8 Lessons Learned by Newbie Campers
Remember that very first night under the stars on your maiden camping trip? Perhaps the reason it was so memorable is that it didn’t go the smoothest. No matter how much you plan ahead of time or read up on what to do during a camping trip, something inevitably goes wrong. But doesn’t that just make you that much wiser for the next trip?
From experience comes knowledge, and the next camping trip no doubt goes much better. From cold showers to epic meals, here are a few takeaways that other first-time campers have stumbled upon.
Sleeping Bags Aren’t Just Glorified Blankets
These precious staples of the camping experience are important, and these days they make sleeping blankets pretty darn effective against the cold. Inexperienced campers treat sleeping bags as a one-size-fits-all tool against the elements – it’s not. Today’s sleeping bags account for the level of cushioning as well as the temperatures of your environment. Be sure to research what’s in the marketplace and get the appropriate sleeping bag for your trip. You will be super comfy and get a good night’s sleep, no matter what your camping conditions are.
Food Cooked Outdoors Just Tastes Better
In our normal lives, we’re so used to mediocre food that’s been zapped in a microwave or fast-food scarfed down in our cars on the go. But once we get out into nature, there simply isn’t anything as glorious as a meal cooked over an open flame. Whether that is a juicy steak, a nutritious veggie kabob, or the classic marshmallow s’mores, everything you eat while camping just tastes better! It’s a hearty meal with a side of adventure.
Cold Shower vs. No Shower – You Decide
Staying at a campground and using their showers is often times a hit or miss endeavor. We’ve heard lots of reports of (other campgrounds) having coin-operated showers that may or may not work properly. It’s not until we spend some serious time in the great outdoors that showers become a luxury and certainly hot showers! So when you’re faced with the absence of hot water, you quickly come to appreciate that you’ve got any water at all. Dry shampoo, anyone?
It’s Too Easy to Pack Too Much – Or Not Enough
No matter how much we plan ahead and think we’ve got everything we need, once we actually arrive at camp and get settled, there’s always that one thing we wish we would have remembered to pack. Always pack with basic comfort in mind. For example, even in warmer climates, be sure to pack warmer clothes and extra blankets for nighttime. Having said that, the opposite is also true. You will certainly not need fancy hair care accessories or that blingy outfit. You are going super casual, so leave the non-necessities behind.
The Tiny but Mighty Mosquito
Mosquitos show no mercy. And you never know when they’ll show up. One thing no one should ever forget to bring on a camping trip is bug repellent. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the Florida Everglades or the remote wilderness of Iceland. There’s going to be some sort of bug that will hinder your experience if you don’t keep them at bay.
Ice Storage is Everything
If you think that one or two big party bags of ice is going to last you for a 3-day weekend, you’re sorely mistaken. Sure, it’s the perfect way to keep your food and drinks cold for a few hours in the cooler, but unless you buy the large block of ice instead of the bag of broken ice, it’s going to melt quickly. Nothing dashes the hopes of keeping your food cold than a sloshy container of melted ice with your food floating in it, getting soggy. Get the big solid blocks that will last longer, and be sure to restock your ice every couple of days.
Don’t Arrive at Camp After Dark
When you are staying at an unfamiliar campsite, the worst thing is fumbling around driving your car or RV and trying to navigate the area to find your camping spot after nightfall. This not only is stressful for you, but it will likely wake up and bother your temporary camping neighbors. Always arrive well before sunset, so you have time to locate your spot and set up camp.
Don’t Plan a Fancy First Dinner
We know you’re excited about your camping trip and want to celebrate as soon as you set up camp, perhaps with a fancy meal? Think again. After your long journey to the campground, you still need to get to work to set up camp and make things comfortable. Don’t add to the list of chores by having to prepare and cook a fancy meal that first night. Eat light, or head to the nearest restaurant for takeout if you really need a good meal.