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Michigan parks without my parents permission

I have 2 days of vacation, 17 hours of weekdays I can use before June 17 or they just get lost. Would it be safe to travel to a park in Michigan, alone, for example Pictured Rocks on the shore of Lake Superior (399 miles away, maybe over an 8 hour drive) or Sleeping Bear Dunes (260 miles, away maybe over a 5 hour drive), on the shore of Lake Michigan?

-If this matters, I got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on April 12th of this month.
-Can I stay buy a small tent and minimal supplies and reserve a spot at one of the official campsites? I believe it would be physically possible but part of my brain will feel like an ornery kid in big trouble for disobeying my parents.
-My mother is 67. She is quite afraid of catching coronavirus 2019.
-My mother cannot stand it when i talk about travel with her.
-Am I supposed to be smart enough to know that a trip like what I am thinking of is not safe due to the pandemic?
-Am I supposed to be smart enough to know that if there was no pandemic, a trip like what I am thinking of is not safe because me traveling alone is wrong or unsafe?
-My mother has always been afraid of traveling far from home.
-My mother thinks I am nuts due to my periodic travel.
-I am thinking of not telling my parents about whatever trip I take next. In this case I would have to lie and make up an excuse why I am not seeing them on the weekend.
-i am a 37 year old single man. In the last 6 years I have taken one solo trip to Canada and 4 solo trips to Europe so far.
-I live in an apartment a 30-35 minute drive away alone, but my parents still like to keep track of me lot; for psychological reasons and because my parents keep too much track of me and I have been letting them talk me into seeing them at least once every weekend, I find it difficult to travel, anywhere, pandemic or no pandemic.
-My mother "knows" that parks are unsafe because they are a place I "would" catch the virus at, and presumably spread it to her. Which is separate from whether I am actually likely to catch the virus at one of the parks I am thinking of driving to.

Posted by
7014 posts

I mean this in the kindest way possible: you are 37 years old and need to learn how to “manage” your Mom, for your own sanity. You can get good professional advice, coaching, and help on how to do this, but not on this travel forum. Seriously, give it a try - l think it can help you both. This is a recurring theme in many of your posts, and it weighs heavily on you.

Objectively, l think you know that the outdoors are safe places to be in, and you’re vaccinated. If you separate out all your Mom issues, l’m sure you can make sound decisions for yourself. You’re a librarian, and research and knowledge is your best tool for travel decisions. Good luck, you can do it! You’ve traveled before and everything went well - it will go well again.

Your hesitation may be that this is something brand new or that this is the longest drive you’ve ever made, but have faith in yourself and your abilities to figure things out. Maybe start “small” first - pick a closer park so it doesn’t feel as overwhelming and doesn’t require a really long drive.

Posted by
14 posts

I recently traveled from Wisconsin to Florida, using a van camper, staying in State parks in TN, GA, FL.
Don’t recall any indoor activities, just grocery shopping for which we used masks.
Both of us vaccinated.
I felt our trip was within reasonable risk.
Good luck making your decision.
Might be a good experience for you!

Posted by
3653 posts

Everything Agnes says. If you do go, to ease the stress and preparation you might think of a lakeside cabin just for yourself on a lake. We took our first, vaccinated overnight trip two weeks ago (5 hour drive) and did all of our precautions from the past year while traveling and at our ocean destination.

Posted by
2482 posts

Hi Mike, I would love to camp on Isle Royale National Park and see the Pictured Rocks. I have friends who have done both and neither gushed over either and the one who saw the Pictured Rocks said the best section of it is about one block long and the tour was two hours making the boat trip a bit long. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.

Posted by
2765 posts

Yes, camping or other outdoor activities are quite safe, especially if you are vaccinated. If you were going with a friend or family member you’d need to discuss what precautions they were comfortable with. As you are going alone, this is not an issue. Wear a mask when going indoors, such as for gas, food shopping, or a restroom. Some people wear masks outside if other people are close (like on a trail). Others find this unnecessary (science says this is very low risk). Follow local laws, and do what you feel comfortable with. I wear a mask outside if in longer contact with people (like a conversation with a park ranger) but not if I’m just passing someone for 2 seconds on a trail. Unless it’s required, of course I follow all rules and laws.

