By Dave & Deb (The PlanetD)
Many people say that traveling together can make or break a relationship, and the same can be said for camping.
My husband Dave and I (married for nearly 15 years) have climbed, biked, paddled, and camped as a couple through seven continents, so we know a thing or two about what one should—and should not— do when spending time in the great outdoors together. It can certainly be a challenge, but if you follow these tips, you’ll come away from the experience enriched and closer than ever—or still together, at the very least.
Here are some tips to make you and your partner happy this camping trip.
It's important to discuss what experience you both want out of the trip. Do you want to go completely off-the-grid and camp in a remote location with no facilities, or are you looking for a more comfortable trip at a campsite complete with swimming pools, kitchens, electricity and a general store? If you don’t talk about it beforehand, you could end up being left behind in the tent with nothing but your beef jerky to keep you company.
Have one person take care of the inside of the tent and one person set up the outside. This avoids unnecessary critique of how the other does things.
It’s important to make sure both of you are contributing when setting up camp. The person stuck doing all the work will resent their partner, leaving room for bad feelings later on, so tasks should be divided before you start.
Once we pop up the tent, my husband Dave takes charge of the outside and I set up the inside. Dave enjoys hammering things so I let him do it. He makes sure that every piece of tent fly is pulled tight and that no piece is left touching the tent. Nothing can ruin a sleep more than an overhead drip, and if you're tired, you're sure to be more cranky with one another.
I take care of setting up the inside of the tent including the camping air mattresses, sleeping bags, packing the pillowcases with our excess clothing and putting out our pj’s. A good tip is to leave the headlamps, bug spray and toiletries right by the door so that you can get to everything you need when the time comes and there's no rummaging around in the dark. In fact, organization is key to an enjoyable camping experience. The sooner you can crack open a bottle of wine to watch the sunset, the sooner you can have your couple’s weekend to enjoy the great outdoors and each other.
Just because you are out in the wilderness doesn’t mean that you can’t have a gourmet meal. Plan your meals before you leave and don’t forget all the spices and oils needed. Go through a checklist together and break down meals as well as snacks.
Trail mix and fruit are great snack options, pancakes are quick and easy for breakfast and sandwiches are a snap to make for lunch. A Bodum coffee brewer and thermos mug are also musts. Nothing is more inviting than a fresh brew in the morning. For dinner we find pastas and rice are the easiest things to cook and we pre-make all sauces at home. That way, when we get to camp, all we have to do is boil some water, warm some bread over the fire and re-heat our sauce—it’s five-star dining with a million dollar view.
Nothing causes more heated discussions when camping (with anyone) than when people try to give advice about how to light a campfire. For the sake of your relationship, it's best to let one person take care of making the fire while the other waits patiently—and quietly—no matter how much they want to give their two cents. If you feel the need to, leave to find some dried leaves and twigs to use as kindling while the other person sets up a teepee of wood.
Investing in a collapsible sink will make life much easier come clean-up time. Teamwork is needed to make clean up easy so while one of you boils water to use for dishwashing, the other can go and fetch some water in your collapsible water jug for rinsing. Nobody likes cleaning, but we make sure to have a fresh glass of wine or an icy cold beer to sip on while we work. While one person washes, the other dries and within minutes we're free and ready to sit by the fire and reconnect with one another after a long week at work. Important Tip: Employ the rules you have at home for duties such as clean up. Camping is no time to be switching roles.