If you are going camping for the first time, you will want to avoid some common mistakes. Camping can be great fun, or you can be left soaking out in the rain if you don’t plan accordingly. To make sure your first camping trip is a success, make sure you avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Not learning how to set your tent up beforehand- That is, if you plan on using a tent. If you are, make sure you know how to set it up, especially if you just bought it especially for your first camping trip. Do a trial run in your living room, or backyard. Make sure you know how to put it together, and take it apart.
2. Arriving at your campsite too late- Many campsites have a specified time that you can’t check in before. So usually arriving early in the morning isn’t an option. However, make sure that you arrive early enough that you have enough sunlight to set up camp. This makes everything a lot easier.
3. Not planning for the weather- The first time I went camping, I only booked the campsite a couple days ahead of time. This way, I knew that the chances for fair weather were pretty good, and were probably not going to change too drastically. I would suggest if it’s your first time, try to plan on going during mild weather. Camping in the dead of winter, or in a torrential downpour requires specific equipment, and you need to make sure you have that (think heavy duty sleeping bags, a tent that won’t leak, etc.).
4. Biting off more than you can chew- Different campsites offer different amenities. Will there be running water, toilet, showers that you will be able to visit? Or will you be completely roughing it? Some campsites even offer cabins, with water, toilets, and showers. Although, I would hardly call that camping. If it’s your first time, I would suggest just going to a campsite where there will be showers, toilets, and running water right down the path from your campsite. You will have plenty to keep you busy for your first time camping. I would also choose a site that you can drive right up to for your first time.
5. Not bringing the right supplies- Your tent probably came with stakes, although they are probably fairly cheap and will bend/break easily. It’s a good idea to buy some better, heavier duty ones. Also, bring a hammer for the stakes. Do you have a tarp to put under the tent? What about bug spray? A way to light a fire? A first-aid kit? A way to carry water? Check one of the many lists online for suggesting camping tools. If you are in doubt of what to bring off the list, it will probably be better to overpack. If you don’t use it, then it can just stay in the car.
6. Can you light a fire?- The first time I went camping, I went with another novice camper, and we assumed we would be able to start a fire. We did… eventually. Although, it may have gone smoother had we done a trial run earlier.
7. Food- Plan what you will be doing for food. Are you just going to hop in the car and go to the town’s restaurant? Eat peanut butter and jelly and cereal the whole time? Or are you going to try your hand at cooking over an open fire pit? Whatever you decide, make sure you plan your meals, have a way to store the food, and have supplies to make those meals happen (i.e.- knife, fork, pots, pans, etc.) If you are just going to camp for a single night, then you may not have to plan quite as extensively.
8. Natural dangers- Be aware of what dangerous vegetation and animals are around the area you will be camping in. Be especially aware if you are in an area with bears, and take appropriate precautions. Look up poisonous snakes, spiders, and plants for your area. Make sure you look up a picture also, so you will be able to identify them. Take appropriate precautions with shoes, socks, and clothing. If you plan on hiking, biking, or venturing away from your campsite, make sure you bring a first aid kit with you. It is better to be safe, than sorry.
These points may all seem silly, but for a first time camper, they can be often overlooked. Especially if you are a first time camper, camping with other novices. Make sure you plan ahead, and have fun! Happy camping!