Camping is an easy and fun outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. One can go camping alone, with a group of friends or with the whole family. It can be a bit challenging for a novice to just go and brave the outdoors. But camping really is a breeze once you get the hang of it. Make your camping even more easy and enjoyable with these 25 invaluable camping tips for novice and experienced campers alike.
Tent Set-Up and RV Parking
Before going out into the wilderness, it is important to familiarize yourself with your home away from home. Setting out without knowing how to set up your tent or park your RV or travel trailer and how they work is tantamount to going to battle without checking if your armor fits!
The sight of new campers trying to figure out how to set up their tent and fumbling for hours is, sadly, not as uncommon as one might expect. First-time RV owners who have a hard time getting their rig under control aren’t that rare as well.
It’s embarrassing and a waste of your valuable time that can be spent enjoying the camp instead! Before you go, try out your tent in the backyard, or drive your RV around the neighborhood and practice parking and reversing.
3. Choosing a tent
Always go for the rainproof, weather-resistant tent. Lightweight, three-season tents for the spring, summer, and autumn should be good enough. Opt for heavy-duty four-season mountaineering tents if camping in the harsher winter weather.
It’s important to bring a tent that’s the right size. Newbie campers often find themselves with a tent that is not big enough or too big. If camping with the family or a group of friends, a tent with a capacity of 2 more than the number of people in your party is ideal. So if 4 people are going to share a tent, a 6-person tent is ideal, although a 4-person tent should be enough.
4. Know your gears
As with tents, the same can be said for gears. Become familiar with your weapons…er, gears. Make sure that your tools work and that you know how to use them. Try out your sleeping bag, check if your light source is out of battery and that your cooking tools are in proper working order, etc.
5. Essential gears and items
It’s a good idea to have these essential gears and items with you, depending on the kind of camping you’re doing:
-headlamps, flashlights, and extra batteries
-waterproof lighter and matches
-knife and multi-tool
-stove and fuel
-spare water bottles
-sleeping bags and sleeping pads
-soap and water
-games and entertainment
-towels (preferably quick-dry)
6. Prepare a checklist
It’s understandable that first-time and novice campers often forget something important in the excitement. Heck, even experienced campers forget stuff too. However, this will be completely avoidable if you have a prepared checklist. If you remember something that you think you should bring, just add it to the list. While packing you can whittle down to the essentials as you please.
If you have to hike to camp, be mindful of the weight of your pack. Make sure to bring only what you need. It will also be great if you opt for lightweight materials too.
7. Picking a backpack
Trekking for days or camping not far away from your car/RV? 50L to 80L multi-day backpacks are perfect for treks lasting 2-5 days. Small daypacks that are 30L or less should be enough for day hikes.
Compression bags will save significant space in your backpack especially for bulky but soft items like sleeping bags and clothes.
8. Where to go
For a first camping trip, it may be a good idea to stay close to home. There are a number of reasons why being just a short drive away is better for the first few camping trips. It’s easy to forget something essential, encounter some trouble with a tent or camping gear or even run out of Fido’s favorite food.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t camp far. As you become a more experienced camper, you’ll be camping farther and farther away and on increasingly difficult trails.
9. When to go
Definitely go camping mid-week if your schedule allows for a more relaxed camping trip. A crowded summer weekend is just not the same as a quiet and peaceful weekday trip.
On that note, don’t forget to reserve your spot once you’ve decided on a date. A common rookie mistake is forgetting to reserve a camping site.
Moreover, don’t forget to mind the weather. Check the forecast on your preferred dates to avoid bad weather or prepare for weather conditions. Check again a few days before the big day.
10. Arrive early
To familiarize yourself with the campground layout, rules, and amenities, it’s better to arrive early at camp. If you’re hiking to the campground, start the hike at an early hour to get ahead.
It’s a common courtesy to other campers to set up your camp during the day. Not to mention, setting up a tent or backing up an RV or travel trailer will be easier with daylight anyway.
11. Obey camp rules
Some general campground rules and courtesy are:
-Observe quiet hours, usually from 10 PM to 7 AM.
-Avoid arriving and setting up after quiet hours.
-Leave the camp as you’ve arrived.
-Try not to choose the spot right next to another camp if there are other free spaces.
-Don’t walk right through a neighbor’s campsite.
-Keeps pets on a leash.
-Keep fires in fire pits.
There are many other rules, some unique to a particular campground. Ask ahead and make sure that everyone in your party knows of them.
