Camping is a great escape for you and your family from the busy schedule of the daily hustle. Whether you choose a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled journey, it’s bound to help you make unforgettable memories. What’s great about camping is you can tailor it to fit your needs and preferences.
With that being said, you’ll definitely go through a few obstacles here and there no matter what your level of expertise in camping is. But’s that’s what’s unique about this sort of adventure.
You never know what you’ll face so as long as you stick to the basic rules and keep yourself safe, you’ll surely create the best memories. This guide is specifically made for beginners who are overwhelmed at the thought of camping in the middle of nowhere. But don’t you worry, because after you go through this detailed guide, you’ll be ready to embark upon your first official camping trip!
- 1 Choosing The Camping Location
- 2 Why Is Choosing A Camping Location Close To Home Ideal?
- 3 Pros Of Exploring A New Place
- 4 Types Of Camping
- 5 Head To A Campground
- 6 Go For Dispersed Camping
- 7 Go Backpacking
- 8 Factors To Consider While Choosing A Camping Location
- 9 Season
- 10 Level Of Difficulty
- 11 Preference
- 12 What To Wear
- 13 How To Meal Plan For Your Camping Trip
- 14 Cooking Requisites
- 15 Useful Tips For Meal Planning
- 16 What Camping Toiletries Should You Carry
- 17 Necessary Camping Gear
- 18 Tent
- 19 Sleeping Bag
- 20 Sleeping pad
- 21 Weather-suitable Clothing
- 22 Cooler
- 23 Stove
- 24 Cookware and Utensils
- 25 Safety Tools
- 26 Lighting
- 27 Toilet Paper
- 28 Map and Compass
- 29 Camp Furniture
- 30 Camping Tips For Beginners
- 31 1. Select A Camping Location Ahead Of Time
- 32 2. Test Out Setting Up The Tent At Home
- 33 3. Bring Camp-Friendly Meals
- 34 4. Bring A Lot Of Games
- 35 5. Celebrate An Occasion
- 36 6. Plan A Camping Trip During The Week
- 37 7. Try New Activities
- 38 Final Words
- 39 References:
Choosing The Camping Location
There are endless options for camping locations starting from recreational parks and national parks to campgrounds and dispersed areas. As a beginner, private and public campgrounds are better than camping in dispersed areas so that you can avoid the uncertainty of unavailable water and surprise animal attacks.
Both private and public national lands are supposed to be reserved months before if you want to camp out there. However, you may find a few good private ones near your area that does not always require a reservation. You can also choose a location close to home.
Why Is Choosing A Camping Location Close To Home Ideal?
A close-to-home camp destination is beginner-friendly as it cuts down the travel time significantly thereby, allowing you to spend more time in the location especially if you’re in a time crunch. Plus, there’s a lot less planning required if you’re not traveling 300 miles away from home to camp out.
You can easily go back home if you’ve forgotten any essentials such as sleeping bags, cookware, or medications. Also, while you’re looking at a nearby camp location you may come across scenic spots that you weren’t aware of before so you can always return there when you need a break from the daily hustle.
Pros Of Exploring A New Place
Exploring a new place for camping is suitable for people who love to have new experiences and do not mind the uncertainties that come with it. Plus, you get to explore new cultures, tourist spots, and entertaining festivals with your loved one depending on the time of the year.
- New places allow you to soak in different cultures
- You can meet new people from other parts of the country
- Longer distances mean extended vacation
- You get to enjoy scenic views on road trips and flights that you’d otherwise have missed out on
Types Of Camping
For a beginner, a developed camping location is better due to the toilet arrangement and availability of running water. With that being said, here are three popular ways to camp.
Head To A Campground
Campgrounds are equipped with everything you need for your daily necessities that include toilets, running water, and a shower. As a first-time camper, sleeping in a tent itself might be a bit overwhelming so it’s ideal to keep the other aspects a constant.
If you camp out in a campground, you’ll most likely have your car parked in a nearby area so you can easily bring your chairs, cooler, music system, etc. back and forth. To book a campsite you can go to this link in advance.
Go For Dispersed Camping
Dispersed camping refers to camping in any area that does not fall under any official campsite. This is ideal if you want to avoid people and of course, save money instead of reserving a campsite. However, the drawbacks are the unavailability of toilets, running water, shower, etc. You are indeed on your own when it comes to choosing isolated locations.
