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22 tips to find out if camping is for you

I’m not gonna pretend I know it all. I am neither a regular hiker, nor a person who gives up too often their own comfort for a night in a tent. However, this blog post is the spontaneous result of a weekend in the open air, more exactly, my camping experience spent in a marvellous place called Bucura Lake in Retezat mountains.

I’ve been longing for some time for a camping weekend, although I had my personal reserve. However, I did it, and had a feeling of fulfilment after.

Travel around Romania and enjoy the majestic views the mountains offer!

Taste a genuine experience with travellers who share the same hobbies!

Feel the vibe and spirit of the place and people!

Good morning from my tent!

Here, I shall write my personal impressions that I jotted down upon the camping experience and whether I would repeat or not a weekend in the tent.

This post is based on my personal feelings which may differ from a camping site to another (for example, at Bucura Lake you are not allowed to make a campfire).

And from a person to another.

Sunset in and over the mountains
Lake Bucura is a famous camping area in Romania

My ideas will be grouped in two, namely the pros and cons.

THE CONS – Tips that show camping is NOT for you:

  1. You will eat lots of dry food. This is what happened during the tent experience in Retezat. We went shopping and bought mostly cans. You have to be well organized to bring just the necessary food to not overload your backpack.
  2. You cannot have a shower or wash properly. At least, not everywhere. In our camping experience, there was water just to wash your face or brush your teeth.
  3. There is no proper toilet. Even if there were some ecological toilets, they were far enough from the tent. So, you have to swap the comfort of your bathroom to something more prosaic.
  4. Sleeping with your clothes on is very probable. Even in summer, the mountain air is fresh and you need to sleep in your bag with the clothes on in most of the cases.
  5. Even if tents can offer a thermic comfort, in our case, when we (with my 15 years old daughter) had to carry for over 2 hours the backpacks loaded with tents, sleeping bags and all that it takes to have the minimal conditions, we looked for light tents. They are considerably lighter but enhance the outside sensation: they are hot during warm summer days, and chilly during cold nights.
  6. The sleeping bag is not as comfortable as a duvet. Sometimes, you find it hard to change positions and adjust the zipper.
  7. You have to find the flattest area for sleeping, as sometimes the sleeping pad can prove uncomfortable. Of course, you can bring an inflatable mattress, but make sure to be superlight and take up a small place in your backpack.
  8. This one derives obviously from the previous points. You have to carry a heavy, sometimes uncomfortable backpack during long climbs.
  9. You have to know how to light a fire sometimes from almost nothing, be it even wet branches.
  10. It is somehow understood, but a camping experience doesn’t go well along makeup addiction. Here, the natural element is primordial in all of the senses.
Our home…
Hikers – hiking and camping go hand in hand

THE PROS – Tips that show camping is for you:

  1. Live authentic. Spending one or two nights out in the wilderness can prove fabulous if you are prepared to leave the city behind and fully dedicate yourself to nature. Living here is simple, natural, no-frills.
  2. Carrying a camping stove is undoubtedly a practical solution (that we missed because our backpack was already crammed and heavy) for the necessary hot drinks in the mornings/evenings.
  3. Socialize. I know this is nowadays a more than common word, but hey, guess what! In most camping areas in the mountains, there is no signal. So, you are basically forced to return to the roots and actually connect face to face!
  4. Make friends! This goes along with the previous one, only a bit further. Mountain-goers belong to a group of nice people (gentle, nature lovers) and since you are part of the same group, it means that you share the same interests!
  5. If living closer to nature is one of your goals, then this will simply feel like the perfect experience! And it most likely is.
  6. Connection to nature leads to a healthier lifestyle that involves both fresh air for your lungs and physical exercise. Not to mention that regular exercise keeps you fit!
  7. Enjoy the view and breathe in the beauty that the world offers every second! Rejoice in every sunset, serene or cloudy sky, in every natural sound and try to soak in the beauty of the world. And yes, the fresh unpolluted air!
  8. Watch the stars. A night in the mountains provides the best opportunity for star gazing. Courses in astronomy should be taught in such places (and probably are).
  9. Take amazing pics. Are you the type of person longing to take fabulous pictures? (of course, some skills are needed also). No two mountains, sunrises or sunsets are alike. There’s plenty of room to discover wildlife also if you show enough patience.
  10. Live primitive and allow yourself to feel. I never thought I would say this, but a weekend camping resets your values. You discover on your own that we, humans can get along and be happy with much less than we believe we need. So strip off your shallowness and get to the core!
  11. If you often feel worried about our planet and the protection of the environment bothers you pretty often, then camping life is for you.
  12. Not waste time dressing/undressing and showing off with famous brands. The true mountain-goer/camper is there to connect to nature and never to show off.

As you can see, the pros and cons are pretty much in balance. So, it’s up to you to decide whose side you are on.

If you wake up early, there’s a chance for a spectacular sunrise; photo: Adrian Petrisor
Early summer landscape over Retezat Mountains

In conclusion, this camping weekend reinforced the values I considered about mountain-going and trekking.

It was a very short, still a complex experience. In just the two days and a half we had sun and rain, we had a heavy backpack on our back (at least, us, fragile creatures felt it that way :), as our car was far away, and we climbed a lot. Also, we missed certain important things for the true mountain traveller (camping stove and some warmer clothes although it was June), but no problem. Next time, it’s gonna be better!

The people who opt for camping experiences love nature and are more caring towards Mother Earth. Moreover, thanks to the lack of internet, I had a wonderful time with my daughter and the two days we spent in Retezat connected us more.

If you look carefully you’ll observe some small lakes in the back
Honey in progress; photo: Adrian Petrisor

Would I go camping again?

Yes, most probably yes, but I will definitely go trekking. Maybe sometimes I will alternate a guesthouse/chalet (if there is in the area) and a tent just because I love my own comfort.

But the landscape and peace convinced me for good.

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