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  • Michelle Varela

Camping Tips for Seniors

Camping is the ultimate in fun and relaxation and is loaded with benefits. It provides adventure and unlimited opportunities to experience the great outdoors. Not to mention, it is an affordable way to vacation.

Benefits of Camping

Helps with Stress Reduction

Leave the overbooked scheduling at home. When you’re camping, there’s no place to be at a certain time, and there’s nothing interrupting you or competing for your attention. The natural outcome of this type of setting is stress reduction and relaxation like you can’t find anywhere else.


You may not realize how scarce fresh air is in your day to day life. When you go camping, you get the wondrous scents of the outdoors, as well as the smell of dinner cooking over an open fire.


One of the best and most important aspects of camping is how it helps you build and strengthen relationships. When you go camping with friends or family, you get a chance to talk and visit without distraction.


Time spent camping is physical time. You set up a tent, gather firewood, go for a hike. At home, we often lead sedentary lives that do not promote physical fitness. When you’re camping, you can’t help but engage in physical activity.


Camping is a great chance for everyone to unplug and get away from their screens. In the great outdoors, you don’t find computers, tablets or televisions and there’s so much else to do that does not require electronics.


When you’re camping, you get a chance to get in touch with nature, encounter wildlife and see the stars away from the bright lights of the big city.


You can’t help but develop new skills while camping. Everyone on the trip will contribute and it’s a great chance to learn new things. You may learn how to set up tents, tie knots, start fires, cook a new meal and more. These skills are important to have, and yet we don’t often get a chance to develop them during the course of our regular busy schedules.


It’s important for children to gradually become more independent and confident in their own capabilities.


Camping is beneficial for children and their families because it can help strengthen bonds between family members — brothers and sisters, parents and children and the list goes on. You will all return home feeling much stronger as a group.

Camping Costs

The cost of travel can make vacations a rare treat. But the affordability of camping may allow for frequent getaways. Overnight fees range from a free night’s stay at some state park rustic sites (no showers, toilets, electricity, or water) to $50 or more per night at many of the top KOA and Jellystone Camp Park-Resorts. These top-of-the-line campgrounds are loaded with amenities from built-in swimming pools to live entertainment.

State park campgrounds vary from state to state. Still, these are often the best deal if you’re interested in experiencing all nature has to offer. Fees for overnight accommodations in state parks typically range from $15 to $35. Many state parks have modern facilities including flush toilets, showers, grassy or gravel sites, park stores for firewood and ice, and more. Furthermore, state parks frequently offer miles of wooded hiking or biking trails, natural wonders, historical sites, and much more that may not be found at private camp resorts.

Camping also helps keep other vacation expenses to a minimum. Many campers prefer cooking over the campfire to eating out. Additionally, most outdoor camping activities are free or available at a minimal cost.

What You Need

Buy a couple of large plastic totes with lids to carry and store your camping supplies. These are some of the basics you’ll want to take.

  • Silverware

  • Paper plates and Styrofoam bowls

  • Paper towels, food storage bags, and tinfoil

  • A cooking source such as a one or two-burner stove

  • An aluminum pot and skillet

  • Cooking utensils and can opener

  • Coffee pot

  • Tablecloth

  • Ice chest, food, and drinks

  • Drinking water and large water container

  • Dish soap and dishcloths

  • Insect repellent and sunscreen

  • Folding chairs

  • Backpack

  • Radio, flashlight, and batteries

  • Lantern and matches

  • Firewood (unless available near your campground)

  • Knife and hatchet

  • Rope and twine

  • First-aid kit

  • Sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows

  • Air mattress or padding

  • Personal hygiene items and toilet paper

  • Towels and washcloths

  • Bikes, fishing, and other sports equipment

  • Camera and binoculars

  • Clothing for all types of weather, rain gear, and walking shoes or hiking boots

Tips to Make Your Campsite Comfortable

Get Off the Ground

One of the best tips for senior campers is to get yourself off of the ground. Bring a comfortable chair for sitting around the campsite and a comfortable cot for sleeping on. This simple act will keep you warmer in cold weather, cooler in hot weather and it will help you sleep better and have fewer body aches. If you suffer from arthritis, not having to climb up off of the hard ground every morning will make all the difference in the world. Many senior campers have even turned to hammock camping instead of tent camping. This is especially true for senior backpackers and primitive campers who don’t have the option of bringing a cot out into the field with them.

Bring an air mattress and a warm sleeping bag

No more sleeping on rocks and cold ground! When it comes to tent camping tips for seniors, finding a comfortable way to sleep is one of the most important. Try shopping for a self-inflating air mattress for an easy setup. Even in the summer, nights can get chilly when you’re camping, so add a well-insulated sleeping bag to your equipment list. You can never go wrong with extra pillows and cozy blankets too!

Get a Tall Tent

Another way to lessen the chances of developing aches and pains while on your trip is to get a tent with a high ceiling. The taller your tent, the less you’ll have to bend over. Ideally, you’ll be able to get a tent that is tall enough for you to fully stand-up in. This will make it easier to get in and out of and will make the act of changing clothes much simpler. If you’ll have help erecting your tent, you could go with a large canopy tent. These tents will have nearly vertical sidewalls, so you’ll be able to move about them freely. Otherwise, consider a large instant tent. Generally, any instant tent meant for 6 people or more will have interior heights of at least 6′.