I don’t know Michigan’s policies but if campsites are open and able to be reserved you should feel comfortable doing it. Of course if YOU aren’t comfortable, don’t go. But I get the sense that you aren’t the one concerned...

I don’t want to advocate lying. But as an adult living in your own apartment you don’t need to tell your mom where you are every second.

The science here is clear - a vaccinated person spending time outdoors mostly alone is extremely low risk. I’d say it’s near zero, probably less risk than a normal weekend if that involves seeing your family in person and going into any public place like a grocery store.

Posted by
14763 posts

Mike, of course you can do this trip. There's really nothing unsafe about it as long as you read and follow the park's safety guidelines, especially about food storage (because of the bears). If you haven't found the park website yet, here it is:

It'll give you all the info you need to know, including how to make a campsite reservation. As you have never camped before, I'd recommend that you practice putting up/taking down a tent BEFORE your trip. Camping weather isn't always favorable, and you don't want to be struggling to get it up or down if it's raining! Also note that there's little-to-no cell service in the area. That may be a plus if your mom rings your phone constantly! 😉

Yes, I remember from some of your past posts that your mother has issues with you traveling but you've managed to go in spite of that. Good for you!

But here's another idea? What if you choose a park which offers rental cabins? Unless you plan to do a lot of camping in the future, you wouldn't have to buy/store a tent (and probably some other gear) you may seldom use again. As well, I wouldn't worry about catching the COVID bug in any of them. Here are some options in Michigan:,4570,7-350-79119_79145_81213_81219---,00.html

Where available, they can be a very good alternatives to tent camping for people who are not sure they'd like the experience, especially if the weather doesn't turn out of be favorable, but would like to enjoy the outdoors/scenery. Take a look?

Posted by
2765 posts

Also, it sounds like your mother may have some problems with anxiety. I’m just a person on the internet, I can’t know this for sure, but I have seen this type of thing in people in real life so it’s a possibility, and it’s very difficult for the person and their families.

Regardless, It is not your job to manage your mom’s health. But if you look at her behavior and recognize this, you could eventually see that none of this is rational or about you. In an ideal world you’d be able to advocate for her to get therapy/treatment but I recognize that this might not be on the table yet. It’s something to think about if an opportunity ever comes up.

Until then, my advice is to be as understanding as possible while realizing that you are an adult and can judge what is safe and not for yourself. Consult sources that are as unbiased as possible, find the facts, and make the best decisions for you based on facts.

Posted by
3743 posts

I agree with Agnes and Mira. You need to put some distance between yourself and your parents, for everyone's sake. You should consider changing your visits to every other weekend. Then you would not feel the need to lie about your whereabouts. You are not the one who is "nuts". You should definitely stop talking about travel with your mother, since she "cannot stand it". I hope you have close friends other than your parents, with whom you can talk travel.

I"m glad you take solo trips and don't know why the trip you are taking would be any different, provided you don't do solo hiking in dangerous or deserted areas. I am the same age as your mother and I like to walk by myself in a nearby state park on weekdays, so I choose trails that are used by both bikers and hikers. I figure if anything happened to me, someone would come along and see me. This state park never closed during the pandemic(just when there was a tornado) and I have been walking there regularly the entire pandemic without a mask-it's outside and plenty of space to distance.

If your mother has not been vaccinated yet, she needs to do that to help quell some of her coronavirus anxiety. I say that as someone who didn't go to the gym, restaurants, or church for a year and now feel like a new person since my husband, daughter and I are now vaccinated.

Posted by
11887 posts

I've never been to either of those parks but I find travel in the National Park I go to solo (Yellowstone) to be wonderful! I traveled there twice last summer as well as going over 2 weeks ago for 4 nights. I was able to distance adequately most of the time and wore a mask when I could not (usually in a more crowded trail or geyser view area). I am not a camper so no advice on that. My drive is about 7 hours - just under 500 miles but I enjoy driving solo so distances don't bother me. I'm old (0ver 70) and a female.

