The end of July is fast approaching and the month of August is prime camping weather. Take your family on a summer-ending camping trip before the school year starts and the stressful holiday season approaches. Camping is a fun and effortless way to unplug from the world around you and refocus on yourself and your family. Shed the work regalia and get your mojo back with these tips on how to camp like a champ.

Less is More.

Once you own the basics, you’re set. You don’t need a new cuben fiber tent just because it exists. The more you buy doesn’t equal more fun. It’s actually more to keep track of, pack, unpack, and clean. One good rule of thumb for gear is: Rent or borrow before you own. See how much you’ll actually use it. If not a lot, forget about it. A little ingenuity and problem solving is what makes camping fun. Stringing a tarp between trees can beat owning a $200 pop-up rain shelter. Getting by with less is one of the joys of camping, so don’t buy more stuff unless you need it.

Make a Camping Box

Packing for a camping trip often takes way longer than it should. Your headlamp, after searching, is inexplicably in your sock drawer, and who knows where you put your spork. That’s why it helps to make a camp box. A Rubbermaid tote or something similar will do. You put all your gear in it, your pack, your sleeping bag, your cookware, etc., and when the urge strikes, you’ll be ready to go. The secret is making sure all your gear gets cleaned and ends up back in the box when you get home.

Go Unplugged!

You live your entire life within reach of a smartphone. Try a weekend without. One of the reasons we camp is to escape modern conveniences, or to go back to basics. Going unplugged is good for your attention span, and it’ll help you focus on the natural world, and isn’t that why you went? Save the Instagram and Twitter posts until after you get back. Life is already going to be hectic after August!

Find the Sunset

Gorgeous Instagram photos don’t happen by accident. They’re made by someone who seeks a particular shot. So, don’t waste the golden hour tinkering with your camp stove. Bring your camera and hike to a vantage. There’s a fine line between candid and composed and you want to find that balance. The added benefit of a sunset hike is you’ll see more wildlife. You’ll hear more birds singing in the trees, maybe see a deer or elk, and you’ll have much better odds of snapping a photo that you’ll proudly add to your Instagram feed once you get home.

Be Spontaneous!

You don’t need to always plan epic trips with complicated logistics. Most times it’s just as rewarding to make simple, spontaneous plans. Is it raining? Who cares! Take a road trip. Pitch your tent in the forest. You won’t see nearly as many people, and that’ll be a nice surprise. Camping on a whim makes for the best trips because you don’t have as many expectations. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on this camping trip, there’s always next time!

Take your family on one last get together before everyone returns to their school and work activities. You’ll get to have one last relaxing adventure and your family will get some much needed family time before the in-laws and extended family make a visit (you won’t be able to get away on a camping trip then).

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