According to the calendar, summer is quickly approaching. I know this is a bit hard to believe since just a few weeks ago we were admiring various mounds of snow and ice. You know what else I’ve heard? Rumor has is that with the summer months, warmer weather sometimes accompanies it. And when it’s warm, more people like to go outside and do stuff. Although I am not honestly one hundred per cent convinced on this summer rumor, especially since I live in Northern Minnesota, I thought I would do some research on it anyway. What I found out is that camping, staying in rustic cabins and RVing is actually something a lot of people look forward to doing during this magical time. But in my opinion, “roughing it,” as this activity is sometimes called, deserves to hold a few secrets to letting you keep some creature comforts you may miss when you are away from home. Take a look at what some really clever folks have come up with over the many summer vacations taken. Perhaps you’ll find something that will make your trip just a little bit more relaxing and enjoyable. Bring on the sunshine!
PERSONAL CARE…DOWNSIZED. So you can’t take your nice whirlpool bath with or all your lotions, make-up and three-way mirror with on your adventure, but you can still pamper yourself and save space on your escapade!
DRYER SHEETS. Not only do dryer sheets make clothes soft and smell yummy, they can also be used on your hair as a make-shift dry shampoo. On top of that, they can flatten any fuzzies or fly-away strands you may have that are refusing to listen to you, all the while giving your hair a nice, fresh smell.
HAIR CONDITIONER. Don’t bother packing your shaving gel if you are tight on space. Your hair conditioner makes a great shaving cream alternative for your legs (and other bits) and leaves your skin feeling smooth and supple.
SINGLE SERVE SOAP. Motels no longer have a corner on this market. You can easily make your own individual leaves by simply using a vegetable peeler and a bar of your favorite soap. No longer will you have to drag a full bar around in its half-slippery, water-logged state day after day.
FACIAL TONER. While you are treating your skin with your alcohol-infused astringent or toner, keep in mind that this product also doubles as a corrector for self-tanner mistakes, like runny lines, streaks or splotches. Just dab with a cotton ball.
MORE THAN JUST TOOTHPASTE. Make the chore of brushing your teeth a bit more exciting (well, at least for your kids). Instead of taking the entire tube with on your venture, create “Toothpaste Drops.” Two or three days beforehand, create Toothpaste Drops by squeezing dots of toothpaste on a kitchen plate, and sprinkling them with baking soda. Once dried, put them into a re-sealable plastic bag and pack them with your toothbrushes. Done! And to add even more fun and creativity to this project, have your child or children (or yourself if so inclined) decorate the plastic bag making the Toothpaste Drops a product they/you created themselves. And while we are on the subject of toothpaste, you may find yourself lounging by the lake, and notice your nails are looking a bit yellow. What to do? Take a few of your Toothpaste Drops and scrub your nails with them. The toothpaste will help get rid of tough stains and add shine. (And later on, if the mood strikes to make some homemade lemonade, put a lemon aside specifically for your nails; lemons have a natural bleaching agent and will help make your fingernails look even whiter and brighter.)
BE PREPARED! FIRST AID. NASTY BLISTERS! Blisters are not exclusive to brave women who are willing to wear a new pair of high heeled shoes to a wedding and an all-night reception. Blisters don’t discriminate. They want to make sure no one is left feeling ignored; they like to make sure every man, woman and child get to experience the wrath of a nasty blister sooner or later. So don’t be surprised if they pop up for a visit when you are trying to enjoy your getaway. (They love vacations too.) However, help is at hand! There are some home remedies you can try to shorten their visit and show them the door.
UNPOPPED BLISTERS. Grab your petroleum jelly. Coat your feet in the most common spots unwelcomed blisters usually show up before you put on your shoes. Those blisters will have to move on since the petroleum jelly will be guarding your skin like an English sentinel.
POPPED BLISTERS. So the blister got the better of you, but it is not too late to end this fiasco quickly. Listerine mouthwash is a perfect defense. Put a few drops of the mouthwash on a cotton ball and apply to your popped blister. Since it is an antiseptic and powerful, that blister will be dried and old news in no time.
