English whatsover to be read or heard except for some silly signs (see below). This was the beginning of my journey as the ‘mute’ version of myself.  Sounds crazy but in many ways it was a blessing because it allowed me to learn the value of being “mindful” of what people were actually saying in any means possible.  That turned out to be such a critical part of my trip.  I know that is such a weird thing to say but, seriously, muting myself made China a wonderful experience, most definitely.

To fully explore Zhangjiajie, I decided to spend 3-4 days inside the park. From my research, the karst-like peaks are elusive due to the foggy situation of the park.  Usually, the mountains are hidden behind thick fog; hence, I was not to have a high expectation of catching a glimpse of these pillars of beauty.   To execute my plan, I decided to stay inside the park where a hostel was available to budget travelers.  It was a basic hostel with a nice bed to myself (not even bunk) within a little village.  I suspect the people in that village are people who work at the park.  Living within the park is the convenient way given the park takes up a huge space.  Like any other national park in China, the mode of getting around within the park is through their shuttles which run from sunrise to sunset.  China is efficient when it comes to shuttles for parks and so much so that one should not feel discouraged by the crowd factor.  Oftentimes, the lines go faster than you expect.

To maximize my time in Zhangjiajie, I planned out the routes to take in order to see most of the highlights of the park.  With the park map in hand, I basically divided each day by which areas to hike so I can capture the mountain peaks.  The map itself was in Mandarin and so I relied mostly on the hostel staff (again, which was the pattern) to help me figure out the most viable itinerary.  The first day presented as super foggy and it was discouraging to go through the trails knowing there is beauty hidden behind such fog but not being able to see it.  Luckily, my luck changed and when the afternoon came, I was able to experience the magical beauty of the mountains in Zhangjiajie.  For the next two days, the fog came and went.  Having the fog was actually adding to that mysterious feeling behind the mountains.  Hiking in this park does require luck and patience in order to capture the mountains at the right photographic moment.

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That’s not a regret a hiker would like

As an added bonus, during my stay within the park, I met a lovely couple from Beijing who befriended me at the hostel and who spoke good English as is the case with people from big cities in China.  They became my hiking buddies for the entire duration of my hiking in Avatar.  After immersing ourselves in hiking each day, our days ended with home cooked meals at the hostel – the best part of being friends with locals is that they can help you order food at restaurants.  Traveling solo without language skills has its downside and that is the difficulty of figuring out what to eat each meal time.   When we returned to the city, the couple and I had our one last meal together which I often recall to be such a feast!

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Oh, and we did go to another park in the city center that was like the mini-Avatar but the park charged quite a more expensive entry fee.  That was a waste because it was foggy the entire day we were there.  The only upside is we did go check out some gorgeous temples.  The couple found it necessary to enter one of them to ask the gods for a child as they have been wanting to have their first one. I also fancied the conversation I had with the couple about how the locals gravitate towards spending more time with nature as they get older for they believe that by doing so, it lengthens their life and adds joy.

Zhangjiajie is worth a visit.  Yet, only a few foreigners ever make it to this part of China.  That’s good for western travelers as you can still feel the authenticity of the locals.  No one is aggressively pestering you so they can make a sale of some sort.  The entire park is still catered only to serve Chinese tourists which makes for a unique experience on its own.  And the mountains?  Yes, it was zen.  I had an opportunity to hike solo on the first day and an early morning hike on another day by myself (without the crowd) and it was an amazing place to just be on your own – a serene experience.  Contrary to what the European guy said, I think starting this journey with Zhangjiajie was setting the bar quite high.  It had to get better from here.

And sorry to disappoint Mr. European guy, but not once did I get lost!  And even if I did, the park was not as intimidating as I thought it would be.  And the locals themselves are much friendlier than anticipated.  They truly like to help and that was also how I was able to get around without knowing a word of their language.  So, as a solo trekker who found language to be a challenge, don’t let it stop you!  Have faith that with a bit of luck and some effort on your end, you’ll be perfectly fine.  Plus, you will always end up with new friends.

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One last look before a final bye.