Older adults can enjoy camping like never before with modern gear that optimizes comfort.
The term “camping” covers a wide range of experiences nowadays. Older adults can choose to sleep in the back of their car, pitch a tent, haul a trailer with a pop-up tent, use an RV or go glamping for the ultimate in luxury.
Not everyone wants to rough it when they enter the great outdoors. If you have deep pockets and a taste for luxury, consider glamping. Yes, glamping is when you combine glamour and camping, and it can result in some incredibly posh accommodations whose only relationship with camping is that they’re in the outdoors. Think beds in treehouses, heated cabins with fireplaces, swanky yurts and ecolodges.
Glamping is a movement that covers the world, offering an “authentic” experience without sacrificing any of the little luxuries you crave. These may include delivered gourmet meals, fur bedspreads or personal guides for your adventures. Check out some of the experiences offered at the official glamping site or explore individual experiences available at other sites.
If you don’t have an RV but would like to see if it’s the life for you, try renting a vehicle. Search the options in your area, or go here and enter your location to find RVs for rent nearby. The site also has a guide for comparing RVs and an article about how much you can expect to spend. Traveling in an RV is a lot like bringing home with you, with room indoors for cooking, sleeping and hanging out.
However, some may still prefer to get back to basics with a real tent and sleeping bag. If you last went camping a few decades ago, you’d be shocked at how much easier “roughing it” is today. It’s hard to find a tent that takes more than 15 minutes to assemble, and the slim aluminum poles and nylon fabric are a lot lighter than the old canvas monsters of our youth. Car camping is even easier, with your bed in the back of an SUV, hatchback or wagon.
However, age can bring some new considerations to camping gear that we didn’t need to think about in our younger days. Luckily, there are ways to deal with a host of issues we may need to acknowledge as we get older. Following are some ideas on how to camp happily into our later decades:
National Parks Pass
You have a golden opportunity to fall in love with every corner of the United States. At age 62, you can buy an America the Beautiful senior pass for $80 that will let you and a carload of buddies (including grandchildren) into every national park for the rest of your life. There’s just no better deal than that, with some parks now charging $30 for a single day’s admission.
There are 58 national parks in America, every one of them worth visiting. In addition, the pass will grant entrance to fee areas run by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As icing on the cake, senior pass holders usually get half off the camping fee at national parks, which normally runs from $15 to $25. If you stay a week and the pass has covered the park entrance fee and saved about $70 in camping fees, it has paid for itself in one trip.
Check this travel site for more about the America the Beautiful Senior Pass.
- Campsite. Research the area you’ll be visiting, the particular campground and even the specific site you’ll occupy. What are likely weather conditions? Are there hiking trails in your ability range, or do you have a stash of books to pass the time? What will you do if it rains? Does your site have cell connection? Electricity? A fire ring? Are ranger programs available? Is there a town nearby for forgotten supplies? Are showers available? Is there somewhere to do laundry? Naturally, some of these may not be needed if you’re just camping for the weekend.
- Tents. Today’s tents have aluminum poles that snap easily together with the help of interior elastic strings. The tents are simple to put up and take down, lightweight and practically rip-proof to boot. However, you need to be aware that a two-man tent is literally big enough for two sleeping bags. Gear can be stowed outside under the rain fly, but many campers prefer to have extra space inside so that your nose isn’t always six inches from your partner or the side of the tent. A three-man tent can afford an extra level of roominess that you’ll appreciate. Peruse a variety of quality tents.
- Bags. Sleeping bags basically come in down fill or poly fill. Down is the gold standard: warm, lightweight and super-soft. Poly fill insulates even when it’s wet. Choose a bag that is plenty warm. In areas where nights are cool, a bag rated about 20 degrees is ideal for most camping. You can always unzip if it’s too warm, but it’s miserable to be cold all night. Mummy bags are heat efficient but can feel confining.
- Beds. Nobody sleeps on the ground these days; small, inflatable pads accompany even backpackers. Arthritis can make our need for a comfortable bed more important as we age, and there are a variety of answers out there.
- Extras. Without going crazy, you need to bring everything that you’ll need. Sunscreen, bug repellent and sunglasses should make the list. Bring enough medications to cover you while you travel, and prescriptions in case any get misplaced. A camp chair is invaluable, and can be purchased at many grocery or discount stores. Wood for a campfire is always nice if fires are allowed, and a lantern and flashlight will help you locate restrooms at night. Hot meals are a nice extra, and easy to fix on a gas camp stove.
- Clothing. Don’t go overboard. No one will notice if you wear the same pants for a few days; when you’re camping, everyone is a little dirty. It is important to pack layers that you can put on and take off as the weather changes. Even in the summer, wool insulates better than cotton and is best for cool climates. Dry socks are a must, so pack a pair for every day you’ll be out. Bring a variety of warm clothing, and a blanket for the evening. If you’ll be in chilly weather, a set of wool long johns can make or break the trip.
Click below for the other articles in the July 2019 Senior Spirit
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
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