I'd go.

I like the suggestion to cut back on seeing your parents to every other week or every 3rd week.

And yes, no need to discuss your trip. When they find out afterward you can say you chose not to discuss it because they make such a big deal over your travel plans. I think before that you tell your Dad your plans? Or is that someone else?

You also might consider reading the Trip Advisor Michigan forum - looks like the Upper Peninsula sub-forum is the place for Pictured Rocks. You don't need to post, just get a feel for the replies from the regulars regarding Pictured Rocks.

Posted by
1817 posts

You’ve got great advice here! Go on your trip and enjoy and don’t bother telling your parents. At 37, yes, you are smart enough and old enough to make any and all of your own decisions without parental approval. If talking to your mother about travel causes her anxiety, why bother to talk to her about it? If you stop she might have fewer periods of fretting and worrying over you?
I agree that you need to change up your visits with your parents. Follow the local Covid rules and you will be just fine.
Have fun!

Posted by
2423 posts

I think the whole thing is summed up in the title of your post/question:

At 37 years old, why on earth would you need your parents' permission?
For anything?

Just go on your trip, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Posted by
2014 posts

If the only thing you had to consider was yourself, would you go on this trip?

If the answer is “yes”, plan it so you see them before you go, take whatever precautions are required/you feel comfortable with and then don’t see them again for 2 weeks. You wouldn’t be contagious even if you had come in contact.

Soak up and enjoy the chance to relax and refresh.

Posted by
911 posts

Thanks for your imput.

"If the only thing you had to consider was yourself, would you go on this trip?"
Yes, and I don't have to quarantine myself if my parents don't know I took a trip.

My mother got both doses of the Pfeiser vaccine, completed the last Saturday of March. My dad got both doses of the same vaccine too, on the same dates.

They don't know about my plan to go to Spain. If I am able to travel to Spain, I'll tell them 4 to two weeks in advance.

Maybe I will never quit using masks outside, in warm weather. Wouldn't a mask inhibit you from inhaling spores from ferns, molds, fungus, and so on, bugs, pollen, and dust from dirt parking lots, in addition to microorganisms, whether from somebody who just sneezed near you or what was already randomly floating in the wind?

I prefer to assume I won't catch the virus from people I pass on a walking trail. I don't know how to technically, medically. or scientifically prove this.

I don't camp. Nobody does until they do it for the first time. If I really can't stand it, I don't have to do it again. It technically wouldn't be my first time camping. I was at an overnight summer camp one summer as a kid, they took us on a trip to the Upper Peninsula, we slept in tents, they made us learn to put the tents together.

Travel can be viewed as risk management. I accept that it is probably always safer to stay near home than to travel far from home. I try to purposefully pick destinations that should be reasonably safe. I do research when I plan trips. I guess I might try deciding whether the benefits of some trip outweigh the risks. The default decision would always be, stay near home, avoid the anxiety or guilt of causing my mother excessive worry, avoid having to tell my parents about a trip, and so on. My perception that the benefits of my travel to a park far from home but still in Michigan outweigh the risks, is necessarily irrational. The trip feels safe enough, which is separate from the decision being partly irrational. Nobody can make decisions based only on facts, like a computer. But yes, facts should still matter to outcomes. If I had my mother's phobias about travel, I would look at the same facts, and/or I would make up a list of risks, and I would say or conclude that these facts and risks make my travel dangerous and irrational.

Posted by
5186 posts

If you like walking on a sand dune, you’ll enjoy Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you didn’t want to drive all the way there, you can get a feel for the dunes at Warren Dunes state park in Sawyer. Michigan has plenty of great state parks to visit, including the two you mentioned. You could also go to Mackinaw Island. Park and camp at Mackinaw City and take the ferry to the Island.

Posted by
3872 posts

Travel can be viewed as risk management.

Very well said.

Posted by
7738 posts

Mike, you've already made decisions (to travel) in the past, where you decided the reward outweighed the risk. This plan is no different, an even simpler calculation.

