Yay, ’tis the season to sleep in a tent!
Well, sort of. What is commonly referred to as ‘monsoon June’ has yet to pour into my neck of the woods. Happy campers can delight in the warm breeze, lush surroundings and late lingering sunsets…til we get the annual pre-summer downpour.
My first camping trip of the season kicked off with a 5-night adventure in Tofino (a.k.a. surfer’s paradise of the Pacific Northwest). This Vancouver Island oasis has a captivating charm like none other.
From a rich cultural tapestry to local surf shops, organic eateries, yoga studios, an artisan market and vegan doughnuts, Tofino will bring out your inner beach hippie. Nothing quite compares to gazing out across the crashing waves to the island-dotted horizon. We even caught a glimpse of a black bear combing the beach!
While the Tofino campsite scenery was naturally invigorating, a drive-in camping experience doesn’t quite shout health & wellness (more like roasted weenies, krinkle cut potato chips and propane tanks). However, I did find some room to integrate a healthier approach. Granted, the chips were still a staple item.
Balancing blood sugar levels while camping can be a wild beast. Your sleep cycle usually fluctuates, along with how much exercise you’re getting and what you’re munching on. So I’ll take whatever health kicks I can get along the way.
I’m not saying a booze-free/BBQ-forbidden breatharian wilderness retreat is the way to go (to each their own), but there’s always a happy medium.
Here are a few ways to pack a little more health and eco-friendliness into your next camping trip…
1. Stock up on plant fuel.
Make room beside the marshmallows for fresh raw snacks like hummus and veggies, coconut energy balls, trail mix and homemade granola bars. With type 1 diabetes, having healthy pre-portioned snacks at your fingertips makes life way easier with converting carbs and preventing a hangry camper.
2. Nutrify each meal.
Instead of a typical burger, swap the bun for a lettuce wrap. Upgrade your bacon-fried-eggs by adding chopped leafy greens, onion, garlic or whatever veggies are hanging out in the cooler. If your camping breakfast grub involves oatmeal, sprinkle in some plant protein and healthy fats like hemp hearts, chia seeds and buckwheat (the infamous Holy Crap blend), raw nuts and antioxidant-rich dried fruit (ex. unsweetened goji and mulberries).
3. Cook with care.
With the documented health risks linked to char-broiling and grilling, BBQ lovers should take heed. If you’re frying over high heat, best to use a high quality pan (like cast iron) and bring your own cold-pressed heat-stable cooking oil, such as coconut or avocado. To help reduce the formation of harmful HCA’s (heterocyclic amines), use fresh flavonoid-rich herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley) along with lemon or lime in your BBQ marinade.
4. Choose local.
We all wanna support local, right? When heading into town for a bite or groceries at the nearest co-op, go for the local, organic, pasture-raised, wild-caught options. Tofino is especially renowned for its amazing wild seafood bounty and organic produce from nearby farms. This is often a tad pricier, but our choices help keep the neighborhood economy thriving, along with conscious consumerism and collective wellness. Hurrah!
5. Leave less of a trace.
Camping can be a wasteful endeavor. If your campsite offers composting and recycling, great. If not, be sure to pack it in and pack it out. Bring a handful of plastic garbage bags from the pile stashed under your kitchen sink (or those bazillion mesh bags for recycling), as well as portable containers to store leftovers. Nobody wants to wake up to that bear from the beach sniffing around the tent.
6. Take a bike.
Once we reached Tofino, the car was still pretty essential to transporting our surfboard rentals and locating the learner beach. But we still came across cyclists casually commuting with boards strapped to the side of their bikes. Aside from reducing gas emissions, biking lets you take in the surroundings, stretch your legs and toodle around. On your next drive-in camping trip, ditch the car and fly by the seat of a bike.
Happy summer camping adventures, friends!