MINOR BURN. It happens to the best of us. If you need something quick and can’t find your antiseptic with pain reliever, run to your cooler and slather plain yogurt on your burn site. Not only with the yogurt make your skin feel cool and help with swelling, it will reduce redness and actually help speed up the healing process.
ITSY-BITSY FIRST AID KIT. Although you’ve packed a complete Standard Size First Aid Kit, make sure to create a few tiny mini-kits you can just throw in your kids’ backpack or your pocket so you don’t have to lug the large one along if you’re taking a family hike or visiting local shops. All you need to do is use an old prescription bottle or Altoids tin and put the essentials in it: antiseptic salve, Kleenex, alcohol wipe, cotton balls, ear bud, and Band-Aid. (And whatever else you feel rounds out the perfect mini kit.)
CLEVER WAYS TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CLOTHES. Knowing these little tricks will give you more time enjoying the sites and less time trying to get the little necessities of day-to-day life done.
LAUNDRY PRE-TREATER. It does a lot more than just get stubborn stains out of your clothes before wash time. A Pre-Treater can get that leftover goo off left by price labels to loosen and leave and clothes and will also remove it from hard, washable surfaces too. The cherry on the sundae is laundry Pre-Treater will capture those elusive, clingy dust bunnies in the process!
A COLANDER IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A PASTA DRAINER. Using your colander is a great alternative to clean delicate clothing that must be washed by hand with limited wringing. After rinsing the article in the drainer for a bit, let it drip dry outdoors in it for a time, then lay flat to dry.
DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT! Jam that soaked suit of yours in the colander if you have a quick change of plans and don’t have time to rinse and hang your suit. The colander will continue to let water drip from your suit, and you can just leave it in the strainer to deal with it later. The wet suit can be placed outside of your space so you don’t have to have it in your way as you are changing. And for about one dollar for a medium-sized plastic strainer…how can you go wrong?
YOUR TRUSTY FLAT IRON. So instead of a walk in the woods you’d prefer to check out that little village with the collection of antique stores? Sometimes it’s hard to keep your ‘classier’ camping ensembles as crisp as if they were hanging in your closet at home. Never fear! Your trusty flat iron is here! Instead of using it on your hair (wrap it up in a bun…after all, you ARE on vacation!), use your hair straightener as an iron to smooth between buttons on your shirt and/or shorts. Any minor wrinkles your iron can’t get out, just spray some fabric wrinkle releaser on the problem area (just make sure to give yourself enough time for it to dry).
GRAB SOME PARAFFIN. If you can hardly wait to grab your gear and hit the hiking trail, before you go, make sure you rub your hiking boot laces amply with paraffin first. By doing this it will cut down on the burrs that will want to attach to your shoes.
RUBBER BANDS. You’re on vacation. And the food and treats you’re chowing on tastes sooo good! The waistband of your jeans love to remind you of this when you your healthy eating is temporarily off-the-clock. But don’t go out and buy all new clothes for your summer holiday; instead invest in some rubber bands. Hook a rubber band through the buttonhole of your bottoms and secure the other side with the existing button. There you have it: Instant space! (Just remember to wear a top that covers your new makeshift extension.)
HOTEL SHOWER CAPS. Finally a clever use for those flimsy shower caps from hotel rooms: Use them to cover your shoes as you are packing for your trip. The plastic keeps any grime or dirt from your shoes’ soles getting to your clean clothes.
UGH! BUGS! BUT I ORDERED THE OUTDOORS WITHOUT THEM! Personally, I absolutely love the outdoors, but I’m not much of a sharer when it comes to bugs. Not bugs living in our world, mind you. Bugs that want to, say, attach themselves on me for some sustenance or those that like to fly around me and buzz in my ear, and then land on me to bite or poke me for sustenance. And I’m sure you are familiar with those friendly icky ticks and irritating mosquitoes that are just waiting outside for an all-you-can-eat-buffet. So I am very happy to share these tips and tricks to anti-bug yourself just in case you forget bug repellent at home or you find yourself unprotected.
