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Camping For Beginners

camping for beginners
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A Beginner’s Guide to Camping

You’ve been cooped up inside quarantining for who knows how long and just want to have an outside adventure! Camping is a great way to destress and whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend in the woods or an adrenaline-rush rafting down the rapids, you can find it while camping! 

It may take some time to adjust if it’s your first time camping, but give it a go and take it slow, and with these simple tips you’ll be prepared for camping in no time!

Best Type of Camping for Beginners

There are different types of camping and which one you choose for your first camping trip can be a determining factor in how well it goes. One type of camping isn’t better than another, but your preferences will determine which one you find more enjoyable. 

types of camping

So what are the different types of camping?

  1. Cabin Camping
  2. Tent Camping
  3. RV Camping
  4. Glamping

Cabin camping will be more comfortable and warming (obviously you’re in a cozy cabin)! Depending on the climate you’re camping in, this may be the best option to avoid freezing in a tent. There is more to finding a decent cabin than just picking one though.

Some cabins will have full furnishings, great amenities, and possibly even food (not usual, but happens). Alternatively, some cabins will have a bed and maybe running water, not every cabin will be a luxurious getaway so check reviews in advance. 

Tent camping consists of setting up a tent that come in varying sizes, some you can squeeze one person in, while some fit up to 10 people that you can walk around in. The tent you pick will ultimately come down to budget and purpose.

There’s no need to spend thousands on a tent for just two people to sleep in at night. But a family outing will require a sizeable tent. Another important factor is the climate of where you’ll be camping. If the average temperature for that time of the year is 10F, a tent will only act as a windbreaker and you’ll still shiver at night. 

So while there are sleeping bags and other ways to stay warm in a tent, don’t put faith in it keeping you warm and only camp in a tent if you’re comfortable in the climate. 

RV Camping is the more costly option for camping, but way more comfortable. These are a great option for families who love to travel often. Also, one of the best parts of RV camping is that even in bad weather it’s easy to stay warm and cozy.

Glamping is the final option on our list and is a slightly more luxurious version of camping. There are a plenty of places that specialize in glamping, but you’ll have to check ahead to see if your intended destination has such accommodations. 

Camping Safety!

Camping is meant to be fun and relaxing, but you have to be responsible and safe! There’s nothing worse than a great camping trip being ruined by someone not paying attention or not properly preparing. 

A few safety tips to consider when planning your camping trip are:

  1. Weather
  2. Emergency Items
  3. Campfire safety
  4. Insect protection
  5. Allergies
  6. Skin protection
  7. Hydration
  8. Packing and storing food 
  9. Wildlife

Weather

One of the first things you should check before any camping trip is the weather! What you bring with you or if you even go at all, will all come down to how hot/cold and wet/dry it will be at the campsite. 

*Be sure to look for different camping checklists depending on the time of year or the biome you’ll be in.*

Emergency Camping Items

These are the things you bring with you incase of an emergency. This list doesn’t have to be extensive and will depend on what kind of camping you’ll be doing. 

If you’re camping in a tent out in the wilderness, you’ll need some form of emergency communication like a radio or satellite phone. Additionally, a small first-aid kit is a must for just about any camping trip. You might not always need it, but having a kit to stop even the smallest scratches from getting infected comes in handy. 

This is a nice list to look over for items you may need. 

marshmallow campfire

Campfire Safety

Not every camping trip needs a campfire, but who doesn’t love a crackling fire at night to roast a few marshmallows on?

Having a campfire is great, but it should be treated with respect and caution. Learn how to light and maintain a fire as well as contain it! At the end of the night, when everyone is going to sleep, properly extinguish the campfire to avoid any possible embers floating around and starting unwanted wildfires. 

Insect Protection

The outdoors is filled with many unpleasantries, the worst is mosquitos or any other bug that buzzes in my ear. There are also some health concerns depending on where you are in the world, but if you’re camping in most places in North America, simply bringing some insect repellent is all you need to keep those pesky critters at bay. 

Camping with Allergies

Camping with allergies will be incredibly annoying and ruin the fun! Obviously this safety precaution depends entirely on you and what allergies you have. If you aren’t aware, getting an allergy test is very simply and will let you know what medications you might need to keep you safe during your camping trip. 

For example, I have a horrible pollen allergy and carry some medication to stop my nose from running constantly when I’m out camping. 

Skin Protection

The sun brings so much life to our planet, but man does it burn (pun intended). I’ve had numerous hikes go south quick after underestimating how quick I can get a sunburn, even in cool weather. Even if you don’t feel it beating down, prolonged sun exposure will hurt and leave you with a sunburn given enough time. 

My two biggest recommendations are to wear sunscreen and cover as many open areas of skin with clothing! If you plan on camping during the summer, a nice boonie hat and some thin clothing will do just fine.

stay hydrated

Staying Hydrated

One of the highest priorities we had in the military was to constantly stay hydrated. You don’t drink when you’re thirsty, you drink consistently throughout the day depending on your activity level. If you’re feeling thirsty, then you’re already becoming dehydrated!