If you plan to go for dispersed camping in parks you have to make sure to follow the rules and guideless that the particular location may have. A good idea is to park your car as close to your chosen location as possible unless you don’t mind doing short hikes every time you need something from the car.
Backpacking as a first-time camper may be tough as you’ll have to pack every essential inside one bag and carry it every time you’re on the move. Also, not everyone is suitable for backpacking as it requires a certain amount of stamina and determination. If you have an active lifestyle, you may want to check out backpacking given that you don’t mind eating frozen meals and sleeping in the middle of nowhere.
Factors To Consider While Choosing A Camping Location
When you’re choosing a camping location that will be suitable for you and your group of friends and family there are some things you should consider. To help you narrow down your search for the ideal camping location here are a few important factors to look into.
A camping location should be chosen based on multiple factors associated with the particular season which may include chances of rain and extreme temperatures. You should also consider the level of comfort you and the other camping members have with a certain climate before coming to a unanimous decision on a camping location.
Level Of Difficulty
You should choose a location based on the level of difficulty that every member will be able to face. For example, if you have children it’s a bad idea to choose locations that may require challenging hikes under the hot sun. So, go for a location that is convenient for every member.
Everyone has their goals for an ideal camping trip especially if they haven’t experienced one before. Since there are so many types of locations to try, you need to figure out what you prioritize which could be based on scenic places, historic locations, challenging landscapes, etc. As long as your goal is met you’re bound to have a great experience.
What To Wear
The ideal type of clothing for camping depends on the location, weather, as well as the type of activities you’ll be doing at the campsite. However, you’re bound to get your clothes a little dirty no matter where you go camping. This is why it’s better if you put on clothes that look great even when grimy.
If you’re wearing cotton make sure you have alternatives because if the piece gets wet you’ll be cold and miserable in the middle of nowhere. You should bring light layering pieces such as long-sleeved t-shirts or tops that will protect you from the sun but still keep you cool. A sunhat is mandatory during the day.
Also, a warm coat is a must even during hot seasons as the nights maybe surprisingly cooler in the wilderness. To add to that, bring warm clothing accessories including gloves, beanies, fuzzy socks, etc. If you’re camping in the winter there are a lot more to pack including insulated coats, thermal wear, long pants, etc.
A raincoat is necessary as well since you never know when you might need it. Some people forget to wear or carry a sturdy pair of boots but this is necessary especially if you’re planning to hike or participate in any vigorous activities. Lastly, you should pack a pair of slip-on to wear inside the tent and a bunch of inner wear so that you have extras when required.
How To Meal Plan For Your Camping Trip
Camping in the wilderness does not mean you cannot consume delicious well-cooked food. Although it depends on your preference, everyone would like to have a home-cooked meal after an activity-filled camp day as opposed to eating beans straight out of cans.
If you’re going on a one-day camping trip, you can have a good dinner on the way to your location and eat overnight-oats for breakfast. This way, you’ve got two meals covered already. But to help you out on what to eat, how to cook, and what to bring to the campsite so that you can have multiple meals, go through the must-haves mentioned below.
Staples: These include carbs and proteins to keep you full for a long period. Depending on the type of food you and your family enjoy you can bring rice, ramen, quinoa for carbs, and grilled meat and eggs for protein.
Apart from that other staples include potatoes, fresh produces, sandwiches, hot dogs, canned soups, etc. Also, do not forget to bring your favorite beverages such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, and juices.
Cooking Necessities: Bringing cooking essentials such as spices and oils depends on what you’re planning to cook. The last thing you need is to carry all the spices in your pantry. So plan specific simple meals and bring the necessary spices, seasoned herbs, and of course oils so that you can cook flavorsome meals.
Snacks: Snacks are as important as meals when you’re out camping because they will keep you filled during the meal gaps. Of course, it’s important to bring non-perishable snack items that include chips, cookies, popcorn, pretzels, cereal, etc.
Cookware: You must bring the minimum amount of pots, pans, cutlery, and dishes so that you can cook your meals. You can also replace dishes and cutlery with one-time use ones if you do not want to wash them after every meal but they’re not environment-friendly.
