Camping is one of the best ways for humans to return to nature, but it’s not always possible to retreat to the woods.
Maybe you have small children who aren’t ready to go camping yet. Perhaps you live too far away from a campsite to go as often as you’d like. Or, maybe the weather outside is rainy and dreary.
Whatever the reason, there’s a simple solution to your camping woes: set up your campsite at home! Camping at home is an excellent activity for families, couples, and friends alike. It’s a great way to relax and unwind and spot potential problems in your camping gear.
Moreover, those with children in the house can use the experience to prepare their little ones for the real deal. For everyone else, camping inside or in your backyard is a great way to change your environment – and have a great time in the process.
That’s why we’ve put together several ideas to help get your camping trip started right.
Where Are You Camping?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to camp in your backyard instead of your living room. However, if you live in an apartment building or cold outside – that may not be realistic.
Camping in your backyard allows you to simulate a real outdoor experience realistically. You can even enjoy the bugs! (Don’t worry – you can bring Citronella candles for the mosquitoes). Outdoor camping also allows you to enjoy luxuries such as a real campfire and even fire-lit torches.
On the other hand, if you’re stuck inside, you’ll have to be a little more creative to experience the great doors. For instance, you may need to add images and smells of nature yourself through pictures and candles. Or, you may want to add sounds of nature with a CD, a radio, or even a documentary.
Whatever you choose, deciding where you’re camping is crucial to your preparation. Once you do that, you can properly organize your gear for your first at-home adventure.
And don’t worry – in these seven ideas, we’ll cover ways to enjoy your “trip” both indoors and out!
1. Find – or Create – Nature
If you’re camping outside, this likely isn’t an issue, as you probably have grass or trees to enjoy. However, you can still take steps to make this camping trip the best you’ll ever have. Start by facing your tent toward the best view and maybe lighting the trees and shrubs in your yard with strings of lights.
But, if you can’t set up outside, you can buy, make, or stream alternatives. For starters, if you have a view outside your window, start by facing your tent in that direction. Crack open your window for some fresh air, if possible.
You can also set up posters or paintings – or even paint scenes yourself – and hang them on the walls. You can also stream in the sights and sounds of nature to your TV via YouTube, the nature channel, or a Netflix documentary.
You can also mimic the outdoors inside in other ways. Glow in the dark star stickers, or even glow sticks, bring the night sky indoors. You can also fill your living room with plants and stuffed animals to lend the room an “outdoorsy” feel.
Lastly, if you have a few nature-scented candles on hand, they can add an extra layer of realism to your adventure. Pine, flowers, or even the ocean’s smell will make you feel like you’re really outside when you close your eyes.
2. Put Up Your Tent
One of the best ways to recreate the real camping experience is to put up your tent. Fortunately for indoor campers, this one is easy to do indoors and out (just don’t try to stake your tent on your floor!).
If you are camping indoors, a pop-up tent works the best for easily putting it up and taking it down. However, this is also an excellent chance to practice putting up a more complex tent before it matters.
On the other hand, if you’re camping outside, you can practice staking your tent down anyway!
Once your tent is up, be sure to bring your sleeping bags, cots, or other gear into your tent. You don’t necessarily need to pack your tent with all the usual gear. But, gathering most of your camping equipment, games, and food can add that finishing touch.
3. Light it Right – and Include a Campfire!
The next step for camping at home is to set the mood with a little lighting.
If you’re camping in your backyard, consider building a fire in a fire pit or fire ring, if it’s safe to do so. You may want to use flashlights, torches, and even lanterns to set the mood. If your Christmas decorations are at hand, you can even string some lights around the bushes and in your tent.
For those camping in their living rooms, you can still create the “campfire experience” if you want one! For instance, you can build a fire in an indoor fireplace. If that’s not possible, you can gather lanterns or flashlights in a circle or even build a fire out of felt! And, if all else fails, you can stream a digital campfire straight into your living room.
Once you have your fire going, it’s time to finish setting up. Add outdoor chairs, pillows, and blankets around your fire to get comfortable. Indoor campers may want to lay out a blanket or tablecloth on the ground to use as a mealtime setting.
4. Cooking in the Great Indoors
Speaking of mealtimes, no camping trip would be complete without a campfire-style meal. If you have the luxury of a real campfire, you can:
- Roast hotdogs
- Make smores
- Roast shish kabobs
- Cook a cast-iron skillet meal
For those who are stuck with their stovetop, you can make plenty of campfire meals as well! Skillet meals, such as rice and beans, chicken and rice, and other camping meals can all be cooked on the stove.
If your stove gets hot enough – or you have a gas range – you can even make smores in your kitchen! (The microwave will also melt your chocolate and marshmallows as well).
Although it’s not necessarily a “camping” meal, stovetop popcorn makes for an excellent living room camping snack.
5. Trade Technology for Books and Board Games
This advice works well for children and adults alike. If you want to get in the camping spirit, considering banning as cell phones and movies. Instead, limit the technology to the nature channel, or ban it altogether! You can easily forgo the television instead of listening to the radio or just enjoying some peace.
Once you’ve decided what to ban, find your favorite books, board games, or card games to enjoy. Gather up around your fire or inside your tent and spend some time with your family. Lose everything in Monopoly, let your kids win at Go Fish, or laugh over the latest edition of your favorite joke book.
6. Enjoy Some Exercise
What’s camping without some fun physical activities?
Camping at home likely means that you can’t go hiking or swimming. Even with limited space in your backyard or living room, there are plenty of alternative activities to get your heart rate up.
For instance, games such as tag or hide and seek are obvious choices. You can also play catch with balloons, stuffed animals, or even pillows. Or, you can use those pillows for a pillow fight!
Games such as cornhole and “don’t touch the floor” are also fun activities that require a little more physical finesse.
For a real challenge, you can set up an obstacle course. Chairs, boxes, cushions, or even old tires or hula hoops make great obstacles. While it’s not exactly the same thing as hiking, running through a maze will certainly get your heart rate up!
Or, if none of these games sound like your thing, charades are another way to get moving and have fun. You can throw ideas in a bowl and have participants choose at random or let everyone choose their own ideas. If you have small children, it might even be fun to have a theme night!
7. Make it Yours!
The most important thing about camping at home is to make it your own and have fun! If you encounter hiccups in your camping plan, don’t give up – just go with the flow. Adapt your plan and activities to your situation and be prepared to think outside the box.
And, most importantly, have fun!