If you go camping a lot, you probably have packing for a weekend get-away down to a science, a set routine you can blaze through: grab the pre-packed plastic bins, doublecheck your well-worn packing list, and drive to your favorite site and get set up. There’s nothing wrong with that repetition. Especially when you only have the occasional few days off of work—why waste the precious little relaxation time you have?
Things are different now that you are retired. You can hit the road any time you want and stay for weeks if that’s what your heart desires. So why not take a little time and shake up that 9 to 5, weekends-only camping mindset?
When you’ve done things one way for a while, it helps to give your imagination a little kickstart. Here are seven ideas to give your beloved camping trips a little spice.
1. Glamp Your Tent
“Glamping” is a mix of glamour and camping. At first blush, the thought of glamping my turn off seasoned campers. It does conjure up images of giant frilly tents with full-on living room furniture. But in reality, glamping can simply mean adding a few comfy and fun details to your standard campsite. If it helps, you can say you’re souping up your site.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started
- Hang some battery-powered party lights for a festive fireside
- Lay a rug down in your tent to keep your toes toasty (and lay one outside to wipe your feet)
- Spread out your best comforter and have a cozy night’s sleep
- Set up a side table next to your bed for a convenient place to set drinks and books
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Even a couple of additions will make your campsite feel like home.
2. Ramp Up Your Cooking Game
You’ll never replace the old campfire meal standbys like foil-wrapped potatoes or a perfectly charred hot dog. They’re tasty and easy to pack. Now that your weekend camping trips can last a week or more, you’ll need a few extra items to round out the menu. One way to do that is to plan your camping trips around local food-based festivals.
By way of example, consider the ramp. A ramp is a wild-growing green onion prized for its strong, aromatic flavor. Every May, the town of Waynesville, Virginia holds a festival dedicated to all things ramp.
Alongside the local vendors and music stage, you’ll find plenty of ramp-infused dishes. And of course, you can also buy a bunch of ramps to take back to your campsite. Then spend the evening trying your hand at cooking with this vivacious little veggie. Pro tip: Ramps are a fantastic addition to foil-wrapped potatoes.
Food festivals happen all over and at just about every time of the year. Sweet or savory, vegetable or fruit—if it grows it shows at some celebration somewhere. Find your favorites and make camp cooking a part of the adventure.
3. Rent an RV
Camping in an RV or trailer is a completely different experience than tent camping—whether or not you prefer one over the other is up to you. RVing does have some advantages, though. For example, you can bring refrigerated food without replacing the ice in your cooler. Plus you can stay quite cozy when it’s chilly and comfy even on the hottest days.
The good news is you can try RVing without borrowing equipment from a friend. RV sharing websites like RVshare and Outdoorsy connect owners with would-be renters. No matter if you’re interested in a camper van, trailer, fifth-wheel, or motorhome, you can rent them at reasonable rates directly from the owners. Don’t have a vehicle that can pull a trailer? Never driven a motorhome before? No problem. Many of the people that rent out their campers will deliver them right to your KOA campsite.
4. Try New Experiences
Have you always wanted to try paddleboarding? Or maybe photographing wildlife is more your speed. Now that you have more time to play, your camping trips don’t have to be about getting away from it all. They could be about getting to it all.
And you know what? There are nearly 500 KOAs across the continent. So once you decide on an activity, you’re sure to find a KOA nearby.
5. Bring the Fun
Some days are just meant for hanging out at camp. Make it a full day of fun by bringing along some outdoor games. It’s a great way to break the ice with your camping neighbors or entertain grandkids.
Cornhole has become a perennial favorite. Bocci ball is another great choice that takes up less packing room. If you want to get really creative, you can make your own light-up bowling kit with some two-liter bottles and glow sticks.
6. Sleep in an Airstream, Treehouse, or Wagon
Remember making blanket forts when you were a kid? This is way better. Many KOAs offer unique lodging options that are sure to break you out of any camping rut. Treehouses are spacious and their elevated porches are the perfect spot to sip a morning cup of coffee. Waking up in a covered wagon makes you feel like you’ve stepped back to pioneer days, and KOA Airstreams are retro camping cool and come complete with fully kitted out kitchens, baths, and showers.
7. Explore a New-to-you Campsite
Deciding between your time-tested favorites and exploring new places is tough. It’s not something you have to worry about anymore, though. You have time to do it all. So get to searching for the next road-less-traveled.
Start by downloading the KOA camping app. With it, you can search for your next favorite campground by location or nearby attraction plus get detailed information about each one. You can even make a reservation right from the app.
Mixing up an old routine can be hard, but it can also be liberating. You may find that trying something new becomes your favorite thing to do, and if not, no worries, try something different on your next trip. The ideas listed above are relatively easy and can help push you out of your comfort zone. For other ideas and opportunities, check out all the cool activities and events at KOAs across the country—maybe you can plan an upcoming trip around one of these.
Written by Rob Glover for Matcha in partnership with Kampgrounds of America.