Useful Tips For Meal Planning
Prepping your meals beforehand is going to save a lot of time when you cook your meals at the camping site. For example, cut down chicken or beef into small pieces, cook them half-way and store them in boxes, or cut fresh produce and pack them in small containers so you can easily add them in meals while cooking.
Utilize Zip Bags and Containers
If you’re bringing a cooler, you can store all the prepped items in zip bags and containers so do not get ruined if you’re camping during the hotter months.
Bring All-Purpose Ingredients
Using multi-use ingredients for various meals is the key to cook meals during camping. For example, bring prepped potatoes or veggies that you can utilize in more than one meal.
Consider Dietary Limitations
Unless you’re lucky and you don’t have to worry about making separate meals, you must consider the dietary limitations of every camp member. So, keep in mind that one or two members may want food options that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free.
Bring High-Calorie Snacks
During camping, there are higher chances of you being more active so you’d need to energize yourself more often than usual. So, a good idea is to bring extras and snacks such as high-calorie protein bars, nuts, dark chocolate, etc.
What Camping Toiletries Should You Carry
Hygiene items including soap, shampoo, toilet paper, and towels are necessary for any camping trip. Some camping grounds will have well-built toilets while in other locations you may have to get the job done in the woods so hygiene essentials are must-haves.
Also, you must carry bug-spray and sunscreen at all times. Depending on your requirement, you should of course carry medications but bringing a first-aid kit is a smart choice especially because you don’t know what you may be subjected to.
Necessary Camping Gear
A tent is a camping essential if you want to avoid being drenched in heavy dew by the time you wake up in the morning. When it comes to purchasing a tent, a bigger-than-necessary size is always more convenient.
For example, if there are four people, go for a 6-person tent so that you’re not too cramped up in a small space and you have extra space to store your camping gear. Also, if you prefer to move around a bit inside the tent you might want to look into the ones that ensure sufficient height, a tent with a high ceiling will allow you to change clothes with ease.
If you do not mind spending a little extra, go for tents that have vestibules as well as two doors inside. In that case, you can use the outer area to clean your shoes or sit there if it’s raining outside.
Sleeping on a pile of leaves and wet ground is certainly not pleasing. Plus, the majority of insects are more active at night which will ruin your sleep. The drop in temperature at night is a crucial factor to consider as well. Therefore, every member in the camping trip should bring their sleeping bag to have a decent sleep in the wilderness.
When purchasing a sleeping bag, look at the temperature rating. For camping in the hotter months, a summer bag should suffice. But if you think you might be subjected to unexpected weather conditions, get your hands on one of those 3-season bags. Also, you should make sure that your tent floor is large enough to fit all the sleeping bags.
A sleeping pad is designed to ensure insulation by preventing you from losing the body heat when the temperature drops at night. While using a soft mattress under the starry skies may seem like a dream, it’s not going to ensure the insulation that a sleeping pad would.
The insulation in a sleeping bag is indicated by R-value so the higher the R-value the better the insulation will be. So, while purchasing a sleeping pad go for ones that are wide, thick, and have a high R-value. Plus, sleeping pads are mandatory if you have children camping as well, as they’re bound to get sick without the necessary insulation.
Depending on the current weather as well as weather-forecast, carry appropriate clothing pieces for your camping trip. Since you’ll not be changing too often it’s important to carry staple pieces. Rain gear is a must because the last thing you want to do is walk around in wet clothes.
Waterproof rain jackets come in very handy during camping. However, if you’re carrying heavy rain gear keep in mind that you’d have to carry that extra weight when you’re hiking to your camp spot from the car.
You’ll most likely be carrying perishable food on your camping trip especially if it’s for more than a day. In that case, you must bring a cooler that can prevent your food from going bad in the hotter months as well.
Propane camp stoves are easily available in the market so bringing one of those preferably a two-burner one should cover all your cooking requirements during camping. If you’re purchasing it just before the trip makes sure you test it out at home to find out how it works. Also, do not forget to bring a lighter and a couple of fuel canisters.
Cookware and Utensils
As long as you’re cooking, you must bring kitchen essentials to your camping trip which includes both cookware such as pans and pots and utensils spoons, and forks. Do not forget to bring cleaning supplies as well like soap, a cleaning sponge, and towels.