Looks like you only have about 4 days total. Try finding a nice park in the lower Peninsula. How about Hoffmaster State park just West of Grand Rapids. Or, Ludington State Park near Muskegon. There’s Traverse City area. Sleeping Bear Dunes and taking the overnight ferry out to South Manitou Island could be an option. South Manitou Island - you may need a reservation. You definitely need a tent, sleeping bag, food, and toilet paper. There are no stores on the island. If that’s too remote - you can stay onshore and see sleeping bear dunes.

Posted by
911 posts

Thanks for your input. I made a reservation for a campsite at the south end of Sleeping bear dunes national lakeshore, for 2 nights, a whole day and parts of the days i arrive and leave. Or will i wish I had reserved 3 nights?

This is a spot I can park my car just a few feet from where I put my tent. For a first time camping alone I figure I should make things simple enough by picking a campsite that does not require a boat ride and/or walking a far distance from my car to where I sleep. Because I won't be carrying my stuff a long distance, I guess i could buy an air mattress and a manual hand-operated pump, in addition to a tent and a minimum of essential supplies.

I probably would feel best if I prevent myself from telling my parents about my plans until the last minute, like until 7 to 3 days in advance.

Posted by
507 posts

Mike, Im betting you will want a third night. There are few things better than sitting by a campfire in the evening in the Summer. If it was me, I would book for three nights, and if you can’t or don’t want to stay for the third night (bad weather, etc), then its not a major financial loss to leave after two despite paying for three.

Ok, Step 1 complete, now its onto choosing your gear...

Mike L,
If you have a truck or suv, you can sleep in the back and save yourself the cost of a tent. WalMart has inflatable mattresses and hand pumps for cheap in the camping section. Because this is a basic camping trip for just a few days, you can use less expensive gear and be fine. You may have half of what you need. Get a daypack to carry some things. YouTube has a lot of camping info.. Bring more water than you think you will need, food, a jacket or sweatshirt, a small first aid kit, charged cell phone, etc.. comfortable shoes/boots and Smartwool socks.

Get out there and relax!

Posted by
21 posts

My husband and I went camping with our trailer last September in the Upper Peninsula with no problems. And there were no vaccines at the time. We were all over and even went to Mackinac Island on the ferry. People had masks on in the stores and in close quarters but we spent most of the time outside sightseeing and roaming around. People just were trying to keep their distance from others when possible. I would not worry about the virus. Be smart and wash your hands when needed; wear the mask when needed. You are an adult, right? It is your decision.

Posted by
14763 posts

Good for you, Mike!
It looks like you may have reserved a spot at the Platt River campground? Regarding the anti-bear storage mandate, when they state to store your food in the trunk of the car, they do mean the trunk and not the passenger area. In addition to your food/cooking oils/flavored beverages (if any), store anything at all with a scent - sunscreen, toothpaste, lotions, lip balm, deodorant, soap, shampoo, flavored dental floss, even bug spray - in the trunk as well. Dispose of all your meal trash right away in either bear-proof bins provided by the park or bag up and place in the trunk to be disposed of later. Shoot, I'd even store any pans you've cooked with in the trunk as well, once they've been washed up.

And don't ever take food into your tent.

This is NOT to frighten you, OK? You are more unlikely than likely to encounter a bear but where lots of campers with food and other good-smelling (to the critter) stuff are around, they can learn quickly where goodies might be had. If you've stored your items where they can't get to them, they'll go looking for easier pickins'. :O)

Posted by
30291 posts

we used to hang it from a tree. Bears used to open cars to get at what was inside

Posted by
2049 posts

The suggestion to just sleep in your vehicle is a good one. Not only would it save you the hassle/expense of having to get a tent (especially if you decide you do not like camping and would therefore be a one-use item..maybe you ca rent one), but would also provide more safety for a first-time camping trip, along with providing a more weather-proof and bear-proof environment. Vehicle not large enough? You might consider renting a small van or small SUV that would allow the seats to go down, where you could sleep. Or if you really want the camping integrity of sleeping in a tent, such a vehicle could provide a good back-up plan, should you suddenly feel less secure or if it lightening/heavy rain happens. Granted, I have read there are rental vehicle shortages in some locations, as an effect of the pandemic, due to rental companies having sold off some of their inventory during slow business....but worth checking to see what is available in your locale.