MAKE YOUR OWN WOOD TICK DETERRENT. This recipe is a cheap and well-working concoction. Just follow the direction below: 1 Part Tea Tree Oil to 2 Parts Water in a spray bottle. Put the spray bottle cap on, mix the two liquids, and then go crazy spraying onto your shoes, boots, socks, and pant cuffs. Humans: 1! Ticks: 0!
YOUR DEODORANT. Smell good AND keep the bugs away. Deodorant doubles as a mosquito repellent.
JOHNSON’S BABY CREAMY OIL LOTION. Oh yea! We’ve found ANOTHER yummy smelling cream that will keep mosquitoes away. (Make sure to buy the correct, specific kind.)
LIQUID HAND SOAP. Make sure to bring a couple of convenient plastic pump soaps along with you on your summer outings. In my experience, I have found public rest stops don’t always stock the greatest soaps in the world, and there is always a chance the rest stop dispenser may be empty or out-of-order. The real big plus of having your own liquid soap with you is that you can remove ticks from your skin effortlessly and painlessly simply by using a cotton ball soaked in the liquid hand soap and pressing it over your unwanted guest until it lets go.
GET THAT FIRE STARTED! Before you rip open your marshmallows and get the guitar out for a nice, long jam session, you want to have a dependable, comfortable campfire to add ambiance and warmth to your lovely night.
CARRY & LIGHT. Start out on the right foot by creating an easy-to-carry fire starter kit. Take a cardboard-only egg carton, and place a lump of match-light charcoal in each egg holder.
WHERE’S THE KINDLING? If you are having trouble finding decent kindling where you want to start your campfire, you will find cotton pads dipped in wax are a great portable fire starter. You know what else are? Chips. Specifically Doritos and Frito Corn Chips make wonderful kindling when you can’t find the real thing.
ALWAYS PREPARED. Purchase some strike-anywhere matches and transfer them into a little plastic container. On the container’s lid, glue some sandpaper on top of it. Now you have a nice, big strike surface and flames at the ready.
*SNIFF* MMM! Adding bundles of sage to your campfire will keep mosquitoes away and make the area smell lovely.
GRITS. Instant grits will help keep nosy ants away from your campsite. Just sprinkle on the ground where you want to create your barrier!
THE TWO ESSENTIAL THINGS TO BRING WHENEVER YOU TRAVEL ANYWHERE: COFFEE & TOILET PAPER. NO IF, ANDS, OR ‘BUTTS’ ABOUT IT. I applaud the many people who can exist – and enjoy – spending the night out in the wilderness, needing nothing but a leaf for a pillow and a rock to elevate their feet. That’s not me. That will never ever be me. Now, I am all for trying new things, some experiences are great! But life, for me, cannot move correctly if I have to worry about having my strong roast morning coffee and an ample supply of toilet paper available at all times. These are terms I cannot break. So I find the following tips wonderful.
TRAVEL COFFEE BAGS. Clear up some space by making your own coffee travel bags. All you need to do is stock up your coffee filters to your ground specifications and tie them up individually with dental floss.
COFFEE CAN + TOILET PAPER. If you bring along one of those nice, strong plastic coffee cans with the resealable lid with you on your travels, and now it is empty, grab your roll of toilet paper and keep it inside. The coffee can will keep it nice and dry, easy to find, and no worries about creepy crawlies waiting in the roll hole.
COMPACT DISC SPINDLE + TOILET PAPER. Another genius idea: Keep your toilet paper on one of those plastic spindles computer CDs come on when you buy them in bulk. They seal nicely and are easy to locate in your belongings. If you are really “roughing it” and have minimal space, for example just a backpack, this idea will still work. Take out the plastic tube in the spindle, and flatten your toilet paper instead. Keep it in a plastic bag. Sweet!
ADDITIONAL, IMPRESSIVE INGENUITY AND IMAGINATION FROM TALENTED, CREATIVE PEOPLE. In other words, some more awesome ideas thought of by great folks who used their noggins to make traveling and life itself a bit easier for the rest of us.
MAKE YOUR OWN PORTABLE WASHING MACHINE! I found this idea totally brilliant! What do you need? A bucket and a plunger. Sorry local Laundromat. I will not need to use you when I’m away from home.
