Valentine’s Day may look different this year with COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, but there are plenty of unconventional ways to celebrate the romantic holiday with your special someone. Rather than an overpriced meal in a trendy restaurant, set the mood by getting out of town with your four-wheels. Whether you’re a camping novice or a regular weekend warrior, these tips for planning the perfect car camping date will help any lover looking to shake things up this holiday weekend. Make this Valentine’s Day into an adventure you both won’t forget.
Pulling off the perfect outdoor getaway takes a lot of preparation. Before you start picking out your luxurious meals and heart-covered decorations, you have to know where you’re going. Instead of choosing a frequented campground, opt for a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spot. BLM oversees millions of public acres that are free to the public for recreational use. Seek out an area that fits the activities you’re looking for; whether it’s hiking, hammocking, paddleboarding, or even just hanging at the site and playing games. Farther away from the city, you’ll find spots with less light pollution, making it optimal for romantic, late-night stargazing. Using BLM land for your date night is not only free, but guarantees you and your date get the privacy you want. You can learn more about how to find BLM lands near you and how to access them here.
Depending on where you live, camping in February can mean cold weather and long nights. Be prepared for any type of weather and check the forecast ahead of time so that you and your date are comfortable. Bringing outdoor blankets, extra pillows or even a double sleeping bag, are great ways to make your partner extra cozy all night long. If there’s rain in the forecast, pack waterproof shoes and jackets; maybe consider bringing a shelter tent. For more tips on how to stay warm at night while car camping, check out these 10 tricks to sleep warm while car camping.
Cook Your Way to Your Date’s Heart
When planning out your meals for Valentine’s Day weekend, preparation is key. If you’re planning to make something more gourmet than PB&Js, we recommend using a cast-iron skillet on a camping stove or fire pit. If you’re looking for more meal inspiration, we’ve collected some of our favorite winter recipes to warm your hearts and your bellies. For dessert, melt some chocolate and bring marshmallows, strawberries, or another favorite snack to make your own fondue station or to elevate your s’mores recipe.
Don’t have a camping stove or feel like cooking a hot meal? Preparing a camping charcuterie board is easier than you think. There are plenty of salty, savory and sweet bites that don’t need refrigeration. Starting with the cheese, aim for the hardened, aged varieties like aged gouda, parmigiano reggiano, or manchego. They’ll stay fresh longer and won’t melt even without a cooler. You may want to steer clear of brie or camembert, unless you want a gooey mess after a day or two. Olives, figs, honey, aged meats and grapes are also great additions. Kick back with your hatch open and pair with your favorite kind of wine.
Set the Mood
Now it’s time to add the little romantic nuances every date night site needs. Battery powered candles or twinkle lights are a perfect touch to decorate inside your car and around the site. Not only are they practical, but they fill your car with heavenly ambiance to set the mood for your night out(side). Music makes everything better, so bring a portable speaker to play your favorite Valentine’s mix. If you know how to play, bring that guitar or harmonica out and take this opportunity to serenade your date...for better or for worse. We’re sure they’ll love it either way.
The pillar of all camping trips is a campfire. Sitting by a campfire and drinking your favorite adult beverage with your favorite person is hard to beat. Pack up some reusable flutes or wine glasses to class up your campfire, maybe bring a little champagne too. If you’re unable to have your own campfire, try checking out these portable table-side fires. They can burn up to 3-5 hours and don’t have any embers so you have an easy clean up. You want sparks to fly, but in the right way. Check your state’s fire ban status here before setting anything aflame.
Pack the Essentials
Part of the fun of camping is coming across those unexpected turns in the road. So you can kick back and relax this Valentine’s Day weekend, make sure you’re prepared with all of the essentials ahead of time.
Quick Car Camping Essentials
- Pre-downloaded map or physical map
- Luno Air Mattress 2.0
- First Aid Kit
- Folding chairs
- Trash bags
- Sleeping bags and/or blankets, pillows
- Water & food supply
- Swiss Army Knife
Need help packing? Find our car camping packing list here by downloading our PDF.
Love the Planet, too!
Don’t just take care of your date - take care of the planet, too. Help preserve and protect the lands you love by leaving no trace. There are tons of ways to reduce your plastic waste and environmental impact so our trails are kept pristine, our water unpolluted and our ecosystems in check. For example, pick up any trash or food at your site to protect animals from snacking on them. Replace your plastic containers, utensils and cookware with reusable alternatives. For more ideas on being an environmentally conscious camper, check out our favorite eco-friendly equipment.
Enjoy the Adventure
Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but don’t let that stop you from car camping with your special someone all year long. Enjoying the fresh air and clear night sky together can be a date night idea of itself, so take a moment to enjoy everything it has to offer and share it with someone special on the regular.