Don't Forget These Essentials for Your Winter Camping Trip

October 1, 2015

Whether you’re camping in Texas or cabin camping in Ohio, there are a number of spots you can choose for winter camping. But not all campgrounds locations are created equally. Depending on the weather and the accommodations, you could have a vastly different experience at one campground or another.

For example, much of a camping trip is dependent on the weather. Of campers surveyed, around 70% of those who stayed in tents only stayed out one or two nights — no matter what the weather. By comparison, those who stayed in an RV tended to have the longest trips on average, and 28% of them spent five or more nights camping. Booking cabin rentals can also extend a trip and keep the family better sheltered in all types of weather; this is the preferred method of camping for about 30% of campers.

Being prepared for anything (rain, snow, or shine) is a necessary part of camping around wintertime in any part of North America. How can you make the most of a winter camping trip? Make sure you don’t leave home without these three essentials:


    • Warm bedding and outerwear: At night, especially, temperatures can drop to their lowest point of the day, even during the summer. As a result, you’ll need to find as many ways as you can to stay warm. Don’t forget to pack appropriate clothing, boots, outerwear, hats, and gloves for everyone on the trip, especially children. You’ll also need to make sure you have the appropriate items for sleeping, including insulated sleeping bags and bedding in materials like flannel and fleece. Even if you’re staying in a cabin, you’ll still need to bundle up to keep warm, and this is especially true if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.


    • Food and cooking supplies: Because temperatures may be below freezing on your trip, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough food and supplies to make warm foods and drinkings. Bring pots and pans to cook over the fire, if you’re staying outdoors; if you’ll be in a cabin, bring warm drinks with you like tea or cocoa. If your winter camping trip will last several days, ration your food so everyone has plenty to eat.


  • Someone else: Finally, whether you’re headed to your favorite camping grounds or planning a trip in the wilderness, make sure that you take someone with you. Surveyed campers indicate that they bring a friend with them 70% of the time, so planning a trip with close friends, a significant other, or family members is the best course of action. Not only can this help you have fun as you participate in outdoor activities, but it’s also safe. Should you get hurt, wind up lost, or have some other kind of emergency, having someone to travel with ensures that help will be there when you need it.

What essentials would you recommend? Let us know in the comments.

Fall Camping: Better Than Summer Camping?

September 1, 2015

Fall may not be quite as warm as the summer, but it’s just as perfect a time to go camping — if not better. Here’s what you should know.


The Foliage.


One of the main reasons it might be better to go camping in the fall is because of the foliage. As nature gears up for winter, the leaves take on bright, vibrant, beautiful colors. It’s simply picturesque. Campgrounds in New England are famous for their foliage, but there are a ton of other places that also have amazing foliage, such as Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Washington, and New Mexico. Plus, since almost 70% of tent campers have one to two-night outings, you’ll have plenty of time to take in the amazing scenery.


Tons to Do.


While hiking is the most popular activity amongst campers — with 92% of survey participants saying that they hiked when camping — there’s plenty of other things to do. In fact, about 87% of campers participate in multiple outdoor activities. In the fall, you can do tons of fun things that you wouldn’t be able to do at any other time of the year, such as pick apples, carve pumpkins, check out harvest festivals, and even fish in some derbies.


The Timing.


When you go camping in the summer, you often have to pay a bit more, and have to deal with a ton of bugs. If you go camping in the fall, you won’t have to bother with these problems. Campsites often drop their rates, and stop taking reservations after Labor day, making it way easier, and way more affordable. The chill of fall also chases the bugs away, which means there won’t be as many mosquitoes and gnats to bite you.


Whether you like camping in tents, or prefer cabin camping, fall is the perfect time to go out, and enjoy some time in nature. If you have any questions about checking out some campgrounds this fall, feel free to share in the comments.

Your Fall Camping Checklist: What You Need to Bring

September 1, 2015

There are few things better than taking the family on a camping trip. Just consider what recent years have shown. In 2010, 40 million people went camping for a grand total of 515 million outings. In 2011, families spent 534.9 million days camping altogether.

Then, in 2013, Americans went camping for a total of 516.6 million days.

Autumn camping, in particular, is one of the best things you can do with the family. The crisp, cool breeze blowing. There’s fresh air, the vibrant colors of the foliage, and the wonderful harvests that are coming in.


Before you go family camping this fall though, you’re going to have to pack. Here’s just a few things you should take with you to the campgrounds.


    • Shelter. – To set up camp, you’re going to need your tent, a ground cloth, tarps, extra stakes, rope, a hatchet, a hammer, a mat for the tent’s entrance, a broom, and a dust pan.


