It’s the middle of summer and you are ready for an adventurous getaway. You’ve worked hard since school let out and have scrapped together some cash. A camping road trip seems like the perfect way to spend it.
Nothing allows you to enjoy the freedom that comes with summer quite like pitching a tent under the stars. Add your closest friends and a road trip to the mixture and you get the experience of a lifetime. A camping road trip can bond people for life, but it can also test the strength of friendships. It will teach you things you never would have considered about yourself, your friends and your friendships. You should start packing.
What camping will teach you about yourself
Camping can help you discover yourself and also shape you into someone more adaptable and outdoor-savvy. Camping will teach you about self-sufficiency and how to react when things don’t go as planned, which is bound to happen on a camping road trip. The experience will teach you to be creative, how to improvise and to rely on your instincts.
Two of the most important things a camping road trip can teach you about yourself are your physical boundaries and limitations. And I’m not just talking about finding your limitations with intense, thrill-seeking, adrenaline-inducing, jump-off-a-bridge-tied-with-a-single-rope (read: bungee jumping) type of activities.
It’s just as important to discover your boundaries and limitations in situations as simple as knowing when to pull over the car (or RV) to rest or switch drivers, or knowing when it’s time to sit down for a “real” meal rather than the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and pretzel sticks you’ve had for the past few days.
Being aware of boundaries and limitations is beneficial for everyday life as well, as they will be applicable in your life as a student, a young professional or even a friend. Knowing when to say “I can’t” or even “I can” can help you with deciding what to prioritize in different moments.
What camping will teach you about your friends
You and your friends probably know a lot about each other’s strengths and weaknesses already, but a road trip will shed light on a very specific and necessary skill: navigation. At some point, you will almost definitely have to pull over and ask for directions. You might even have to buy a paper map for navigation in order to develop a solid sense of direction.
Campgrounds are known for being dead zones for cell service and, if you’re going off the beaten path, GPS service will be a rare blessing rather than the usually dependable navigation system we all know, love and take for granted. It won’t take long to find out which members of your road trip have the best sense of direction and which ones weren’t blessed with spatial awareness. Take care of your friends who are good navigators. Cherish them. Stay in their good graces. They are extremely helpful to you in this outdoor experience.
What camping will teach you about friendship
Road tripping with your closest friends will test your patience and your friendships in the best ways possible. Sure, you may have been friends since grade school and have seen each other through thick and thin, but have you shared a 3’x5’ space for a week? Giving each other as much space as possible, even while within arm’s reach of each other, is going to be crucial in maintaining your sanity and enjoying each other’s company the entirety of the trip.
Going camping will strengthen your friendship because you will have to pick up on each other’s cues when you need some space. Depending on your individual personalities, some people can be direct with you when they know they need space, while others will simply retreat into themselves. You’ll have to learn how to pick up on these cues in order to best give them the space they need when you’re all sharing either a car or a tent together.
With all these caveats, is camping even worth it? Yes, because on top of sharing this time with friends, you’ll be adventuring outdoors and having once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you’ll remember and reflect back upon fondly for the rest of your life.
Two camping items you must bring along: a killer playlist and a first aid kit
DJ duty is incredibly important in the completion of a successful camping road trip. The right playlist will set the mood, change the mood when needed and, most importantly, provide a variety of sounds and music styles.
You may think that your favorite music genre is Alternative and that your favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but just wait until you’ve listened to all their songs on repeat for four days straight. Even if listening to the same artist nonstop were to sound like pure heaven to you, the idea might not be received with equal enthusiasm from everyone else in the car. You’ll most likely be forced to rotate music through several of your fellow campers’ phones as even the most extensive playlists will struggle to sound original after a few days of constant streaming.
On another note, take it from someone who is not the type to buy airline ticket insurance or pack first aid kits for an outdoor trip: it’s a must. Pack your usual band aids, disinfectant and Ibuprofen, but don’t forget Benadryl or a substitute allergy medication. The last thing you want on a relaxing camping trip is to find out that you have a bee allergy when you are miles deep into the woods with no cell service or proper medication. Yes, it’s just as stressful as it sounds.
Taking a camping trip will give you the opportunity to invest in yourself and your friendships all while exploring different places and taking in new sceneries. Besides, it’s one of those college (and normal life) experiences that you just have to do!