Whether it’s an extended vacation or a quick weekend away, escaping into the great outdoors is a relaxing and wonderful experience, regardless of the amount of time you have. While everyone has their ideal way to relax and recharge, most people could certainly agree that leaving behind the worries of every day life is exactly what the doctor ordered. Camping normally entails minimal cell phone service, no internet access, and simply enjoying the fresh air, good views, and good company.
Though that might seem a little bit unfamiliar and uncomfortable to an urban dwelling human, the speed of things in a forest slows down, priorities become a fleeting memory, and ‘what you have to do’ all of sudden turns into ‘whatever you want to do’. Not to mention, s’mores are typically involved in any good camping trip, and let’s be honest, that’s that best part of camping. Hands down.
All the romanticism aside, there are clear, real, and in some cases, clinically proven benefits of camping in the great outdoors, even if it’s just a quick weekend in the fresh air. Camping offers some amazing benefits, so let’s dive in!
Reconnecting to Nature
For us personally, there is something peaceful, beautiful, and rejuvenating about being disconnected from society and reconnecting with the earth on a deeper level. It’s almost impossible to explain the joy and completeness to someone who hasn’t experienced the things we’ve seen or done in the wilderness. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Imagine laying in a warm sleeping bag with your significant other under the dim glow of a sky full of stars. The sound of crickets softly chirping can barely be heard over the river running next to your camp. No trains, no traffic. Just. Silence.
One of my personal favorites is watching the flames of a campfire dance around in a random, but almost coordinated way. The ashes and embers seem to breathe below the fire in all the shades of orange, yellow, and blue. The warmth of the fire permeates through any clothing you have, and it almost feels like it’s not only warming your body, but in some sort of way your soul as well.
Time spent camping in the fresh air is time away from the stresses of your day-to-day like bills, work, social commitments, and more. All of this can be detrimental to your physical, emotional, and mental health, so it’s important to step away from time to time. Leave your overbooked schedule at home, and appreciate that when you’re camping, you have nowhere to be at any certain time.
There’s not many things that relive stress like camping and spending time with your family (and yourself) without the weight of those stressful things. This simple idea is one of the biggest benefits of camping and we think you’ll find that you will leave your camping trip feeling happier and more inspired than when you began.
After the initial investment to get quality gear, the cost of camping is a fraction of the price of getting a VRBO or a hotel when you are traveling. In fact, since we travel with Southwest a lot and get two free bags, we have consolidated our entire camping setup into four checked bags (two per person). That means we can check our entire camping setup onto a plane, rent a car, and just drive to whatever campground we want to be at at set up camp!
This translates to somewhere around $0 to $30 for the nightly cost for accommodations – zero dollars if you choose dispersed campsites that are free, or more if you book a campsite at a campground. Compare that to the average cost of a vacation rental being around $150-200+/night and the savings are very apparent. Saving money on some aspects could potentially mean experiencing other things on that vacation you wouldn’t normally do or even staying longer than you would have. Camping on vacation is an incredible way to save money and experience things you wouldn’t normally see when travelling!
Even if you don’t take an airplane to your next camping destination, it can still be a very affordable way to see the area around your hometown. Instead of day tripping or spending money on hotels, you could spend the weekend away for a very budget-friendly price.
Reducing Screen Time
Use your next camping trip as an excuse to unplug and get away from your screen. After all, where do you plan on charging your device? Instead, turn it off and leave it in the car. But how does reducing screen time translate into a proven health benefit?
For starters, one of the main lights emitted from most electronic devices is blue light, or the blue wavelengths of light compared to other colors like red or yellow. Blue light is great for a couple reasons and not so great for others.
Pros and cons of blue light on the human brain (Harvard Health, 2020)¹
Over time, constant exposure to blue light can damage your retinal cells and cause vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, eye cancer, and even growths². Obviously, no one desires those kinds of ill effects, so decreasing your screen time long term has lots of health benefits.
Stepping away from your devices can also help you focus on the present moment without distractions, which can help you form better relationships with other people and with yourself. Find yourself getting bored? Boredom is good for people of all ages, and it can stimulate creativity and problem-solving while giving the brain time to recharge.³ Focus your energy on camping tasks, preparing your own food, spend relaxing quiet time, and spend time with yourself and your camping companions. Lawn games anyone?
Reset Your Natural Circadian Rhythm
In addition, the blue wavelengths of light can have severe effects on your sleep schedule. Blue light in the evening hours, like watching TV before bed or a nightly Instagram scrolling habit, can keep your brain from creating the melatonin that it takes to fall asleep and sleep soundly. With the inherent reduction of screen time you have while camping, you are allowing your body to get back into a natural circadian rhythm resulting in sleeping better and more soundly.
On a similar note, campfires support melatonin release in the brain since they burn on the red, orange, and yellow side of the spectrum and emit hardly any blue light. That is what makes you feel tired and relaxed when you have a campfire before bed.
