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For many, RV living means much more time spent outdoors. This is wonderful for a number of reasons: more fresh air and sunshine, a newfound connection to nature, and improved mental and emotional health.

That said, there are some downsides to spending more time outside. The biggest downside? Bugs.

In and of themselves, bugs are not really a problem. In fact, we should be grateful to bugs for helping keep our ecosystem in balance. It’s when the bugs start bugging us that issues arise. Mosquito bites, ticks found on our skin, and flies in our food are all major annoyances, and can even lead to illness. Therefore, it is highly important that we RVers find ways to get rid of bugs.

Unfortunately, most conventional bug repellents include some ingredients that are questionable to say the least, and applying these chemicals to our bodies daily is likely not a great idea. This is where natural bug repellent options come into play.

Luckily, there are a surprising number of options for keeping bugs at bay that don’t require any chemical-laden bug spray at all.

Natural Bug Repellent Options for the RVer - Fulltime Families

Physical Barriers

The first and most obvious solution is to create physical barriers between yourself and the irritating insects. Screen tents such as The Clam are perfect for this, allowing you to eat meals outside without batting away flies and hang out at sunset without adding to your collection of mosquito bites.

Not going to be at the campsite? Long sleeves and long pants can protect you from mosquitoes and ticks without the use of mosquito or tick repellent. Unfortunately, this option is not ideal for the hottest weather, but during most seasons, longer clothing can be comfortable enough, especially if you opt for lighter fabrics and colors when the sun is shining brightly.

Citronella Candles

Because citronella is one of the very best mosquito repellent plants, another fantastic option for those who plan to hang around the campsite are citronella candles. These candles are pretty easy to find and can be quite effective as long as you keep one close to you at all times.

Safe and natural, citronella candles are a great addition to any campsite, can provide fun mood lighting, and can be used in conjunction with other natural mosquito repellent options.

A Change of Lighting

Most RVs come equipped with some sort of outdoor lighting. On top of that, many people like to add lights of their own. The trouble is, most of these lights are extremely attractive to bugs, meaning turning on your camper lights at nighttime is likely causing insects to flock to your campsite.

Fortunately, there is a way to have outdoor lighting without attracting a whole hoard of bugs. Simply change whatever outdoor lights you have over to LED options, and you’ll see a significant drop in the number of insects that visit your campsite at night.

Natural Bug Repellent Options for the RVer - Fulltime Families

Campfire with Sage

Believe it or not, your family’s wood campfire actually works as a fabulous bug repellent. The smoke from the campfire is what does the trick, and burning the right thing can change the smoke to make this method of keeping bugs at bay even more effective.

For instance, adding some sage to your fire will almost certainly send the insects packing, so you can enjoy the friends and family around your campfire as well as your s’mores.

Repellent Bracelets

There are a number of insect repellent bracelets on the market. Most of these are completely chemical-free and surprisingly helpful when it comes to finding mosquito spray alternatives. These can be worn on the rest or on the ankle, and keeping a set on hand for the entire family is highly recommended, especially for hikes and other outdoor activities that require leaving home.

Our favorite of these repellent bracelets are the ones made by Comfort Road. These come in a variety of attractive colors and include repellent stickers to boot.

Baby Oil

If you’re looking for an alternative to bug spray for babies, you might want to check you bathroom cabinet before heading to the store. Many, many people claim that regular ol’ baby oil does the trick for them. Simply rub some over your skin before heading outside to take advantage of its protection.

Supposedly the oil works by suffocating any bugs that land on your skin. Whether this is true or not, it does seem to have a positive effect working as a mosquito, tick, and fly repellent.

Regular Showers

As RVers, we’ve all been in situations that make showering a bit more difficult. However, skipping showers might actually be contributing to your bug problem. Many bugs are attracted to the smell of sweat, meaning that when you’re out boondocking and stretching the time between showers, you’re probably also increasing the number of bug bites you end up with.

Obviously, it’s not always going to be possible to shower every day. However, your best bet is to shower as often as possible. On the days when you can’t get to a shower, something like Venture Wipes can help keep you smelling and feeling fresh and help keep insects away.

Natural Bug Repellent Options for the RVer - Fulltime Families

Essential Oils

Finally, we must mention the idea of essential oils. There are a few oil-based insect repellents already on the market, and essential oil mosquito repellent is some of the best mosquito repellent out there. However, if you prefer to save a few bucks, it is totally possible to create your own natural bug spray using oils from your own collection.

Below is a bit about homemade essential oil repellent from Fulltime Families member and Young Living representative, Christian Axness:

“Both my son and I have allergic reactions to mosquito bites, and once bitten, we swell up, the bites ooze, sometimes become infected…and it can take weeks—if not months—to heal. That kinda puts a damper on summer, doesn’t it?

I also detest using off-the-shelf bug repellent. It leaves my skin feeling gross, sticky, and stinky, and I know there are so many bad-for-you ingredients in the sprays.

This summer we made our own “bug off!” spray and I’m here to share our recipe with you. There are so many variations of this recipe, but this is what is working for us:

+35 drops Citronella

+25 drops Geranium

+25 drops Lemongrass

+25 drops Lavender

+25 drops Peppermint

+25 drops Tea Tree

We add the above recipe to a 12oz amber glass spray bottle, add 4oz of Witch Hazel, and top with distilled water. I happen to quite like the smell and the kids are much happier about getting sprayed with our special ‘bug off’ spray.”

You can purchase these oils and more from Christian here.

Hopefully using one or more of these awesome bug repellent options will keep your family bite-free during all your outdoor adventures from here on out. Why not give one or two a try today?

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