How Not to Camp

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How Not to Camp Guideline



**This guideline for how NOT to camp came about purely out of laziness – not for lack of outdoor skills **

My boyfriend and I decided we wanted to take a short road trip to the eastern side of my state.  I work during the week and he works Monday – Saturday which leaves us not very much time for any kind of trip.  We decided we would leave Saturday afternoon after he got off work, drive the 3.5 hours to Gatlinburg, camp for the night, get up early to visit Cades Cove, head into Gatlinburg to eat, drink and walk around before driving back that afternoon.

Seeing as it was only one night of camping, we didn’t do much planning at all.  By at all, I mean zero planning.  Besides looking up the address of the campgrounds, taking a tent, sleeping bag, food and drinks – we did nothing.

The thing is – we both are campers.  We knew what we needed and didn’t need, we just simply thought – eh, we can deal without anything for one night.

We were at a campsite and weren’t doing any primitive camping here, so obviously it wasn’t a matter of safety but let’s just say we didn’t take nearly what we needed.

If you want to do camping incorrectly, just follow these simple guidelines:

1.  Forget the flashlight.  Or, any light source for that matter.

We didn’t purposely say screw the flashlight.  I always keep one of the large maglites in my car for lighting purposes and it makes a really good weapon.  However, for some reason it had been taken out of the car before this and I didn’t know that until we got there.  No lights while trying to eat, look for firewood, make a fire, or do absolutely anything at all for that matter is not an easy task.

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2.  Forget firewood and/or lighter fluid.

We have firewood at home.  I kept saying, “Don’t let me forget the firewood.”  We forgot the firewood.

3.  Skip looking for firewood to go explore.

We got there with plenty of light left to find firewood.  Do you think we used that time to do so?  Nope.  I wanted to go do a quick loop through Cades Cove to see the sunset and any wildlife that may or may not be around.    I think we saw one deer.

4.  Forget eating utensils & be forced to use large knives to make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Yep, we definitely used two very large knives – about 6 inches long a piece – to make our sandwiches.  We forget the eating utensils, but we do have large knives with us everywhere we go.  Makes perfect sense.

5.  Give up on making fire or seeing anything in the dark.  Take drinks into tent.  Drink until you fall asleep.  End up soaking tent and sleeping bag in peach flavored gin.

Once the fire wouldn’t stay lit no matter what we tried (since we forgot the lighter fluid) and we had no light to do anything else, we decided to just take our drinks into the tent and talk until we fell asleep.  Worked quite well, until we woke up because one of us (I won’t name any names) knocked over said drink and soaked everything.  Now, everything has a lovely peach aroma.

Even though it was frustrating at the time, it was all pretty fun and humorous.  We obviously would have gone more prepared if it were more than just one night.

Have you ever forgotten something essential on a camping trip or any trip for that matter?  What do you do when things go wrong – get angry or just laugh it off?

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Traveler. Freelance Writer. Blogger. Vegan. Risk Taker. Voice for the Voiceless.


  1. Kara [Ashley's Mom]

    May 24, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Pretty funny Ashley! You do know so better. We’ve camped since you were a baby. Couldn’t you have used some of the alcohol as lighter fluid? May be an extremely ignorant question, but I don’t drink much. Just thought alcohol was flammable. Headlights work to get around a bit though. I’ve had to do that a few times. Wouldn’t work too well in the middle of the night though. I bet the flashlight has found it’s way back into your car!

  2. Jacqueline

    May 24, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Hahaha! I love this! Been there, done that. The first time we ever went camping together, my husband and I pulled into our camping spot in the pitch black and had to set up our tent using the car’s headlights. We brought stuff to make smores and also sleeping bags and pillows but that was pretty much it. We spent SO MUCH money at the small store down the road the next day. It was pretty sad but a funny memory!

  3. Brittany @ Paws for Beer

    May 24, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    I had a problem starting a camp fire last summer and it was so frustrating as I was suppose to cook my dinner over the fire. Luckily I had other food to eat and the next day I bought at fire starter. It worked out well the next night!

