For both CFers and Non-CFers
If anyone knows me, they will know I love camping. Growing up we used to go camping as a family and it was so much fun working as a team to put our massive tent up! Although not so much when it was windy and rainy…but I’d let dad handle those times.
I’ve recently returned from a camping trip and feel compelled to write about a few tips I use, especially when going with Cystic Fibrosis. Camping in itself can be slightly riskier than say booking a hotel, because us CFers can pick up a range of bugs (infections not animals!) from the environment. Also cleanliness is paramount to keeping as healthy as possible. But hey! it’s not like I’m going to rock up to a campsite dressed in a spacesuit!
However, I would consider myself as a ‘comfortable camper’, that is to say, that I will push the boundaries of camping to the limit, before it’s considered ‘glamping’… Some are fairly obvious tips for pro campers, but if you’re just starting out then there might be some useful information below! There’s a few tips aimed at CFers but there’s also a few that applies to everyone!
1. Most camp sites should have a communal fridge/freezer but always check if it’s not obvious before booking. This is incredibly important if you are taking refrigerated medication with you. Use the freezer to store ice blocks and rotate them around to use in the cool box. I much prefer doing this than storing them in their own fridge, partly because I’m too lazy to walk back and forth every time! (although great physio)
Also, if you buy bags of ice to keep your cool box even colder, then you may want to consider putting the ice into plastic containers, with the lid shut tight, which will not only act as another ice block but it will prevent the ice leaking out of the bag once it’s melted. The amount of times I’ve cleared out a cool box because there was a puddle in the bottom! Also keeping cardboard packaging in sandwich bags will protect it from getting too soggy.
2. Now if you’re a bit conscientious about campsite drinking water, then a water filter is the way forward! It’s especially useful for cleaning out Nebulisers, just make sure it has a new filter in. Alternatively you could boil up water on the stove (if you have one) but it takes way longer to do! If you’re worried about drinking the water then another alternative is water purification tablets, or even water filter straws! Apparently you can drink any water source with these straws and it will be purified. Perfect for camping!!
3. When taking dry powdered nebs or inhalers it can be a nightmare if they get too damp. I found this out when my Tobi-podhaler refused to work after I left it in my tent overnight. Fortunately, we blasted heat out from inside the car, which seemed to work! But to avoid getting to this point, use a sandwich bag to store it in or a plastic container! (I’m all about the containers and sandwich bags!)
Worried about how you’re going to plug in your Nebuliser or charge it? A lot of campsites nowadays come with electric hook ups which I always assumed were for caravans. But if you have the right cable then you can use it for camping too! Just google ‘Mobile Mains Kit’. Of course this will cost extra than just standard camping but you gotta do the meds right!
If you don’t have the dosh to buy a mains kit then simply ask the owners! One time I was camping, and my nebuliser ran out of battery, (typical Kate for forgetting to charge it up🤦♀️) but we asked the very kind owner if we could use a plug inside the office and next thing you know its back to normal. Don’t be afraid to ask, some people are actually quite nice!
4. For tablets, I always use a pill box anyway at home but it’s especially useful when camping. Its a saves a lot of space instead of bringing boxes and pots with you. It’s also very difficult to keep the tablets from getting too hot as tents can hold in heat like no tomorrow! Leaving it in the sun is certainly not an option so what I normally do is put the pill box at the bottom of my suitcase and keep it zipped shut in the compartment. This is also useful for aerosols like deodorant or dry shampoo because they like to evaporate if left out in the heat.
This is an obvious one, but DO NOT leave Creon in direct sunlight or let it get too hot. Because it WON’T work! For people who don’t know what Creon does, it helps us absorb protein, carbs and fat. If that still doesn’t mean anything, then in simple terms, food will go right through us without it. And nobody wants that whilst camping. Which brings me nicely onto my next tip…
5. Everybody poops. Even the Queen. Even Beyonce. Even Beyonce’s dog (if she had one). So let’s not shy away from it here. There’s nothing worse than going into communal camping toilets and it stinking to high heavens. Unless you bring a can of ‘Febreeze Air Effects’ with you, there’s not much you can do about the smell that’s already there. But you CAN make YOUR poop smell like freshly squeezed lemons. Literally. And that is by using the one and only Poo-Pourri! If you have CF or not, this will give you the confidence to poop anywhere, even public loos. For us CFers, we can have troublesome poops and holding it in is definitely not an option. So this is your new best friend. It’s small enough to fit in your bag, or pocket and it also provides quality content on the back to read whilst you’re on the throne.
If you don’t give a crap about pooping in public, then skip this tip.
6. Now if you’re anything like me and love camping but HATE bugs and insects then bug repellent is a must. I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve run around a camping field, waving my arms about trying to outrun flying insects aka wasps. Every time I leave the compartment of the tent or the tent porch, I will always shut the door to prevent bugs getting inside (I did tell you I class myself as a comfortable camper!)
