A certain segment of the population dislikes camping. Some hold the view that getting back to Nature can be accomplished from the comforts of a fully furnished vacation home complete with electricity and hot and cold running water. (A hot tub would be nice.) I honestly wanted to like camping. I was excited as a young adult when I had the freedom to join my friends in the woods. I had some good times, but, in terms of vacation quality, I find camping exhausting.
Cons of Going Camping
Camping is not all just spiritual communing with Nature. Most of the time is spent coping with the forces of Nature while separated from modern comforts.
No Proper Bathroom Facilities
Hot and cold running water and a private toilet that flushes represent the minimum threshold of civilization in my book. Camping seriously lacks in this department. A campground with a bath house is a common setup, but it’s still a shared facility. It may or may not be clean or the recent scene of an unsolved murder. Every time you have to pee, you have to walk to the bath house, including in the middle of the night.
Many camping areas only have pit toilets, which are smelly outhouses where your waste excretions fall for a long distance before impacting with the awful contents concealed by the darkness below. I loathe these things.
A couple years ago, I encountered one in a National Forest, and I thought maybe it will be OK. I can do this. Upon entering, the extremity of the scene appalled me. I’m an imaginative person, but it’s hard to put together what events or biological distresses resulted in what I saw. It was like someone poisoned a Sasquatch.
People look to RVs and fifth wheels to improve their camping bathroom options. But are you really camping when you have an RV or just living in a primitive metal shack? Even though an RV toilet is a step up from outhouses, I still dislike them. I’m a small person and I find them distressingly cramped, and most of them smell awful. I’m not thrilled with the knowledge that the sewage is in a tank only a few feet away.
On top of the toilet situation, keeping clean in general is a perpetual challenge. Dirt and grit gets into everything.
You Will Wake Up Early
As a night owl, the last thing I want on vacation is to be woken up early. Camping, however, tends to be an up-at-the-crack-of-dawn activity. The birds are chirping and the sun is shining. If you’re in a tent, you have no insulation from the noise and light. Even if you could manage to sleep in, your fellow campers will probably get up and be ready to start their day.
Aside from the early mornings, I find camping to be an exercise in sleep deprivation. In a tent, comfort will be elusive, even if you have a sleeping pad. Beds in a camper will be better, but, unless you are solo camping, then you’ll be sharing close quarters with your companions in a tent or camper.
If one person snores, you can right off any chance of a good night’s sleep.
If your dog is with you, the dog will get you up multiple times a night to alert you to wild animals creeping around.
The combination of discomfort, active companions, and early morning hours makes camping an utterly depleting experience for me. For every day of camping, I need two days to recuperate.
Mosquitoes and Ticks
Nobody likes these irritating and sometimes disease-ridden pests. To camp successfully, you need to keep yourself slathered in insecticide. As someone who mosquitoes love to bite, if any of my exposed skin lacks bug repellent, I will get bit.
The constant battle against bugs is necessary to avoid itching bites and the potential of disease infection. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Both of these viruses can kill you or leave you brain damaged. Fortunately, the majority of infected people suffer mild symptoms and get better. Having had both of these infections, I can say that mild symptoms involve a two or three-week long stomach ache, splitting headache, and fever.
As for ticks, you are most at risk when walking in long grass or weeds and underbrush in a woodland. They are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease. This condition can be cured with antibiotics, but you have to catch it early. As a bonus, many physicians won’t recognize the symptoms or ask about tick bites because the symptoms are similar to many problems.
If you suspect a tick bite or find a tick still attached, go to a doctor and report what happened. In many areas of the Eastern United States, Lyme disease is widespread. In my area of Southern Michigan, my vet told me to presume any tick is carrying Lyme disease. Although some tick species don’t carry the bacteria that cause the disease, you won’t know immediately what kind of tick has bitten you.
You’re at the Mercy of the Weather
Bad weather can spoil most vacations, but it has a uniquely awful impact on camping. You will retreat to your tent or camper with your companions. As the rain persists, you’ll start to feel like you are trapped in a cattle car with the other prisoners.
Occasional showers are tolerable while camping, but prolonged rain provokes most campers to pack up and go home.
Camping Unplugs You From the Matrix
As much as unplugging from the natural world benefits your brain and reduces stress, some people have less need for this than others. I’m personally pretty comfortable with my internet addiction.
I really enjoy life with comfortable, clean furnishings, electricity, and the internet. After a couple days of camping, I really start to miss my online fun.
I actually have a very Nature-connected life. I go outside frequently, even in winter. I don’t need to go camping to feel close to Nature because it’s right there in my yard.
Camping Is Great for Those Who Love It
You won’t know if camping is a relaxing vacation for you unless you try it. Don’t let my cons of going camping deter you if you’re curious. Spending time surrounded by Nature will be good for you on physiological and spiritual levels.
As I mentioned, I’ve made some great memories on camping trips. I might even entertain the possibility of camping again, if it was in a place that was very special and beautiful. A run-of-the-mill woodland and lake are not going to cut it for me. I have those things at home in town.