If your mom freaks out, once you tell her, just remind her of the name of the place SLEEPING Bear Dunes...LOL...the bear will be asleep (just kidding...seriously, JUST kidding). But, you could always put her in charge of finding Bear Spray for you, which I understand does have some effectiveness when properly used (others can weight in, as I have absolutely NO personal experience). If you get push back from Mom, remind her that it might be more likely you (or even she) could become a victim of a mass or random shooting (God forbid) going about normal life in your home city vs. being attacked on a camping trip (assuming you do not leave marshmallows or other tempting treats out for the bear).

Congratulations on taking the big step toward living YOUR life!! Safe and fun travels. We only live once, and the pandemic reminds us we need to take the opportunities to do what we want in life, because we never know what is around the corner. If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times, to my husband that I am sooooo glad we did all the traveling we did when we did it...seriously glad. Godspeed to you!! Have a safe and fun trip, and please post back to this same thread later, so we can all hear how your great adventure went :)

Posted by
14763 posts

Nigel, my camping mates and I used bear ropes when we canoed into wilderness campsites so didn't have a vehicle nearby, and no Forest Service-provided bear boxes at hand. The big fuzzy things' ability to break car windows to get at something yummy is likely the reason they advise putting stuff in the trunk.

But again, Mike, no need to be worried! I very much doubt you'll see one, and I'm guessing you'll have lot of other campers around. It's just in your best interests to take the precautions, not just for you but for future campers so that the local bear community doesn't become habituated. There's also NO need to mention this particular form of wildlife to your mom, even AFTER the trip. She's already anxious enough.

As stated on the park's website, "A bear sighting is a rare occurrence" and "Black bear are generally fearful of humans and will leave an area if they are aware of your presence."

Posted by
11887 posts

"I guess i could buy an air mattress and a manual hand-operated pump, in addition to a tent and a minimum of essential supplies."

There may be a camping store near you that rents equipment so check on that.

I'm not a camper but for camping in the Northern Tier of the US I'd not go with an air mattress. They will be cold at night either on the ground or in the back of an SUV. Go with a closed cell foam camping pad for more comfort than the air mattress.

Posted by
911 posts

Thanks for your input.

I drive a sub-compact sedan.

Without telling my parents, while living on my own as an adult I have taken a few day trips, and met people at local parks to walk... you have never heard of somebody my age who feels like an ornery kid, who has parents who: still try parenting him and keeping track of him, are more anxiety prone than average; you have never heard of somebody my age who has an irrational fear of traveling without his parents permission... I thought I was taking this trip to see scenery and/or do some travel that is allowed given that Europe and Canada are closed to American tourists... maybe I am taking this trip to do a major exercise in doing something my mom doesn't approve of... my dad reluctantly and skeptically accepted my past trips 20% better than my mom... when my parents said no to something when I was a kid, I just reluctantly acquiesced to concluding that I was wrong for wanting something without much more argument... they are difficult to persuade...

Mike L.,
This is a short duration trip. If you have to spend quite a bit of money on gear or renting a camper/trailer - you would be better off just staying in a modest motel close by the park. Then, take a daypack with the essentials - a lot of which you probably already own. Enjoy nice long days hiking in the park. Have a cooler with food and water in your car. Pack a picnic lunch and water/Gatorade G-2 bottles. Then, at the end of your day, you can enjoy a nice, warm shower and comfortable bed.

I have used cheap gear and it works for camping close to the car for a few days as you are. Unless you are camping for longer duration trips or more rugged situations - going the budget route makes sense.

Posted by
14763 posts

Mike, if it makes you feel better, I don't think it's all that unusual to keep some things from parents. LOL, how much they need to know can be directly proportional to the amount of grief we know we'll be given. Thus, we choose our battles selectively, right? That was certainly the case with one of my folks, even as an adult, so I do understand your challenge a bit.

