My Top 3 Rules About Camping

Vanlife is fun. The ability to jump in the front seat and take off from work or home without any additional prep is undeniably awesome. It is the most carefree way of getting into nature that I can imagine. Still, there are SOME rules I always follow. Well, just three.

  1. Always Arrive Before Dark
  2. Have the Most Heavy Duty Extension Cord That Your Wallet Can Afford
  3. Prepare for Downtime

1. Get there before Dark

This is a universal truth that you can’t really appreciate until you have truly screwed up. Rolling up to a campsite and not being able to see glass, boards with nails, and  cliff drop offs is generally a bad thing.  And do you really want to be the guy who drove over some sea turtle eggs? Yeah, no. To be sure, you’re well ahead of anyone towing anything because you can jump in back and sleep, but you don’t want to wake up to disaster either. Plan to arrive at least an hour before sundown.

2. Have the most heavy duty extension cord that your wallet can afford.

If you’re running an extension cord that you purchased from Dollarama, you’re toast. Your van is toast.  EVERYTHING is toast.

You want a thick gauge extension cord (the lower the gauge, the thicker it is). This is especially true if your super smart masterplan involves using an extension cord with a heater. A proper extension cord can run you about $80-100. Yeah, that sounds like a lot, but buying a new van is slightly more costly. You’ll want a waterproof contractor’s extension cord. You’ll find them at Lowe’s, Home Depot and places like that. I have not yet seen one at Walmart that I would trust with a heater. 

How to pick an extension cord: When choosing an extension cord, make sure to compare the watts/amps of your device to the watts/amps of the extension cord.  The average low end heater in the U.S. pulls 1500 watts. Yes, your Dollar Tree cord will run it, but for how long? Eventually, that cord is going to fry and if you don’t catch it in time, you will experience disaster. This is non-negotiable and at the end of the day, 100 dollars is worth your life.

When in doubt, take your extension cord and your heater to the nearest fire department. They will tell you if the two work together.

3. Prepare for downtime

When I’m camping, I’m not out there to win an elimination challenge. I want to have fun.  While that sometimes means being with other people, it can also mean being by myself and enjoying the silence. Maybe there’s a downpour or I’m stuck waiting out a pack of wolves who’ve moved into my campsite. Point is that sometimes I’m stuck in the van. When that happens, I’m STILL GOOD. I have:

  • Cards
  • Solo games like Desolate or that traveler’s version of Catan, which can easily be played solo
  • All the Star Trek DVDs I can ever watch (with some Aliens and Predator  for good measure)
  • A sewing project
  • Journal pages or my planner to work on
  • A paper travel atlas for route planning
  • A few books for solo Dungeons and Dragons campaigns

Remember, Scar was right. Be prepared.

I hope these three tips are helpful. Doing these small things that can make or break or trip and they can all be put into action the same day you read this. Go out there and have fun, y ‘all.

2 responses to “My Top 3 Rules About Camping”

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