Camping is Stressful and Awesome

camping-is-stressfulI just returned from a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Forest.  It was an awesome trip, but I had to apologize to my whole family for being such a complainypants.  I was pretty stressed out and I think I set a bad tone for the trip.  The point of a camping trip is to relax and unwind, right?  It just showed how much control I like to have over my environment, and you can’t control nature.

So why do I camp?  Many HSPs have a special connection to nature.  Open spaces give us permission to slow down, daydream, and breathe.  For example, a day at the beach tingles all 5 senses just enough to keep us pleasantly stimulated, but not overwhelmed the way city life can be.  I also believe strongly in the benefits of physically grounding oneself in nature– digging your feet in the sand, hugging a tree, wading in the water, bathing in sunlight.

As a kid in suburban California, I never got to camp.  My dad was not interested, and my mom was too busy working and holding the family together.  My one and only camping trip took place in 7th grade when my best friend’s hippie family invited me on their backpacking trip in the high Sierras. I’m sure they  didn’t realize what a dead weight I would be.  I remember complaining.  A lot.  About: being devoured by mosquitos (they always like my blood best!  So unfair!), ear pressure and faintness from high altitude, being afraid of slipping off the side of the mountain or falling off the log bridge, etc.  With that family, I’m still infamous for being a complainypants on that trip.  They love me nonetheless, and understand that I’m a product of suburbia.

As an adult, I make it a priority to camp.  My daughter loves it. She’d chose a humble camping trip over a fancy hotel trip any day.  As an HSC, I see her thrive in wild, open spaces.   I am hoping my kids will be rugged and confident outdoors like my husband is, and camping regularly will help nurture that quality.


But let’s be real- camping is called “roughing it” for a reason.  It’s not easy, and nature can be scary, especially for someone who is highly sensitive.

Things that stress me out about camping…

  • Packing light, but not too light.
  • Mosquitoes. Why do they love me and my daughter so much but barely touch my husband and baby? Do mosquitoes like HSP blood more perhaps?  Just a hypothesis 🙂 Also my bites become golf ball sized welts.
  • Fear of wild predators (bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, etc.)
  • Keeping the tent clean and uncluttered and mosquito free.
  • Going potty in nature.  It’s just sooo hard for me.  Perhaps a gadget like this pee funnel might help next time?thanks for your support!
  • Making sure the kids are safe and comfortable.
  • Dangers in general, like falling off a cliff.
  • Worrying about food poisoning because the cooler didn’t keep things cool enough, or I didn’t wash the dishes well enough.  This amazing germ busting cloth helped ease my worries about the latter.  I used this cloth to clean EVERYTHING on this trip, including myself and the kids.
  • Worrying about breaking the rules of the park or getting yelled at by the park rangers. I’m such a goody goody.  I also fear accidentally setting a forest fire.
  • General discomfort of being sweaty, itchy, too hot, too cold, dirty, smelly, etc.

I read this list to my husband and he couldn’t believe all the things going through my head on a camping trip.  He’s the ultimate bare-footed, tree-climbing, rock-scrambling outdoorsman. It’s hard for him to even imagine being stressed in nature.  I’m hoping that by camping several times a year,  I can desensitize myself to some of these worries/fears/discomforts because camping is totally worth it.  The best things in life aren’t always easy, right?

When you read this list, can you relate?  Do you have a complicated relationship with camping, too?

camp-site cholla-garden-2   pesto view


  1. Efrat says

    Hi Kristin,
    Thank you so much for this article.
    My non-HSP husband also tries to convince me to go camping with him (and our two boys).. And until about 2 minutes ago, it never crossed my mind to agree.
    But now I just might surprise him…

  2. Tess says

    Your blog highly resonates with me Kristin. My boys are 15 & 17 now. How I wish I had this awareness about myself when they were little, I would have been more gentle on myself, and more present for my beautiful little males.

    What actually directed me to your blog was the subject of ‘telephone disdain’. Since my late teens the sound of the ringing causes a stress reaction in me. It’s taken me 25 years to actually honor this part of me and say no! to the phone.
    I am very reliable with texting, email and facebook msging…..No problem at all!! And I adore lunch outings and cuppas with friends, I will initiate through message of course. But when we are talking and engaging face to face if that phone (that should be on silent) appears at any time my friend will calmly hear about it.

    From you mentioning the scary movies and saying sorry if you ‘have’ to kill a spider, to the goal of living sustainably on a few acres and love of camping ( I am in the Aussie Bush every chance I get, it’s the only place I feel my natural state) Going tomorrow!!! Woohoo

    Thankyou for sharing yourself and your story so humans like myself don’t feel alone and wrong in this over stimulated, superficial, materialistic society.
    I have become introvert the past 18 months, I just can’t be around the buzziness for too long.

    I am a highly sensitive person…..and I’d like to stay that way!

    Many Blessings and Gratitude
    Tess Park x

    Melbourne, Australia

    • frazzled says

      Oh wow, you do seem like a kindred spirit! It’s so satisfying when you realize that many of your quirks totally make sense, and that you’re not the only one! Also, I knew you were an Aussie as soon as you said “cuppa”. My Australian friend told me about that word. 🙂

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