But here's the deal: you have traveled VERY SUCCESSFULLY alone, for much longer and much, much further from home than this weekend trip you're arranging. There can be a smorgasbord of reasons why you're doing it but IMHO, first and foremost should be a personal sense of achievement: do it because you want to and because YOU CAN. You've done tons more already, in Italy, in Greece, the Netherlands and England. You are also planning a trip to Spain.

You have already done more than a lot of first-time posters on the forum whom have yet to travel abroad, and more than others whom have yet to do that all by themselves, without an escorted tour.

Shoot, your parents should be relieved because you aren't even leaving the STATE for your weekend holiday but, well, sounds like the COVID thing has the most anxious of the two all atwit.

Anyway, a maiden voyage to anyplace we've not yet been presents a host of unknowns, and you've proven yourself more than capable of dealing with those. Whether you tell mom before or after the trip isn't as important than looking forward to the weekend with pleasant anticipation but if you feel you MUST tell her before, remind her of all that you've done so well, so far... and then shut off your phone! :O)

Posted by
5677 posts

Mike, I second the idea of renting or borrowing equipment. Even inexpensive gear adds up quickly. Some parks and campground offer campsites that are already set up; you might look into that.

I don't camp. Nobody does until they do it for the first time.

I never camped until I did, and I was hooked. My husband and I went camping every year for decades, missing only a couple of years when we were out of the country. I strongly suspect you'll wish you had that extra night.

Last year we camped in several state parks here in Oklahoma, and found that all of them would let us make changes to our reservations on the spot.

Have a wonderful time. And follow all the guidelines about bears. Really.

Posted by
2049 posts

Mike, forgive me if you already told us.......but, have your parents been vaccinated for Covid 19? If your mom has not been vaccinated, maybe it is time to play the parent role with her.

You could always (very kindly) suggest she get some counseling for her anxiety and unwilingness to "let you launch." If she does not act on the suggestion, being a librarian, you likely have access to all sorts of literature advising on how parents should foster a healthy level of independence in their children.

A friend of mine with grown married children was telling me about a book that offered advice to parents. While I do not think she mentioned the name of the book, the net/net of the message to parents of adult children who live on their own was: "Keep your mouth shut and your door open." Good advice. Maybe a good book for your mom to read.

Posted by
911 posts

I have 3 nights reserved now, at the campsite.

$88 for the campsite, just under $70 spent so far on a tent, air mattress, and manual air pump, = $158 so far, versus at least $160 per night for a hotel... the only hotel rooms left in Northern Michigan are the expensive ones... if I buy a flashlight and anything I am not thinking of now i still will probably spend under $250 max on supplies... I might be doing this trip for psychological reasons: to do some major activity that is much different from my typical routine and requires a certain amount of planning and/or effort; staying in a hotel would be too easy or wouldn't take enough effort. I expect to go back to Europe at least 5 more times, l'll have plenty of chances to stay in hotels in Europe... I probably wouldn't camp in Europe...

My parents are both fully vaccinated.

Posted by
14763 posts

Sounds like you're on your way, Mike!

Do check some of the helpful packing lists for campers which are available on the net? For instance, here's one from REI:

While you certainly won't need to invest a lot for your first camping weekend, there are some things I'd recommend, such as a footprint for your tent (protects the floor and helps with waterproofing), tent stakes (to secure the tent to the ground;, a battery operated lantern in addition to a hand-held flashlight, sleeping bag, cooler (which I'm guessing you already have?) and something to carry and store your campsite drinking water in.

A stand-alone lantern is for activities in the dark, such as getting ready for bed at night or reading a bit before sleep, where you need both hands free. They can also illuminate your campsite if you don't have a campfire and need to see, and are nice things to own when the power goes out at home, so aren't strictly for camping. The flashlight is for finding your way to/from your campsite in the dark, although a lantern can do double duty.

Based on some past posts, I've a hunch that you possibly don't intend to do much if any cooking? If you do intend to, you'll probably need some additional equipment.

Posted by
3743 posts

I don't know what your options are for food in the place where you'll be camping, but I confess that we always chose campgrounds that had restaurants nearby-it greatly simplifies packing!

