Not all women are naturally outdoorsy. Not all women have grown up camping out with Dad and brothers. Still, many of us will have that opportunity at some point, especially if you’re interested in the kind of guy who enjoys those things. Here is a list of tips for being a good guest on your first camping trip.
1. Get over your appearance.
No matter how much you fuss with your hair, no matter how hard you try, you simply will not look like you normally do after your morning shower/hair/makeup routine. This is OK. If you’re camping out with people we hope you know them well enough that they already appreciate your wonderful personality more than your appearance.
Naturally you will want to look the best you can but without being fussy or fretful. We generally advise going entirely without makeup. It is unnecessary and will be impossible to maintain under primitive conditions. At the maximum please do not wear more than a little mascara (non-waterproof!) and touch of lipgloss or chapstick. Waterproof mascara is hard to remove and will streak and make you look like a raccoon quite readily. Non-waterproof is less durable and therefore easiest to remove while away from the rest of your beauty routine.
If your hair is long enough a braid or ponytail is best. This keeps your hair out of the way and as clean as possible. Carry a small brush or a large comb for maintenance. If your hair is too short for a braid then we suggest a hat to cover it with. Either a cute and fitted baseball cap or a soft canvas hat. Also carry a set of nail clippers as you will almost invariably have a hangnail (sort of a Murphy’s Law of camping).
For personal hygiene we recommend a small package of wipes and a small ziploc for disposing of the used ones. A washcloth is also an excellent choice for more serious grime. We often pack a well-wetted cloth flat in a quart ziploc bag. If you are near a water source (lake or stream) you will not need to pre-wet it but you will need the ziploc for packing the wet cloth away.
2. Packing essentials.
Pack a small flashlight. Your host likely has one already but you will want your own for late night calls of nature.
A pocket knife can do just about everything so we recommend having one but even more strongly we recommend carrying a P-38 can opener . You should probably carry one at all times anyway (we have found this little tool to be amazingly useful and often in demand in the most mundane circumstances) but especially on a camping trip. It is an oft forgotten necessity.
Plenty of dry socks, clean t-shirts and clean underthings are light and easy to pack. Don’t take extra shoes or many pairs of jeans but a clean t-shirt will make you feel put together even if your pants are a mess. We also suggest a pair of zip-off pants for all types of weather.
A small tube of lotion will ease your time in the wild. Dry skin comes with exposure to the elements and a bit of lotion will make you much more comfortable.
Even though your host has likely covered the food thing from all angles we still think that packing a snack or two would be wise. Sometimes emergencies occur and of course the more self-sufficient you are the better but it is also nice to be able to contribute something to the common meals. The more unique the food-item the better. Jerky has likely been covered as has candy, but a box of wheat thins is always surprisingly popular. Breath mints are a nice touch too.
Definitely have your own small roll of toilet paper as you won’t want to have to ask every time you need some. A biodegradable variety is ideal though most any will do. You will have to squat. It is somewhat uncomfortable and takes a little technique but half the battle is just being comfortable enough to try. Concealment and a slight slope away from you shoes is ideal. Bury the evidence!
3. Get adventuresome.
You may not really like climbing, find swimming in cold mountain lakes chilly, not thrilling, want to stay in camp and read rather than hike, but you are out there to explore and have fun, not recreate your living room in the wilderness. If you’re wakeful at night from the hard ground, enjoy the chance to look at the stars. If you get scraped up laugh about your war wounds. If the bats swoop down at you try to stifle the rising scream, and failing that just laugh at yourself about it. In fact, whatever the iffy situation is, laughter is your best bet.
4. Leave the attitude at home.
New experiences are what sets the women apart from the girls and how you handle the stresses of them will speak volumes about your character. The more patient and good-humored you are the higher you will rise in everyone’s estimation. Don’t ask “are we there yet” as you hike in, don’t whine “I have to sleep where” as the tent is set up, just go with the flow. At the very worst you will end up with a great story to tell your less adventurous girlfriends over coffee.