- Take a drop sheet along
After painting the house or doing other messy home repairs, you may be ready to pack up and go camping, so remember to take some of the drop sheets you've used to protect flooring and furniture with you. Choose one that more or less matches the dimensions of your tent floor and pitch the tent on top of it. The drop sheet will prevent dampness from seeping in and keep the tent cleaner into the bargain.
You might want to bring another drop sheet (an inexpensive new plastic one) to use as a tablecloth; campsite tables are often covered with bird droppings and other debris.
- Pill-bottle salt and pepper shakers
There's no need to eat bland food just because you're roughing it. Pour salt, pepper and any other spices you enjoy into separate small screw-cap pill bottles and label them with an indelible marker on masking tape so that you'll be able to reuse them. Because these containers are airtight, moisture won't cause the contents to dampen and congeal. Then take two lids from another set of pill bottles and punch small holes in them with a sharp tool. You can then use one for salt and the other for pepper, and then shake away to suit your taste. But make sure you replace the solid caps at the end of the meal to keep moisture at bay.
- Save plastic bottles
Before you throw plastic bottles into the recycling bin, consider the ways you can put them to good use on camping trips and picnics.
When you're in the great outdoors, you can use a plastic bottle to do some of the following:
- Make a bowl Cut off the bottom portion to make a bowl of any depth you need; you might want to sandpaper the edges to make them less rough.
- Dispose of liquids Pour in cooking oils and other liquid rubbish.
- Create an icepack Fill a bottle with water, freeze it and use it to keep an esky cold. Or put it in a backpack to keep food cool on a long hike.
- Serve as a makeshift toilet Keep it just outside the tent so you don't have to wander out into the dark. (At least this works for male campers.)
- Plastic containers are great, too
Recycle old plastic butter tubs the next time you go hiking or camping — they have many practical outdoor uses, including:
- Snare stinging insects To keep wasps and other insects from invading your outdoor meals, fill a container with water, add a little sugar, poke a hole in the lid and place this sweet trap off to one side of your dining area. The wasps will fly in but won't be able to fly out.
- Feed your dog Fill a container with biscuits so the dog's dinner is ready when he's hungry; use a second container for water.
- Block ants Fill four plastic containers with water and put one under each leg of a table. Ants won't be able to get through your makeshift moat and crawl up the table legs to get at your picnic.
- Freshen sleeping bags with soap
Sleeping bags can become a bit musty after a couple of uses, but you can freshen them by putting a bar of soap or a fabric-softener sheet inside them. Do it after you get out of the sleeping bag each morning, then zip the bag shut. The next time you slip in, remove the bag freshener and put it aside to use again, then drift off into sweeter-smelling dreams.
- Bubble-wrap mattress
Pack a 2-m length of bubble wrap and lay it under your sleeping bag before you get in. The air pockets are not only soft; they'll also protect your sleeping bag from damp.
- Hula hoop privacy protector
If you have a hula hoop, some rope or string, an old shower curtain or tablecloth and a few large metal bulldog clips, bring them along — to build a portable cubicle that you can use for changing, washing up, even showering under a bucket (see 'Staying clean outside',). Suspend the hoop from a branch with the rope or twine. Drape the shower curtain or tablecloth over the hoop, fastening the material onto the hoop with bulldog clips or any other fasteners you might have. While it may not be a thing of beauty, you will welcome the chance to disappear inside it for a bit of privacy.
- Shoo off insects with fabric softener
Fabric-softener sheets aren't your usual item of technologically advanced outdoor gear, but you'll be glad to have some when mosquitoes start swarming around your tent. Just pin or tie one to your clothing to keep them away.
- Foil dampness and grime
For a little extra campsite comfort, take some aluminium foil from the kitchen when packing. Here are three ways to use it.
- Wrap your matches in aluminium foil to protect them from moisture.
- Lay a large piece of foil under your sleeping bag to prevent dampness from seeping in.
- Wad some foil into a ball to use as a scouring pad. Foil is great for scraping grime off a barbecue and blackened residue from the bottom of pans that are used over an open fire.
Credit: Reader's Digest
Picture Credit: Google