Local and state officials are slowly but surely moving toward relaxing stay-at-home restrictions. That’s just in time for summer, but vacations are likely to look different this year.
Question marks around international travel and big cities have travelers in the US looking to the country’s impressive system of national and state-run parks for respite. But is it safe to go camping?
“Camping safely during social distancing can be done, but it requires individual responsibility,” explains Ben Moore, a National Park Service ranger on Mississippi’s Horn Island for more than two decades. “That means camping close to home so you don’t risk spreading the virus to new places, it means avoiding overcrowded campgrounds by seeking solitude and it means bringing everything you’ll need with you from home.”
So what exactly do you need? We spoke to outdoor and health experts to determine what you should purchase now to make your next camping trip as safe — and as fun — as possible.
The Body Wipe, 10-count ($8.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
“A major component of camping safely in these unique times is to avoid public facilities as much as possible,” says Moore. Shower and restroom facilities are an essential part of the trip for many campers, however. So as an alternative, try these cleansing wipes. Their antibacterial formula is designed to keep your skin clean, healthy and odor-free, and they’ll suffice for a long weekend in lieu of a shower.
GoGirl Female Urination Device ($12.99; amazon.com)
There’s no denying men have it easier when it comes to avoiding public facilities while camping. This device by GoGirl helps bridge that gap — at least a little bit. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and comes with a storage tube that also makes it a breeze to transport. Avoiding public restrooms is good advice during a pandemic, and this product makes it much easier for women to do just that.
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Liquid Soap (Almond), 4 oz ($5.99; amazon.com)
“It’s a good idea to bring biodegradable soap for frequent handwashing like you would at home,” says Dr. Shannon Kelleher, an epidemiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It’s different from hand sanitizer, she says, noting that soap is more effective. Hikers and backpackers love Dr. Bronner’s because it’s made from all-natural ingredients and is gentle on the environment. It also comes in low-weight travel sizes, making it easier to carry in a backpack.
Coghlan’s Toilet Paper, two-pack ($4.88; amazon.com)
We don’t have much to say here. You’ll know what to do. Though it’s worth noting that in an age when toilet paper is hard to come by, this toilet tissue is ready to ship immediately. Consider keeping it a camper’s secret.
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, 16 lbs ($9.19; target.com)
Cooking food over a fire is the best part of camping for many vacationers. Many front-country campsites will include a metal grill and a firepit. Which do you use? It’s up to you, but the small grill uses charcoal and allows for more predictable and consistent cooking than a wood fire. Either way, sanitize the surface with wipes or soap and be sure to use gloves. Lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes, but if you’re cooking basic camping fare, the economical briquettes will do just fine.
Hotsticks Premium Firewood, 0.75 cu ft ($7.79; truevalue.com)
Telling a ghost story or drinking a beverage around a wood fire makes for iconic camping moments, even if you decide to cook by charcoal. Many campsites have wood available, but, like everything else on this list, it’s safest to bring all you need from home until the pandemic is a distant memory.
Standard Aluminum Foil, 85 sq ft ($2.59; target.com)