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15 Helpful Safety Tips About Camping And The Coronavirus

It doesn't get more 2020 than camping in masks.

The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting travel, and destinations around the world have different COVID-19 restrictions in place. It’s important to check and adhere to local government policies as you're planning any future trips.

After months of being cooped up, you might be craving an escape to the great outdoors to make the world feel *almost* normal.

But before you set up camp, make sure you know how to keep yourself (and everyone around you) as safe as possible. To help you out, we got the lowdown from public health experts and a camping pro, so you can be prepared and keep your trip low-risk.

Man relaxing in tent after hike with cup of tea
Ronstik / Getty Images

And remember: Right now it's important to stay close to home and avoid traveling long distances, so be sure to check what parks or forests your state has to offer.

1. Don't put away that face mask quite yet. You'll need it.

2. Make a hygiene pack and bring it with you everywhere.

3. Get everything you need before you go so you don't have to make stops along the way.

A car trunk full of camping gear with a tent in the background
Onfokus / Getty Images

You'll want to find a camping spot that's near where you live so you don't have to travel a long way to get there. And if you do pass through another community, they probably don’t want you tromping through their town to stock up on beer and TP.

Do a big shop at your regular grocery store, pack everything into a cooler, and bring along a bundle of firewood and a roll of trash bags for camp pickup. Your final errand should be filling up the car with a gas so you don't have to stop anywhere along the way, for any reason.

4. Don't share anything that touches your face, eyes, or mouth.

5. Be smart about food, but don't stress it.

Woman cooking vegetables on a camping stove
Evie Carrick

The CDC reported that "currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food." However, you can play it extra safe by asking everyone to bring their own food and cook their own meals. And remember: It's important to keep your distance when eating and cooking, and avoid sharing plates and utensils.

If you decide to do group meals, the CDC suggests picking one person to serve all the food so multiple people aren't handling the serving utensils. And if you're in charge of snacks, skip that family-size bag of Pirate's Booty and pick up single-serve packs instead.

6. Keep your camp crew small.

7. If you're camping with people outside your household, drive separate cars to the campsite.

View of a car side mirror on a windy road
Artek / Getty Images

It goes against everything we've learned about being environmentally responsible but if you’re camping with people you don't live with, you’ll need to drive separate cars to and from the campsite to maintain a safe social distance.

8. Sleep in your own tent.

Illuminated tent under a starry night sky
Anatoliy_gleb / Getty Images

Tents typically have more ventilation than an RV or hotel room, but they're still fairly enclosed. "Try to minimize tent sharing with people outside your household," said Rasmussen, explaining that "indoor, respiratory droplets can circulate in that contained space with nowhere to go, and the longer duration that the more people spend indoors, the more potentially virus-containing droplets could build up."

While a tent is not technically "indoors," lying inches from another person in a semi-contained space for multiple hours can't be a smart move.

9. And remember that the 6-foot rule still applies.

10. Choose your campground carefully. And after you make a reservation, monitor its capacity.

Crowded campground full of tents and an illustrated "cross"; remote campground with a single tent and an illustrated "tick"
Getty Images / BuzzFeed

Not all campgrounds are the same: Some will have you sandwiched on all sides by neighbors, while others offer plenty of room. "If you are in a campground, make sure campsites are spaced out from each other," suggested Rasmussen.

Once you've found a campground with plenty of space, make a reservation (a must for most campgrounds) and check back to monitor the capacity. If it gets too full, consider another spot or alternative dates.

11. Be extra careful in campground bathrooms and showers.

12. Or, to really play it safe, skip the campground and go somewhere remote.

Camping on a platform of rock in the Royal Arch Drainage with running water nearby — Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Ron Karpel / Getty Images

When it comes to the coronavirus, contact with other people is your main concern. If you head to a traditional campground (think showers, toilets, and metal firepits) you’ll likely have neighbors. To steer clear of the crowds, see if dispersed camping, which is basically camping on national forest or national park land that's not part of an official campground, is allowed in your area. You won't have the amenities, but you also won't have to deal with hoards of people. "The more remote the camping experience, the better," said Rasmussen.

"Dispersed camping puts you alone with the wilderness," said Cunningham. "When you are dispersed camping, you need to be more self-sufficient. You better plan on purifying your water, bring your own fuel, pack out ALL of your waste, and leave no trace."

13. Regardless, make sure you have the tools needed to leave no trace.

14. Keep yourself entertained but steer clear of crowds and save that epic cliff drop for next year.

Man on a lake rowing a stand up paddle board
Evie Carrick

A game of UNO or Spoons isn’t going to cut it in coronavirus times, but if you’re careful, a round of Cornhole or Horseshoes is doable. Just make sure the person you team up with is in your household so you don’t have to worry about using the same set of beanbags or horseshoes.

Away from the campground, it doesn't get much better than hiking, paddleboarding, fishing, and mountain biking, which are all socially distant by nature. Just make sure you avoid crowded trails and play it safe. If something happens and you end up needing help in a remote area, you’ll be putting search and rescue or local first responders at risk.

15. Pack a small first aid kit with some basic supplies, so you're prepared to deal with minor injuries on your own.

Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

Illustrated city skyline
Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed