emergency telephone number works across most of United States.
Animals: Bears, rodents, and
other furry creatures are attracted to campsites by food.
Keep food stored in tamper-proof containers out of sight
(car trunk) or out of reach (two balanced bags hanging
from tree limb).
Attitude: Keep an "Are we
having fun yet?" frame-of-mind. Whatever the situation,
try not to panic.
Backpacking: Get away from it
all. Learn how little is necessary to survive and how much
is just "nice." High on the essentials list are
water, waterproof matches, food, map, and compass.
Bathing: If showers are unavailable,
hang waterbag in sunny place to absorb rays and heat water.
Rinse off with plain water or, for spot cleanup, use baby
wipes. You'll sleep better; your sleeping bag/linens will
Birds: Observe birds and other
animals. Never feed them as you may become their executioner.
Research has proved feeding birds and other animals interferes
not only with their instinct but also with their ability
to survive. Animals accustomed to eating human junk foods
are less likely to live through winter. They absorb their
insulating layer of body fat before winter is over and
natural foods become available.
Blanket, Space: This lightweight,
coated-on-one-side piece of Mylar is an example of beneficial
spinoffs from space technology. Take along space blanket
when hiking. In case of sudden hypothermia, wrap individual
in blanket (reflective side in) to conserve body heat.
If day gets too hot, rig space blanket as reflective tarp.
Keep one in your tent nightsack. If weather turns cold
during night, spread it (reflective side down) over sleeping
bag to trap body heat.
Books: Guidebooks add to your
understanding and enjoyment of the world around you. Select
one or two well-recommended books so you're not overburdened
with information or weight. Well-paced novels can also
add to your "great escape."
Budget: Whether trip is weekend
jaunt or extended tour, it pays to plan your finances.
Allocate money for necessities such as food and any camp
fees before niceties such as that raft trip or hot air
Bug Zapper: Leave this disruptive
item at home.
Choose a chore: Whenever staying
at a "free" camping area, spend a bit of time
cleaning it up, leaving a roll of toilet paper in the privy,
making minor repairs - any small chore that might influence
the supervising agency to keep the place "free."
Clothing: Learn art of layering.
It allows garments to perform more than one duty to keep
you comfortable. Dressing in layers has other benefits:
you buy less and you pack less. Always prepare for the
worst-case weather scenario.
Compass: Carry one (and use it)
when you're hiking.
Cooking Pots & Pans: Pots
that nest inside one another take up less space (that valuable
commodity when camping or traveling). If you're concerned
about weights and oxides, purchase lightweight stainless
steel. A pressure cooker makes sense while camping (as
long as you're not backpacking). Even in the rain, it can
turn out an entire meal in a half-hour whether bean pot
or three-course chicken dinner.
Dishes: Carry reusable cups,
dishes, and flatware. Think twice about buying paper plates,
plastic forks, and spoons. These items really aren't "disposable." They're
extravagant wastes of world's resources. When washing dishes
outdoors, use that indispensable waterbag to rinse dishes.
After drying, place utensils out of animals' reach.
Documents: While traveling in
US, Americans need only their driver's licenses. Travelers
from other countries also need visas or passports.
Ethics: Here is where golden
rule applies. If you take care of plants, animals, objects,
and structures as you wish you or your property were treated,
there would be no need for any other rules or regulations.
Exercise: Make exercise a natural
part of your day. Take a walk, bike ride, paddle, or swim.
If it's raining, perform stretches and isometrics in your
tent or RV.
Fires: If you must have a campfire,
build a small one. Burn fiber egg cartons, cereal boxes
- any paper or wood product. Never burn plastics, styrofoam,
glass, metal, or batteries. Make certain your fire is totally
out before you leave it.
First-Aid (Basic Kit): In alphabetical
order, pack aloe cream for sun or wind burn; antibiotic
(such as penicillin or erythromycin) to treat infections;
antihistamine (such as Benadryl) for respiratory problems;
aspirin to lower fever; band-aids/bandages; DEET (diethylmeta-toluamide)
to prevent mosquito bites; hydrocortisone cream (such as
Cortaid) to relieve skin irritations; rubbing alcohol to
clean cuts; and Sting-eze (if ice is unavailable) to treat
Fishing: What a rewarding way
to let your mind wander! While you solve world's problems
or simply get lost in wonders of nature, you might catch
Flashlight: To prevent accidental
draining of batteries, rubber-band flashlight switch "off." New
LED lights last longer with greatly extended battery life.
