We dream of a weekends spent outdoors, but sometimes we can’t travel farther than our own yards. If finances, full campgrounds, health concerns, or social distancing restrictions are keeping you at home this season, that doesn’t mean you have to give up camping. With some creativity and flexibility, it’s possible to re-create an authentic camping experience right at home. You might not have the lake or the hiking trails, but you’ll still have the fresh air, starry skies, and outdoor fun.
Not convinced? Here are some advantages of backyard camping:
- It’s convenient. No need to spend hours on the road or in traffic to reach your weekend getaway location when it’s right outside your door. Plus, you don’t have to spend time packing and unpacking.
- It’s (relatively) cheap. You’ll save money on gas and camping permits.
- The food is better. Unless you plan to cook outdoors, at home you’ll have an entire kitchen you can use including a stove, oven, refrigerator, and freezer.
- You won’t have weather worries. If it rains, storms, or gets uncomfortably hot, it’s easy to simply head indoors—and crank up the air-conditioning.
- It’s a good trial run. If you’re new to camping or aren’t sure if your kids are old enough to try it, camping at home is a great low-stakes way to test it out. Not to mention, it’ll give you a chance to try out gear such as a new tent or hammock set-up.
- It’s pet-friendly. Have a dog (or cat!) you love but would never take to the campground? See how they do in a backyard camping situation. You’ll be close to everything you need if it turns out they’re more comfortable indoors.
Before you set up camp for the weekend, here are some ideas that will help you plan the perfect camping staycation:
Your backyard camping accommodations will depend on where you live and the gear you have on hand. Here are some options:
- RV or camper: Set it up in the driveway or on a level spot in the yard. Done.
- Tent: Find a flat area in your yard that’s free of tree roots, rocks, or other sharp objects. If you want power for fans or other electronics, make sure the tent is close enough to the house so an extension cord will reach. Line the bottom of the tent with sleeping pads, yoga mats, cushions, air mattresses, bean bag chairs, or anything that will make it comfortable!
- Hammocks: Try sleeping in a hammock for the night. (Here’s how to set one up.) Keep in mind that sleeping in hammocks can get chilly. Make sure you have a pillow and enough blankets and possibly an insulating blanket on the outside. (Unless it’s a balmy summer night in July.) Depending on where you live, you might also want to use a mosquito net.
- Sleeping bags: A minimalist option is to simply roll out some sleeping bags on the ground. Be sure to add pillows, sleeping pads, foam cushions, or an air mattress underneath to make it more comfy. (If you don’t own sleeping bags, blankets will also work just fine.)
- DIY tent: If you don’t have a tent but want some shelter while you sleep, it’s easy enough to make your own pup tent. String a clothesline or paracord between two trees about 4-5 feet off the ground. (Fence posts or deck rails will also work as long as they’re sturdy enough.) Then drape a tarp or sheet over the clothesline. Make sure it’s large enough that the sides reach the ground. If possible, stake the edges of the tarp to the ground or anchor them in place with rocks or other heavy objects.
One advantage of camping at home is personalization. You can set up your camping spot exactly how you want it. (That said, make sure you follow your city ordinances about fire and noise. Different communities have different guidelines and restrictions.) Here are things that’ll make your yard feel more like a real campsite and a few extras that are just nice to have:
- Firepit: If your yard doesn’t already have a firepit, follow these instructions to build your own. (Here’s a cheaper method that uses cinder blocks.) If you’d like something less permanent, try Landmann's Outdoor Fireplace or this extra-large firepit with a moon-and-stars pattern. Make sure to set up your firepit a safe distance away from any homes, buildings, or trees.
- Water: Sure, the kitchen’s probably just a few steps away, but it’s nice to have an outdoor water source too. Set up a garden hose near your eating area or fill a water jug.
- Electricity: Many buildings have outdoor outlets, but whether your electricity source is outdoors or inside, you’ll want an extension cord or two. This outdoor extension cord comes in five lengths and two colors.
- Lights: From headlamps to solar lanterns, there are a lot of options when it comes to outdoor lighting. Check out our guide to outdoor lighting to see which lights you’ll need.
- Weatherproof & Heavy-duty: This outdoor string lights are UL listed weatherproof commercial. The insulation material can protect the strand from hot winter, sun, wind, rain, snow and damp. Flexible heavy-duty cord withstands the wear of indoor and outdoor us
- Dimmer Compatible to Set The Right Mood: For greater mood lighting flexibility and a soft glow, a dimmer switch to create the perfect atmosphere for a birthday party, family reunion, , or wedding reception. It adds flair to bistro deck porch patio garden backyard terrace pergola café restaurant malls for wedding BBQ party banquets, also suitable for tree-lighting like Christmas tree.
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- Dimmable compatible and energy saving patio string lights: G40 backyard lights come with 25 glass bulbs and 2 spare bulbs. 1.5 inch light bulbs have E12 or C7 candelabra socket base, 5W per bulb, warm white dimmable string light help you to save more electricity bid.
- Connectable and portable outdoor lights: 25 hanging sockets, 6 inch lead with male plug, 12 inch spacing between bulbs, 6 inch tail with female connector, total length 25 feet. End to end connect up to 3 strands. Portable size for easy carrying and storage
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- Bathroom: Since you’re camping at home, this is one thing you don’t need to worry about! Just make sure the house is unlocked for everyone’s middle-of-the-night trips and you’re stocked up on TP.
- Grill: You can cook over the campfire if you want, but for more dependable backyard camping results, just fire up the grill. If it’s summer, chances are it’s all ready to go. Stick to camping basics like burgers and brats or take the opportunity for fancier camping fare.
- Festive lights: Decorate your yard with LED torches, string lights, or paper lanterns.
- Decorations: For a celebratory feel, now’s the time to break out party decorations like streamers or pennant garlands. Decorations aren’t usually on most campers’ packing lists, but you don’t have to pack for this camp-out anyway.
- Yard games: Break out the badminton, ladder toss, bags, bocce, or any other outdoor game.
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- NEW FAVORITE GAME: Rollors is a super cool new game which combines horseshoes, bocce ball and outdoor bowling. With a combination of luck and skill, this outdoor game is great for the whole family. So roll the disks, reach the goal, score points and win.
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- FUN FOR EVERYONE: Get the whole family involved in a super fun game! The Jumbo Wooden Blocks Game provides hours of entertainment for everyone of all ages. Children and adults will love the thrill and excitement! Block measures 6.4" L x 2.1" W x 1.2 ".
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- 『56 PCS GIANT TUMBLE TOWER SET』MEGWOZ giant tumble tower come with 56 pieces Tumble Blocks,2 pieces dices, 1 scoreboard & marker and one high quality handy zippered bag. Each block measures 6 * 2* 1.3", the toppling timber starts at 2 Ft (19 rows) tall and can be grown up over 4.2 Ft tall during played,allows you to experience the joy of challenge and victory.
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- OUTDOOR GAME SET: Juegoal bucket pong game includes 12 durable red buckets, 4 balls - 2 white hollow balls, 2 yellow tennis balls, black carry bag & instructions. Easy to understand gameplay and flexible rules, suitable for all kinds of people, whether children or adults, beginners or advanced players. Enjoy your favorite pong games!
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- Pet priorities: If you invite your dog to join the fun, give them a cool and comfortable place to be. This elevated pet bed is made from breathable mesh and is easy to clean. When night falls, snap on this LED collar so you’ll always be able to spot your dog in the dark!