Getting away from daily life’s hustle and bustle is always a dream of everyone, especially those who live in big cities. To contemplate a beautiful sunset, dance the night away and sleep under the stars… all the stress and sorrows will immediately be blown away!
However, for some first-time campers, planning on a camping trip might result in other stress and sorrows as they will be freaking out of things they have yet to know. That’s the reason why I decided to give out a detailed guideline of useful camping tips and tricks for beginners, which I believe will help not only the amateurs but also the seasoned campers, as they are all to help you get the best out of the trip. Let’s start!
- CAMPING PREP: WHAT TO PREPARE BEFORE THE TRIP?
- #1. Determine the destination
- #2. Decide the way/method to get to the camping site
- #3: Get a list of what you should bring along
- #4: Prepare the camping gears
- #5: Test everything
- #6: Always check the weather forecast
- #7: Learn the basic knots
- #8: Make a menu for your camping meals
- #9: Prepare your food ahead of time
- #10: Take a roll of tin foil
- #11: Tips about clothing
- #12: Pack things smart
- WHEN YOU ARE AT THE CAMPING SITE
- #13: Assign the jobs
- #14: Unpack and set up your camp while you still have light
- #15: Choose a perfect spot to set up the tent
- #16: Put the tarp first and stake down the tent
- #17: Waterproof your tent
- #18: Mark your tent location
- #19: Raise the beds from the floor
- #20: Get your sleeping bag to the desired temperature using a hot/cold water bottle
- #21: Use headlights
- #22: Use nachos to get your fire going
- #23: Take a windbreak
- #24: Stay safe on the camping trip
- #25: Use sage as a mosquito repellent
- #26: Use sand to get rid of dirt
- #27: Use baby powder to get rid of wet sand
- WHEN HEADING HOME
CAMPING PREP: WHAT TO PREPARE BEFORE THE TRIP?
#1. Determine the destination
First of all, think about where you will spend your days, as it will affect the things you bring along. There are campsites available around the world if you’d love to have some modern conveniences such as drinking water, toilets paper, hot showers, swimming pools and even games facilities for children. You will need to book the campsite in advance to avoid the full occupancy.
If you choose to camp in the wilderness (a natural location without any facilities), remember to bring essential things with you or else you cannot stay there even for 01 night. A list of what should bring will be presented later for your reference.
#2. Decide the way/method to get to the camping site
Actually, it happens at the same moment that you decide where to camp during your weekends. By choosing a suitable way to get to the campsite, not only can you save the traveling time, but also you will know exactly what to pack for the camping days.
For example, if you travel without a vehicle (backpacking or wild camping), it’s important to keep things lightweight and portable. Otherwise, there is no weight restriction and you can bring what is necessary for the trip.
#3: Get a list of what you should bring along
Below is the list of essential things that are needed for any camping trip. It might vary depending on your needs and wants, but it’s a basic check-list that is suitable for almost everyone, from first-time campers to frequenters.
+ A backpack: the size will be based on #1 & #2. If you drive to a nearby campsite, a small backpack for local hikes is fine. A multi-hike trip will need more than that, a big backpack that can be worn comfortably even when it’s full. The ladies need to look for those who are suitable/at ladies’ sizes.
+ A suitable tent with footprint and rainfly: The tent is a must-have of any camping trip unless you wish to stay at a hostel after the hike/activities. As you camp in the wilderness, the tent is your shelter against the weather and insects. There are many brands on the market, and you need to choose one at a suitable size, quality, and price.
+ Don’t forget the footprint and the rainfly which will protect your tent from rough ground and falling branches. You shouldn’t mind a small extra cost as it helps you prolong the lifespan of the tent, which already costs you a great investment.
+ Sleeping bags, sleeping liners, sleeping mats: Where you sleep after a long day of hiking/amazing activities in the forest is very important as you need to recover for the next day after the sleep. An uncomfortable sleeping area might annoy you the whole night long, and you will wake up with 0 energy. Hence, buy the best you can afford. Most of the sleeping bags come with a temperature rating, make sure you buy ones that suit the climate you are going to live in. As for the liner, it keeps your sleeping bag clean and gives you an extra layer of warmth.
In case you wish for extra comfort, the sleeping mats come in a variety of styles: thin foam-based mats, air mattresses, or even self-inflating pads. Each of them gives out different comfort and cushioning depends on material and structure.
+ Flash-light or head torch: they are the source of light that is handy for any activities at night such as venturing out into unlit spaces or finding ways around the dark corners of the tent. Don’t forget to pack the batteries with you or else these handy sources of light will be useless.
+ First-aid kit: You will be among the great nature, hence you should be aware of any minor injuries. Get yourself a ready-made medical kit for hikers with you or regret later when you get hurt while being away from civilization.
+ Map & compass: Navigating via GPS on smartphones is now much easier for almost campers. However, we cannot tell anything for sure when we are distanced from civilization: the signal is not consistent, and our phones can be out of battery. Hence, it’s safer to bring the old way of navigating with you: a map and a compass. In case you are not used to the old things, get an energy/power bank with you.