Focus: Choose interest area if
you're planning extended trip - bird sightings, battlefields,
emigration trails, Native American petroglyphs..
Foods: Buy fresh, locally-grown
foods whenever possible. Not only do they taste better
and have more food value, but also they're less expensive.
Store all food items carefully against pests as well as
Footwear & Footcare: Sandals,
shoes, and boots that fit can make or break you. It's important
to choose comfortable as well as appropriate footwear.
For example, in camp change from hiking boots to moccasins
or sandals to avoid unnecessary trampling of vegetation.
If you're sweating or blistering, take off your socks and
shoes, and bathe your feet in rubbing alcohol. Another
way to avoid blisters is to wear two pairs of socks: a
thin pair next to your feet with a thicker pair on top.
Guns: Statistics indicate - carry
Hiking: Your feet set the best
pace for your mind to absorb the wonders of nature.
Hunting: Over America's last
three hundred years, hunting has evolved from survival
to sport. Now as population centers encroach on country's
last wild places, hunting must be carefully regulated.
Insects: Ants, bees, chiggers,
flies, hornets, mosquitos, no-see-ems, scorpions, ticks,
and wasps can make you miserable no matter where you are.
Practice avoidance: shun scented soaps and lotions; camp
in breezy locations; wash dishes and pack away food after
eating; check shoes, clothes, and linens before using;
dress appropriately (for example, to avoid mosquitos or
ticks, wear light-colored long sleeves and pants); use
DEET sparingly. If bitten, remove insect. Wash area with
soap and water; then cool with ice, if available. In case
of swelling or itching, take antihistamine (such as Benadryl).
Itineraries: Let someone (friend,
family member, or ranger) know your plans, including arrival
place and time.
Kids: #1 rule is keep your sense
of humor. #2 rule is pack plenty of healthy snacks that
can become pleasurable distractions as well as energizers.
#3 rule is dress children in bright colors so they're easy
to spot outdoors. Child carriers allow babies who can hold
up their heads to accompany you on walks and hikes. Carry
baby gently. Plan on stops for diaper changes, feedings,
and stretches. Check baby's body temperature and adjust
clothing frequently. If child is toddling, expect any foot
travel to take about one hour per half-mile. Plan accordingly
and carry as little as possible, in case you have to pick
up child. Older children love to bring along friends on
day trips or overnight excursions. For over-nights, pack
separate tent for them. They'll love "responsibility";
you'll love relative peace.
Knots: Take time to learn basic
knots. They'll save you much frustration in rainstorms
Makeshift: Place candle in empty tuna can to catch
Litter: Carry litter bag to pick
up trash marring natural beauty of landscape.
Mail: When you're out for extended
time, arrange for family member or friend to forward your
mail. Ask individual to put pieces in a "Penalty Envelope" (available
from the post office) then forward all "General Delivery" to
appointed place. Specify when to forward. Allow one week
for delivery. Pick a tiny post office to lower risk of
it getting lost.
Maps: These necessary items help
take frustration out of travel. You can figure out where
you want to go and how to get there. Carry official state
maps in your vehicle and US Geological Survey (USGS) topographical
maps in your backpack.
Medical Information: Wear any
medical identification bracelets/tags and know yourself
(for example, when you last had tetanus shot).
Money: This commodity is relatively
easy to obtain this day and time. Automatic teller machine
networks crisscross the country; advances on charge cards
are available at most banks; many auto club members can
purchase free travelers checks.
Nature: Take only pictures; leave
only footprints. Show consideration to all living things
you see. Picking wildflowers and feeding or capturing wild
creatures for pets is forbidden - it's hard to improve
on Mother Nature's schemes. (Too, never buy souvenirs made
from endangered animals.)
Moon & Stars: In our electric
world, we've lost familiarity with these stellar objects.
Buy star chart to get reacquainted. Learn phases of moon.
Nightsack: Pack books, flashlight
and batteries, tissues, baby wipes and powder, space blanket
- all those little necessities - into one carryall.
Nocturnal Animals: Meet wide
range of animals that come out at night.
Observation: Try to use all your
senses to identify all that surrounds you.
Options: Keep your eyes open
to more efficient ways of doing anything and everything.