12. Amenities and activities
Take advantage of any amenities and activities that your chosen campground may offer. Hiking and camping often go hand in hand. In some places, you can swim, rent ATVs, observe wildlife, go boating, ride horses, and many more. Some activities are only available upon request so do not hesitate to ask and explore.
13. Making a Meal Plan
This is especially important because new and novice campers do not yet have the experience to estimate how long their food resources will last when camping. Remember, one tends to get more hungry and eat more when exerting lots of energy camping and hiking. Plus, there’s just something about being in nature that gives you a healthy appetite. 🤤
14. Preparing meals
When figuring out what to prepare and pack there are multiple factors to consider. You also have to know what everyone’s food preferences are and whether someone has food allergies. Other factors include: the number of people you’ll have to prepare for, what the menu items will be, how much to prepare, etc.
15. What’s on the menu
You can prepare a camping feast for one special night but if possible, have simple camping fare for the rest. The best camping food options are easy to pack, don’t spoil, and don’t require cooking. Some examples are food bars, canned beans or soup, bread with jam or peanut butter, trail mix, beef jerky, coffee, tea, chocolate, and other powdered drinks.
16. Make friends, but
You don’t want to be the camper who has to make friends with the other camp to ask for food. Trust me, it’s no fun. The making friends part is cool. The beg-for-food-or-go-hungry part, not so much. You also don’t want to bring too many. There’s a good chance you’ll be wasting much of it, not to mention the dangerous wildlife that may be attracted by food left in your tent/RV. More on that topic later.
17. Dress appropriately
As always, check the forecast when packing clothes. Dress for the weather and bring weather appropriate clothing with spare, especially socks. Always keep at least one clean, dry pair of extra socks. You’ll love them on those chilly nights.
No matter the forecast, it’s also best to prepare for rain. Avoid cotton and bring quick-dry clothes with moisture-wicking fabric. Prepare for sweaty days and cool nights and early mornings. If you’re going hiking, swimming or any other activities, don’t forget to bring the right attire.
It’s highly likely that there will be no laundry facilities in the campground so bring enough clothes. You can always ask but who wants to be doing the laundry on a holiday getaway?
18. Sleep and let sleep
You’ll be able to enjoy your camping trip more if you are well-rested. Especially if you have a big activity the next day, plan to have a good night’s sleep and let others have theirs too. If you want to stay up exchanging ghosts stories, then do it extra quietly so neighbors aren’t disturbed. They may be having a big day the next day too.
19. Extra Padding
The secret to comfortable sleep at camp? Extra padding! Don’t forget to bring a comfortable sleeping bag, pillow, and some extra cushion. A sleeping pad and inflatable mattress would make your bed extra comfy.
Cold feet? For toasty comfort, fill a water bottle with warm water and place it by your feet outside the sleeping bag.
20. Bring a first-aid kit
A basic first-aid kit for camping should have the following:
-bandages and gauze
21. Mind the sun
Use a sun hat, apply some sunscreen and wear sunglasses and thin, protective clothing to protect your skin from the sun. Dehydration is a possibility, and not just on hot, humid days. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Bring a sunshade for your tent, if possible.
22. Avoid mosquitos, ticks and other insects
If the weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks while in camp especially in the early morning and late afternoon. Avoid high grass and use insect repellents.
If bitten or stung by an insect or ticks, move to safety, carefully remove stinger or tick with tweezers, wash the area, apply a cold compress and take an antihistamine, if needed.
23. Beware of bears and other wildlife
Always keep your campsite clean and don’t leave food unattended to avoid attracting wild animals. Camping in bear country is not recommended for beginners but if you must, keep food in animal-proof containers and carry bear spray. Here’s a more in-depth guide for staying safe while hiking and camping in bear country.
24. Keeping clean
Bringing biodegradable body/hand soap, dishwashing soap and toothpaste for washing up, washing the dishes and brushing your teeth will reduce your impact. You can even use soap to wash your hair instead of bringing the whole bottle.
Using baby wipes is a fast way to get clean but make sure to dispose of them properly.
25. Maintaining and leaving camp
The best way to maintain a clutter-free camp (or at least have minimal clutter) is packing wisely in the first place. Leaving excess packaging at home and careful meal planning will reduce litter and leftovers as much as possible.
When leaving camp, clean up and inspect for micro-trash. These are bits of food and trash like peels, plastic flecks, pieces of toilet paper, crumbs, chips, and eggshells. Leave the campsite how you found it. This may mean bringing your trash home with you or until you come across proper garbage disposal.
There you have it, with these helpful camping tips, you’re now all set to explore the exciting world of camping!