Do you love the feeling of sleeping under the stars? Are you attracted to adventurous hikes and swims? Do natural sights bring you inner peace? Whether you’re nine or twenty-nine years old, camping is always an incredibly exciting activity and an excellent choice for a vacation but it's not always a comfortable one.
Rest assured, for you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort for an adventure in the great outdoors anymore. With these 13 essential tips, you’ll learn how to become a smart, well-prepared camper and make the most out of your camping experience.
1- Plan Ahead
This may seem redundant, but thorough planning can make or break your camping trip. Planning ahead means that you’re prepared to roll with whatever comes along. There are a lot of logistics to consider when preparing for a camping adventure, for starters, it is a must to check the weather forecast religiously beforehand to make sure you pack all the essential supplies.
Getting to the campground and finding out that you forgot something is a major buzz killer. Stay organized and make sure nothing is left behind by keeping a camping checklist. Check off each item on the list while packing; update and revise it as needed.
Always plan to pack a little more than you need. Whether it’s clothes, food, or water; it’s always best to have too much than too little. Having a backup of supplies is not only a lifesaver in case of emergencies or unexpected occurrences, but it’s also a great plus if you spontaneously decide to extend your camping trip.
2- Prepare for the Weather
Checking the weather forecast beforehand and properly preparing accordingly can’t be emphasized enough. If strong winds are expected, consider camping in a sheltered area. If you know it’s going to rain, make sure that your gear -from your tent to your clothes- is waterproof. If a heatwave is predicted, do you really need that heavy jacket? Pay attention to those forecasts and choose the most appropriate time to venture on your trip.
3- Choose your Campsite Wisely
After choosing the most convenient time for your trip, comes picking the right campsite. If you’re not an experienced camper, don’t travel far for your camping trip. Any number of unanticipated things could happen to make you want to go home early. Be a smart camper and choose a location close to home for your first few trips.
Beware of dead or dying trees, they can fall at any time and ruin a perfect camping trip. Fallen limbs and debris around the site can be a good warning sign so keep an eye out for them. Look for campsites with some tree coverage, this can provide shade from the scorching sun and offer shelter in case of light rain.
Be sure to always arrive during daylight to survey the landscape and efficiently set up your site.
4- Find the Right Tent
Your tent is your home and shelter for the duration of your camping trip, it’s where you’ll lay your head each night and where you’ll retreat during bad weather. Ensuring that your tent delivers a comfortable experience requires several considerations.
There are various types of tents and each has its own specialty; some are pretty basic while others come with various advanced accessories, some are perfect for summer while others are ideal for winter, some can fit only two people, while others can fit an entire family.
Choose a tent size that fits your needs and don’t use more footprint than you need. Large tents typically require more effort and time to put up and take down so be careful not to go overboard.Always check the ground around which you will be popping your tent up on for loose stones and sharp objects. You wouldn’t want a rock pressing into your back while trying to sleep, would you?
Make sure you know how to set up and take down your tent before you head out. Don’t forget to bring extra tent pegs and a rubber mallet to effectively secure your tent in place.
5- Select the Appropriate Tools and Supplies
In addition to the extra pegs, always carry a rope and an electric torch or a headlamp with you. You won’t necessarily always use them, but they’re incredibly useful items that are good to have by your side.
A camper's best friend is their multi-tool. Packing a small compact multi-tool is highly recommended by camping enthusiasts at Cozy Stream who understand the importance of having it at hand. It’s amazing what one little tool can accomplish if dressed with the right essential functions. From the usual knife, pliers, screwdrivers, and bottle opener to a sharp awl and a pair of scissors, choosing the right tool can help you do anything, from fixing little tweaks to saving the day.
Other essential tools and supplies include:
A durable cast iron for cooking
Fire-resistant gloves or oven mitts to move pots and pans around the campfire
Consider investing in a portable compact stove, look for something that gives you control over the flame and heat as well as the flexibility to use a variety of cooking pots
A poker to prod the open fire
A water cooler to keep your beverages and water cold, it can also help store and preserve your food
A fishing rod if you’re camping near a waterbody that allows for fishing
Eating utensils and plates
Reusable water bottles and cups
Portable chargers if you’re bringing along any electronic devices
Portable water filter
Toilet paper, obviously!
6- Bring a Comfortable Sleeping Bag
A good-quality sleeping bag can mean the difference between an enjoyable camping experience or a great disaster. There are many sleeping bags out there, compare a few chosen ones together and pick the one that best meets your needs. It also pays to pack an extra blanket.
