How To Stay Healthy While Camping – 11 Simple Tips

Hiker feet on a trail

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Camping offers a great way to get away from the regular pace of life. I love the peace and serenity that can be found in nature and I have always been drawn to it. I have been exposed to this fun lifestyle my entire life and have been involved in it regularly since I was a child. I just can’t stay away from it which is why I travel often in my van and try to set up camp as often as I can.

Being someone who has always made health a priority, I strive to maintain a healthy routine no matter what I’m doing. However, when camping on short trips, it’s nice to take a load off and divert from the regular routines of life. This is fine on short trips but for those who camp regularly or live full-time in a van or RV, it becomes more important to consider healthier approaches in your routines.

If you are one of those who work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you probably want to continue the trend even when you are on a camping trip. I spent a few years of my life as a certified fitness trainer so I know the feeling of always wanting to stay in shape and as healthy as possible.

The following tips are some that I try to abide by when I am on my trips. Although I make sure to get lots of relaxation and enjoy my time, I also am constantly mindful of living as healthy as possible.

1) Cook Your Own Meals

Vegetable Skewers

First, you have to plan and cook your own meals when you are out camping. This is usually not an issue for most people since cooking meals at the campsite is one of the best parts of the whole experience.

Cooking your own meals is a great way to control how healthy your food is or isn’t. When you opt to carry your own food and cook all of your own meals rather than buying pre-made meals or eating out, you can ensure that you are maintaining a delicious and nutritious diet. You have the choice to include healthier ingredients and make nutritious meals that also taste great.

It can be tempting to take a load off and just not fool with cooking. It’s easier to leave the campground, get some fast food and bring it back. However, cooking is one of the fun parts of camping.

Cooking a meal over the camp stove is not only delicious but creates a fun experience and lasting memories.

It can give you a break from typical restaurant food that people often eat while vacationing.

Cooking your own meals allows you to maintain a routine that you may be used to. The great thing about camping is it allows you to do this. Traveling and vacationing in other ways may not allow for such a thing since you will be left with only the option to dine out rather than cook for yourself.

While camping, you’ll have your kitchen with you and this affords you the perfect opportunity to cook some amazing meals.

Here is a great list of meals you can cook while camping.

2) Plan Active Outings

Camping is for the adventurous and those who love being in the outdoors. When you are in the outdoors like this, it’s a great time to plan outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, mountain climbing, outdoor games, or anything else that you might enjoy doing that the outdoors can provide.

When camping, you are often in beautiful locations that offer a variety of activities like this to be done. Not only that, but you are not on a set schedule as much so you are free to pack your bags and hike or partake in activities as you wish.

Add some of this activity to your trip rather than just sitting around watching TV or scrolling on your phone. When camping in an RV at an RV park, it may be tempting to just spend all your time relaxing at the campsite. While you should definitely spend SOME time doing this, don’t forget to enjoy nature while you are there. This will certainly help you to have a healthier stay by allowing you to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and just make you feel good all around.

3) Use an Activity Tracker

Since you will likely be active during your camping stays, an activity tracker can help to motivate you, give you a goal to reach, and keep you moving. Set a goal for yourself to achieve a number of steps or another active measure during your trip. This will help to give you something to stretch for and keep the importance of moving in the back of your mind.

You will be surprised with just how many steps you will take when going on a simple hike. On average, a person takes more than 2,000 steps to complete a mile of walking. Imagine going on a few hikes that range from 1 – 3 miles while you are camping. These distances are what you can usually expect on nature trails that are designed for family enjoyment. You can usually find nature trails like this no matter where you are.

Backcountry wilderness trails will take you even further so if you want the extra activity, head for the backcountry. Either way, having an activity tracker can help give you the push you need to be active. The Apple Watch or the Fitbit make great choices and both provide you with useful feedback.

4) Prepare Healthy Snacks

Granola bars and nuts

After you have planned active outings and have begun to pursue them, you’ll need some snacks along the way. Snacks are great for providing you with a boost of nutrition throughout the day and giving you the energy to tackle physical challenges. If you go on a hike, make sure you take some snacks which could include fruits, nuts, jerkies, trail mix, pretzels, etc.

It’s easy to prepare small bags or containers of snacks that can be stuffed into a backpack anytime you are out and about.

5) Maintain a Routine

Even though you are camping and taking a load off, so to speak, it is important to maintain some type of routine. While it doesn’t have to be exactly like your routine would be when not camping, it does help to maintain some sort of routine. Some ideas may be…

  • Going to bed around the same time each night
  • Awaking around the same time each morning
  • Maintaining a regular meal schedule
  • Doing physical activities at the same time
  • Relaxing at the same time

All of these routines will help you to pack all that can be done into your day.

Maintaining a schedule of events and activities will help you to come back with stories rather than just a boring trip where you relaxed the whole time.

Not that there is anything wrong with this but staying healthy requires some thought and action so just be mindful of this on your trip.

6) Use Natural Ways To Keep The Bugs Away

Drinking a beer with bug netting in van door

Bugs can be quite annoying when camping and can make it downright miserable if you don’t have a plan to combat it. Whether it’s mosquitoes, flies, beetles, gnats, no-see-ums, ticks, or other pesky creatures, camping will expose you to a variety of these nuisances. The usual way to combat these is through a combination of bug screens and bug sprays.