Remember that goal of camping is to enjoy it - not to work
Organization: Develop systems
for loading your backpack, your automobile, your RV.. For
example, carry heavy items in backpack near your pelvis
and back for balance. Many campers have adapted almost-indestructible
milk crates to their needs. Each crate serves a different
purpose such as pantry, his or her clothes.. Designate
specific places for water bottles, maps, first-aid kit,
raingear.. Always put any item back in place so you can
find it when you need it.
Passes: Purchasable Golden Eagle
Pass allows you into unlimited number of national park
service locations. Golden Age Pass qualifies anyone over
age 62 to camping and entrance discounts. Golden Access
Pass provides disabled individuals free entrance to national
park sites. Check out state and local passes too.
Pets: Pets can create problems
when traveling. If you must bring one, be prepared to make
allowances for needs of other people and animals as well
as your pet. Keep pet leashed.
Photography: Here is another
focus that allows you to enjoy your trip again and again.
Poisonous Plants: Know how poison
ivy, oak, and sumac look to avoid them. Pack cortisone
cream in case you have a close encounter.
Quiet: Now recognized as a resource
in need of protection in many parks, rules have been made
to restrain generators and other noise during specific
hours. If fellow camper is noisy, approach immediately
and courteously request quiet.
Recreational Equipment: Keep
it simple. How about a frisbee?
Rules & Regulations: Take
responsibility to determine if there are any specifics
beyond golden rule.
RV Ethics: Use generator sparingly
- never at night. Discharge gray/black water at dump stations
- never at campsite.
Safety: Always consider safety
of others as well as self.
Sanitation: If toilets are unavailable,
walk as far away from camp or trail as feasible. Dig small
hole at least four inches deep. Afterward, fill hole with
soil and tamp down. Cover with large rock or branch to
keep animals from digging. Carry plastic bags for toilet
paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons.
Shelters (Tents, Screenhouses, RVs): Select
best option according to your needs - not salesperson's.
Site Selection: In campgrounds,
choose inside curves along roads to avoid headlights. Look
around. Avoid low places for water drainage and never trench
area. Look overhead to avoid dead tree limbs. To hold your
place, leave large but inexpensive item - for example,
a lawn chair. In back-country, select site 200 ft or more
from trails, lakes, and streams and hide your camp from
Sleeping Gear (Pads, Bags, Liners,
Pillows): Make yourself comfortable. A washable liner
acts as a sheet and protects your sleeping bag.
Smoking: If you must, dispose
of matches, ashes, and cigarette butts in responsible manner
- they're litter as well as fire hazards.
Snakes: Remember that snakes
tend to shy away from humans.
Solar Cell Panel: When stopped,
use this environmentally sound way to power appliances
- operates without gas or oil and creates no noise.
Stoves: To lessen site impact,
use campstove instead of fire. Select reliable model and
take care of it for dependable service.
Styrofoam: Avoid purchasing Styrofoam
containers whenever possible. These containers cannot be
recycled, creating hazards to our environment.
Sun Protection: As world's ozone
layer depletes and allows ultraviolet rays to harm skin,
you must take steps to protect yourself and, especially,
your children. When sun is bright, wear hats or sunscreen
or both. Pay special attention to noses.
Telephone Cards: These pieces
of plastic come in handy at pay phones. Make sure you have
long-distance carrier's customer service number for any
Time: Take your time, but know
when to go. Be aware of time zones and daylight savings
Tools & Spare Parts: Keep
it simple - for example, a hubcap works as a shovel.
Trails: Stay on trails. Avoid
trampling fragile undergrowth or causing erosion by taking
Transportation: Choose your wheels
- bicycle, motorcycle, car, RV - and maintain for reliable
service. Consider options of boat, plane..
Trash: Purchase recyclable or
refillable containers. Avoid butane cylinders, sterno cans,
disposable lighters, and razors. Also, avoid individually
packaged items such as cereal and juice boxes, cheese singles,
or fruit and pudding cups. Use wax paper instead of plastic
for food-wrap. Wax paper burns cleanly - plastic doesn't.
Make sure your garbage doesn't end up in ocean, lake, creek,
gully, or side of road. Pack it in; pack it out.
Volunteer: Get involved in special
places and projects. Often, you receive as much as you
Water: Importance of water cannot
be underestimated. Carry and drink plenty. A multi-gallon
container allows freedom to camp where water is unavailable
- often saving you a camp fee. If backpacking and collecting
water from streams and lakes, carry water filter or purifying
Weather: Watch the weather so
you can decide when to pack up, tie down, or bring extra
gear inside tent or RV.