Although some people prefer the bland anonymity of a hotel room, countless more love the outdoors and simplicity of camping. Whether heading down to a favorite campground near the lake or hiking into the backcountry to get away from civilization, camping is a popular pastime. There are ways, however, to make that next camping trip more fun and efficient whether a novice or a seasoned camper. Here are our top camping tips when it comes to planning and preparing for your camping trip:
Plan and Prepare – The first key camping tip is to plan and prepare. Plan ahead where the camping event will take place, right down to the very campground. The first step is to select where to camp. So many diverse geographic locations exist, everything from the seashore to the mountains to the forest and more. Few spots on earth are without at least basic camping facilities.
In today’s cyber society, it is very simple to go online and research campgrounds and campsites in any area. Using a search engine like Google or Dogpile can track down camping possibilities with little effort. Travel organizations like AAA also offer camping guides and most bookstores will offer a variety of books including the popular Woodall’s North American Camp Ground Directory.
Once the destination and campground have been determined, it is wise to make reservations. Once done, it is time to begin packing and planning.
Shelter – Camping means many different things to different people. For some, camping may be traveling with a large and luxurious recreational home but others are content to camp in a cozy tent. Most RV campers will already be packed and prepared but tent campers may have less storage space which makes pre-planning all the more important. Tents today range from lightweight A-frame tents to dome tents and roomy family tents that may offer multiple rooms in many price ranges.
Sleep Tight! – To furnish that home away from home, campers need to consider bedding. Sleeping bags and bedrolls come in all ranges from very comfortable to extremely Spartan. Each camper needs to make an individual choice what works best and what will feel right. Air mattresses are another option as are cots. Much depends on whether getting to the campsite involves a vehicle, which allows more items to be brought along, or if the camper intends to hike into a remote area, carrying all the necessities along. Serious campers and those who plan to camp in what may be extreme temperatures may want to invest in a “mummy bag”, a new style sleeping bag that delivers more warmth and comfort even to temperatures that fall to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Park your Keister, Meister! – For those who like more of the amenities of home, some lightweight chairs are another option but many prefer sitting around the campfire on a natural rock or log.
The Meal Plan – Calculate how many days to spend camping. Consider foodstuffs for the duration, especially if planning camping in a remote region far away from the nearest store. Planning meals ahead of time allows campers to plan exactly what to pack. After planning every meal, select the cookware needed as well as the means used to cook it. Some campers enjoy cooking over a traditional open fire but others like the ease of a good camp stove.
Most campers can get by with minimal cookware, a good heavy cast iron skilled and stockpot but many may want a few extras like a good camp coffee pot or popcorn popper. Depending on what will be prepared, some campers may opt for extras like a ready built camp oven. Containers to hold fresh, clean water are a necessity in the backcountry but may not be needed in a standard campground facility.
Many delicious dehydrated and prepared foods that won’t need refrigeration are available but some folks may wish to hunt or fish for their own fresh meat. If so, a cooler of some sort is necessary. Cooler choices can range from the light Styrofoam to heavy-duty plastic models and even propane cooled styles. The more rustic camper may plan to depend on the cool water of a mountain stream for keeping things cool. Although some savvy campers may be able to live off the land, a good rule of thumb is to never eat anything unless it can be positively identified as edible. Avoid wild mushrooms and other plants to prevent poisoning.
Gotta Go, Gotta Go! – Another basic need is toileting. Many campgrounds will provide facilities that include both restrooms and showers. Other basic sites may lack such amenities and backcountry campers will either bring their own or use nature. Portable lightweight toilets with a bag for waste are inexpensive and chemical type portable toilets are also available. Hardcore campers may prefer to use human’s oldest facilities and to use a running waterway for cleansing. Temporary showers that use rainwater are another option.
Packing – Camping luggage or sturdy backpacks are another necessity, the style and weight depending on the type of camping trip.
What to Wear – Clothing is another area where planning is necessary. Plan for the least amount of garments necessary and pack light. A good pair of sturdy hiking boots or shoes is a must, especially for those heading deep into the woodlands or deep into the hinterlands. A broad brimmed hat to block out sunrays is another essential.
Keep the Pests Away! – Since ticks have become an issue almost everywhere and can be carriers of several serious diseases including Lyme disease, it is very important to use a quality insect repellent to guard against ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects. DEET is a vital ingredient in any insect repellent and provides the best possible protection against insect pests. Campers should also watch for poison ivy and other plants that may cause a rash.
First Aid Kit – A good first aid kit is another must for campers and if trekking into snake country, a snakebite kit is another essential item. So is the ability to identify venomous snakes. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, water moccasins, and coral snakes are all native to various parts of North America. Snakebites can range from fatal to causing serious health issues. The best treatment for snakebite is prevention so campers should learn to watch where they step and how to be cautious in areas prone to snake populations.
Planning, preparation, and prevention are key to an enjoyable, safe camping trip!