Spend More Time Planning

The average person in their early 20s can go camping on a whim. He or she can toss a bunch of gear into trash bags, load up the car, and be at their campsite a few hours later. This usually isn’t true for seniors. Seniors often have to worry about bringing enough medicine, finding a campsite with decent facilities, and packing the right gear to be comfortable. They also tend to have more responsibilities to worry about to Spend some time planning in advance and you’ll be less likely to forget important details like this.

Consider a Site with Electricity

Make yourself comfortable by getting a modern campsite with electricity. This way, you’ll be able to bring things like fans, mini-fridges, coffee makers, swamp coolers, televisions, and anything else that might make your trip a little easier.

Bring Something to Do

When you’re young, you can spend an entire weekend hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. This often changes when you get older.

You may find that you need to rest a little more often than before. This is perfectly fine and it can make for a relaxing trip. Unfortunately, all of the extra downtimes can also lead to boredom. Avoid this by packing a few leisure activities along with you. Catch up on reading, watch a few movies, or practice a stationary hobby like drawing, writing, or even whittling. These items will serve double duty as they’ll help keep you entertained in the rain as well as when energy levels are low.

Choose a site close to the community bathroom

Choose your spot carefully. You may want a spot close to the restroom and shower facilities, but not right next door. Some sites offer more privacy or shade. Most campgrounds have a site map so you can see the location and exact site you are booking ahead of time.

Think About a 55 and Older Campground

55 and older campgrounds are just as prolific as 55 and older communities. They are often quiet, well-maintained and full of amenities. These parks are often RV-only parks but some of them also allow tent camping as well. Do enough of this type of camping and you may even be able to sign up for a membership club that only charges one simple fee per year. These places can be great for those boomers that have found they no longer want to camp with children running around. Or at least not all of the time.

Try Tent Glamping

Another option might be to forget about bringing your own gear and to have someone else do it for you. Many tent glamping campgrounds will have beautiful tents already laid out on wooden platforms that you can camp on.

These tents will usually have toilets and sinks within them. Depending on the site, they may even have kitchen facilities inside of them as well.

They’ll often be hooked up with electricity too, so you’ll be able to head off into nature without giving up any of the amenities of home. You also won’t have to set anything up either, which can make the trip a whole lot easier.

If the park you want to visit does not offer glamping, you may be able to hire a company that can create the experience for you. Tent glamping companies can go to your site, set everything up for you, and take it back down again when you’re ready to leave.

These services do cost money, but they save you from having to buy any equipment so they prove to be the more frugal option for those who don’t plan on doing a lot of camping each year.

Park Passes

The National Parks Service Senior Pass

The National Park Senior Pass is hands down is the absolute best of the best. It used to be known as the “Golden Age Pass,” but several years ago, the park service made it even easier to understand by simply calling it the Senior Pass. They also raised the price but, still, at its current $80 fee for a lifetime pass ($20 for an annual pass), it provides a value that is truly priceless. That’s $80 for a lifetime pass–paying for itself in just four years.

The only requirement is that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 62 or older. You must have an ID that proves so like a Driver’s License, Passport, Passport Card, or Green Card.

This pass is your entrance ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites for national parks and national wildlife refuges, as well as day-use fees for national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Senior Pass covers entrance in your RV (or any other vehicle) for a driver and all passengers in fee areas. This accounts for up to four adults at sites that charge per person. Children age 15 or under are admitted free…But wait, it gets better.

The same pass also provides very steep discounts for camping at sites with a campground, in some places, a 50 percent discount! Even the Tennessee Valley Authority gives discounts at its excellent campgrounds to those with the Senior Pass.

By the way, the old Golden Age Pass is still honored, and it will continue to be for the life of the pass holder. Those who have that pass bought it for just $10 before the price went up in 2017.

Guided Camping Trips

If you prefer someone else do the planning, try a guided camping trip.

ROW Adventures

ROW Adventures has been in business for over 36 years. They offer adventure trips such as canoeing, kayaking, rafting, hiking and walking trips at various destinations. They have destination trips throughout North American, Latin America, Mexico, Canada and Europe. ROW Adventures is dedicated to sustainable travel and actively supports river conservation.

American Hiking Society

You can give back and volunteer through the American Hiking Society to help maintain the hiking trails. Individuals of any age and experience level can become trail stewards.

Try RVing

If you are not up for tent camping, RVing is the next best thing. RVing has long been a popular option for seniors

If you’ve never RVed before, it can be hard to know what type of RV is right for you. Many seniors enjoy the comforts provided by Class A RVs, while others prefer the small size and easy drivability of Class B RVs. Because of this, it’s recommended to try renting an RV at least once before you commit.

Numerous platforms exist for RV rentals like Outdoorsy, RVshare, and RVezy. These platforms let you rent an RV for a few days or weeks so you can get the hang of RV living.

One of the best parts of your senior years is all the discounts, and RVing is no different.

In addition to your typical discounts at places like restaurants and pharmacies, senior RVers can save on parks and campgrounds as well. For example, with an AARP membership, you can get 10% off at participating campgrounds

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