Last updated 12 July 2020
Knowing what to bring camping is a question that most first-time campers will ask. It’s a really important question to ask too. Failure to give this adequate thought could mean the difference between having a great first time camping experience and a bad one.
If you talk to anyone who won’t ever camp again, it’s usually because their first camping trip was a bad one. The good thing is that it’s always possible to improve your camping planning.
Each time we go, and we’ve been going for a very long time, we find new ways to do things easier or better.
Here’s some of our camping tips for first-time campers.
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Be clear about the type of camping you like
Camping is not a word that should be used in a generic sense, but it often is. there’s camping in the woods and camping at the beach. There’s basic camping, keeping things nice and simple and then there’s the luxury camping at the other end of the scale now known as glamping.
There’s camping out of your car, camping with dedicated equipment and you can even go camping even though you are driving around in an RV.
Before you can even start to plan, know what you like anad dislike. Know what your family likes too. Heading off for a weekend of beach camping when people in your group hate sand is not going to fare well.
The type of vehicle you have will also determine where you can camp, how far you can go and what equipment you will need.
Buy the right equipment
With the above issue of what type of camping you like being settled, buying the gear you need is the next important step. If you are a back to basics kind of person, then this will be a relatively easy step. The less you take of course, the easier it is to travel.
Make sure whatever you buy that they are fit for purpose. Make sure if you are buying a tent that it is big enough to fit all of your travelling party in (and with some room to spare). Being cooped up in a small tent, especially if the weather is poor, is a recipe for disaster.
We always upsize. If we ever hire RVs, we will usually hire a four or six berth rig for the two of us. If we camp, we have a family size tent.
Test new equipment before leaving home
There’s no point getting out to some remote spot only to find the lantern doesn’t work, you’ve bought the wrong size tent and the gas stove doesn’t work. Test everything before you leave home.
Test existing equipment before leaving home
The same goes for the gear you already have. Batteries go flat, kids grow and equipment can deteriorate. Check you have working gas cylinders, check the kids still fit in the sleeping bag and make sure the portable toilet is still working. To be sure check everything!
Plan where you are going to go and for how long
This will help inform you as to what type of equipment you will need, how much provisioning you need to do, and how long it will take to get there.
A tip for first time campers is to not venture too far from home for the first trip. If you have forgotten something important, or something bad happens, at least you will be reasonably close by.
Use a checklist
There are plenty of camping checklists around or you can create your own. Whichever way you do it, make sure you have one. It will save so much angst and frustration in the long run.
Allow plenty of time to get to your destination
The best way to start off your camping trip is to get there without having encountered any problems, without stress and without having to rush. Making sure you allow yourself plenty of time to drive to your camping spot is very important
Get to your camp in the daylight
Similarly, it is so much easier, and I would say essential for first time campers, to arrive at the campground in the daylight. ARriving at night, even for experienced campers really isn’t that much fun. I particularly hate setting up a tent in the dark and I hate rushing to do it.
It also allows you to see who else is camped there, have a chat to the campgrond owners and make sure you are camping in the best spot available to you.
Plan your food
Even if you’re not gourmet foodie campers like we are, everyone needs to eat. Part of your checklist will be your food, but make sure you give this some serious consideration. that way, you’ll ensure you have all the food you need, and know what you are planning on cooking and eating. If you want to, and depending on the equipment you have with you, pre-prepare meals at home.
Learn the rules of the campground
If possible while you are still at home, check out the rules for the campground you are heading to in advance. Many good campgrounds these days have websites.
If not, be sure to familiarise yourself with the rules once you arrive to ensure that you are complying with them and not causing any other campers a headache.
Take the right clothes
Know your seasons and dress appropriately. If you are planning on hiking or doing other activities, be sure to have all the right clothing for this too. Always take warm clothes and something for rainy days, even in summer. You just never know when the weather might take a turn for the worse.
Check the weather forecasts in advance
Know when yoyu are planning on camping and what the weather forecasters are planning for our time away. It always helps to be more prepared. Don’t camp if the weather is going to be particularly unusual or nasty and always obey the warnings issued by approved weather people.
Know whether you can build a fire
Don’t be that person who lights up a fire in an areas where they are not allowed. Always do your research on the area before you camp there. This will also make sure you have a backup plan for dinner when your meal you were planning on having a fire for can’t be cooked!
Take a first aid kit
This is a rule for any camper but especially necessary for first-time campers. Always make sure you have access to water as well. Know whether you will be in an area with cell coverage also.
You might also like to read these camping articles
If you are a firrst time RV driver, you should also read this article on the top rookie mistakes made by RV drivers.
If you need a portable camping toilet, you should also check out all of our portable toilet reviews.
About the Author
Carrie has loved camping and being outdoors since she was a small child. After travelling extensively throughout the world, Carrie and her husband Chad really found their love of exploring by RV. Even though this is their preferred mode of travel these days, you can still find them in a tent too. Wherever they are, you can be sure they are also enjoying good food and wine.