+ Toiletries & toilet paper: To keep you clean during the trip, remember to bring along the soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper. You also need to pack any medications that might help (such as antiallergic, antidiarrheal…), and a quick-dry towel as well.
+ Food & water: What to pack for eating & drinking and during the trip mainly depends on where you camp. If you can buy supplies from nearby local shops, you don’t need to carry all the food with you. Otherwise, bring it together or you cannot stay in your wilderness location.
+ Cooking equipment: You will need the cooking equipment for the food & drink you bring along: things to cook them and things to put them on. You might at least pack a stove with enough fuel and firelighters, and the utensils for eating and cooking. Do not forget to prepare a container and in which you do your washing up with a sponge and some biodegradable soap.
#4: Prepare the camping gears
After getting a list of what you should bring along, go get them. If you are on a tight budget, borrowing/hiring is the key to save a lot of money. You just need to make sure that they are in good condition and give them extra care during the stay as you need to return them after the trip.
If camping could be your weekly/monthly routine, you should invest in real camping equipment. Choose things that fit your needs, high quality, and durable. Don’t judge things by its price, think about the times you could use them and estimate the cost peruse. Some things that should be put great investment are tents, sleeping bags, lighting, and washing up tubs.
#5: Test everything
Test everything before packing them up if you don’t want to end up arriving at the camp spot only to find out that some of the gears don’t work properly.
It’s also crucial to try setting up the tent a few times at home. It is not only to master the setup skills, but also to check the tent parts if they are in good condition or not. It is your shelter against any weather condition and insects, hence you need to make sure that it is OK to sleep in.
Get your gears fully charged before going away, and test if they work properly: the flashlight/lantern, the stove, …
#6: Always check the weather forecast
Weather can change in a brief time, but the weather forecast gives us the hints of what might happen during the day we are out in nature. Hence, check the weather forecast before packing things up. Rainy or not, you should bring a thin raincoat with you. It can be used to keep the body warm.
#7: Learn the basic knots
The knots would be your life saviors, by which you secure your tarps or rainfly, tie down the gears on your car, hang up the lanterns, and even temporarily mend the things that are broken.
To not make cooking the worst camping nightmare when the necessary utensils are not around, you need to prepare yourself well. One of the best tricks is to make a throughout menu for the whole camping trip, from day 1 to the last day, of what to eat and the recipes. Remember to choose the meals that are quick, easy to cook, and adaptable for outside cooking; yet nutritious enough for all-day activities.
#9: Prepare your food ahead of time
After deciding what to eat, it’s time to measure the ingredients you need. It will help you to bring just enough food, nor lack or extra. You should season and pack them in the Ziplocs bags, and half of the cooking process has been half completed.
You can even cook the soup and stews beforehand, and freeze to keep them in the cooler. When you are at the camp spot, just reheat them for a quick yet delicious meal.
Related: Top 10 Best 20 Quart Coolers
#10: Take a roll of tin foil
Aluminum foil is an essential item for any camping trip as it’s useful for both storing food and cooking with it. To store the food, wrap your meats or fish up in foil with a few herbs. Then you’ll have succulent results every time and there will be no burning.
#11: Tips about clothing
Never pack the ‘in case’ clothing, do pack the all-weather ones. Weather changes in a brief time, and we need to prepare for the worst to come.
The suggestion is packing things that suit the weather. If you are going to camp in a humid climate, bring clothes that breathe such as linen, cotton. Pack fleece jacket or wool sweater for cold days.
#12: Pack things smart
Always remember to pack things smart. Making skivvy rolls for the clothes will save you a lot of space in the backpack for other important things.
Also, you need to distribute the backpack’s weight. A burden backpack is not good for distant hiking, hence, you need to know where to keep things organized.
Cooler is a great companion for any campers. The best way to put things inside the cooler is that you cool them down in advance, then fill them up with layers of ice. What to use first need to pack last.
If you go to your camp spot by car, you need to keep the car well organized as well. Apply the same method: what you need to take out first, put it in last.
WHEN YOU ARE AT THE CAMPING SITE
You check and pack everything well. When you reach the campsite, it’s time to unload things and start camping!
#13: Assign the jobs
Camping is a good way to build-up team relations and teamwork spirit. Hence, it is crucial that anyone in the group has something to take care of based on age, gender, strength, and one’s advantage. For the children, it makes them have more responsibilities towards things.
#14: Unpack and set up your camp while you still have light
When you reach your camp, finish the unloading/unpacking process, and job assigning, it’s time to set everything up. Never underestimate the darkness while you are far from civilization: the temperature falls quickly and it’s hard to find things when you can’t see anything at all.
Always set up the tent first. In case it’s rain, everyone will have a shelter to hide and camping gears won’t get wet.
