Quitting is something that almost every smoker struggles with, especially as the number of smoking sections and areas continues to shrink. You know it's bad for you, that you are simultaneously taxing your heart and lungs for a little relaxation, and that your non-smoker friends and family are all vaguely bothered by the smokey smell that follows you around. Maybe you only smoke socially, or only when you drink, or only on very bad days but for some reason even with these conditions, it seems impossible to completely leave it behind. Many people find themselves hiding containers of cigarettes in places you spend time alone like the bathroom, car, or back porch. In fact, your environment itself can trigger you to smoke based on things like habit and accumulated memories of smoking in a particular place or under familiar circumstances. That's why a lot of people have to do something special to finally quit.
One of the best ways to break a habit is to change your routine entirely, and nothing does this better than a serious camping trip into the deep woods. By surrounding yourself with trees and plants, you can replace the nicotine in your body with a lot of extra oxygen will not only make you feel great, but it can also make quitting easier.
Planning Your Trip - Give Yourself Time
The right camping trip to quit smoking needs to be planned carefully. A pack of Smores ingredients and a pop tent over the weekend usually aren't enough to break a stubborn habit. You need a combination of time, isolation, and distraction to get through the hardest part of the quitting process.
First, plan for as long a trip as you can manage. Ideally, you'll be able to take two or three weeks but with understanding to most people's work schedules, a long weekend will do if you're willing to stick with the quitting program once you get home. The key is to give yourself plenty of time to go through the physical withdrawals and start feeling good again before you return to your normal environment where you'll have to battle both the urge and opportunity to smoke.
Where to Go - Seek Seclusion
Where you go should depend on the kind of trip you're planning. Your best bet to quit smoking is to find a place with few to no other campers nearby and no stores in easy walking or driving distance. This will help you avoid the usual temptations of social or convenient smoking. Deep woods camping with tents and campfires are a great way to be alone with nature, but if you're not the greatest boy or girl scout in the world, cabin camping is the next best thing. Make sure to find someplace relatively secluded, preferably during the off-season when other campers are rare.
Who to Bring - Someone Supportive
Will you go alone or bring a friend? If you think you can handle camping and quit alone, this may be your best route. However, most people need company for camping trips and especially as they quit smoking. Quitting can make you anxious, but it also tends to make you talkative. If you bring a friend, make sure they know you'll be quitting and are open to helping and being tolerant of your inevitable mood swings over the course of the trip. This is a great role for a close friend, sibling, or your significant other as they will be a part of your new non-smoker life after the camping trip.
What to Pack - Not Cigarettes
Where you are going and how long you plan to stay should determine your packing list. However, the most important part of your packing regime should be what you don't include. Here's your first real challenge: Throw out every cigarette you own. Clear out your pocket or purse pack, your car pack, your work pack, and any secret stashes where you like to hide your cigarettes. Throw them away, then take out the trash so there's no getting them back, then don't buy any more. Ever. The rest of your packing list is easy.
- Plenty of comfortable, sturdy clothing
- One pair of hiking-worthy shoes
- Toiletries and Toilet Paper - never assume there will be any
- Swim Suit - if you're near a body of water
- Non-Perishable Food for the Trip - make sure it can easily be prepared over a grill or campfire
- Water - 1 gallon per person per day unless your campsite has safe water
- Tent and Bedding
- Cellphone - for 911
- First Aid Kit
- Lots of Entertainment - books, board games, podcasts, birdwatching guides, etc.
What to Do - Quitting in Action
The chances are that after your packing ritual, you'll be craving your first cigarette before you even arrive at the campsite. Now is the perfect time to build a new routine. Remember to drink plenty of water and take hikes whenever you feel agitated. If you start to get really mad about not smoking, try hitting a tree with a stick which is surprisingly satisfying and the tree won't mind. Do anything you can to take your mind off of smoking as you go through the first few days of withdrawal and enter the two or three weeks of lingering cravings. Eat good food, spend time with your companion, and enjoy the entertainment activities you brought. If you get bored of those, invent new games to play or stories to tell to keep you occupied.
Coming Home - Maintain Your New Good Habits
By the time your camping trip is over, you've probably gotten a lot of old feelings off your chest, started rethinking your life and -mostly- stopped craving cigarettes. Reentering your normal life will be challenging, and you'll need to stand up to old habits. Don't buy a pack of cigarettes on your way to or from work and don't take them from anyone else. If you need to, start a new habit to keep your hands or mouth busy like playing with cards, sucking a lollipop, or teaching yourself slight of hand with a quarter.