5 Tips for a Successful Camping or Cottage Trip

I didn’t do any camping or extended outdoorsy stuff when I was younger. After I graduated high school, a few friends invited me up to their cottage, and I enjoyed it so much that every year since I’ve either stayed at a cottage, or went camping. They’re both a great way to get away for a few days and actually feel like you’ve had a vacation, without having to fly far away, or shell out tons of money. The catch, is that they can also be a real pain in the ass.

As with any activity that, by its nature, forces you to spend a lot of time with other people in close proximity, there can be major drawbacks, made all the more irritating by them happening on your vacation. So having just returned from a camping trip, I would like to share a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years to make your next stay at a cottage – or in a tent – all the more enjoyable. Nature, and people… can be a cold, hard bitch.

Things to remember for your Cottage or Camping Trip…

  • Go with people you like. This may seem unnecessarily obvious, but I felt it was worth mentioning anyway. If you happen to be going with a large group of people, and friends of friends are involved, make sure to spend time with them before hand and decide if you want to spend a whole weekend with them. When you’re trying to relax, having someone along who is an ardent, vocal vegan can be grating as you scarf down burger after burger.
  • Make sure to plan a few key activities in advance. If you’re anything like me, drinking is the default experience when camping or staying in a cabin or cottage, and that’s fine, but it’s nice to do other things as well. Are there mountains around? Plan some hiking. A lake or stream? Plan some swimming or water sports (no, not that kind, you pervert). They help make the trip more memorable, and after a bit of exercise, you’ll sleep damn well that night.
  • Double check the short term weather forecast before you leave, even if you’re staying in a cottage. The weather changes like… the weather, and what you had planned may not be possible under certain conditions. If you’ve already planned the whole thing, you may not be able to change the dates, but you can change your activities accordingly.
  • Bring sunscreen. This one gets its own bullet point because it’s so important, especially when you’re drunk, and chances are you will be. Do your best to put on sunscreen before you start drinking (when it’s sunny), and if you happen to have friends who aren’t assholes, ask them to remind you if you forget. Not being able to sleep because of a severe sunburn is a real drag.
  • Considering bringing your own vehicle. If there are activities you want to do that others don’t, a vehicle will come in handy. If someone gets hurt and no other cars are available, you could save someones life. If you want to play demolition derby with your friends, well… you need two cars for that. I know that gas is expensive these days, and more cars = more pollution, but a car alone can make or break a trip, especially if you’ve only got a few days to enjoy.

I could literally list hundreds of suggestions, all tailored to different types of trips, but I’ve found that in most cases, the source of my woes was based on these 5 points. The only other thing I would mention is to research the cabin, camp site, or cottage that you’re planning to spend time at. If you’re staying at a camp site, your state or province should provide ample information on camp sites, and for cabins or cottages that you’re renting, there are numerous sites that provide listings, and inexpensive rates for all types of stays. Just do a quick search on Google and you’ll see what I mean. In any case, it’s worth spending a little extra time and picking a good spot, lest your camp site be situated in a wasteland, or your cottage be falling apart.

If you’ve got any tips or suggestions of your own to help improve a persons camping, cabin, or cottage trip, or perhaps even an idea for a good daycation for those of us that don’t have a whole weekend to spare, share it in the comments below.

(Photos by Robert Moore and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)




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I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

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