What You Need to Know to Make Your First Camping Trip Epic
Any journey begins with the first step. So you’ve decided to give camping a try. You’re channeling your inner Survivorman; it’s time to disconnect from the hustle of life and get back to nature. So now what?
Every experienced camper has been exactly where you are. Figuring out what to do next, where to start, where to go, what do I bring. And every experienced camper has their horror story that goes along with their first trip. Mine is no different. Our first family camping trip was with our boy scout pack. We forgot to pack lanterns, we didn’t know how to put up our tent, and we misjudged how cold the spring night could actually be once you go to bed; We survived!
Let’s be real, you can’t be ready for every mishap or oops that could happen in camp. Even a boy scout learns to improvise. (I should know, I have a Life Scout) Being as prepared as possible will make sure that you have a great, relaxing, unwinding time.
So where do we start? GEAR! You can’t get back to nature without the correct equipment. And as easy as it is to pack too many things, it’s just as easy to not pack enough…..Refer to my first camping trip. The best advice I was ever given is “Don’t over think it” You’re not moving into the woods, you’re just going for a few days. Do we really need the kitchen sink? Let’s take a look at the basics.
Where do we sleep?
Start with your sleeping arrangements. If you’re just dipping the toes in, many state parks have a first-time campers program. All the gear comes from REI and Coleman and the rangers are there to help ya set up and answer any questions; they even give you an emergency number if you have problems after hours. Check with your local state park for more information.
If you’re ready to jump in, it’s time to buy a tent. As with any investment do your research. Ask the questions, how many people, how many seasons, easy to put together. Go to REI or Cabelas and talk with a specialist. This is an investment that should last many seasons. The last thing you want is to spring a leak during a rainstorm.
You’re going to need something to sleep on while you are in your tent. A sleeping mat, blow-up air mattress or a cot are all great options. Keep in mind that a blow-up air mattress will need either a foot pump or an electric pump.
A good sleeping bag will ensure that you have a great night. A mummy bag for cold weather or a square bag for summer. Depending on the weather will determine how warm you will want it to be. The lower the degree bag for the colder weather.
Lighting a campsite is a must!
Let’s recap…..Tent-check, sleeping arrangement-check. One last must have for camping is a lantern. We learned the hard way, on our first camping trip, that we can’t see in the dark. Trying to change your clothes in a dark tent will dismay even the most experienced of campers. A battery-powered lantern will be your biggest asset. A headlamp is a great alternative to a lantern. Lightweight and easy to pack they’re a must have especially if you have to make a trip to the bathhouse in the middle of the night.
Let’s Talk Food
A great place to find camping recipes is on Pinterest. There are literally thousands of ideas, everything from water bottle eggs to dutch oven feasts. Start with a camp stove. It’s easy, convenient and you are able to control the temperature. And let’s face it, someone’s feelings will be hurt if momma doesn’t get her coffee.
Coolers are your outdoor refrigerator. Don’t skimp on your cooler. There’s nothing worse than having your food spoil or food poisoning if your food is not kept properly. One thing that I’ve learned over the years is not to forget your dollar store. All your salt and pepper and paper plates, the knick-knacks of the camp kitchen can be found at the Dollar Tree!
Don’t let the camping gear overwhelm you. Most of the things you’ll bring are common sense items. Don’t over think it. Next time we’ll go into gear deeper.The most important thing is to have fun and to get unplugged. Sitting around the campfire cooking s’more and telling ghost stories are the memories that will be told about for years. Relax and enjoy the serenity and the quiet that only Mother Nature can provide.
For the more experienced campers, what are your must-have for camping? ……
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