Hold your horses

It's easy to get caught up in acquiring things when you get into a new activity. Especially when it's one you really enjoy.

I've recently discovered that I love camping! I love being out in the woods with Mr. Romantic. That being said, I also like convenience and comfort, as most people do I'm sure.

While on our first camping trip in July, I made a list of things we should have while camping (such as particular items of clothing, kitchen utensils, etc.), and a list of nice-to-haves for camping that we might acquire over time (you know, luxuries, like a bigger tent).

Then, Mr. Romantic and I planned a second camping trip at the end of August. This time, it was with my daughter and her friend. So a couple of weekends before the trip, we went to look at camping gear that we might want for a more comfortable experience, especially since it would be with more people.

Have you ever walked through a camping equipment section of sport-supplies retailers? They have things for needs you didn't even know you had! It was exciting to see all this cool shinny new gear just waiting to be acquired.

Let's face it, even though we could argue that they're good for your mental and physical well being, camping and other pass-times are not necessities, they're wants. So anything you buy that relates to those activities are all wants. For example, you don't need a tent for camping, but it's sure nice to have that bit of privacy and shelter.

Luckily, Mr. Romantic and I are a very good team. When I start to feel tempted to buy something, he challenges me on it. When he starts to get tempted, I do the same to him. Even though we did end up buying a few things (like a sleeping mat and a kitchen tent), we actually talked ourselves out of quite a few purchases.

I'm a passionate person. I can easily get carried away. I know this about myself. If you were to hear me talk about all the plans and ideas about what I want to get for camping, you'd never know I've been trying to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Now that I have a second camping trip under my belt, (which totally makes me a camping expert, right?), I have advice on how not to go overboard.

Reality check

I try to be honest with myself. Will I really need and use the item, or do I just want to get it because it's pretty or cool? There are some very nifty gadgets out there. It's easy to be seduced.

Space

Do I have enough room in my home to store it, or in my vehicle to bring it along? I have a small car. So we have to be very conservative with the amount of stuff we decide to bring along.

Alternative

Can I use something else? Do I already own something that I could use instead? For instance, Mr. Romantic was thinking about getting another set of camping utensils for our August camping trip since there was going to be four of us. He has three sets. One for him and one for each of his kids. So as we were standing there in front of the utensils discussing it, we talked him down from the purchase. We made due with a set of our everyday kitchen utensils.

Borrow

If there's something I've been thinking about buying, maybe I can borrow it from someone first. I might find I actually don't really want or need it. For instance, I thought I wanted a much bigger tent for camping. So we borrowed one. Turns out I don't especially like a bigger tent. I think that if I can find one I can stand up in, that would be good enough for me. In the meantime, we can use the smaller one Mr. Romantic already owns.

We also borrowed a couple of inflatable kayaks. I’m glad we did. I was looking into buying one, but we figured out that we don't really enjoy them. Mr. Romantic has rented a canoe in the past and the company delivers it to the campsite and picks it up after the rental period. That seems like a less expensive and less cumbersome solution to me. No need to spend money on buying a canoe and no need to find a spot to store it when not in use.

More advice that would fall under the “borrow” category: A few years ago, Mr. Romantic wanted to get back into camping. However, he didn’t have any camping gear. He also doesn’t drive. So he researched and found Park Bus which would take him from Ottawa to Algonquin Park. So that took care of the transportation part, but not the gear. So after more research, he found Overhang Adventures which offer their services as camping guides and teachers. They provide you with the food and gear you’ll need for camping, and teach you how to use it. It’s a good way of finding out if you actually would like the activity without investing in gear that may be unnecessary. Especially if you find that you actually don’t really like camping. Camping gear can be quite expensive!

Affordability

Can I afford it? If I have to buy it on credit, perhaps I should make due without it for now.

Sleep on it

By taking some distance and time, I usually get a better perspective on whether to purchase the item or not.

Of course, these are all things you can consider before acquiring anything, really. Not just camping gear. Been thinking about getting a blender? Borrow one. Chances are you probably know someone who has one sitting in their cupboard, unused. Perhaps they can lend it to you for a month or so. See if you’d really use it often enough to justify the purchase.

So there you have it. Before jumping in, consumerist-feet first, hold your horses and take the time to really evaluate your possible acquisition.

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