Make sure you bring at least 3-5 days of water as an emergency!

Check out these tips to help determine how hydrated you are!

Packing and Storing Food

It might not seem like a safety precaution, but it won’t be a very enjoyable trip if all of your food spoils or a racoon steals it! Properly storing your food for prolonged camping trips is just as important as staying hydrated.

So make sure you research the proper camping food storage for the kind of meals you plan to eat!

Wildlife

Another precaution that depends on where your camping is the kinds of wildlife you might come across. This requires some research on the local area and if there are any dangers to be concerned about.

I’ve been camping a ton in the U.S. and the most dangerous animal I’ve come across was a deer and seeing moose tracks. That being said, I’m still cautious everywhere I go and prepare ahead of time.

where to go camping

Picking A Camping Location

Where do you go camping?

The great outdoors is a big place full of great camping spots. However, for your first time I don’t recommend grabbing a tent and just going into the woods. The best place to start is a local campsite that may have some amenities. Jumping in head first where you try to take care of everything required for an independent camping trip can be very overwhelming and you’re likely to forget something. That’s why it’s best to make the first trip a relaxing one!

I recommend checking Hip Camp for campsites near you and pick one that suits your fancy and ask yourself the following questions. 

What time of the year am I camping? – Be aware of the climate and what to expect for the time of year you’ll be camping. This is part of the “weather awareness” and knowing the odds of rainfall, a freeze, a heatwave, etc. 

What are your camping goals? – Why are you going camping? Ask yourself what you want to gain from your trip and if it’s supposed to be a relaxing experience or do you want to have some adrenaline packed fun? This will determine what kind of activities should be adjacent to your campsite. 

What are the camping costs? – Some campsites (especially RV sites) have fees associated such as parking or other amenities. Check to make sure there aren’t any unexpected expenses. 

What is the campsite accessibility? – This is an important one if you’re traveling with family (specifically kids) or with someone who has a movement disability. There are plenty of campsites around the globe that are wheelchair friendly, so keep that in mind during your search!

Are the campgrounds pet friendly? – Not every campsite will allow pets. As nice as it is to have your pet with you, some people never clean up after their animals. Because of that, some places ban animals. So if you want to go camping with your fluffy friend, you’ll need to double check that they will be allowed at the campsite. 

essential camping gear

Essential Camping Gear for Beginners

There are some basic items you should bring on every camping trip. The rest of the items depend on the type of camping you’re doing and things you have planned to do once you get there. 

The list of items can be narrowed down to five categories:

  1. Food/Water
  2. Sleeping Gear
  3. Safety Equipment
  4. Hygiene 
  5. Extra/Comfort

Food/Water

This category is the first on the list for obvious reasons! Food and water are one of the most important concerns in almost any trip you’ll ever take. Make sure you have a meal plan for you and all other people depending on you for food, taking into account all the proper food storage techniques. 

On top of the food you should bring, make sure you have a list of all the cooking equipment you’ll need if you plan on making the meals at the campsite. You can cook whatever you want, but I love some nice slow cooking when I camp.

Sleeping Gear

You’ve been out hiking all day, you’re full from a great meal, and now it’s time to call it a night. Having a comfortable sleeping bag and pad is underestimated until you spend a night without one. So make sure you grab a pillow, a ground cloth, and all of the sleeping bag essentials to make your night time camping a comfy one. 

Safety Equipment

This goes back to all the safety items mentioned before! Ensure you have your first-aid kit, any medications, and every extra item to ensure your camping trip is safe. 

Hygiene

The smores were delicious and now you woke up with morning breath, YUCK! But that’s alright because you remembered to bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, and every other item you use on your morning routine. Note that these items include toilet paper and hand towels!

Extra/Comfort

These are the extras that make life a little easier. Consider some camping chairs, your cellphone, solar battery charger, etc. Basically anything that you can live without, but decide to bring since you have extra room in your camping bag. 

what to wear camping

What to Wear Camping

Eureka camping offers a great guide for preparing what to wear when you’re going camping, so definitely check that out!

It essentially boils down to dress for the weather you’ll be in and have clothing to wear for the day and something to wear to bed. Also, make sure to be fully dry when going to sleep, one of the reasons having a separate night time outfit is necessary. 

Pack multiple outfits and twice as many socks/underwear combos, you’ll thank me later. 

Hiking boots! You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet if you plan on exploring and hiking in the woods. Having reliable waterproof footwear are super important!

camping food

Meal Planning for Camping

We’ve gone over the importance of food and water during your camping trip a few times. So, I won’t be beating a dead horse going to in-depth here, but I will be providing some resources to help you prep some meals for camping!

Enjoy Your First Camping Trip!

Don’t worry or stress, everyone was a first time camper at some point! The whole point is to have an enjoyable experience for yourself and anyone else who tags along.

Follow along with the tips above and you’ll no longer be a camping beginner by the end of the trip. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please comment below!

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