The stars were better company anyway. They were beautiful, and they almost never snored.David Eddings
I just got to go camping for the first time in 10 years and it was such a cool experience. We went to Savona, New York with two sets of neighbors and our dogs which was a scenic 4-hour drive from our house in Pennsylvania. We’d been stuck inside quarantining for months, so we decided we should jump back into nature while keeping up the social distancing. Camping was pretty much the perfect solution.
Way back when I used to camp a decent amount, but I hadn’t been in over a decade, so I put together a check list and these tips to make it easier for anyone who reads my blog. See below for the checklist I created for you guys! I left lots of room in case you wanted to customize it more. Enjoy!
Camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it should be something everyone tries at least once. Below are my tried-and-true tips and tricks for having an extra successful trip.
Practice Setting Up Tent and Canopy
There are few things that are worse than getting to your campsite and realizing your tent is missing pieces or has a giant hole in it or that it refuses to stand up. Always check the equipment you need the most, preferably more than once, so your vacation can run as smoothly as possible.
Triple Check Your Checklist
I didn’t do this and we left without our pillows. While we survived, it wasn’t the most comfortable experience of my life. Always go over your checklist at least twice and then again when you put everything in your car. That way, you can ensure you’ve got all of the essentials.
Leave Campsite Cleaner Than You Found It
Lots of campsites are sparkling clean when you get there and others have trash littered about. While you should always clean up your own trash no matter what, it’s an eco-friendly practice to leave your campsite cleaner than when you found it. If previous campers left some trash, pick it up and throw it in the trash so everyone can benefit.
Bring Campfire-Friendly Meals
Preparing a three-course meal that needs lots of different pots, pans, utensils, and ingredients might not be your best choice. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can leave the preparation items at home to save space and stress at the campsite. Make sure you bring items that can be easily heated up in primitive circumstances. Wrap items in aluminum foil to place them in coals to heat up or make one-pot meals to keep everything manageable when you don’t have access to a full kitchen.
Choose Your Campsite Before You Leave
Some days you just want to hike and not worry about any planning and that’s okay. However, you should always have an idea of where suitable campsites are in your general vicinity. If you’re through hiking, look up areas and mark them on your map so you can adequately plan where you should go depending on how far you’ve trekked. If you’re driving to a new area, research nearby campsites. Better yet, book your campsite in advance to avoid the stress of worrying about whether you’ll find a safe spot before nightfall.
Waterproof Your Tent
Anyone out there like having the rain storm inside your tent too? Of course not. That’s why we have tents. To escape the less appealing aspects of nature like biting bugs and torrential downpours. Always bring a rain cover even if the weather app you use says it will be dry. Mother nature will always have other plans for you. If nothing else, it will provide peace of mind and some extra shade.
Go During the Week to Avoid Crowds
Especially right now, crowded areas should be avoided. Nothing breaks the peacefulness of a camping trip into nature like dozens of other campers competing for the best spots. Try going during off-peak seasons or during the week when there won’t be crowds of people.
Waterproof Bags/Backpacks with Trash Bags
You don’t have to buy a fancy waterproof backpack, especially if you’re an occasional camper. Line your backpacks and bags with a trash bag, plastic bag, or sealable bag to prevent your items from getting wet.
Don’t Bring Firewood from a Non-Local Area
Transporting non-local plants, animals, or other natural items can have detrimental consequences to the environment. Think of the spotted lantern fly issue. It was accidentally introduced and is now wreaking havoc across the United States. If in doubt, leave anything that isn’t found naturally at your campsite at home. Firewood can be home to many different species of bugs, fungi, bacteria, and much more that shouldn’t be transported out of its original environment.
Check Surroundings for Potential Hazards
Is that poison ivy over there? Why are there so many spiky tree roots sticking out of the ground? Is that bear poop? Are these berries poisonous? It’s nature. It can be the most magnificent thing you’ve ever seen and it can also be dangerous. Check your surroundings carefully for anything that could cause harm and make sure to remove the threat or avoid it. Knowing the dangers around you allows you to prepare in case of an emergency.
Camp Upwind of Other Campsites
Love smelling other campers? I didn’t think so. Camping upwind (if possible) keeps smoke from other fires, body odor, and other gross (but natural) smells away from you. Opting to literally smell the roses or other flowers is way better than having a nearby campsite’s wood smoke or B.O. accost your senses.
Practice Starting a Fire Before You Go On Your Trip
We are humans! Hear us roar! Hopefully your roaring will be the roar of you successfully lighting your campfire on the first try not a roar of frustration as you wonder how neanderthals harnessed fire and you with all of your fancy gadgets can get the spark to light your kindling. It’s okay. It’s happened to everyone. That’s why we practice before we actually need the fire for our survival.
Bring a Wash Basin for Dishes
Bringing a wash basin makes a huge difference. Dishes get dirty and will attract insects and even wild animals. Having the opportunity to wash them so your campsite doesn’t turn into a scene from a hellish version of Cinderella is a fantastic idea. You don’t need anything huge, just something large enough to fit your biggest culinary item.
Pack More Water Than You Think You Need
Most people drink about a gallon of water each day. People and pets will need more water the more active they become to avoid dehydration and the dangerous effects it can have on your body. Bring at least 1.5 times the amount of water you think you need and research where you can find potable water nearby in case you run out.
Bring Eco-Friendly Utensils, Cookware, and Dishes
I know a lot of people who like bringing disposable utensils and dishes on their camping trips. This adds a LOT of plastic waste to an already overloaded planet. Bringing one set of reusable items allows you to wash them after each meal while also staying more environmentally friendly. If you feel like you have to bring disposable items, make sure they are garbage safe, recyclable, or biodegradable. After all, we’re here to enjoy and preserve nature.
Got Any Other Tips?
I would love to hear them! I tried to have a good mix of some of the best tips I’ve heard over the years, but I by no means mentioned them all. Comment below to let me know your favorites or any I missed and I’ll be sure to thank you in future camping tips posts!