#15: Choose a perfect spot to set up the tent
The tent location is very important, as it affects your trip a lot. Choose a spot that is flat, sharp object-free, and in a safe location from the stream or the lake. It’s also good to keep you off the falling branches. The wind and sun direction will need to be considered as they relate to the heat and the stability of the tent.
Also, if it’s going to be windy, you should check out your neighbors before pitching the tent. Avoid camping at the downwind of your neighbors, or else your tent will be full of BBQ smoke, campfire smoke, or even cigarette smoke.
#16: Put the tarp first and stake down the tent
The tarp is the border between the bottom of your tent and the ground which prevents the below from gathering the moisture.
Also, always stake down the tent after finishing the setup process. A sudden gust of winds might pop up the bottom of your tent which is extremely dangerous, and staking your tent to the ground will make sure that everything will stay where it needs to.
#17: Waterproof your tent
Though your tent is already waterproof when you purchase it from the manufacturers, it can be worn out after a period of time which leads to leak during the day and even worse, at night. Hence, what you should do is to purchase a can of silicone sealant and cover the tent from top to toe after the setup process. Make sure you spray every corner and seal the seams as well. The waterproofing process might take up to 30 minutes, but it can save you for the whole trip, or even next time’s usage.
Further Reading: Top Best Tent Seam Sealers For Dry Camping
#18: Mark your tent location
To mark the way back to your tent, prevent any fall in the dark or trip over wires; add some solar garden lights at a couple of bucks. Put these all-around your tent at the foot of guy ropes.
#19: Raise the beds from the floor
You should not sleep directly on the floor, though you have already put a tarp before laying the tent. The cold and moisture you might get at night will ruin your sleep and the next day of the vacation. Before putting your sleeping bag, self-inflating sleeping pad, or inflatable mattress, lay underneath something (such as a simple roll-up foam pad) to border your sleeping area from the floor.
#20: Get your sleeping bag to the desired temperature using a hot/cold water bottle
When you go on a camping trip, you stay far away from the comfortable bed which might lead to insomnia. Hence, you better get it to the desired temperature to sleep more easily.
To do this, prefill a decent Nalgene water bottle or similar with hot or cold water (as per your wish) and put it in your sleeping bag.
#21: Use headlights
If you don’t want cheap flashlights and can’t afford luxury camping lantern, use headlights instead. Headlights will free your hands, and it is easier to move and find things in the dark.
You can also trap the headlight to a jug of water to lighten a whole large space.
#22: Use nachos to get your fire going
If you find it difficult to get your fire to get hold of larger firewood, some nachos might help.
In case you are not into nachos, always bring with you lighting backup.
#23: Take a windbreak
The most annoying thing when cooking at the campsite is the wind blowing the flame out. Hence, surround the cooking area with a windbreak, whether it is a cheap beach windbreak or a Coleman one.
When you pack up again for heading home, be careful as you pull the windbreak out, especially when they have hammered into the dry ground. Do not try to bend them as the cheap wood will break. If it’s still stuck no matter how you try to pull them, pour some water at the base of the stakes. After that, the water will soften the ground and you’d slide out the windbreak easily.
#24: Stay safe on the camping trip
Staying safe on the camping trip includes both hygiene and safe storage of food. Remember to wash or sanitize your hands often, and keep your campsite tidy and cleared of any food items which might attract animals.
#25: Use sage as a mosquito repellent
When you set up a campfire, you can add some sage to the fire which casts out the mosquito and creates allure smells.
If you don’t have any sage, remember to bring mosquito repellent. They can be a cream tube or spraying bottle, choose it to your liking.
#26: Use sand to get rid of dirt
If you forget the biodegradable soap at home, you can use sand to get rid of dirt in your pots and pans. Just pour a handful of sand to things you need to clean and start scrubbing the sand over the dirt. After that, wash it again with water.
#27: Use baby powder to get rid of wet sand
After several activities at the campsite, your hands or feet might be all over with wet sand. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baby powder on your hands/feet and the wet sand will be washed off instantly.
WHEN HEADING HOME
#28: Dry your tent out
When the trip is over, make sure that your tent is dry before packing it up. If you experience rain on the night before, hang the tent body on a near branch. In case you don’t have enough time to dry out the tent, stuff the tent in the trunk of the car instead of folding it. When you arrive back home, hang the tent up for 100% dry. Any moisture left could lead to bad smell and mold on the inside.
#29: Always leave the tent doors open
After taking down the tent, you should leave the zippers on doors or windows partially open. It will help the air escapes more easily and the tent might be back to original shape to fit in the tiny compression sack it came in.
Camping is always a great way to reconnect to nature, the wild, and your true self. Hence, knowing tips and tricks that help you enjoy the camping time to the fullest is always a great thing. You then will be able to watch the majestic sunset, gaze at the star-cloaked sky, and play games around the campfire without having to be worried about things going wrong.
I do hope these tips and tricks contribute to your amazing camping time with your family and buddies!