If your sleeping bag is wearing down and you’re not willing to invest in a new one, consider bringing a comforter to use as extra padding beneath the sleeping bag. This will give you a good night’s sleep and make you feel much more refreshed in the morning.
7- Consider Compact Furniture
Having compact light furniture that packs efficiently is a great decision. There’s a surprisingly large amount of different furniture items that can easily be inflated and don’t take up too much space. From air mattresses to table sets, all options exist.
If you can fit it, bring along a compact picnic table and a couple of folding chairs. You can find many camping-friendly table sets nowadays. A suitable table set can make eating and hanging out much more comfortable.
8- Plan your Meals
Besides sleeping under the open sky, the highlight of camping is enjoying a great meal in a natural setting. Cooking on an open flame gives meals a rustic touch and a more immersive camping experience. To make things easier for yourself, prepare your meals ahead of time and consider preparing your meals at home beforehand.
Figure out how many meals you'll be making and for how many people, then put together some meal ideas and do your grocery shopping and packing accordingly. Camping food can be bland sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be. To ensure that your food tastes every bit as good as the meals you enjoy at home, make sure you bring a few essential spices starting with salt and pepper.
In addition to the cooked meals, consider bringing a few easily-packed snacks such as toast, cheese, peanut butter, chips, and nuts. Make sure your food is properly bagged so you don’t attract insects. It’s also advisable to try to stay away from overly salty or sugary food to avoid dehydration.
Even though we just advised you not to eat too much sugar, but no camping trip is complete without s’mores, right? Don’t forget to bring your marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers and treat yourself just this once!
It goes without saying that you should always make sure you have sufficient drinking water and maybe a few of your favorite beverages.
9- Pack the Right Clothes
Although you have to prepare for unplanned situations when packing, try to limit yourself to packing only those articles of clothing that you’re certain you’ll wear then add a couple of extra layers in case you need them.
If you are planning on camping during warm weather, take mostly light clothes with you, and just a few warmer pieces in case it gets cold. On the other hand, if you’re going camping in the winter, you certainly won’t be walking around in shorts and tank tops, so make sure to always pack efficiently and appropriately.
You probably won’t have laundry facilities at the campground unless you’re planning to DIY wash your clothes, so be smart about the kind and quantity of clothing you pack.
The kind of footwear you bring is also important. Flip flops or waterproof sandals are great for visits to the lakes or beaches while good sturdy boots or sneakers are essential if you plan on going on a hike. An extra pair of warm socks is always a good idea in case it gets cold at night.
10- Arm Yourself with Insect Repellant
Not having insects buzzing around you is a huge relief. You’ll probably be spending most of your day outdoors when you go camping, so be sure to pack bug spray to defend yourself against the attacks of those insufferable insects and keep your tent closed at all times to prevent them from entering.
11- Pack a First Aid Kit
The smallest of injuries can turn into a big problem and cause you great discomfort when you’re out camping. From blistering burns to infected cuts, these common injuries are typically very easy to treat if you’re well-prepared. Make sure you pack a first aid kit that contains any medication you require as well as painkillers and anti-inflammatory pills, bandaids, antiseptic cream, gauze, eye drops, and hand sanitizer.
12- Stay Entertained
In addition to outdoor activities like fishing, swimming, and hiking, there are several other things that you can do to ensure that your trip is anything but dull.
Camping is probably the best time to play games because there aren't as many digital distractions out there. Games are not only entertaining, but they also promote cooperation and bonding.
Card games and board games are perfect for camping, they’re easy to pack and can be slipped into backpacks for easy access. Bring a deck of cards and your favorite board games and get ready to have some fun. Keep in mind that board game pieces can easily be lost in the outdoors though.
If you’re camping solo or prefer to have some alone time, you can try birdwatching or stargazing. Both are ideal ways to keep in touch with nature, relieve stress, and provide peace and serenity. All you need is a camp chair and the desire to gaze at the sky.
You can purchase a book that will help you identify birds or download one of the many augmented reality apps on your phone to help you track the different stars and planets up there.
Camping provides a great opportunity to catch up on some reading so be sure to bring that book you’ve been meaning to read since forever or some other light reading materials such as magazines and comics.
13- Set the Right Mood
Ambiance is key for a relaxing camping trip, and what adds ambiance to a setting better than music? There are hundreds of portable wireless speakers out there, some are even solar powered. Invest in a good portable Bluetooth speaker, download your favorite playlists to your phone and you’ll be good to go.
It's not hard to be a happy camper. Now that you know how to make your camping experience even more comfortable, you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing yet exhilarating camping adventure so what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some vitamin D and get ready to fall in love with the great outdoors!