Posted by
3872 posts

With regard to having a tent "ground cover", consider this trick we used during several decades of camping. It's fine to have a tarp under the tent to protect it from dirt, abrasions, and such. But the best thing we ever did was place a tarp a little larger than the tent floor on the inside. We then ran it slightly up the sides of the tent. That really protected against water wicking in through the tent floor in a heavy rain. Unfortunately not all tent floors are as waterproof as they should be, and water can pool between the exterior ground cloth and the tent floor and wick inside. Shouldn't cost very much to add another tarp or heavy duty painter's drop cloth. Hope this helps.

Posted by
581 posts

Mike, you might want to consider setting up your tent in your living room before you depart; blow up your air mattress; and sleep in it overnight. That way, when you do get to your campground, you will look like a pro, setting everything up. I know you bought a flashlight, but a headlamp would allow you to have your hands free.
And, just wondering if you have planned for food. If you are planning to eat at your campsite, you might want to consider a cooler. someone mentioned, eating all your meals out might be fun. We're all rooting for you!

Posted by
9867 posts

Mike, you might want to consider setting up your tent in your living room before you depart; blow up your air mattress; and sleep in it overnight.

Rather than in your house, set it up outdoors.

A 'test drive' on a perfectly flat floor in a temperature controlled environment may not be the most realistic situation.

Mike L.,
Picture yourself going through a day at the park. Ask yourself what you will need to enjoy your day. Then, pack accordingly. There is a lot of great camping gear out there. But, for this type of trip where you are camping at a campground near your car - you can pare back. Example: are there bathrooms near your camp site? Do they have showers or just sinks and toilets? Can you easily fill up your water jugs at a spigot? Cheap matches from a dollar store with a few cotton balls from your bathroom shelf can ignite a fire as well as expensive hiker fire starters. A daypack will suffice since you won’t be hauling your tent on your back. If you will be at your tent at night - a headlamp is not needed. Just a basic flashlight for inside your tent or a short walk to the bathroom. You can even pack your clothing and toiletries in a simple duffle or small suitcase to leave in your car or toss into your tent.
I would bet that you already have at least half of what you need at your house.

Posted by
5677 posts

Sun-Baked: Cotton balls? Really? Hmmm... We've camped for years, decades even, and I've never heard of that. We have a camping trip scheduled for June, so I'll try it before then, in the grill maybe, to see how it works.

Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
1213 posts

Jane--Yes, but usually with something on them. We use toilet paper rolls stuffed with the lint from the dryer and those make excellent fire starters.

Anything dry and thin can be used for tinder. Put Vaseline on the cotton balls and they burn even better. Small pieces of paper, card board, small twigs and dry leaves, twine, you name it. The above suggestion of cardboard rolls with dryer lint is great. I even heard that there is enough oil in Doritos chips that the chips can be used. (I have not tried the chip method.). We can start a new thread on fire starters.

Posted by
2988 posts

With regard to having a tent "ground cover", consider this trick we used during several decades of camping. It's fine to have a tarp under the tent to protect it from dirt, abrasions, and such. But the best thing we ever did was place a tarp a little larger than the tent floor on the inside. We then ran it slightly up the sides of the tent. That really protected against water wicking in through the tent floor in a heavy rain.

We, too, always used the tarp for under the tent, keeping the edges totally under the tent, not extending beyond. The interior tarp is an interesting thought...

We always used a camp shovel to dig a little trench around the tent for any rain coming off the fly or rain water running on the ground. It worked perfectly for us.

Posted by
2441 posts

Mike, you need this trip, just do it.

I did a 3 day getaway last October to Carmel, a 2 hr drive from my was wonderful and everyone I encountered was very cautious, plus I spent most of my time on the beaches and hiking the coastal trails.

When you return, possibly take a covid test and distance from your parents until you have the results.

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Wray, we also kept the edges totally under the tent but never did the trenching thing. The idea of the interior tarp came about during a really, really wet three weeks in the mountains of North Carolina when the tent was pitched on a slight incline. If you use it once you might use it all the time as it does keep things dry.