    • Bedding. – If you don’t sleep well, you’re not going to have a good time. This is why you need to bring a good sleeping bag, an air mattress or a foam bed pad, sheets, blankets, a good pillow, an air pump (if you take an air mattress or a blow up pad), and a repair kit for said air mattress. If you make a nice little nest, you’ll sleep just fine, no matter how hard or cold the ground is.


    • Clothing. – Though the fall weather can be warm during the day, it can get pretty chilly at night. You need to pack a variety of different clothes, including jeans, sweatpants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, extra underwear, extra socks, a cap, shoes, boots, a jacket, sleeping clothes, rain gear, towels, and a laundry bag to put it all in when it gets dirty.


    • Cooking Gear. – Food cooked over a campfire just seems to taste better, but you’re going to need to remember to bring your cooking stuff with you. Depending on what you plan to make, you’re going to want to bring a water jug, a water bucket, coolers, thermoses, propane stove, a lighter, pans, pots, campfire grill, firestarters, plates, bowls, silverware, garbage bags, measuring cups, aluminum foil, paper towels, dish soap, cooking oil, plastic containers for leftovers, potholders, oven mitts, spatulas, knives, cooking spoons, tongs, skewers, can openers, bottle openers, a folding table, mugs, paper cups, mixing bowls, cutting boards, napkins, dish pans, dish rags, scrubbing pads, and condiments.

So long as you remember to take all this with you to the campgrounds, you’ll undoubtedly have one of the best camping trips of all time. If you have any questions, or know of anything else that should be taken to the campgrounds, feel free to share in the comments.

7 Things People Always Forget When They're Camping

July 23, 2015

Camping Tips




Camping is one of the most popular family pastimes in America. In 2010, a reported 40 million people went on a camping trip. In 2011, this number was up to 42.5 million. Tent camping is the most popular form of camping, with 86% of people who camp identifying this as their preference. However, tent camping is the most labor intensive form of camping, with the most moving pieces and parts. The big elements, like the tent, cooler, and grill are the easiest to remember, but often lots of little things are forgotten in the preparation process. Here is a list of the most frequently forgotten items at campsites:

    1. Wood
      Some campsites forbid you from bringing in outside wood, while others forbid you from foraging around the campground for wood. Know the policies ahead of time and either way, don’t get caught in the cold and dark with no fuel for the fire!
    2. Batteries
      You got your lanterns and flashlights, but what’s your back up plan if one of them dies? Make sure you have some spare batteries on hand.
    3. Wet Wipes
      These little powerhouses have dozens of uses on a camping trip that you won’t realize until you’re looking for one. Don’t miss them!
    4. Duct Tape
      From fixing tent tears to holding down table cloths on a windy day, you do not want to forget this multipurpose tape.
    5. Ice
      So you packed all your food in the cooler to bring to the campsite, but did you remember to get ice to keep it fresh? Remembering this essential could be the difference between fresh food and granola bars your whole trip.
    6. Trash bags
      Most campgrounds are carry in/ carry out, and carrying all the waste from your trip out by hand would be a real drag! This item is essential to a clean, tidy, campsite.
    7. Hatchet or hammer
      Often overlooked, this tool is usually needed to chop more wood and can double as a hammer when driving the spikes for your tent.

4 Tips for a Technology Free Family Camping Trip

July 2, 2015

Oh, technology — smartphones, tablets, mp3 players — all those visual Kool-Aid devices that keep kids tranquilized and quiet while parents try to steal some peaceful personal time! It’s amazing, but at the same time it can be scary when your kids get that glassy-eyed robot look to them. Encouraging kids to be active is harder and harder with all of the sedentary distractions available — you can take something away but there’s always something else to sit and watch. What’s a parent to do?

Camping is a great way to keep your children engaged with the world outside of an LCD screen, and is by far the most popular choice for American families. In 2011, Americans spent a total of 534 million days on camping vacations. The average camper goes on about five trips a year and travels an estimated 190 miles from home to camp ground. You would think traveling so far would minimize the ability to get a cell or wifi signal, but the tech revolution should not be underestimated — tons of places have wifi signals now, including camp grounds.

Here are some ideas for family camping trips that never fail to have the kids sliding their screens away and smiling.