Pro tip: don’t cut corners on sleeping gear. It’s easy to say you’ll be fine with something simple and cheap, but you’ll only end up regretting it later. Take the time to pick the right sleeping setup for you and your entire crew so everyone can end up rested and rejuvenated instead of tired and cranky.
Over 40% of Americans suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, and given than this deficiency is linked with some of the risk factors associated with the leading causes of death in the U.S.⁴, this is something we should work on fixing. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in helping the body absorb calcium, which is often associated with healthy bones and teeth, but it does a lot more than that.
Vitamin D is associated with the sun because the body can create it from direct sunlight on the skin when you’re outdoors. While this is possible to achieve with a normal working schedule, it’s much easier to get some sunshine if you embrace the outdoors and get outside on a camping trip.
We don’t get enough sun exposure from October to March, so we should make sure to supplement with our diets. Foods that are high in Vitamin D are egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms, and beef liver.
Eating Healthy Food
Healthy eating isn’t always possible when you’re bogged down with every day stress, but camping gives you the time to focus on more important things, which could include your diet. Preparing food and cooking food while camping can take some planning, but you can eat some healthy and delicious meals in the woods. Instead of indulging in unhealthy sugars and snacks, take the time to cook over the stove or campfire then reward yourself with a s’mores treat afterwards.
Teamwork builds better relationships⁵ and camping with someone is basically all teamwork. Not only do you get to spend quality time together, but everything from setting up camp, playing games, making a campfire, and even cooking meals at camp can all be done as a team.
When it comes to the kids, camping teaches young children a few key things about life. It shows them how much fun spending time outdoors can be, as well as how important it is to escape today’s digital world and get some fresh air. Ultimately, kids love camping. Encourage your kids to enjoy the outdoors, get some energy out, and play outside instead of on their tablet.
Another very simple fact is that physical activity is good for your health. I don’t think we need to site a source to make that claim, but camping is absolutely full with physical activity. Making a campfire, setting up camp, and even some of the activities you would do while you are camping like hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc., are great physical exercise. One of the biggest benefits of these exercises is the fact that they are performed outdoors.
There was a study done back in 2017 that found that hiking in the woods and enjoying recreation outdoors has been shown to increase attention and cognitive capacity, enhance mood and focus, and even improve self -esteem. A newer trend is forest bathing, which involves going on a walk outdoors to improve your mood and health. Even just taking a walk around the campground could help you feel better and more energized.
Escape Air Pollution
Although the Clean Air Act of 1963 and it’s successive amendments have done a lot for air quality in the United States, pollution is an ongoing issue that doesn’t seem to have an end. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that long and short term exposure to air pollution can lead to all kinds of health issues and disease6, and we breathe in these pollutants every day, especially if you live in the city or the nearby suburbs.
Taking the time to go camping and escape the city can provide better air quality so that you can breathe in less pollutants while you’re outside.
What are the 10 benefits of camping?
1. Reconnecting to nature and oneself
2. Stress Relief
4. Reducing Screen Time
5. Reset your Circadian Rythm
6. Vitamin D Exposure
7. Eating Healthy Food
8. Build Relationships
9. Physical Fitness
10. Escape Air Pollution
What are the social benefits of camping?
Through camping, you can learn teamwork and form stronger social bonds with your companions and family. It’s also a wonderful time to get to know people on a deeper level outside of the day-to-day life.
What is the purpose of camping?
While different people may have varying opinions on the matter, camping is meant to help you disconnect from the stress of every day life and reconnect with nature and with yourself. This means quiet time with the important people in your life, teamwork on getting things done, and cold boredom that helps you heal.
What is the best thing about camping?
The best part of camping is being submerged in nature in a way you wouldn’t normally experience in your every day life. It’s really special to take the time to reconnect with nature and with yourself on a deeper level while you step away from stress and worries.
How does camping benefit your body and mind?
Camping benefits your body and mind in so many ways. Whether it’s stepping away from stress and reconnecting with nature, enjoying some sun exposure for Vitamin D, or getting moving outside to improve your mood and physical health, you’re doing so many good things for yourself by going camping.
We hope you’ll depart from your next camping trip feeling like the benefits of camping and spending time in the great outdoors helped you lower your stress levels, eat healthier foods, bond with family and friends, and/or maybe even helped with some mental health issues and improved your overall health. If you haven’t planned your next camping trip yet, perhaps you need to spend time planning your next adventure, especially since the health benefits of camping seem to be well worth it!
- Harvard Health, 2020 – https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
- UC Davis Health, 2022 – https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/blue-light-effects-on-your-eyes-sleep-and-health/2022/08
- Mayo Clinic Health System, 2022 – https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/boost-your-brain-with-boredom
- National Library of Medicine, 2011 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21310306/
- Wiley Online Library, 2008 – https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2008.00114.x
- World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/teams/environment-climate-change-and-health/air-quality-and-health/health-impacts
About the Author
Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, hiking, wildflowers, and mushrooms. If she isn’t writing content for Know Nothing Nomads, she’s probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.