Glamping Without the Price Tag

How to Camp Without “Roughing It”

20141011_192515_resizedTwo years ago, my husband ran a half marathon at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, Florida. The day before the race, we headed down to the park to camp.  We set up our tent and cooked dinner.  Our little, homestead was set. And then, the rain came and came and came.  When the rain became a monsoon and there was a river of water flowing THROUGH my tent, we decided that we were done.  We loaded up the kids and headed to a hotel.  Please don’t think we’re weak.  There were literally flood watches out that evening and we had to drive through standing water, just to leave the island.

Well, that was the last time we tent camped.  The next week, we bought our first travel trailer.  Six months later, we traded in the small travel trailer and bought a bigger one.

Now, what makes all of this so interesting is that I hate the outdoors.  I hate bugs and bug spray. I hate flies and gnats and spiders, and God forbid, a roach actually crawls on me; we will be in the emergency room. I also hate dirt and dirty feet and dirty floors. I hate the smoke of camp fires. I hate shower houses and public bathroom.  No, I’m not made for camping; I’m better suited to B&Bs, all-inclusive resorts, modern hotels.  However, I actually like camping…now.

My Tips for “Glamping” Without Breaking the Bank

Before we bought our first travel trailer, my husband agreed to several “stipulations,” and over the course of the past two years, I’ve come to love camping, even though it’s FAR from most people’s idea of “camping”.  No, my version of camping is far more comfortable and enjoyable.

  • Mimosas & Beermosas
    • wp-1468691158438.jpgI’m sorry.  Feel free to call me whatever name you like, but if I’m camping for the weekend, I’m going to enjoy myself.  I’m going to have a mimosa with breakfast, I’m going to have a glass of wine with dinner, and if I feel like it, I’m going to have a glass of Jameson before a I go to bed. There are plenty of people who will snarl at this and think that I’ve gone overboard. However, no one who has ever camped with me has complained when I bring out mimosas at breakfast or a bottle of wine at dinner.  Nope…they drink and they’re happy. So…if you drink wine or liquor at home, take it with you camping!!! Oh…and that space over the refrigerator is perfect for a wine rack.  We got ours at IKEA and cut the bottom off to make it fit.
    • IMG_20160301_140410Beermosas are a more manly version of the mimosa.  However, they aren’t just for men.  The best beermosas start with a wheat beer or an IPA. Then, topped off with orange juice or any orange juice blend.  It’s an easy one to remember…3/4 fill with beer, 1/4 top with oj.
    • Some of our favorite -mosa drinks
      • Cigar City Florida Cracker or Jai Alai and OJ
      • Champagne and red grapefruit juice cocktail
      • JDubs Passion Wheat and Blood Orange Juice
      • any unfiltered wheat beer and mango-oj
      • good ole FL oj and an extra dry champagne
  • Skip the burgers & hot dogs
    • There is no rule in camping that says you have to eat poorly.  No one ever said that camping required grilling burgers and hot dogs.  I’ve actually found that grilling cuts of meat, like lamb chops, pork chops, steaks, chicken breasts, sausages, and fish, are quicker and take less prep time than making burgers.  Throw some fresh veggies on the same grill and dinner is done.
    • 11254735_718097344991271_644401237_nSome of our favorite camping dinners
      • Grilled lamb chops, grilled brussel sprouts, and grilled/roasted acorn squash finished with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter
      • Grilled bison rib eyes with grilled asparagus and a baked potato (yes, they can be done on the grill too or quickly cooked in the microwave)
      • Grilled side of salmon with grilled squash (mix of zucchini and yellow)
      • Grilled sausage links and sweet potatoes (tossed IMG_20160515_102048in olive oil and thrown in a grilling basket)
    • Build a meat & cheese tray for dinner…create a tray of your favorite deli meats, nice cheese, olives, nuts, crackers, and a dip.
  • Buy a crock pot
    • As odd as it sounds, a crock pot in the travel trailer has been my best cooking idea yet.  Instead of being limited to grilling and sandwiches, I actually cook while we camp. And instead of being inside and cooking for hours, I put dinner in the crock pot while we are out playing and when we’re ready for dinner, it’s DONE!
    • Some of our favorite camping crock pot meals
      • Pulled Pork…one Boston butt in the crock pot on low for 8 hours and you2015-11-12_09.01.43 have amazing pulled pork
      • Chili…make sure the meat is cooked before you put it in.  Raw ground meat tends to become mush while cooking.
      • Spaghetti Sauce…again, make sure you cook the ground meat before you put it in
      • Dried Beans…favorite package of dried beans and a smoked ham hock and in 6 hours (on low), make/buy some cornbread, dinner is done!
      • Chicken tacos…4 FROZEN boneless, skinless chicken breasts and one jar of salsa cooked on low for 6 hours.  Shred the meat and set up a taco bar.
      • Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches…this is our 8 yr old’s favorite camping meal.  However, he likes his potato soup with fried shrimp.
  • Buy a propane grill with a grilled plate
    • There is no rule that says I, being THE woman of the house, have to do ALL of the cooking.  My husband loves grilled bacon, and he makes awesome pancakes, so, when we go camping, we always have at least one breakfast on the grill.
    • Set up a pancake bar
      • When we camp with a group of people, we set up several pancake toppings and mix ins.  Then, as my husband ladles the batter onto the griddle, the kids add their mix ins for custom pancakes.  It’s always a hit!
      • Pancake bar topping that travel well, require little prep, and have little mess…
        • chocolate chips…mini chips work the best
        • fresh blueberries
        • sliced bananas
        • peanut butter chips
        • coconut flakes
        • chopped nuts
        • whipped cream (in a can)
        • syrup…of course!
        • sprinkles
  • Plan evening activities
    • We often camp with other adults, so while the kids are out riding bikes, playing hide & seek, running amock, or even after they’ve gone to bed, why should the adults have to just sit around the campfire or go to bed too?
    • Suggestions for adult activities
      • Host a beer or wine tasting…we like to take several seasonal or limited edition beers and host a tasting with our co-campers.
      • Play cards with a nice glass of bourbon, brandy, or my favorite, Irish whisky
    • Suggestions for everyone activities
      • Host a movie night…buy a small projector (Amazon sold them for under $200 a few months ago) that will connect to your tablet or laptop, hang up a sheet on the side of your camper, and show a movie
      • Set up a s’more bar…don’t limit it to graham crackers and chocolate bars.  Try peanut butter cups, vanilla wafers, Oreos…omg!
      • Kids vs. Adults kick ball
      • Checker (or Connect 4) Tournament

 

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