Ask Gadling: How can I make camping more comfortable?

Today, we’re tackling a question from Penelope Duncan of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
“My boyfriend organized a camping trip with another couple. The problem is, I have never been camping, never had a desire to go camping and dread the very idea of camping. I prefer hotels, nice dinners and bathing. I want to show my boyfriend that I am willing to enjoy his interests, but I also want to be comfortable. How can I make camping more luxurious?”
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Gadling: First of all, good for you for not declining the invitation. You’re already ahead of the game by simply opening yourself up to a new experience and not turning what should be an awesomely fantastic weekend outdoors into an irrational fight about thread counts. So, now you’re locked into this camping trip and you’re more into massages than mosquito nets. Well, it’s not as hard as you think to add comfort to a camping trip.

First and foremost, outfit yourself with the proper gear. Gadling has covered essential camping gear before. You won’t spend very much time actually inside your tent, but psychologically, it will help you get excited about the trip if you know that you’ll have a spacious place to sleep. Rather than shoehorning yourselves into a tiny tent, you and your boyfriend should share a structure made for up to six people. The added square footage and headroom will stave off any claustrophobia, allow you to stand up fully inside the tent and keep all of your gear inside and nearby. Just as if you had your luggage at the foot of your bed in a hotel!

Throw an air mattress and some camping pillows inside and you’re basically sleeping in a bed. In fact, if you put a fitted sheet on the mattress and use an unzipped two-person sleeping bag as a blanket, you’ll be able to snuggle up with your boyfriend and not have to deal with the difficulties of canoodling while rolled up like a burrito.

What you will spend much of your time doing while camping is cooking and eating. Food is not just fuel when you’re spending the weekend in nature. It is very much a social activity. You’ll spend many hours sitting around the campfire shooting the poop, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. While hot dogs and beans may be camping traditions, they are not required. Meal time is the perfect opportunity to add luxury to your camping trip. There’s no reason why you can’t pack up your spice rack, store some gorgeous fresh fish in a cooler (perhaps you even caught them yourselves) and add a few bottles of wine in with the cases of beer.

If you happen to enjoy cooking, you could even champion that activity. Store your spices, seasonings, cooking utensils, etc. in a tackle box or toolkit and show everyone how creative and talented you are. Is your boyfriend the cook? Work with him in advance to plan a menu, help him shop for the food and be his sous chef on the campsite. It will be a fantastic shared activity and you can even buy ridiculous aprons for the event.

As for activities, choose a campsite with a lake or some other large body of water. This will allow you to rent a boat. Kayaking and canoeing may be more closely associated with camping, but there’s no rule that states that you can’t have a motor in your vessel. Splurge on a boat large enough for some sunbathing. You might not be on a yacht and you’ll have to cut up your own strawberries, but if you pack a bottle of champagne, you’ll feel like you’re on a cruise regardless of how much your hair smells like smoke.

It’s not that challenging to make camping comfortable. In fact, with a little forethought and some culinary upgrades, you may end up having a more luxurious weekend than you would have had you stayed home.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to rent a cabin. Cabins are for cheaters.