You have made a great decision to go on an adventure and let the stars be your guide. But you have no clue on where to start or how to prepare yourself, this is where we come in with our handy tips for first-time campers.
Whether you are camping in a tent or using a campervan we are going to give you 7 tips to make your first camping experience go without a hitch. Even if you go camping in the beautiful Island of Sardinia or the harshness of the Australian outback, these tips will help any first-time camper find their feet and be ready to go.
1.Camping equipment – Full itinerary check
It is very important to check that everything is in working order before your trip away. Even if you are going for only one night, it is important to make sure you are prepared and ready for your night under the stars.
Check your new camping equipment
If you have bought a new tent, get it out in your garden and put it up. Make sure you have all of the pieces and that you know how to put up the tent and pack it away afterwards. This will save you a lot of headaches, especially in the time it takes you to get up and running when you are at your destination.
The same goes with your equipment, if you bought a flashlight, make sure you put batteries in it and it works as it is supposed to. You have a new all purpose knife? Make sure it is sharp enough to cut your food and to do work around the campfire.
Organize your things for travelling
It pays to be organized, put your most used equipment at the top of your bag or in easy to reach places. Use see through containers for both food and equipment so that you can identify things quickly and efficiently.
If something can go wrong, it certainly will. Bringing things like gaffer tape and plastic bags can be invaluable. Your tent was ripped? Patch it up to stop the rain coming in. Wanting to make your own canopy from the natural materials around you? Go ahead, but it will make it quicker, more secure and waterproof with a bit of ingenuity and some tape.
2. Size of tent and quality of the sleeping bag.
These are two of your main essentials for a camping trip, so you need to get them right. We suggest doubling up on your tent, so if you are one person, get a two person tent. If you are two people, then get a 4 person tent and so on. You want to be comfortable on your camping trip and there is nothing worse than being squashed into your fabric home.
The sleeping bag will keep you warm and cosy at night, so you need to treat it like your best friend. You also should treat yourself, especially if you are thinking of camping a few times a year. Buy a good quality sleeping bag, made from good quality materials that will both keep you warm and comfortable.
3. Food preparation
A cooler bag is your faithful servant, invest well and your food and drink will be kept fresh and cool for a long period of time. For longer trips you can also freeze some foods like chicken which will thaw out slowly over time in your cooler bag. The same sort of freezing can be done for drinks to keep them cooler for longer.
Also, just a mention to take plenty of water with you on your trip, you always want to keep hydrated when you are out camping.
Uncooked and cooked food.
It is very important to take a variety of foods with you. You won’t always be able to cook your food (or have the energy to cook) so it is imperative that you take some canned/packaged foods that can stay fresh, but can be eaten quickly and easily. Also things like fruits and nuts can be good to keep on you in order to keep your energy levels up and keep hunger away.
Of course, also take things like rice, couscous and meats that you can cook over a fire or stove in the evenings. Make sure you get at least one good cooked meal inside you to keep you raring to go for the adventures of the next day.
Take a gas stove.
It is all well and good to make your own fire from sticks and pretend you are in the wild west. But sometimes reality bites and you just want to rustle up some food asap. Take a small gas stove with you, you will thank us later. Even just for making a nice cup of tea or coffee, you will benefit from the ease of making things hot quicker.
Store food in sealed containers
Invest in durable sealed containers to keep your food in. When you explore away from camp or are sleeping at night, there are a whole host of animals that want to get their hands on your scrumptious food. So make sure they can’t get it, everything needs to be sealed and strong enough that it keeps the smell inside and that an animal can’t rip it open.
4. Pack the essential camping equipment.
We are going to take it for granted that you are going to take a tent, sleeping bag and some food, these are obvious and if you are forgetting these things, then you might want to reconsider going camping at all. Below are some of the other things you have to take, if these are the only things you take, you can get along and survive any camping trip.
Make sure you have everything you need to make a fire and to cook your food. As mentioned previously get a gas stove, just in case you have no energy to make a fire or incase your fire doesn’t light.
Take matches or a lighter to make sure that making a natural fire will be quick and easy. By all means rub some sticks together if that makes you feel accomplished, but you are not in a survival film, so can have the luxury of fire at the click of your fingers or the strike of a match.
