A camping trip involves a fair bit of roughing it out in the wild; you cook out in the open, you sleep in a tent, you hang food on branches out of the reach of inquisitive critters, you stave off bugs and mosquitoes, and you do all this with good cheer. That’s the beauty of camping. But camping need not be an unpleasant experience. You can experience time away from the creature comforts of civilization without any undue discomfort. In fact, camping is fun only when basic comforts are not compromised.
Here are things to keep in mind so that your camping trips with friends and family are a fun and rewarding experience.
Choose the right camping site
Do you wish to camp in a campground where there will likely be other campers or do you wish to pitch your tent in a part of a national park, where it’s just you and your companions? If you’re going camping with kids, then maybe camping in a campground is be a better idea. It gives kids a chance to make friends and also explore the surroundings in a safer manner. You may be enthused about trekking miles to set up camp away from civilization, but your children may not take to the idea too warmly. Running water, electricity, and toilets, along with proximity to towns and hiking trails, make camping grounds a good choice for newbie campers.
Plan on what to eat
If you’re planning to camp in the wild, you need to give serious thought to what you’ll be eating and the things that you’ll be snacking on. If the camping involves hiking to the destination, then it’s advisable to carry calorie-dense food that does not weigh much or take up too much space. Cheese, energy bars, roasted groundnuts, and chickpeas make for nutritious and filling snacks. For food, you need to consider the cooking options available. Easy-to-cook meals that include eggs, rice, leafy vegetables, and bacon can provide you with tasty lunch and dinner options. These are easily cooked on a skillet. Give some thought to portion sizes so that you carry approximately the amount that you will need.
Carry all the stuff you’ll need
Prepare a checklist of items that you simply cannot leave home without. These include sleeping bags, the tent, a pocket knife, water bottles, water purifying tablets, swimming gear, spare clothing as per the weather, insect repellants, first-aid box, sunscreen, oral care products that you use, toilet paper, cooking tools and equipment, plates, flashlights with extra batteries, and trash bags. Segregate stuff according to desired use and frequency of use. Toiletries can be one small bag, food items will make up for another bag, and clothes will be another. Segregating stuff enables easy retrieval. And it’s not just about all the elementary stuff. You also need to bring stuff that will help you relax, such as a camping cot, a camping chair, or a hammock, optionally including an underquilt for extra comfort.
Book your spot on the campsite
Camping is a very popular activity, and campsites in state and national parks receive requests for reservations up to a year in advance. If your heart is set on camping at a particular site, check its rules regarding reservations. You can make reservations telephonically and online. Of course, you can simply arrive at the campsite and book space for yourself. Find out if the site you plan to visit accepts visitors as they arrive, with no prior booking required.
Things to do
There may be many wonderful things to do in and around the campsite, but you’re limited by your own interests, ability, and time. If you can’t swim, then that’s one activity off the list and you don’t have to bother about packing swimming gear. But if you love to fish, and the opportunity exists around the campground, then you want to ensure that you’ve packed bite and tackle. The hiking trails in the area may be of varying difficulties. Look up information online and also ask around at the destination. Horse riding, cycling, and kayaking are some of the other activities that you may be able to enjoy. Plan on the things you wish to enjoy with your fellow campers.
Don’t get wet
Sure, you’ll get wet when you go swimming or when you choose to enjoy a rain shower. But as a rule, getting wet can be a real spirit dampener when you’re out trekking. Not just you, even your gear might get wet. Plan against such an eventuality. Check weather forecasts for the area you wish to camp in. If it’s the time of the year when rain is expected then wear waterproof shoes, pack rain jackets, use a waterproof tent with its seams sealed nicely. Carry tarpaulin to place over the tent for added protection. Sleep away from the tent walls to prevent getting wet from any water that may seep in. Wherever possible, pitch your tent such that it is shielded from the wind and rain by a rocky outcrop, a cluster of trees, a slope, etc.
Handing responsibilities to members of the camping party will help save time and make the camping experience an inclusive one for all involved. One person can be in charge of selecting the right site for setting up the tent, another can be in charge of the cooking, and someone can take it on himself to buy tickets for activities that you wish to enjoy. Usually, people have an aptitude for one thing or the other, and responsibilities can be given based on this knowledge. If there are kids in the group, ensure that they too have some responsibilities to fulfill. This could include gathering twigs and brush for lighting a fire to lending a helping hand in whatever the work that’s being done.
Whether you plan on camping in an RV or in a tent, the basic idea behind planning is to ensure that your comfort and enjoyment do not get compromised because you forgot to bring something, like a pump for inflating pillows. Camping is a learning experience for first timers, and the mistakes in planning made once don’t have to be repeated. Use this guide to plan for a pleasant camping trip, even if you’re going camping for the first time.