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Happy campers

Now that the warmer weather is here, get the family together and enjoy the benefits of a camping trip

A camping trip is a great way to enjoy the health benefits of the fresh air and the great outdoors with friends and family. Numerous studies have shown that being close to nature can have a beneficial effect on our wellbeing, so why not pack up your tent and camping stove and make the most of the warmer weather?

If you associate camping with cold showers and eating baked beans from the tin, think again! Camp sites now offer fantastic facilities, showers, power and even wifi – although you might want to switch off your smartphone and enjoy a digital detox. Tents come in all shapes and sizes now, so that entire families can camp together and there are plenty of ways to bring your creature comforts with you – portable espresso maker, anyone? If you want to go for a glamping experience you could leave the tent at home and enjoy the benefits of staying in a cosy cabin, yurt, hut or even camper van.

There are plenty of good reasons why you might want to choose to hire a campervan, as it requires less set-up and will be warmer if the weather is chilly. However a good old-fashioned tent will be much cheaper and you really get to enjoy the true camping experience that way.

Besides your tent, there are plenty of other things you will need to pack for your camping trip. It’s a good idea to make a checklist before you go. Take a look at our suggestions below:

TentGround sheetTent pegs, including sparesMallet
Duct tape for repairsElectric hook-upSleeping bagBlankets and pillows
Sleeping mat or airbedAir pumpEarplugsFoldable camping chairs and tables
Portable toiletWind breakTorch or head torchBinbags
Water containerCamping stoveGas or charcoalPots and pans
Travel kettleCooking utensilsPlates, bowls, cups and cutleryTin opener
Coolbox or coolbagMatches or a lighterWet WipesFirst Aid Kit
Sun CreamAnti-bacterial handwashInsect repellentExtra Batteries
Pocket knifeToilet roll

Plan some activities
Before you embark on your trip it’s a good idea to plan some fun outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, hiking or swimming. These are all great sports which will raise your heart rate and get the blood pumping – good for a health boost.

Make sure you bring appropriate gear, such as well-fitting, sturdy hiking boots or cycling helmets. Plan your route or activity carefully – never go off on your own and make sure that children are always accompanied by an adult. Look up local walking routes before you go and always take a map and compass or a GPS to guard against getting lost.

Top tips
When packing, make sure any food you bring is kept in tight, waterproof containers and stored in an insulated cooler. Separate raw foods from cooked foods and wash your hands frequently. Take a natural hand sanitiser with you if water isn’t easily available.

Protect yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning by never using fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters or charcoal grills inside a tent or enclosed shelter. This can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up, which is odourless and colourless and can cause death.

Drink plenty of water during the day to guard against dehydration. Keep a good supply with you at all times and don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Avoid the direct sun from midday to 3pm as this is when it is at its strongest.

Meal suggestions
Here are some ideas for healthy foods that you can take on your camping trip. Make sure you bring a cooler to keep the food fresh and a camping stove to cook on.

Porridge or oatmeal
Boiled eggs and wholemeal bread
Low fat yoghurt with fresh fruit and nuts and seeds

Protein bars – look for low sugar varieties
Trail mix or nuts and seeds
Hummus and oat cakes

Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables
Mixed salad with boiled egg or chicken
Vegetable omelette
Baked sweet potato
Gluten-free wraps or sandwiches

Homemade chilli with brown rice
Grilled fish or chicken with vegetables
Vegetable soup and crusty wholemeal bread
Grilled vegetables on skewers

One pot wonders
Make sure you pack a big cooking pot and cook up a big batch of soup or stew filled with plenty of veg that will last you for dinner and lunch the next day. Serve with quinoa for a healthy, protein packed accompaniment.

Read previous Your Outdoor Living articles here...