How can a beginner get the most out of their camping experience? What are the most common pitfalls to avoid? Follow our tips to get off on the right foot in the great outdoors.
Make Your Escape Next Weekend
Ever sit at your desk on a slow weekday afternoon and dream about escaping it all? Grabbing some gear, packing the family into the car, and leaving your everyday obligations behind?
“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.” ― Alan S. Kesselheim
It’s never too late to discover a new passion. Camping offers the opportunity to relax, reconnect, and rediscover parts of yourself that may have been forgotten. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with the kids, and make sure they know there’s more going on out there besides video games and social media. But how can a novice make sure their first camping experience is memorable for all the right reasons?
Wilderness 101: Five Steps to Your New Favourite Pastime
There are many ways to pull off a great camping trip, but for beginners, simplicity and prior research is key. We recommend these five tips:
- Start small. A night or two in an accessible nature reserve is ideal for first-time campers. Look for well-maintained sites that offer toilets and BBQs, but allow you enough space to relax in privacy. Then venture further afield as your experience grows.
- Don’t overinvest in high-tech gadgets – but make sure you get the basics right. Good food, plenty of fresh water, comfortable and adequately warm bedding, protection from bugs, and a weather-proofed tent or camping trailer are essential.
- Inadequate shelter is probably the number one cause of bad camping experiences. A great sleep under the stars is a glorious thing, but the flip side of that coin is that it can be a very long night if you’re cold, wet or tormented by bugs. Also note that a 4-person tent will fit four people … lined up like sardines. If your family is accustomed to comfort, we recommend a tent rated for at least an extra two persons or an appropriately sized camper trailer.
- Educate yourself about the area and seasonal regulations. You will likely need a permit to camp. A call to the local shire office never goes amiss – you don’t want to roll up with 20kgs of firewood and frozen meat only to find out that your camping site is under a total fire ban. There’s nothing like a hefty fine to ruin a great weekend!
- A few days before your trip, do a quick test-run in the back yard. Set up camp, make the beds, and simulate cooking, eating, washing up, toileting, recreation and sleeping. This serves two purposes – firstly to ensure you know how to use all your gear, and secondly to make sure you don’t forget the small but important tools. (On my first trip, I forgot the hammer to drive tent poles in. We were lucky that the neighbouring RV campers took mercy on us … after laughing their heads off).
The truth is that no matter how well you prepare, your first camping experience is likely to involve a few hiccups. Dealing with these – and improvising to make the trip a success – can be all part of the fun, so long as your primary needs are covered. If you’re all fed, watered, and well-rested, you’re well on your way to a new world of sensational experiences.
Once you’ve seen for yourself what the great outdoors has to offer, we think you’ll be as hooked as we are. Why not join our community of camping enthusiasts on Facebook, check out our useful range of videos on YouTube, or subscribe to our newsletter for more advanced camping tips.