  1. Put your own phone away. There’s nothing kids learn from faster than a bad example.
  2. Have some fun with water. Squirt guns, creeks, water balloons, pool time — all of these things will force everyone to secure their electronics far away from what you’re doing.
  3. Go hiking. This is by far the most popular camp ground activity — over 90% of campers go hiking. Bonus points for bringing disposable cameras the kids can use to document all the cool things they find in an album when you get home.
  4. Get them dirty. The great outdoors is for exploring! Bring nature guides, dig in the dirt for worms, identify plants, have a scavenger hunt, do arts and crafts. If the kids are engaged they won’t even miss their devices, and if they’re too dirty to touch them it helps deter the urge to sit down with a game of solitaire.

Anything we missed? Leave a comment!

How to Bring Your Dog Along on Your Next Family Camping Vacation

May 26, 2015

Family camping vacations might be the most popular way for Americans and their families to escape the hectic distractions of the modern world and spend some quality bonding time together. In 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days at campsites all across the country, and the average camper takes five trips throughout the year.

If your family includes a dog, you probably want to bring your canine friend along for the ride. In addition to including your pet on your family fun, he or she will benefit immensely from the extra exercise and fresh air.

Want to include your dog on your next family camping vacation? Be sure to follow these three pointers for a fun-filled camping trip everyone will enjoy:

Preparing for your trip

Before you even book your next camping trip, be sure to find out whether or not the campground allows dogs. It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with the campground’s specific rules on pets before you embark on your camping vacation. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all his or her vaccinations; you may want to have your dog vaccinated against tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease or mosquito-borne heartworms, as well. Lastly, be sure your dog has a collar or harness with an identification tag.

Packing for your dog

If there isn’t a source of drinking water near your campsite, be sure to bring plenty of water for your dog — and never allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water like ponds. Bring along enough dog food and treats to last the duration of your trip, as well as bedding and toys. To keep your dog safe and healthy in the event of an emergency, pack a first aid kit and bring along a copy of his or her veterinary records.

Camping with your dog

There are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors with your dog during your family’s next camping trip. From playing frisbee to going on a hike together — 92% of campers go hiking regularly — there’s no shortage of ways to keep your dog entertained. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash or lead at all times so you don’t disturb your fellow campers, and to always clean up after your dog.

Have any other tips or tricks for bringing pets along on a family camping vacation? Let us and your fellow readers know in the comments below.

Three Life Hacks to Take With You on Your Next Camping Trip

April 30, 2015

With the start of peak camping season just weeks away, millions of Americans and their families will soon be flocking to the country’s numerous campgrounds and camping resorts en masse. Camping might just be one of the most popular activities for the American family — in 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days camping!

And while camping in tents is certainly the most popular way to go camping — 86% of campers choose to sleep in a tent when camping — many people struggle with the concept of “roughing it.” But with a little ingenuity and creativity, you can make any camping trip a little easier, breezier and more comfortable.

Here’s a look at three of our favorite “life hacks” to use during your next camping trip:

Bring a homemade fire-starter kit

No camping trip is complete without sitting around a roaring campfire and roasting some marshmallows to make s’mores, especially when campers bring their friends along on their trips 70% of the time. But starting a fire from scratch isn’t exactly easy for those unequipped with wilderness survival skills. To easily start a campfire anywhere you go, soak some cotton balls in a pill jar of petroleum jelly. Whenever you need to start a fire, simply take one of these cotton balls out and light a match.

Baking soda: the magic ingredient

Baking soda has a huge number of surprising uses, especially while you and your family are camping in tents. You can use baking soda to brush your teeth, soothe upset stomachs, relieve minor burns, as a deodorant, absorb moisture, and myriad other uses. Bring baking soda on your next camping trip — you’re guaranteed to use it at least once.

Keep the bugs away naturally

If you’re concerned about the chemicals of store-bought bug repellents but can’t stand the thought of letting yourself fall victim to mosquitoes and ticks, simply mix 1 part tree oil and 2 parts water in a plastic spray bottle. You’ve just created a natural, effective bug repellent.

Could Your Next Trip to Wisconsin's Campgrounds Have a Corporate Sponsor?

March 16, 2015

We’re familiar with sports venues and various events that are named after their corporate sponsors — but what about camping sites?

If the state’s proposed two-year budget passes, a trip to state parks and public campgrounds in Wisconsin could soon mean visiting a corporate-sponsored camp resort.

According to a March 3 Duluth News-Tribune article, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would cut all funding to Wisconsin’s state parks — and the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering selling the naming rights to these campgrounds as a way to generate revenue.

The DNR is also considering finding revenue from alternate sources, such as increasing entrance and camping fees for the state’s 46 state parks, 14 state trails, four recreational areas and two national scenic trails. Camping in public campgrounds such as state parks continues to be the most popular choice for campers — 70% of campers go camping in these public camping sites.

