I Love Camping vs. I Hate Camping: Our Writers Face Off
Camping is one of the most polarizing sorts of vacations. On the one hand, it’s a chance to commune with nature in the great outdoors. On the other, there are bugs. Lots of them. Everywhere.
Two of our travel writers from opposing, ahem, camps duke it out below.
“I Love Camping” by Jorie Larsen
Many of my favorite vacation days have come to a close around a campfire. There’s something magical about sitting in the dark, huddled around a crackling fire with my fellow outdoors enthusiasts, and swapping tales about the day’s adventures while we stuff ourselves with s’mores. When the fire begins to die out, I tilt my face skyward and wait for shooting stars. Eventually, I shuffle to my tent just a few feet away, crawl into my sleeping bag, and fall asleep to the gentle murmur of my loved ones’ conversation and the occasional pop of the fire.
I never sleep more deeply—nor am I more in tune with my circadian rhythms—than on a camping trip. My muscles are happily exhausted when the sun goes down, and I wake up naturally around 7 a.m., which I assure you is a rare occurrence in my regular life.
That’s the whole point of camping: to ditch your regular life (and all your attention-zapping tech devices), immerse yourself in nature, and explore what’s beyond the next hill. Armed with just a sleeping bag, a tent, and a can-do attitude, you can recharge amid some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet.
Camping also forces you out of your comfort zone and heightens your senses. It’s a brief detour back to childhood, when everything had the potential to become an adventure. Hailstorm approaching? Your forecast is cloudy skies with a high probability of a good story. Hear an animal noise outside your tent? You might be telling this tale to your grandkids in 50 years.
How many memorable cocktail party anecdotes start with, “Remember that five-star hotel where we stayed in Paris and everything went according to plan and we were pampered like the kings and queens we think we are?” I fell asleep just typing that sentence.
Imagine instead spending your vacation days hiking through a wildflower-filled meadow, boulder-hopping across a stream, and gaping at majestic waterfalls. I log so many nights in my comfortable bed in my temperature-controlled house. There aren’t many opportunities in contemporary life to get out in the wild and soak it up for an extended period of time.
Give me adventure, give me wilderness, give me plans gone laughably awry. Give me camping.
“I Hate Camping” by Krista Burton
Camping is what our ancestors called “living,” and guess what? They spent the last 10,000 years trying to make living more bearable. Camping is not a vacation—it’s a slap in the face to those who came before us. Look at your life! Look what you have! You have a magic throne that flushes away all traces of your waste! You have artificial daylight when there is no sun! You have clean, fresh water at any time you want, you have a soft place to sleep that is not infested with biting insects and rodents, you have a box in your kitchen that can preserve food for weeks and another box that makes a smokeless cooking fire with no effort on your part.
If your ancestors could see you, getting ready to take a “vacation” from your “hard life” by hiking for hours into the wilderness and willingly putting yourself in close proximity to dangerous beasts, they would shake you. Camping is the opposite of a vacation. I mean, which option sounds like more fun?
a) struggling on foot over poorly marked paths while occasionally crying, “Look! A cardinal!”; carrying all the food you’ll need for the next few days on your back (P.S. it’s beans); toiling in the gathering darkness to set up a tent that is almost certainly missing at least one key pole; lying on the rocky ground; freezing to death while fully dressed; listening to weird noises outside the tent and not being sure if it’s racoons or a bear; waking up in the middle of the night to a drenching downpour (oops, the tent is leaking on your sleeping bag); realizing during the downpour that you have to pee; trying not to to stomp on your tentmate as you work to unzip the flap; waddling over puddles to a good-enough spot and pulling your pants down in the blackest of nights in a groaning and creaking forest and baring it all to a potential audience of hungry mountain lions; lying back down in the tent in icy wet clothing on a soggy sleeping bag; and waking up at 5:45 a.m., groggily aware that your fellow campers are going to want to go looking for some more damn cardinals today?
b) hopping on a non-stop flight, arriving in a different (and constantly sunny!) foreign country within a few hours, and spending the rest of your day hanging out on the beach with a fruity cocktail and your best friends?
If you answered “a”, you’re lying to yourself. And you’re a traitor to civilization.