  4. Esther

    May 25, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    But but but… isn’t this how camping usually works???
    It does when I camp 😉
    (Can you tell I am not a real camper…)

    Found you on #SundayTraveler

  5. Molly S

    May 25, 2014 at 2:11 AM

    Lol! I am so not a camper, so this is how it would work every time for me ;). My husband is the practical one when it comes to things like that. I’d rather take a hostel over a tent any day!

  6. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

    May 25, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    This is exactly why I never camp…. that and the bugs and snakes and lack of 1000 thread count sheets. Hilarious, better luck next time.

  7. Ace CB @ Life in Dutch

    May 25, 2014 at 4:09 AM

    Oh man, this cracks me up! I’m too much of a city kid to consider camping as a good idea – and lucky for me, my husband is on the same wavelength. The few times we have gone camping has been in my parents’ RV – though you can still forget some of the necessities. =)

  8. Syd

    May 25, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Ha. Macky and I are the WORST campers on the face of the planet, despite more or less living in a tent. This is largely because we are completely incapable of planning ahead, under any circumstances. The worst is bringing raw sausages out in the middle of effing nowhere and then realizing there are level 4 fire bans. And then making a fire anyway (BECAUSE SAUSAGE) and having to smother both sausage and fire with large rocks when the park ranger shows up. Or trying to make pasta over an open fire in a snowstorm. It’s always funny in retrospect…

  9. Emma

    May 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    That sounds like a camping trip and a half! Forgot the tent pegs once, had to drive home – luckily it wasn’t too far! 😀

  10. Margherita @The Crowded Planet

    May 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    hahaha this made me laugh so much. I am such a forgetful person that I have this kind of adventures more often than not. I don’t think I’ve ever gone away and not forgotten anything!

  11. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    May 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    So funny! I can totally relate to this as, just like you, I’m a camper, but have had some pretty disorganised trips and bad experiences before. Glad it was actually funny and that you enjoyed yourselves nonetheless.

  12. Sammi

    May 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    HAHAHAHA! I enjoy your disclaimer 😉

    This is what would happen if *I* went camping. Except. I’d probably forget the tent also. Another thing to add to our conversation about camping the other day, I’m terrified of fire, as in I can just about cope with candles, but not too many. So… yeah. PB+J sandwiches all the way for me haha.

  13. Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats

    May 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Sorry to hear the camping trip didn’t go quite as planned especially since you have such limited time together, but sounds like you ended up with a now funny experience together which is probably more memorable than if everything went as planned. And yes, I was also wondering if alcohol can serve as lighter fluid….but then read online that this is a very bad idea as it burns too quickly and could cause a explosion. Good to know!

  14. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal

    May 25, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Lot’s of laughs… and I wish I could say I couldn’t relate but I actually can. When our boys were very little we set off for a camping trip to eastern Washington, a couple hours drive from our home. Late that night after playing hard all day and setting up most of our campsite my husband looks at me and says “oh my gosh I forgot our sleeping bags”! I couldn’t believe it and it was still way to cold in the evenings to sleep without them. We thankfully had a canopy on the back of our truck so we snuggled in there for the night. We’ve never let Dad live it down!!!
    I hope you had lot’s of laughs and at least you got away and made some memories! 🙂

  15. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    May 25, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    I can see myself doing this if left to my own devices. Luckily, I usually join up with friends who are Eagle Scouts when I go camping, and those guys are always, always prepared. I have a flashlight app on my phone which has come in handy many times, although it sucks a huge amount of battery life. I agree with your mom. What about using the liquor for lighter fluid?

  16. Lauren

    May 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    This post is so funny! I think we can all forget or not think about things at the best of times. While I’m not a camping person, I’ve definitely been there in other situations!

  17. Corinne

    May 27, 2014 at 2:42 AM

    Hilarious post, Ashley. I love it.

  18. Constace - Foreign Sanctuary

    May 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    A funny post!! Love it!! But, hey – there is something special about sitting in total darkness and looking at the stars!! 😉

    When my husband and I go camping, he is usually in charge of getting the camping gear in order and packed while I am responsible for the food. That’s why we never forget anything!!

  19. Caitlyn

    May 27, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Haha, I love this! I am a terrible camper, and have definitely done my time. I camped for two whole weeks during Oktoberfest a couple of years ago!

