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With so many great campsites in Florida, there's no arguing that camping is the best and most cost-effective alternative to staying in expensive hotels and rentals. That said, I also understand that some people just can't stand to forgo their creature comforts--especially in a state as hot and humid as Florida. Thankfully, technology has advanced so much that camping doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to be uncomfortable! Next time you find yourself wanting to comfortably camp in Florida, here's how to you can pack light while keeping most--if not all--of your creature comforts intact.
1. Waterproof tent
If you aren't one of the "glampers" bringing a towable camper with them, you'll probably be relying on a tent for shelter. Try as hard as you may to book your camping trip during the dry season, with Florida's unpredictable tropical climate it's hard to know exactly what the forecast has in store from day to day--let alone months in advance. Fear not, as a waterproof tent will do wonders to keep you and your gear dry.
While waterproof tents are the standard these days and can be picked up for a relatively cheap price, it is important to note that their efficiency does wear out over time. However, even when that occurs, you can re-waterproof your tent before or after it starts to show signs of failure and leaking.
2. Car power inverter
From portable fans and heaters to blow up mattresses and phone chargers, comfortable camping probably requires some use of electronics, and that's why a car power inverter is a must-have.
Most public camps in Florida have outlets on site, but just when you think there will be and there's not, you don't want to lose power. Consider purchasing a 2000W high power inverter for your vehicle that is compatible with appliances and other large electrical devices to take on trips with you for peace of mind that your electronics will stay running efficiently--that is, as long as your car has charge.
3. Non-perishable food
While you might have already made dinner reservations, remember that things don't always go planned (say, you're lost in the wilderness somewhere). I always suggest packing non-perishable calorie-rich foods just to have on hand in a pinch, and better yet, they don't have to take up much space in your backpack at all.
Granola and protein bars are always an excellent choice, or if you're a meat eater like me, consider taking some my personal favorite, Old Trapper beef sticks. You never know when you'll need a little protein to boost your energy!
4. Old school coffee maker
Not a morning person? Me either, and without a motel's free continental breakfast awaiting you or a Starbucks around the corner, a camp-friendly percolator that brew overs the fire is a must have for those early rise-and-shine sort of days. I personally like the COLETTI Bozeman Camping Coffee Pot, which brews 9 cups, so there's plenty of caffeine to go around--though, after you taste the campfire's fresh brew, I can understand why you might not share.
5. Weather protectants
The Florida wilderness can be harsh, so you are going to need to make sure you're prepared for whatever it might throw at you.
Sunscreen probably seems like an obvious item--anything over 30spf and waterproof is my version of ideal--but you should also take a rain poncho for the less-sunny days too since there's nothing worse than a rainstorm soaking and chilling you to the bone which is evidently hard to recover from without dry clothing. Plus, rain ponchos can make camping activities in the rain considerably less restrictive.
Sun shades and pop-up gazebos are a good thing to bring as well, especially when the forecast is predicting lots of sun and high temperatures to match.
Additionally, it's smart to pack a variety of clothing when possible--at least a light jacket in case it gets cold at night (which it often does).
6. Bug protection
Remember that time I told you all about my dark sky park camping experience? Or how about how many ticks I found on me at this park near Orlando? Bugs, camping, and Florida are nothing less than synonymous.
A strong bug spray containing DEET is not something you should skip out on if you plan to brave the wilderness for a few nights. If you absolutely can't stand the thought of putting chemicals on your body then a decent alternative is a body net. Perhaps not the most stylish thing in the world, but if it keeps you from getting eaten alive, I'd say it's worth it.
7. Portable toilets
I know it's not the most romantic topic ever, but it's important to talk about it! Most public campsites are going to have public bathrooms on-site, however, there's nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night to walk half a mile just to pee.
Incoming portable travel toilets that you can use in the privacy of your own tent to the rescue. Having one of these is a lifesaver (especially for women) when going can't be easily done just anywhere! They even come fit with a toilet paper holder--just remember to keep it stocked.
8. Blow-up mattress
Some people claim that sleeping on the floor is great for your back, though, you won't catch me making that sacrifice. That's why I take a blow up mattress with me on every camping trip. They are super convenient too, rolling up into a small bag for easy fitting and packing. I do recommend a mattress with a built-in pump, but there's no right or wrong here--just personal preference and one less thing to think about when packing.
9. Hammock (with mosquito netting)
Anyone who knows me and has read my blog knows how much I love hammocks. With so many to choose from, how do you know which will be best for your camping trip? Well, look no further because unless you are only setting it up for a couple of hours during the day, the only one you will be able to get any use out of at night is one with a mosquito net built in.
10. First-aid kit
We love to think that nothing bad will happen during our time "off" but it never hurts to be prepared just in case. Stocked with antimicrobial solutions, pain relievers and bandages, a small first-aid kit like this one should be part of everyone's camping necessities. It's not going to replace a doctor, but it will help with minor cuts and abrasions (or bug bites), which seem to be just another part of the camping lifestyle.
What do you take with you on your camping trips? Tell me in the comments below!