I try to use bug netting as much as possible and this is enough if I’m staying in my camper van most of the time. The bug screen on my van keeps most things out so that I can enjoy my stay. However, once I venture outside the van, I have to contend with the same bugs that haunt any other camper.

Certain bugs can cause health problems and it’s especially a concern in areas where high numbers of ticks live. A natural bug spray or clothing designed to repel and kill ticks is a great way to ensure that you don’t fall victim to their bites. I typically use a natural bug spray to keep bugs away from me combined with clothing pre-treated with Permethrin for when I am venturing into territory where ticks might be living.

A bug spray like this one contains natural ingredients and does a pretty good job of keeping the bugs away. It does wear off and needs re-application often but it works pretty well from my experience.

7) Stretch Often

Just because you are taking some time to relax and chill doesn’t mean that you can’t get injured. You may actually have a bigger chance of being injured while camping if you are not careful. Carrying large water jugs, hooking and unhooking trailers, picking up heavy items, setting up camp will have you in positions to potentially injure yourself.

Spending some time stretching out your muscles will help give you more mobility to tackle any of the activities that present themselves. Stretching is often dismissed as a trivial exercise but it’s super important to keep muscles in a flexible condition for when situations arise.

It only takes a few minutes each day to stretch out various muscles doing some basic stretching exercises. Try some of these stretches the next time you find yourself at the campsite.

8) Carry & Drink Lots Of Pure Water

Make sure you have plenty of good quality water on your camping trip and don’t forget to drink it often! While camping provides time to relax, it’s no time to put off hydration. Being outdoors will suck the energy out of you, especially in the heat. In order to maintain a healthy functioning body, you need proper hydration at all times, not just during times of physical exhaustion.

Depending on the type of camping you are doing, you may want to consider a high-quality water filter. These can either be large-scale filters, bottle filters, or even something like the LifeStraw. These are great to have when you are in areas where access to clean drinking water is sparse. Even if it is only used for emergencies, having a water filter will ensure that you can drink water from various sources when you find yourself out in the wilderness.

9) Protect Yourself From The Sun

The sun can beam down heavy during the summer months and can become a problem for those who don’t take precautions. However, you may want to be cautious of the type of sunscreen you use. Many of them contain ingredients that might be toxic. I tend to err on the side of caution and always choose natural options that don’t contain these.

I recently used Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen and it was a good choice. However, it’s usually easy to find a good sunscreen that doesn’t contain lots of harsh chemicals.

This stuff gets slathered onto your body and absorbed by your skin. If you are going to be out in the sun, it’s best to use a combination of things to help combat the sun. A sun hat and sun-protective clothing will go a long way in helping to protect your skin when spending time outdoors. At the least, a standard ball cap will help to keep the sun out of your face and from getting burned.

I wear a large hat from Outdoor Research. It makes me look like a goober but it keeps me from getting burned on my face and neck.

It can be easy to forget about these things when you are on a trip having fun. It’s best to always include these types of products in your RV or with your tent supplies so that you never forget them when you head out on your trip.

10) Wash Hands Often – Carry Hand Sanitizer

Camping can be a dirty experience that is far from our modern-day customs of being squeaky clean 24/7. Instead, camping will have you stinky, sweaty, with dirt on your hands and under your nails. You probably won’t feel like a clean city dweller when out on your trip. It will make you appreciate the act of taking a shower more than you ever have.

It can often be difficult to even find a place to get clean depending on your style of camping. Even if you have a shower in your RV, you may be in a place where water isn’t available or you are in water-saving mode.

The easiest way to make sure you can keep bacteria off your hands is to always keep a plentiful supply of hand sanitizers with you. Those who camp will often touch lots of things that may present a problem if not washed off. It’s important to keep your hands as clean as possible especially since you will be preparing food and eating with those same dirty hands.

11) Enjoy The Journey

Woman at campground reading book in hammock

Perhaps the healthiest thing you can do when camping is to clear your mind and enjoy the journey. Don’t allow any stresses to take over and allow yourself to just let go of worries and troubles of your normal life. I know this is easier said than done. We all have troubles that haunt our thinking and camping gives us a great way to put them behind us, if even for just a short while.

Being active on your trip with some of the activities mentioned above can help you to stay physically fit and make some great memories. However, you will need to reflect and be mindful of the journey if you expect to get the most out of it.

There can be a lot of moving parts to a camping trip. It’s easy to get stressed out and ruin the trip for yourself and others. Don’t let this happen. Live in the moment, enjoy the journey, and consider the way you want to remember your trip.

Make memories that will last a lifetime and make it a trip that will make you smile when you think back on it.


Staying healthy on a camping trip is easy to do since you are in control of the entire trip. You have the opportunity to set your campsite up, cook healthy foods, choose physical activities, and clear your mind from the distractions of the world. Being healthy is something that happens when you give thought to your entire body including your physical and mental faculties.

Camping provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a healthful vacation and give you much-needed rest and relaxation. Make the most of it and do something good for yourself on the journey.

Dan Collins

I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I love to travel and go to places that most people don't get a chance to go. I want to see it all and live life to the fullest while I'm alive. My camper van is helping me to do just that. I write about my experiences to help inspire others to do the same.

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