PERSONAL WASHING STATION. Hold on to a couple of those bulk, plastic liquid laundry detergent dispensers for your summer travels. They work great as a dedicated personal hand washing station.
SMELLY HANDS. Deciding to have some hamburgers over your campfire or maybe roast some skewer kabobs? After slicing onions and mincing the garlic, you can get that smell off your hand by rubbing your fingers on a stainless steel spoon under running water.
MESH PRODUCE BAG. You know those cobweb-type mesh bags you can purchase oranges, onions, and various other produce in at the grocery store? When you’re relaxing this summer, don’t toss them. Instead, keep them, and wad it up to use as a non-scratch pan scrubber after a particular messy meal. You’ll get your pots and pans clean, and then you can throw the whole scrubber away when you’re done.
A FOLDED SHOWER CURTAIN. Dollar stores are so wonderful. They let you try these time-saving ideas without having to spend over a buck. With this particular idea, buy yourself a curtain (or if you really want to, you can use an old one you may have. Personally, it sounds easier to me to buy a cheap new one over taking down an old used shower curtain that may have soap grime and a bit of mold hanging around on it, the choice is always yours). Stash that curtain in with the stuff you’re bringing on your trip. You will find it has a myriad of uses to help you do things a little easier. For example: Use it as a carrier of your swim stuff when you hit the beach. Use it to keep your picnic fixins on it instead of in the sand or in the grass. Let your imagination run wild! This little piece of decorative plastic seems to have endless uses for the summertime family.
TOLL, PLEASE. Even though you may be spending a weekend in the woods, or living without electricity for a few days, there is still a possibility your route you need to take may contain a pay toll on your way to your destination. In your car, keep one of your old, empty bottles to store change in. It comes with a nice childproof top, and you can keep it in your console or glove compartment.
CORNSTARCH. It is one of the best wonders of our time in my opinion. It seems more and more uses come to light with it every day. Did you know you can detangle a knot in literally seconds by rubbing cornstarch on it? That is a big help when you’re trying to undo kids’ shoelaces, string and even chain necklaces. The cornstarch provides you with more grip and control.
A WILDFLOWER BOUQUET JUST FOR YOU. If you find yourself the recipient of a lovely bouquet of wildflowers, foliage, and love picked especially for you, there are a couple of easy things that can be done to can make this gift last a bit longer.
STRAWS. You can insert the stems of weaker flowers into a straw to help them stand higher and be supported so they don’t droop down. The straws can be cut to the length of the flower stem, and you can keep reusing the same straws over and over for all the lovely flowers you receive.
GOT A PENNY? Great! Drop one into the vase you’re keeping your flower bunch in along with a pinch of sugar. These two simple steps will keep your flowers perkier longer.
I KNOW WE HAVE TECHNOLOGY WITH US ALWAYS. It is our way of life nowadays, so that would be stingy of me if I didn’t add a couple of tips that relates to that aspect.
EYEGLASS CASE. Easily a million and one uses for this item, but they are great for storing your MP3 player, ear buds, and extra batteries in. If you have more than one child, have them each decorate a case so it is theirs and theirs alone, and squabbles of whose is what may be able to stay at a minimum…at least briefly.
STICKY NOTES. If you bring a packet of sticky notes with you to jot down things you need to pick up at your next pit stop, utilize the sticky side of the paper to slide between the keys of your laptop. The stickiness will help clean out the fluff, crumbs, and grime that have fallen between the keys.
DUCT TAPE. There is an easy and smart way to keep duct tape on hand with you since you never know when it will come in handy. All you need to do is slip your water bottle through the duct tape hole. There you go. You stay hydrated and prepared in the wilderness.
LANTERN. To create an instant lantern to use in your tent, take a head lamp or even a flashlight and point it into a plastic jug of water. There you go. Instant Lantern.
AND THE LAST TIP TO USE FOR YOUR SUMMERTIME OUTING ESCAPADES?
A Bottle of Mountain Dew + Baking Soda + Peroxide = LANTERN.