  20. Mandie @ RamblingMandie

    May 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    I literally laughed out loud at this. It sounds EXACTLY like something I would do. Not because I don’t know better. Just because planning is soooo boring. And who hasn’t ended up at one point or another soaked in gin? 😉

  21. Dennis Kopp

    May 27, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Ashley, I am usually not much of a camper and I probably would have been in the exact same situation as you if I went on an impromptu trip. Only I would not even have had the huge knifes or the peach gin on me. Well, it still made for a good story and a few laughs, so it sounds like you had a pretty good and definitely not boring weekend… 🙂

  22. Gabor Kovacs

    May 28, 2014 at 4:03 AM

    We are also campers, and enjoyed quite a lot this read! I laughed sometimes (not at you, but with you 🙂 I think we have had just too much experience with things that you can’t real control and make camping difficult (weather, mosquitoes, etc..) that usually when we go camping, we go more prepared than in any other cases.

  23. Roma

    May 28, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Oh this sent shivers down my spine. I’m not a camper, not even close.

    3* on a drunken rampage through a city is about as low as I can go these days. Anything requiring torches insect repellent or a having to cook your own food on a fire all seems too much trouble. Chuck Noland I am definitely not!

  24. Amber

    May 29, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    This is terrific! I definitely laughed at this, mainly because it’s totally something I would do (have done?)! I am always doing things in a rush and thinking, oh well, it will all work out… only to end up in some pretty awkward situations! haha sounds like you had fun anyway!

  25. Samantha

    May 30, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Oh I totally agree about the flashlight thing, you never know how scary the dark is when you’re out in the woods and can’t see crap haha. Also I might add one from my own personal, don’t eat just canned foods. You will most likely throw up from eating your 10th can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli in two days. (Yes this happened to me when I was young haha).

  26. frankaboutcroatia

    May 30, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    We like camping too. But our story is kind of opposite of yours. We made sure to get the best equipement, stock it in the trunk of our car (so we never ever forget anything; unlike some people – I won’t name the names), and never actually use it :). Funny post, Ashley!

  27. Adelina | PackMeTo

    May 30, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Hahaha, this is hilarious! I’ve thankfully had pretty good camping experiences due to other people’s proper planning. Some of my non Canadian friends decided to go camping while in Hungary and they had a miserable time because they didn’t plan properly for the weather. I’m so glad I didn’t go on that trip.

  28. Katrina

    June 2, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    There are worse things to smell like than peach gin! And it makes for a great little story. 🙂 We go camping frequently, but we still manage to forget important things, too. Part of roughing it, I guess!

  29. Angela Travels

    June 4, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    I am sad I missed this link up! Great post though. It is so easy to forget things when you don’t have a list (at least that is how I am).

  30. Tam @ Travelling Book Junkie

    June 9, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    Being avid campers we can relate to the this! It doesn’t matter how much you plan you always forget something. We have been camping for as long as I can remember and there is always that moment of trepidation now when we unpack at the other end, waiting to see what we have forgotten this time. Can openers are high up on the list along with gas canisters for the cooker!

  31. Tony Lawlor

    June 12, 2014 at 4:39 AM

    It still sounds like you had a good night. Often when looking back at some of our camping trips , the ones which are more fondly remembered are the ones which werenot properly or technically planned but still enjoyed for what they were, i.e. a good simple night spent with friends. Well done. Enjoying your site.

  32. anna parker

    June 15, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    This made me laugh – as it is so common to see exactly these incidents all over a campsite. Makes for an amusing evening if you’ve planned it properly! The one that gets even experienced campers though, is a new tent… and forgetting bits! One friend forgot to put the lid on across the top of the outer, he got wet overnight when it rained! My worst effort was buying a luxury new lilo for our tent a while back – except it was too big for the tent door, it took about 4 of us to get the darn thing through the door!!!

  33. corningware

    September 1, 2014 at 4:19 AM

    I LOVE my apple corer- it�s the best for apple pies, crisps etc!

  34. Brittany @ Green Global Travel

    May 9, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    This is hilarious. I can imagine camping without a flashlight (or any of the things you mentioned) would make things a little difficult. Live and learn! Thanks for the tips!

    • Ashley Hubbard

      May 10, 2015 at 7:11 AM

      Haha thanks Brittany! This post is the perfect example of how my life regularly goes :p

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