We’ve all heard the stories of things gone wrong, of wives made angry and husbands relegated to the couch. It all sounded so great in the beginning with hopeful declarations like, “Honey, you’re gonna love camping…” But she didn’t love camping, and no box of chocolates or promises of foot massages can make it better. So what went wrong? Here are just five ways to ensure your wife will hate camping:
1) Assume roughing it is part of the joy of the outdoors. If your wife likes to make cheeky remarks about the lack of room service as roughing it, you might want to rethink that survival course you call a camping trip. If she’s accustomed to mints on her pillow and spa treatments, she may not respond well to four days in the woods with little more than a box of baby wipes and an optimistic nose. Be sensitive to the fact that distancing her from familiar comforts, even small ones, can be cause for distress. If you have to go overboard on that first trip and bring more luxuries than you think you should––do it. You can leave the espresso machine behind on the next trip. For now, put it right next to the mimosa bar in the tent.
2) Sit around and do nothing. If your wife doesn’t like sitting in a chair at home doing nothing, don’t expect her to like doing so in the woods. Plan something…anything. Camp where you can do a short hike, have a picnic, or spend part of the day driving around seeing the sites. Get out the camera and take a few photos. Be sure to get images of her smiling so you can prove to her before the next trip that she had a blast.
3) Introduce her to cowboy cooking and foods she’d never want to eat at home. Eating beanies and weenies right out of the can might remind you of your Boy Scout days, but it won’t score any points with your dinner companion. There is ample time in a day of camping, use some of it to prepare a proper meal and make cooking part of the enjoyment of being outside. Surprise her with the possibilities of good food in the backcountry and move beyond the hot dog on a stick. Don’t forget to practice your camp meal at home long before you leave to ensure she likes it and––WASH YOUR HANDS.
4) Bring along junky gear. It’s an all too common scenario. Mister likes to camp and has purchased all the latest whiz-bang gear. Unsure if his lady will enjoy camping at all, and unwilling to commit the big bucks to it, Mister either extracts his old gear from a dank corner of the garage, or buys cheap-o gear from the local big box store. When his poor woman’s teeth start clacking together because her $20 Snoopy sleeping bag is paper thin, the only thing keeping her warm will be a burning hatred for the outdoors, and likely her hubby. Invest in your wife’s comfort. At the very least buy her a proper sleeping pad, not one of those ridiculous inflatable beds. Most importantly, get her in a good sleeping bag. The best way to blow a first camping trip is to have a terrible night’s sleep.
5) Pretend it doesn’t suck. We’ve all had those camping trips gone pear-shaped when the bugs swarmed, the weather turned ugly, and the promise of solitude was shattered by unexpected crowds of fellow campers. If it sucks, it sucks. Camping when it’s 100ºF is miserable despite how beautiful the desert is. Don’t try to spin a bad trip into anything other than what it is. With your tent caved in under the weight of a freak snow storm, don’t insult your wife with a forced smile and the words, “Isn’t this great?” Knowing when to bail on a trip is important. Concede to defeat, but make a promise to try again.
Of course the aforementioned is delivered with tongue in cheek. Many wives are equally at home at the Four Seasons as they are sleeping on the hard, cold ground. And it goes without saying, plenty of women are the outdoor enthusiast hoping to introduce their husbands to the allure of camping. Maybe it’s a friend or family member you want to invite into your world of backcountry travel. Whatever the scenario, accept the responsibility of creating the experience for your would-be travel mate.
Other helpful tips:
– Don’t make the trip all about you. You may like to spend the day driving, but she may not like being a passenger all day. Maybe let her do some driving.
– Hotel it once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with camping for one night, then retreating to a hotel. Extended camping is a skill often learned to enjoy over time.
– Bring some diversions. Pack magazines, books, and a deck of cards into your kit. Staring into a campfire mindlessly doesn’t appeal to everyone.
– Plan for nature’s call. Many new campers, male and female, haven’t comfortably come to terms with bathroom business in the wilds. Have a plan.