8 hacks to make the most of your camping trip

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Camping image. Photo from Iowa DNR

With summer camping season on the brink, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has shared some camping hacks:

  1. Use a headlamp – Save your arms for more important things. Perks: Your arms are free, the light goes where you want to look, they’re compact, and can light up your whole tent if you affix it to a see-through container.
  2. Leave space in your car – Even if you’re hardcore and planning to go tent camping (or just sleeping under the stars), a sudden rainstorm could pop up, or your tent could get damaged. You’ll be happy you have some sleeping room in the backseat.
  3. Bring alternative activities – You never know when the weather (or other factors) will dampen your planned activities, so pack things like playing cards, board games, puzzle books, etc.
  4. Know what poisonous plants look like – Poison ivy is a main concern in Iowa. The plant may not look the same from place to place. There’s also stinging nettles and wild parsnip to be aware of. Click here for help on identifying poisonous plants.  And even if you’re a master at identification, bring treatments just in case.
  5. Have a doormat – Placing a doormat outside of your tent can help keep your sleeping space clean. The mat can collect dirt and possible hitchhiking bugs that would have otherwise ended up in the tent. “To be extra careful, toss the mat in a black garbage bag and leave in direct sunlight. This heat treatment will prevent any last unwanted guests from coming home with you.”
  6. Food can help with fire – Those Doritos or cheese balls you were snacking on in the car can turn around and help you start a fire, if you’re in a bind.
  7. Have tough towels – Using a microfiber towel to wash dishes and clean with can help reduce waste at your campsite. Shammy or chamois cloth towels, sold at sporting goods stores, can be great for drying off after a swim. They are reusable, absorbent, and wring-out nicely.
  8. Don’t get sunburned – Try and remember your sunblock- but if you don’t, products with aloe vera can help soothe a sunburn. Using them with a cold cream can help with healing.  These creams will contain menthol or eucalyptus.
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