Every year, millions of Americans go camping.
For individuals, couples, and families looking to relax in our country’s most beautiful spots, camping just can’t be beaten. First and foremost, it’s a cheap break, without the expense of hotels or flights to foreign lands.
Of course, camping also puts you on nature’s doorstep – the perfect reason to explore your surroundings and embrace the American spirit of adventure.
Still, despite camping’s ongoing popularity, many people find themselves reluctant to try it for various reasons. Perhaps it’s the fear of being disconnected from today’s 24/7 online society. Perhaps it’s the sense of isolation they expect, or a feeling of vulnerability away from the city.
Well, in this post, we’re looking at four camping myths – and debunking them.
Myth #1: Camping Is All About Tents
Think camping has to involve tents, sleeping bags, and dozing under the stars?
Well, this is absolutely irresistible to plenty of campers, but others prefer to stay in an RV instead. The beauty of this is that you get all the perks of the camping experience without the more ‘hardcore’ aspects.
You can enjoy a comfortable bed, running water, lighting, and plenty of space to relax. You can lock your RV up and go explore, taking in the sights and enjoying all the usual activities, without missing out on the home-comforts you’re accustomed to in the evenings.
If you ARE staying in a tent, keep your essentials (phone, wallet etc.) in a waterproof backpack. Even if rain seeps through your canvas or you spill water over it, your delicates will remain safe.
Myth #2: Bears WILL Attack You
Even those of us living in regions without a history of bear sightings may well avoid the woods for fear of being mauled. They also give camping novices plenty to sweat over – but is this trepidation justified?
Statistically, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a bear while camping. If you’re visiting a dedicated camping site or national park, their staff will be able to provide information on safety and preparation.
If you’re still worried, just be sure to avoid leaving food in your tent, take care when cooking foods with strong scents, and never leave waste close to your campsite.
Myth #3: Poison Ivy is a Contagious Risk to Others
Poison ivy’s frightening enough to have even the most seasoned campers watching their step while out walking, but do you need to worry if a friend or relative gets a rash?
No! Poison ivy isn’t actually contagious.
The rash is created by the oil contained on the ivy’s leaves and stems, and if this stays on the person’s skin, that may rub off onto someone else. This is unlikely, though, and easy to avoid with the proper care.
Just be sure to change your skin and stay clean.
Myth #4: You’ll Get Dirty
Without doubt, the fear of feeling filthy and smelly is enough to put novices off of camping for life. However, many of the best campsites offer showers with hot water and even baths (for a more luxurious experience).
Of course, if you’re staying in an RV, you may have your own shower. Alternatively, you can wash yourself down in the sink!
We all know hygiene’s important to avoid infections etc., but showering after a long hike or spot of kayaking helps to soothe your aching muscles. You’ll also be able to feel more relaxed if you’re not self-conscious about your body odor or stinky clothes.
Feeling tempted to try camping? We hope so. It’s a great American tradition, and the perfect way to get close to nature in an affordable, fun way. For your first camping trip, perhaps try to take an experienced camper along with you, for your own peace of mind.
Now that winter’s on our doorstep, finding the motivation to keep cycling might not be quite so easy.
Depending on your location, your physical condition, and your bike itself, you may well feel daunted at the prospect of hitting that frosty road. Those of us living on hilly terrain (for example) might struggle with multiple inclines in the colder weather, while those in areas prone to floods might find their usual routes blocked off.
Still, provided you have the right gear, you can keep cycling through winter – and have a blast. To help you get the most out of your time on the saddle, we’ve put together four great tips to stay safe on your winter rides.
1: Layer Up
The right cycling clothes are important at any time of the year, but absolutely crucial in winter. You need to invest in wicking thermals to keep you moisture-free but warm at the same time, as well as waterproof top-layers. Even on crisp, bright days, you never know when an icy shower might come along.
Don’t be tempted to put on a big, paddeds jacket on the coldest days – you’ll quickly overheat through exertion. Not only can this ruin your ride just be making you uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Instead, layer up: with a waterproof shell, a top, and a thermal underneath, you can remove garments to regulate your temperature.
2: Keep your Essentials in a Waterproof Bag
On even shorter rides, you might take a bag of gear with you. Maps, books (for a spot of leisurely reading in your favorite hideaway), snacks, and spare clothes are all handy to have on the road.
However, if a pesky shower (or, worse still, a torrential downpour) comes along, you want your bits and pieces to stay as dry as possible. A solid waterproof bag will do the trick, and these are available in a range of stylish colors.
3: Stay Hydrated, Stay Fed
Just because it’s cold enough to freeze lakes doesn’t mean you won’t work up a thirst. You’re still pushing yourself as hard as you would be in warmer weather, and while you might not start sweating quite as quickly, perspiration will still come.
Keep a couple of flasks with you, perhaps filling one with cold water and one with hot chocolate. Water will keep you hydrated, while the latter will raise your temperature a little (and taste delicious).
Keep a couple of protein bars with you, to give you an energy-boost if you start to flag, and take a snack along for a more substantial lift. A high-fiber sandwich or pasta will do the trick, releasing energy over time.
4: Light the Way
Lights are essential in winter, even if you’re riding during the middle of the day: overcast skies can make you harder to spot on the road, particularly in shaded areas.
Invest in small, rechargeable LED lights that affix to your bike: these are simple to mount and will ensure drivers see you in gloomy spots. They also provide reassurance should you stay out later than planned.
Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors all year round, so follow the above tips and you’ll have a great time!