So you’ve decided to go camping. Congratulations! You’re in for a really fun summer and a whole bunch of new experiences. Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned veteran, there is always the chance that we may forget a thing or two and could have prepared better before heading out to camp. Here’s a roundup of tips and tricks for campers of any level before they hit the trails and pitch their tents.
Get to know your gear ahead of time.
Set up your tent in your home or in a park or a backyard before you set it up at your campsite. If you are buying a tent for the first time, try to do a demo in the store before you purchase the tent. This may help you consider factors like how big the tent it is, how much stuff you can fit inside while you’re sleeping, how big your sleeping partner is, and if the tent will accommodate both of you. You’ll also have a much easier time setting up the tent in the case that you arrive to your site at night and have only lanterns and headlamps to help light your way.
Make a checklist of everything that you will need.
Don’t be that person that smacks their palm to their foreheads upon realizing they forgot the bug spray or has to break the news about a dinner of cold beans because they forgot the propane for the cooking stove. Before you pack anything away, make a checklist of all of the items you think you will need. Lay out your items so you can visualize everything that you’re packing and see what other items may be useful to bring.
Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen!
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use sunscreen every day that has an SPF 30 or higher, is water resistant and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Summertime is about being in the sun but it’s also important to make sure that you protect your skin and remind yourself and your loved ones to re-apply, especially after being in the water.
Don’t forget bug spray.
With the heat and moisture in the air, mosquitos are out and about in most places that offer tent camping. Stock up on DEET, the most heavy-duty bug spray you can buy and according to Popular Science magazine, “the best repellent that man has ever invented.”
For the more natural version, you can make your own repellent with a combination of tea tree oil, water, and a bit of witch hazel in a spray bottle.
Practice driving your rig.
Arriving by RV? Practice backing in your RV into narrow spots before arriving at the campground. You will feel way more at ease if you know how to safely handle your rig before you arrive at a campground. For seasoned RV drivers, it’s hard to know exactly how things will be set up when you arrive at the campground, so a little practice could go a long way… just in case.
Light the way and stay dry.
Most campers have flashlights on their lists of things to bring and it is definitely a must-have when you’re camping without electricity. New campers should also consider purchasing a headlamp for a convenient, hands-free way to see in the dark. You may also want to try a small lantern that can be affixed to a backpack or hung with string around a tree to light up your evening without the need for a traditional flashlight. And for all of those extra battery sets, bring a dry bag. Dry bags are very helpful especially in areas with unpredictable weather. Things to consider keeping in your dry bag: matches, extra batteries, cell phone and charger, and an extra set of clothes. You never know when a storm may hit or a beer may spill and you will want your valuables to stay safe.
What are your top tips for first-time campers? Tells us what you’ve learned in the comments!