Thursday, June 25, 2009

Camping FAQ

Before I go any further, let me create a little FAQ on camping for all of you ...

Q1. Why camp in the first place? ... Isn't staying in a motel more convenient? ... Especially in the summer?

Ans. Yes it is ... But let's do the math ... $60 minimum at a motel per night ... I'm spending atleast 40 nights on the road ... That's $2400 on lodging alone ... Add to that fuel cost (approx $1000), Cost of food ($30 per day x 40 = $1200), plus visiting attractions along the way ($20 admission fees in each location atleast x 40 locations on average = $800) ... That brings the total to $5400 ... Add some extra cash for contingency, and we're looking at $6000 for the road trip ... My budget was $4000 ... I could not compromise on fuel or attractions, so I cut it drastically on lodging and food ...

Campsites take care of that $15 on average for a stay plus $10 per day for food ... That cuts it down from $90 per day to $25 per day ... Good enough savings to justify a little lack of convenience ...


Q2. What kind of options do you have for camping?

Ans. There's basically three different kinds of camping ... Backcountry camping, RV camping and Car camping ...

RV camping - You get in an RV and head out into the wild ... an RV is a small cabin on wheels, with AC, a kitchen, showers, beds, etc ... mobile convenience wherever you go ...

Car camping - You put all your stuff in a car, head to a tent site and pitch up a tent ... The fees charged by the park varies from $10 to $30, depending on the site ... They have a spot for parking the car, and some restrooms with showers in the area (some have laundries too) ... There is also a spot for a fireplace and a BBQ grill ... Since you're bringing all the stuff in a car, you don't have to bother much about how much you're bringing to camp ...

Backcountry camping - This is authentic rugged camping out ... You basically carry all your stuff in a backpack - Tent, tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, utensils, stove, clothes, water, food ... So weight is an issue ... Carry only the lightest stuff and only the necessary items ... Some people take just one case of water and fill up along the way through streams ... They use iodine tablets and portable water purifiers to clean the water up ... At the end of your trek, you put up your tent wherever you feel comfortable and sleep for the night ... No charge, more privacy, but could get a little risky if you pitch up a tent in the wrong spot ...

I don't have an RV, so I'm trying out car camping for the time being ... maybe later I might try out backcountry camping ... once I develop some comfort with the whole thing ...

Q3. Is car camping safe?

Ans. I'm avoiding private parks and sleeping only in State Parks ... These have excellent facilities, are relatively cheap and have good security ... There is usually a padlocked gate and they don't allow people to come in without a security code ... This code is given to you when you register with them for camping ... Plus these parks are located in beautiful areas ... next to lakes or rivers or in the middle of a mountain ...


Q4. What do you do after you pitch up a tent?

Ans. Again, there are two kinds of car camping ... One is called Primitive camping, and the other is with Utilities ... Primitive means they give you a place to pitch your tent and park your car ... They may have BBQ or a stone fireplace ... But that's about it ... Cost $8 to $10 ...

If you camp with utilities, you get a water pipe, and electric outlet, a dump site and in some cases wifi too ... It's a more luxurious form of camping, and ideally RVs prefer to take these kind of sites ... Cost for tent camping with utilities is an average of $15 ... I prefer to take these sites since I can plug my laptop in and watch a few movies at night ... Or plug the lantern in and read a book ... And plug the fan in as an AC substitute ... Finish off the blog if there is wifi ... Else surf the net on my iphone ...


Q5. What do you eat?

Ans. I usually cook Tandoori Prawns as a starter on the grill, and then put some Chicken Biryani on dum ... I then use the stove to make some Kadhai Paneer or Bhhindi Fry ... And then some raita to go with the Biryani ... To drink I usually take fresh coconut water from the big bunch of coconuts I carry at the back of my car ... And then I finally end it with Shaahi Tukda and Gulab Jamun for dessert ...


Q6. OK, what do you really eat?

Ans. I have cereal bars for breakfast, plenty of fresh fruits from the local supermarkets and almonds. For lunch and dinner, I take out a pack of ready to eat stuff and boil it in water for 5 mins ... Simple stuff, good enough to eat, and no cleaning required afterwards since I use disposable paper cups and plates ... I also have a large hoard of Maggie that I got at the Indian Store in Atlanta ...


Q7. What do you do with insects, reptiles and other creatures of the wilderness?

Ans. I try not to disturb them, and they return the favor. Zipping up the tent all the way is extremely crucial. I have a decent one that tends to keep everything out, so I havent faced any issues yet. As for larger stuff, as long as you don't leave foodstuff outside and dispose of the waste properly, bears, raccoons, etc shouldn't be a problem.

Q8. What else do I carry with me?

Ans. Always carry duct tape with you ... It's a campers best friend ... you never know when or where it will come in handy ... Plus a decent little swiss army knife to get odd jobs done ... A first aid kit is a must, and if you're headed into the desert region, an anti-snake bite kit is also necessary ... Emergency light ... That's all I can think of now.


Let me know if you have any other questions, and I'll append this blog entry.

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