No matter where your friends are if you can gather in the great outdoors, you and your friends can probably find something fun to do. Camping trips are a great way to get some fresh air, relax fully and keep your travel budget low.
Get on the Water
Many organized campgrounds allow you to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboat. If you’re interested in owning your own water gear, consider investing in an inflatable kayak for easy packing. Carefully review any known hazards of your intended camping area so you can be aware of risks, such as alligators.
Local camping hosts and rangers will be able to make you aware of any wildlife risks you may be facing. You’ll also want to talk to them if you’re planning to do any fishing; the cost of a fishing license will be much less than the fine of not getting your license.
Pack Your Hiking Gear
If you own a pair of hiking shoes or boots, plan to take them with you. If not, go get a pair now and hit the trails in your area. Don’t take new hiking shoes on a long hike or a thru-hike; you may find that by the time your boots are done breaking in your feet, your weekend is pretty much ruined.
Once you have your boots, consider a pair of light nylon pants you can tuck in your shoes to keep the bugs away. You’ll want a lightweight pack that straps tight to your body so you can maintain your balance and do some rock-hopping. Make sure you choose a pack that you can snug close without scraping up your arms and shoulders.
Finally, make sure you have a hat that fully shields your face. You’ll want to carry sunscreen and lip balm as well, but a hat to protect your eyes will reduce your risk of getting a “squint-ache” or headache from too much light exposure.
Relax on the Beach
Camping on the beach or near the water can be incredibly soothing. Pay attention to the tide lines and keep an eye out for critters, particularly ‘gators if you’re in the southeastern United States.
Your tent choice will be critical if you’re going to be near water; you’ll want the ability to open up your tent and enjoy the breeze, but you will have to be sure that your screens are in good shape before you get to your campsite. Don’t take brand new gear on your Fontainebleau camping trip. Set up that tent in your living room to make sure your screens are in good shape.
Head for the Mountains
Mountain climbing in Louisiana may be a challenge; Driskill Mountain is actually just a tall hill and only climbs 535 feet. If you have the time to drive north, you can do some serious climbing in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.
You can also head for the canyons. Straight west of coastal Louisiana you’ll find Big Bend National Park on the Texas and Mexico borders. This park offers amazing views, great climbing, and a wide variety of topographies and plant life.
If you choose to leave Lake Pontchartrain and head for these amazing canyons, be ready to stop in San Antonio for a ride on the waterway, a visit to the Alamo, and some great Tex-Mex.
If you’ve got friends who love to hike and don’t mind roughing it, study maps and coordinate car drop-offs so you can enjoy a day on the Caroline Dormon Trail in the Kistachie National Forest.
Be aware that this route can be damp but is seldom marshy. If it’s rained recently, you may need to schedule extra stops to take off your hiking boots, clear away any mud, and dry out your feet. However, this trail spends enough time in the cool pine forest that you can relax and hydrate out of the heat of the sun.
A camping trip with friends may be a wonderful way to end your pandemic experience. Stay outdoors and soak up the fresh air and sunshine while you reconnect with your favorite folks. Make sure you test-drive all your camping gear before you get out there. If you’re a camping newbie, try to find someone with some experience. You may fall in love with the process and want to try solo camping as well!