Safety items including a pocket knife, insect repellent, and first-aid kit are must-haves during camping. Small cuts are bound to happen when you’re in the wild unless you’re extremely careful so you must have bandages, scissors, gauze, and emergency medications with you. Also, to have an idea of what you may have to face you could look into the local field guide of the camping destination.
Since campsites will not be illuminated you must bring a few flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps depending on how many members are there. Battery-powered lanterns are the best option when it comes to the source of light in camps.
You can also start a fire which will not only ensure light but warmth as well. You should bring waterproof matches, a magnesium fire starter, or a lighter, and any of these should do the trick.
Toilet paper rolls are going to be your savior during camping. A lot of people use leaves as a substitute but neither is it comfortable nor hygienic. You’ll most likely have access to toilet paper in most of the campgrounds but if you choose dispersed camping or backpacking, carrying toilet paper would be the smartest move.
Map and Compass
If you do not have access to a charged GPS, a map and a compass will get the job done without which you’re bound to get lost even in the shortest hike. Due to the similarity in every direction especially if you’re camping in a forest, you’ll most likely be wandering about for hours if you do not have any sense of direction. So, make sure you have a map and compass to navigate properly.
This is more of a luxury than necessity but who doesn’t love to have a few foldable camp chairs to sit on and soak in the sun. So, you should bring a few in your car especially if you have children on your camping trip.
Camping Tips For Beginners
As first-timers, a camping trip can seem overwhelming based on the location you choose, the uncertainties you might face in the outdoors as well as the overall eating and sleeping situation.
However, the key is to pre-plan everything and focus on the positives that surround adventure, leisure, or a combination of both. Here are a few tips you should follow to make your first camping trip a memorable one.
1. Select A Camping Location Ahead Of Time
If you’re choosing a private or public campsite, you must book it weeks ahead to avoid missing out on the desired location. Searching for camping spots just days before is not ideal especially if you’re camping with a large group of friends and family and they’ve specifically kept that week free for the trip. So, start by exploring places and choose one based on a unanimous decision.
2. Test Out Setting Up The Tent At Home
Even if the packaging claims that you can set up the tent in 5 minutes, you’ll most likely not be able to do so as a first-time camper. So, you must practice setting it up at home so that you’re not only aware of how it works but you can also speed up the process in the trip.
Waterproof The Tent
Weather can be uncertain so unless you have a high-quality waterproof tent, you must bring products that can make regular ones waterproof. The easiest option is to use silicon sealant on every inch of the tent including the zippers.
3. Bring Camp-Friendly Meals
Pre-cooked meals will save you a lot of time at least on the first day of your camping trip which you can rather utilize in recreational activities. For example, food items that you can grill or fry in just a few minutes can be brought in plastic bags.
4. Bring A Lot Of Games
Card games and board games can be entertaining alternatives to hiking and trekking. Plus, every member of your camping trip may not enjoy the more adventurous route. On the other hand, nobody hates good old-fashioned board games. So bring a few so you can play them after meals or to unwind at night.
5. Celebrate An Occasion
A camping trip can be an amazing option for celebrating a milestone such as anniversaries, birthdays, family reunions, bridal/baby showers, etc. Instead of celebrating them at home or a restaurant, a camping trip can be a great getaway.
6. Plan A Camping Trip During The Week
Camping spots are usually very crowded during summers so if your schedule allows, you must plan a trip during the week and not the weekend so that you can enjoy yourself with your loved ones in peace.
7. Try New Activities
Check out the possible activities in the area you’ve chosen for camping and make sure you bring the necessary gear to try them out. There’s nothing better than going out of your comfort zone and trying fun activities with your friends and family.
Depending on your needs and wants camping trips can vary significantly. While for some people a simple tent under the starry sky will suffice, others might love an almost-home experience in the wilderness. Of course, making the former happen is much easier and more convenient than the latter, but it’s all about what you and your group of friends and family like.
In this article, we have covered everything you need to know as a first-time camper along with useful tips that you may miss out on. So, make sure you stick to the basic rules to enjoy a safe and eventful camping trip with your loved ones!