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With many vacations being put on hold lately, there is still one trip you can still take and have fun, all while keeping a safe distance from others: camping! Obviously, we love California camping in our household. Tent camping is still an exciting adventure to be had by all! Check out this beginner’s guide to tent camping to get started.
The first thing we want you to remember is that this is an adventure and you’re bound to pick up your own tips and tricks along the way. Try out a few, or all, of the tips below, and be sure to share with us what you learned!
Being organized is easily the most important tip we can offer. The more organized you (and your gear) are, the smoother your experience will be! First, make a list of everything you will need. Include everything from your toothbrush to the tent itself. You can never be too organized! Once you have each item packed and ready to go, check it off your list.
Keep a master camping list and update it after each trip. After a few camping adventures, you’ll have a fine-tuned list ready to go!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Part of being an organized camper is practicing your routine. This may seem a little dull and not so adventurous, but trust us, it’s worth the time. Practice setting up your tent in your back yard. Blow up your air mattress, too (if you have one). Practice what it will be like to unpack your supplies. Practice what it will be like to unpack and cook a meal. In fact, practice everything.
Location is Everything
Just like you practiced setting up camp, you want to scope out your campsite first. We also recommend you camp close to home for the first time. That way if something goes south, such as inclement weather or you didn’t know your campsite is right next to a train line that runs throughout the night, you can head home if you need to.
Aside from scouting out your location and camping close to home, find a spot that offers some shade and some breeze. If you’re traveling with kids, consider finding a spot near the restrooms (if you’re not comfortable using nature’s toilet).
What Do I Need?
There are tons of lists out there about which gear to purchase and pack, and which ones to stay away from. Trust us, that could be a whole book. However, we do want to give you a few tips to start:
- When the tent says it holds 5 people, it really holds 3.
- If you want to use an air mattress, purchase one specifically designed for camping. An air mattress you use for house guests likely will be too tall for your tent.
- Even if your tent is supposed to be waterproof, still bring a tarp to place under the tent to ensure moisture does not seep in from the bottom.
- Don’t underestimate the convenience of a sleeping bag versus bringing any old blanket from home.
- When you’re looking at coolers, don’t skimp. Get yourself a quality cooler to keep all of your food safe and cool. Since you do not have a fridge handy, you’ll want something that will keep your food cool as long as possible.
Cooking While Camping
When preparing what to cook, the key is to simplify. The more complex the meals, the more utensils and supplies you will need. Consider using disposable dishes and utensils, but always remember to pack in, pack out. That means that whatever you bring in, you must take back with you. We suggest precooking whatever you can to alleviate the stress of doing it on-site and cleaning more dishes.
A camping stove with a propane canister can prove to be essential because cooking over a campfire can be messy and difficult. As far as water goes, a good rule of thumb is to bring a gallon of drinking water per day for two people. You can also use this water for cooking if you need to. At most campgrounds, there is a spigot nearby that provides water for dishes.
What Should I Wear?
Regarding what to wear while camping, it’s pretty straightforward with any trip. The most important thing to do is to check the weather forecast and check it often. Pay attention to not only the highs but the lows. Depending on where you’re camping, the temperatures overnight can be drastically different than during the day and will require more consideration as to what to pack.
Here are a few additional items you will want to have handy:
- Have a good flashlight handy and also either a lantern or a headlamp, in case you are doing something that requires both of your hands in the dark.
- Sunblock, bug spray, and itch cream are also essentials you do not want to be without.
- Finally, never underestimate the power of wet wipes!
We hope you have found this guide helpful. Remember a few golden rules:
- You’re on an adventure.
- Be patient. You are learning.
- And most importantly: Have fun!
Have any additional tips? Share them below!