Walker’s budget would also put a halt to conservation land purchases for the next 13 years and cut 66 jobs in the DNR, in addition to stripping much of the agency’s authority to create policies.

A few other U.S. states have turned to the idea of corporate partnerships for their parks and camping grounds, but no state has been able to cover the cost of these parks’ upkeep with these funds, according to

The budgetary issue will be studied over the next two years before a final decision is made, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.

Despite the Wisonsin parks system’s budgetary woes, it can’t be denied that camping is becoming more popular than ever for Americans — in 2013, we went camping for a collective total of 516.6 million days, up from 515 million camping days in 2010. In 2014, more than 15 million people went camping in Wisconsin alone.

New Startup Takes Camping to the Next Level -- Literally

March 16, 2015

A new London-based startup has developed a product that will make it possible to bring a treehouse with you wherever you go tent camping.

According to a Feb. 26 Fast Company article, Tentsile is a company that manufactures tents that can be pitched up in the air by attaching its corners to trees, rocks or other sturdy structures.

Tent camping is by far the most popular method for camping across the country’s numerous campgrounds — about 86% of campers choose to do so in tents.

And as the post-recession ecotourism industry continues to thrive, so does the desire for a way to go camping that will have minimal impact on campgrounds’ natural terrain and environment. Currently, 71% of people say they plan to make an environmentally-conscious travel decision within the next year; Tentsile’s tents offer a perfect way for campers to immerse themselves in nature without leaving behind a footprint. Additionally, the company plants three trees for every tent it sells, further adding to its eco-friendly credentials.

Compared to other vertically-minded pieces of camping equipment, Tentsile’s product is surprisingly affordable, as well. Its models range from $500 to $1,500, and shipping is free worldwide, Fast Company writes. They’re also portable, and easy to set up and secure.

In 2010, Americans collectively spent 515 million days camping — and by 2013, this number grew to 516.6 million days. As more people continue to see the excitement and unique activities that a camping excursion can offer, it’s likely that more campers will turn to options like Tentsile’s treehouse tents to make their journeys even more fun. These treehouse tents are literally taking camping to the next level.

Would you try out the portable treehouse experience that Tentsile is offering with its unique tents? Share your thoughts about these tents — and ask us any questions about camping life and camp resorts — in the comments below.

Tips for Making the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

November 12, 2014

The pumpkin pie is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dessert tables across the United States. For many families, Thanksgiving (and occasionally Christmas) are the only times this tasty dish is served – and everyone wants to learn how to make Grandma’s family recipe taste just like hers, so they can pass the pumpkin pie tradition on to their own children and grandchildren.

How did the pumpkin pie because synonymous with our holiday of gratitude? No one really knows. Historians say the pumpkin is native to North America, and Native Americans likely cut the pulp into slices and roasted them over the fire. When European settlers arrived, they began exporting the big orange gourd. There, the French and the English prepared it as a dessert, but differently from the presentation we’re used to. They stuffed the whole pumpkin with apples, spices, sugar and even honey, and then baked it whole.

Here in the United States, recipes for pumpkin pie as we know it began showing up on Thanksgiving tables in the early 19th century. As a fall crop, pumpkins were likely considered a symbol of the autumn harvest and were plentiful; cooks of yesteryear were accustomed to making the most of what was available, so it’s no wonder they found a way to make delicious pumpkin pie.

If this is your first time making Grandma’s famous family recipe, or you just want to perfect your own pumpkin pie, here are a few easy tips to make it turn out just right.

Be careful not to over-beat the filling. Pumpkin pie is supposed to be thick and creamy; too much mixing will add air and thin out the texture.

Brush the pie crust with a slightly-beaten egg white and pre-bake it before filling it. This helps the crust stay flaky and crisp.

If you’re having a hard time getting the crust just right (it can be tricky), consider using a refrigerated pie crust. No one will know the difference – and we’ll never tell!

Buy an extra pie crust and use cookie cutters to cut it into festive shapes for the top – autumn leaves, pumpkins and so forth. It will look beautiful.

  • If you’re in a hurry, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling will work. Or roast a sugar pumpkin and puree the insides.

Fold crushed toffee into whipped cream for a deliciously decadent pie topping.

Keep an eye on the pie while it’s in the oven. Overbaking leads to the pie “weeping,” which makes the crust soggy and creates cracks in the surface.

Keep the pie refrigerated until it’s ready to be served.


Happy baking!