You will also need a source of light for the evenings, so get yourself a lamp and a flashlight at least, so you can make your way around camp at night.
Get yourself an all purpose knife that can whittle a stick and prepare your food. You can take other knives for different jobs, but having a one-for-all knife is more convenient and will come in handy. You may also want to take a small axe depending on the sort of camping you want to do, it can come in handy for cutting wood for your fire for instance.
It might sound stupid, but the sounds of wildlife at night can be deafening or at least quite annoying. So take some ear plugs just incase, so you can get some beauty sleep before the next days adventure. Having a good night’s sleep will let you enjoy your camping trip that whole much more.
First Aid Kit.
This one is quite obvious, but a lot of people forget to take a first aid kit, as it is somewhat an afterthought. But you must take one, even the slightest graze or cut can be problematic when you are away from your home comforts. Even if something happens to you that is a bit more serious, you need to have your first aid kit to control and minimise the damage before you can get help.
Packet of tissues
Now we say a packet and not a role, because a role of tissue usually gets squashed or damaged. A packet is more durable and if the tissues are in a plastic covering it protects them from the elements a lot more. Tissues can be used for many things, but the most obvious is cleaning yourself after going to the toilet.
Look, just because you are going camping it doesn’t mean you have to completely rough it. Especially if you are spending a few days camping in the same spot, it can be nice to have an array of solar lights to put into the ground, or some cushions and throws when sitting around the campfire. Even some bunting or a flag can add a great touch to your home away from home.
Obviously, if you want to travel light and are moving around alot, then this might not be practical, but if you are hiring a campervan, then these things can be easily stowed away and brought out when needed.
Sometimes thinking ahead and using your brain a bit can save you time and precious inventory space. Here, we will give you a few ways of thinking a bit outside of the box (or tent) to put you one step ahead of your camping buddies.
An important aspect of camping in a lot of cases is to travel light, so anything you can do to save space is very much welcome. Things like putting some clothes inside the bag that holds your sleeping bag and using that as a pillow, will mean you don’t need to bring a pillow. Rolling your clothes up instead of folding them will also mean you can pack more things into your bag.
Anything you can use for more than one purpose is welcome when you are tight for space and want to travel light, so look at your equipment and see if another piece of equipment can do the same job with a bit of ingenuity.
Don’t pitch your campervan or tent under a tree.
It sounds and may look like a good idea at the time, but it can be more hassle than it is worth. Sap can drip down from the tree and onto your campervan or tent, making cleaning and packing up your tent at the end of the trip a nightmare. Also birds and other tree dwelling animals might like to use your campervan for aiming practice when relieving themselves.
Check out the trees around you and assess if they are good for camping near, over time you will get a good eye for what trees you can and can’t pitch your campervan or tent near to. Some people don’t use tents and prefer to use a hammock and cover, so they have to be under a tree, so they learn to live with the downfalls.
All in all, just take a look at your surroundings and do some sort of risk assessment, what the trees look like, if you are close to a river, any animals in the vicinity of your camp etc taking 20 minutes just to survey an area to find the right spot can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
7. Take care of your environment
Now this one is very important. It is important for you the next time you want to camp, for others that would like to camp in that location and most importantly for the flora and fauna in your camping area. Make sure you clean up after yourselves and don’t leave anything behind.
Discard rubbish in the appropriate places.
Any packaging you have make sure you have trash bags to put everything into and then dispose of that trash in a designated area. Any small piece of packaging or tin can be deadly to animals and also looks horrible for other people visiting that area.
Do not use chemicals in the local waters
You will need to clean yourself, but do not use shampoos or soaps in any rivers or streams (or any body of water) as these can obviously be harmful to any animals that live inside the water. Take a bowl or bucket to a place on land and clean yourself appropriately. Also nobody cares too much how you smell when camping, so you can get away with cleaning yourself with only water for a few days.
Maintain and dispose of fires appropriately.
By all means make yourself a fire (double check if you are allowed to where you are camping). But do so with minimum harm to the environment around you. Don’t go hacking into trees that have been there for hundreds of years, use broken branches and other pieces of wood.
When you have finished, make sure your fire has been put out properly and that you do not leave a scar on the landscape
So there you have it, enjoy your camping experience and keep in mind our tips for first-time campers and you won’t go far wrong.