10 Essential Camping Tips For Beginners
If you love the outdoors or like the idea of feeling at one with nature, then camping might be right up your street. It is a very different experience to staying in a hotel with lots of mod cons and luxuries, but there is something enjoyable about it regardless.
Many people find being outdoors and sleeping under the stars very relaxing. Not only is camping a fabulous way to spend time with yourself, friends or your family, but it's also a great way to have a trip on a budget, so even if money is tight, you can still get away from it all for a while.
If you are new to camping, there will be a bit of a learning curve, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. There are lots of things to consider before like where to go and what equipment and supplies you need to get.
If you are keen to go camping and go out and explore the great outdoors check out our top tips and recommendations for staying safe in the wild, these tips should also help you enjoy a more stress free experience.
1. Choose your Perfect Destination
Although camping is very popular, some people like the idea of it but in reality, don't enjoy it at all, so it’s a good idea to stay close to home on your first trip. You may feel after one night that camping is not for you, or the weather may take a turn for the worst and you may decide to cut your break short.
If you’re holidaying solo, with friends or your family, there are plenty of amazing camping destinations offering on-site entertainment and all mod-cons. A quick internet search will likely find lots of places near to where you live.
Research campsites and locations, there’s nothing quite like waking up and opening your tent to see a breathtaking vista of majestic scenery, shimmering lakes and lush pockets of evergreen.
At the other end of the spectrum, intrepid adult adventurers looking for a real thrill can try actual off the beaten track camping, which involves staying in a remote location possibly the mountains. Nope, not for everyone!
Between those extremes, though, you’ll still need to decide whether you want a cabin or you’re happier with the traditional camping experience, and how far you’d like to travel.
2. Go Prepared
Even if you’re planning to glamp it, you still need a decent pair of walking boots, a sturdy coat, cooking utensils, a waterproof tent and a warm sleepingbag. Depending on the terrain, a stick can be useful too.
One downside of camping sometimes is that they can get a bit cold, so a good camping blanket is a must. A waterproof camping blanket can handily double as an emergency covering, too, if you get caught in the rain while stargazing.
Even in the best supervised and/or guided conditions, it’s possible to get lost on a mountainside trail. Make sure you have some kind of mapping device and that it has a signal. At the very least, pack a compass and a paper map if your phone’s GPRS isn’t working and make sure you know how to use them. After all, nothing ruins a good mountain camping holiday like losing a member of your party.
When camping you are likely to be in the outdoors a lot, and this will increase your chances of beng exposed to the sun. Use sunscreen, even in winter and when it is cloudy just to be on the safe side. You should also pack moisturiser dryskin and sunburnt can happen no matter what time of the year it is.
Also, if you are going to somewhere remote, let family or friends know where you are going camping just incase anything happens they will have an idea where to find you.
What size of tent do you need? You may be surprised to note that the size of your tent could drastically change your camping experience, so getting it right is essential.
If you buy a reasonably small tent, you may feel cramped, which could cause arguments as well as sleepless nights. If your budget allows, try to get a tent big enough for you to move around freely in.
If, for example, there are 4 of you, a 4-berth will be adequate, but a 6-berth will give you far more breathing space. Many tents also come with room dividers or room add-ons to make your tent bigger in the future, so they are worth considering for versatility alone.
Another great option is to buy an air tent. They look like a traditional tent, but rather than being constructed with fiberglass poles, the tent beams are inflated. It's a far quicker and increasingly popular style of tent.
4. Campsite Facilities
All campsites cater to different needs, and facilities can vary, so it’s worth spending a decent amount of time figuring out what is important to you and taking it from there. If, for example, you are traveling with small children, a playground, or evening entertainment may be on your list of essential facilities.
If you want to go camping but don't intend to cook, an on-site restaurant might be a box that needs ticking. Most websites will have a filtering facility, which should help narrow down your search and help you find the campsite that best suits your needs.
5. Choosing a Campsite Pitch
When choosing a campsite pitch, location is something to consider. Some campers prefer to book a pitch close to amenities such as showers or restrooms, while others would rather be on the periphery of the campsite so there’s less footfall and it’s a bit quieter.
It’s also worth checking what extras are available. For example, many campsite pitches will come with an electricity supply, but some will not. You can take a portable power supply with you, of course, but if it’s available on site anyway, it may be worth paying a little extra to have it included.
6. Practice Putting Your Tent Up
This might sound silly but before departing practise putting together your tent up before you depart. This will make it easier when you arrive at your destination and save you time.
You have no doubt seen video clips or TV shows of the typical guy who spends three hours trying to pitch a tent then gives up when it collapses for the fifth time. Erecting a tent isn’t always easy, but there are ways to make it a bit less stressful. If you have gone for a traditional tent that is erected with an array of poles, don't try to put it up without reading the instructions first.
You might think that you know what to do, but if you want to save yourself time and embarrassment, read and follow them. It’s also a good idea to have a bit of a trial run if you can. Putting your tent up and taking it down in your garden a few times will get you used to the process and will make it far less of an ordeal when you arrive at your destination.
Many beginners to camping prefer not to cook, and to use facilities available at the campsite instead. For others, cooking is a fundamental part of the camping experience. If you fall into the latter category, you will need a camping stove, pots, melamine plates, and cutlery.
It’s also worthwhile taking an electric cool box with you so you can have lots of fresh and delicious food when you need it. Cooking on a camping stove does take a while to get used to, but once you master it, there will be no stopping you.
Be sure to see how long you are going to be away for and then work out how much food you will need. Pack water and energy foods like bananas and chocolate. Meals like pasta and noodles are also recommended as they are light to carry.
8. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
No-one functions particularly well with little sleep, so the sounder your night is, the more likely you are to enjoy your camping experience. Although cheap camping mats and sleeping bags work perfectly well - if you want to feel well-rested, buy quality products that will provide comfort, as well as functionality.
Air beds are a great option when it comes to camping as they are not only quick to put up, but they take up very little space and so are easily transported. Mummy-style sleeping bags will provide lots of warmth on colder nights, or if you have room in your vehicle, why not take a standard duvet and some pillows with you? Not only will it make your bed feel more like it does at home, but it will make for a cozy and comfortable night’s sleep.
9. Check the Weather
Before departing it is essential to check the weather before departing just to make sure conditions will be okay for you to be camping. If there is a terrible storm or snow on the horizon then possible change your dates or plan accordingly.
10. Relax & Enjoy
Camping offers such a relaxing break from work and normal hectic life. Just enjoy the experience.
Hopefully our recommendations have helped give you some ideas to take a first camping break. If you have any questions or have any advice let us know in the comments section below.