“Can this just be our home?” – our four year old daughter, waking up in the tent
01. More Time Outdoors
02. More Time Meeting Other People
03. A Different Kind of Diversity
04. More Family Bonding
05. A Minimalist Lifestyle
While camping, we simply have fewer things with us – mostly out of necessity – we can only bring what fits in our Honda Civic. Our clothes fit in a hiking pack and smaller piece of luggage. Our living space includes our tent to house our bed and our rain fly to cover our table. Our “kitchen” is a cooktop stove or campfire, and all our cooking supplies fit into a box. We are carrying around – and taking care of – fewer things than we’ve ever done before. Likewise, our daughter is surrounded by less in the way of toys and things in general. But this has turned out to be kind of transformational. We were surprised to find there is a little we miss and instead, how much we even subconsciously celebrate our freedom from it. This may have something to do with the white space our things have left behind. I didn’t realize how much of my time had been spent cleaning, tidying, focused on what purchases we would choose to make next, saving, sorting and minding things for a future date. Instead now, our time is spent together as a family, exploring, talking, anything. It’s incredibly freeing.
06. Fewer Distractions from Living
On the heels of having fewer things to mind and clean, there is much in the way of fewer distractions across the board as well. We obviously don’t have a television here, but do use other technology. It’s an important part of the way we work, of keeping in touch with folks we love, of planning our trip as we go, and of expanding on all our daughter learns along the way. Still, it seems our technology-use has found a way of regulating itself in nature. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle somewhat with checking my phone. I do it and I don’t even know why, even after I just checked it a few moments earlier. But not here (my husband says he’s still “working on it.”). There’s too much to take in around us, even in the simple moments, ones that might otherwise make me reach for my phone. We’re just present and tuned in. It’s grounding in a way, and challenges me to rethink how I’ll choose to spend my time after we pack our tent back up.
07. Healthier Habits
Walking and biking are our primary modes of transportation while camping. This means we’re always active, from the time we get up to the time we go to bed, whether we’re going to the bathroom (usually not an insignificant walk to the closest facility), cleaning our dishes or filling up our water. We walk further and more often. And when we walk elsewhere, it’s because we’re going to enjoy something active, like a hike or a swim or to explore nature. But it’s not just mobility, we’re eating healthier too. When your refrigerator is a cooler and your pantry is a box, you have to be picky about what you house based on it’s size and ability to last. This means we’ve had to pack the punch with what we eat and drink to have it last longer. On top of that, sleep is more regular and we get fresh air and Vitamin D from the sun everyday. It feels great.
08. More Childhood Freedom
Coming straight from suburbia, we didn’t realize how much our daughter is limited in her mobility. There isn’t much of an opportunity for her to roam without hitting a hazard, like a main road or elements that simply seem inappropriate for her to encounter yet at her age. But at a campground, we have much more space for her to safely explore. She can walk a quarter of a mile and still be in eye shot. She can explore and be on her own or with new friends, where we all feel safe. It’s given her the ability to flex her independence, to engage in her own risky play and for us to feel reassured while she does.
09. More Eco-Friendly Choices
This still surprises me. We make more environmentally-conscious choices while we camp. Many of these elements go hand-in-hand with minimalist living and healthier habits, certainly, but the nature of camping reduces our carbon footprint tremendously. Our house and our life requires few utilities. We use electricity, water and battery-powered electronics occasionally, and even then, sparingly. No refrigerator, just a cooler. More often than not, no dryer, just a drying line. We’ve reduced our waste and increased our resourcefulness. Aside from limited use of natural resources, our mindfulness of the environment has increased. Sharing the same space as wildlife, we try to be more conscious of what we leave out and how that’ll affect them. Camping! Doing good, all around.
10. Showing Up Instead of Showing Off
Before leaving on our journey, I attended a farm yoga session (further proof I’m a living hipster MadLib, according to my husband – fill in the blank with an incredible place to do yoga and feel transformed – the experience really was amazing, but I digress….). At the close, our instructor thanked us for showing up instead of showing off. That saying really struck a chord with me. It made me reflect on how much I show off instead of show up, even subconsciously. With camping, I found we are only showing up. There’s no makeup, no hair styling, no fashion trends, no showing off. We bring our inner selves and connect with others on a personal level. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy keeping up with myself or feeling fancy every now and again. But with camping, there isn’t any pressure to live like that at all times. It’s freeing, in a way I forgot it could be to feel comfortable in your own skin. And beyond the personal benefit, I’m grateful my daughter is exposed to this kind of environment.
Camping and long-term traveling are not always easy. Aspects can certainly be challenging – stay tuned for more on that next week – but overall, it has been incredible. Enough that I imagine it will be hard to transition out of it when we end this journey. Our biggest challenge may turn out to be the way in which we incorporate the benefits of camping, long after we stop. But we’ll certainly give it a go. Our family, the place we’ll call home and we ourselves will no doubt be better off for it.