But wasps are the worst. I know there are wasp traps you can DIY but I’ve never got round to it. Apparently killing one wasp will attract others, so I tend to leave it to the bare minimum. They are attracted to food and drink which makes meal times difficult so covering food with another plate can help prevent attracting them. Or a handy trick to keep those pesky brutes out of a can of drink is to turn the pull ring around 180 degrees to cover the majority of the opening. Which also leaves the hole so you can still drink from it. Whilst this is not fool proof, and they can still get in when you’re not drinking it, I’m extra cautious and place a folded piece of kitchen roll then slide a hair band or elastic band around the can. Because I’m weird like that and I hate the buggers.
7. Sometimes I can get a little OCD when it comes to organising, and that’s where packing cubes come into the mix. I love them. They organise your clothes neatly without having to rummage through the suitcase for a pair of socks or PJs. Always roll up your clothes when packing as you can fit more in and it saves so much space!! I usually take a spare one to put dirty clothes in so they are separate from clean clothes. This makes it easier to chuck the contents of the bag into the wash when you get home rather than going through the suitcase one item of clothing at a time.
8. Out of choice (and hygiene) I always pick campsites which have shower blocks. It might sound obvious, but some people aren’t fussed about showering. To be fair, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never washed with baby wipes before! But if possible I will always shower, and when washing my hair, I will 100% use shampoo and conditioner bars. For anyone who’s clueless on what these are, they are basically bars of soap but for your hair. It’s fantastic for travelling and also camping. They are small and you’re guaranteed to have zero spillage! There’s some things that you don’t want to deal with when opening your suitcase, and that’s leaked shampoo and conditioner bottles. Especially when you’re camping and there’s no way to wash your clothes and dry them out (weather permitting). I use Lush shampoo and conditioner bars which are awesome and they smell amazing too! Check them out if you haven’t already.
If it wasn’t obvious already hand sanitizers and hand wipes are a camping must as well as household wipes to clean down surfaces. Wipe away the nasty bacteria!
9. We are all guilty of checking social media on holiday even if it’s to post a pic on Instagram, tweet during the day or scroll (endlessly) through Facebook. We all do it. And when you’re living in a tent with no plug sockets, your battery is bound to decrease quicker than you can say, ‘iPhone batteries suck!’. I’ve been through a couple power bars in my life. There was the free one that EE sent out but was later recalled due to fire hazards. I bought another pocket sized one from Amazon that charges the phone to 100% only once. But then I discovered RAVPower. It’s slightly more expensive than what I would normally purchase for a power pack, but it’s incredible. It will charge my iPhone 6S from 0-100% 5-6 times before it runs out of battery itself. It also has a battery indicator so you know how much power it has left, which I absolutely love! And if two USB ports on it isn’t enough, then it also comes with a torch which is perfect for camping! I won’t lie, it’s a bit bigger than my previous power bar, but it’s totally worth it. And if none of that has sold it to you, then just know that it charges my phone super fast. No more waiting around for hours. No more putting it on airplane mode to make it charge quicker or save battery! Just don’t do what I did, and forget to charge it before you go camping. *slow claps* 🙄
10. And one final tip about camping, or indeed any holiday, is to make a list of everything you need to bring. If you’re going with someone else I’d highly recommend creating a ‘collab note’ in the iPhone and adding the other person to it. This is done by making a new note, then by typing anything an outline of a person with a + symbol next to it will become available above the note. You can then invite people to join and they will be able to see and edit the note too. What’s more, you can create a proper checklist by tapping the + sign in the bottom right hand corner and tap the circle enclosed tick on the far left. And away you go! I love lists!
This extra special tip might not apply to everyone (but I certainly learnt a lesson from it!) and that would be: don’t let your boyfriend organise/pack the car. Because if he is anything like mine, he will forget the basics. Let me just throw a few examples out so you get the picture… pillows, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, shower gel, teabags, coffee, sugar etc. In fact it was quicker to ask him what he did bring than what he didn’t when we arrived at the campsite! Thankfully he remembered the tent.
And what a tent it was! This year we bought our own tent. True, it’s a five man tent, but it was a perfect size for us. And what’s more Tom could stand up in it (he’s 6ft something) But the best thing about this new tent was the built in blackout technology in the bedroom compartment. This means that instead of waking up at the crack of dawn when the sun rises, it blocks out most light allowing for lie ins! Hurrah! It supposedly keeps the room cooler during the day and warmer at night. If I’m honest, it wasn’t as cool as I’d hoped (I was expecting an air conditioned room) but with pure sunlight beating down on the tent in the morning, I think that was a bit optimistic… I’ll repeat, ‘comfortable camper’.
If you asked what we did on this mini camping trip, the answer would be absolutely nothing. We played games, I did some writing, Tom read the paper and completed all the sudokus… You might want to call us an ‘old couple’ and you’d be spot on. The furthest we walked was to the toilets and back!
Sometimes I feel when you’re on holiday, you need to make the most of it and explore the surroundings, but sometimes it’s just as enjoyable to switch off from the world, nap at 4pm and worry only about what we should eat for dinner.
I love camping.
Do you have any camping tips? Let me know in the comments!
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