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How to stay safe and enjoy your next camping trip

Camping may look a bit different this summer, but it’s considered a relatively low-risk way to spend your vacation. - Photo 123rf
Camping may look a bit different this summer, but it’s considered a relatively low-risk way to spend your vacation. - Photo 123rf

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on many travel plans for this summer, but camping is considered quite low-risk because everyone’s out in the fresh air, where transmission rates are lower.

That’s why, instead of hopping on a plane or staying in a hotel, many Atlantic Canadian families are choosing to spend their vacation exploring the great outdoors with a good old-fashioned camping trip.

From packing and making reservations, to how to navigate being at a campground in the time of COVID-19, here are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the road for a camping trip this summer.

Plan ahead

Make sure you have reservations for a campsite and that you’ve spoken with a staff member about their park’s specific guidelines. On-site items you’d normally buy with cash when you need them — like firewood or bags of ice — might need to be pre-purchased with a debit or credit card. On-site laundry facilities may still be closed, so you might need to pack more clothing than usual.

Manage expectations

If you have young children and you’re returning to a family-friendly campground, your children might be looking forward to hitting the playground, bouncy pillow and swimming pool — not to mention the usual scheduled activities, like scavenger hunts and group games.

Call ahead to find out exactly what’s being offered during your visit so you can properly prepare your children for how it’s going to be. It’s also a good idea to talk with them about what the rules will be, so they understand they can’t just be zipping off into a friend’s RV like they may have done in previous years.

Choose wisely

Even if your family always visits the same campground every summer, this might be a good time to switch things up — especially if you’re worried there will be tearful complaints of how it’s not the same. With some campgrounds limiting their activities and keeping certain facilities closed for the season, make sure you’re choosing a destination that’s going to be a good fit for your family this summer.

Practise driving

If you’re not normally a camper but the pandemic has inspired you to give it a try this summer by renting an RV, consider driving it in an empty parking lot before you leave for the big trip. It can take a bit of time to get comfortable turning and manoeuvring an RV, especially in a campground’s tight quarters.

Tip: When you make your reservation, ask for a pull-through site. Otherwise, you might provide a lot of entertainment for nearby campers watching you sweat through a complicated turn.

Bring your own sanitizers

Even if you normally pack light for camping, this is a summer where you’ll want to arrive armed with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, spray cleaners, paper towels and lots of soap. Bring along masks for every member of the family, even if you’re pretty sure you won’t need them.

Pre-plan meals 

RV fridges can be small and it’s tough to keep much in a cooler, but do your best to bring the groceries you’ll need for your trip. It will save you from needing to run to the on-site store (if it’s even open to shoppers) or trying to navigate an unfamiliar grocery store nearby. Remember, the less contact you have with people right now, the safer you’ll be.

Respect campground rules

Everyone is just doing their best to stay safe right now and it’s important to be respectful of how your hosts want you to behave. Face masks may be required in public areas, like the main office, and there may be new rules about not moving picnic tables or not visiting other people’s lots. If a certain hiking trail is closed, it might be because it’s too narrow for hikers to pass safely. Try to be understanding.

Remember to social distanc

Just because you’re in a new, outdoorsy atmosphere doesn’t mean the rules no longer apply. Be cautious about who enters your tent or RV, since those spaces are too cramped to be able to stay two metres apart.

Be mindful of shared surfaces

Many campgrounds are open for people with RVs, but not those sleeping in tents because of the risk of sharing public washrooms. If you’re at a campground that’s allowing you to use a public washroom, consider bringing your own disinfecting wipes so you can clean door handles and taps before touching them. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring your own toilet paper and soap, either.

Friendliness is not cancelled

Camping can be a very social activity and it’s still fine to talk to your fellow campers. If campfires are allowed and it’s permitted to have other people on your lot, you can make sure everyone’s sitting far enough away to be safe (but still close enough to chat under the stars and enjoy the fire together).

While camping is certainly going to look different this summer, the same could be said for just about everything. But with a little extra preparation and a positive attitude, your next camping trip can still be a great experience.

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