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Want to get a great shocked reaction from someone? Tell them that you just drove 2,000 miles over the course of one week to go camping in Montana. Oh, and tell them that you did it with four small children. (You know, unless that’s not true for you).

That’s what we did recently (sorry I didn’t post while I was gone, turns out my laptop doesn’t like 105 degree weather) and we had a great time.

We swam, cleaned dinosaur bones at the Dino Lab and enjoyed delicious food and micro brews with family.

Naturally, driving all that way requires some careful planning to maximize space. If something was going with us, it needed to be important.

I thought I’d share with you the natural remedies that were important enough to make the cut in our minimalist packing plan (as well as some that I wish I’d taken along).

1. Mosquito repellent

The best way to take care of mosquito bites is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Thankfully, you can easily make an effective repellent in about an hour.

  • Take 1/4 cup yarrow flowers and 1/4 cup lavender flowers. Put them in 4 cups water, bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let it steep for an hour, strain and put in a spray bottle. Add 10 drops lavender essential oil.

This worked great for us while we were in Montana. You know, when we remembered to put it on…

One of these friendly guys tugged on Isaiah’s shorts. Should I have made animal repellent?

2. Frankincense essential oil

Bee stings, insect bites or minor wounds, frankincense essential oil helps it all. I’ve seen it immediately diminish the pain of a bee sting. And I’ve used it myself on itchy mosquito bites for instant relief. Keep some in your purse so you always have it on hand.

3. Sunscreen

If we’re going to be outside for less than an hour, I don’t apply sunscreen. There, I said it. It’s not that I think sunscreen is bogus, I just want my body to produce vitamin D.

Using sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful rays may not be a good trade-off. Sunscreen doesn’t protect against melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer and using a sunscreen with as little as SPF15 cuts the skin’s vitamin D production by 99 percent, leading to deficiency. ” Dr. Tenpenny

However, if I know we’ll be out in the sun for a while, I’ll put on a layer of natural sunscreen. Sunburns suck.

4. Aloe vera

In the event of a sunburn, aloe vera is very soothing and feels amazing on hot skin. If you have an aloe plant, you can snip off a piece, put it in container and bring it along. You can also find bottled aloe vera gel in most stores in case you forget your plant or don’t have one.

Cleaning rock off of a sauropod femur

5. First aid ointment

Herbal healing balm is one of the first things I pack when I go anywhere, especially camping. With all of the sticks and rocks and things to climb on, someone’s bound to need it (usually moi).

6. Yarrow

Got an old spice shaker that you don’t use? Repurpose it as a yarrow dispenser. Simply fill it with yarrow flowers and shake them out on cuts and scrapes to stop bleeding. Once the bleeding stops, clean off the area and apply your first aid ointment.

7. Coconut oil

This is one of my favorite multi-purpose foods. It’s great for camping because you can use it for cooking as well as body care. Coconut oil goes on my face instead of moisturizer, my arms and legs instead of lotion and a very tiny bit as a frizz tamer for the beast atop my head (I have extremely thick, coarse, wavy hair that has a mind of its own).

I suggest packing it in container that you know won’t leak, as it will melt if you’re some place hot.

What are your natural camping essentials?