Camping Beginner's Guide

Looking to go on a cheap, fun and unique vacation? Do you consider yourself an adventurous person? Then, camping may be the perfect activity for you. It helps you get away from your daily life, have lasting memories and connect with the nature and your loved ones. If you are interested in camping but have never gone on a camping trip before, here is everything a beginner should know about camping.

Reasons to Go Camping

Camping is freedom. During your couple days long of camping, you can basically do anything you want. It is just you and your loved ones. Play games, hike, wear whatever you want, eat whatever you want, relax. It is really cheap, especially if you consider its price/enjoyment ratio. It also helps you connect with nature and relax. Plus, it is one of the best activities you can do with your friends or family. Camping brings people together.

Camping is freedom.

Camping Types

There are essentially 2 types of camping: tent camping and RV Camping.

Tent camping means you will be sleeping in a tent at night. It can include canoe camping and backpacking since you will also sleep in a tent, but it generally refers to just pitching a tent on a campsite and staying there for a couple of days. It is the most basic, beginner-friendly type of camping and lets you connect with your group.

RV camping is for the people that love travelling. You will rent an RV and hit the road, travelling through and camping in various places. It is more challenging, of course, but it’s also extremely exciting to be able to travel with your portable home. If you and your group are the traveler type, check out our Everything You Need to Know Before Renting A Camper Van article and hit the roads!

Picking A Place

The most important part of planning a camping trip is choosing where to camp. It will be the core of your camping experience.

You can camp in thousands of different places. National parks, near lakes, forests, anything is possible. For beginners, we recommend going to a designated campground. Check the internet for the reviews of campgrounds near you. Make sure your campsite is on a high ground. It is both safer and warmer. Find a ground that is level and relatively soft. No one wants to sleep on rock. If there is a water source nearby that’s open to swimming and camping, it can make for a great swimming spot. Trees are great shields against both wind and foreign eyes; just make sure there are no dead branches above you.

If you are planning for an RV camping trip, pick a route that every person in the group will enjoy. If it is going to be your first time, pick an easy route and stay away from off-road. National parks, beaches, lakes and RV campgrounds make great camping destinations.

Planning Ahead

After determining a place, you must start planning early. If your place requires reservation, do it as soon as possible. Decide how long you will stay there, and pack your meals and clothes according to that. Check the weather for the planned day and place regularly until the time comes to not get caught to undesirable weather conditions. Learn everyone’s food choices, allergies and needed routine medication. Prepare a meal plan and buy the ingredients right before you take the road. Camping requires a big preparation phase, so the earlier you start, the less chance you will forget something important.

Preparing a Meal Plan

Making a meal plan is a vital part of planning a camping trip. You need to plan quick, easy and filling recipes with ingredients that do not perish quickly. They should be easy enough so that you can prepare them with the basic kitchen equipment you’ll bring. 3 main meals and 1-2 snacks per day for each person is a good number to aim for. In the end, you will spend a lot of energy while camping, so eating right ensures you won’t starve and get tired quickly.

Pack extra snacks like fruits, nuts, crackers and juices. Bring a cooler so that your food doesn’t perish quickly and you can keep stuff cold. Pack your ingredients in Tupperware or zip-lock plastic bags. Preparing one meal for the time you will arrive at your campsite can be really helpful since you will get tired from setting up your campsite. If you want some camping recipes and a guide to cooking while camping, you can head on over to our Camping Recipes and Camping Food Ideas articles.

Camping Food Ideas What To Eat

Preparing Your Equipment

Camping requires a lot of equipment, and I mean it. There are dozens of items you need to bring since you are essentially making a temporary home out in the wilderness. Your core items will be:

  • Tents
  • Foldable chairs and table
  • Sleeping bags and pads
  • Pillows
  • Lanterns
  • Headlamps and/or flashlights
  • Firewood

Of course, these are far away from being the only stuff you’ll need. You’ll also need these categories:

  • Clothing
  • Kitchen items
  • Hygiene items
  • Health & safety items
  • Entertainment
There are many items in these categories, so to learn the full lists, you can check our Camping Gear & Equipment article.

How to Set Up A Campsite

  1. Clean the site thoroughly. Get a trash bag and throw away the trash and the old ashes.
  2. Find a level ground. No one wants to sit and sleep on a sloping land.
  3. Check if the ground is rocky or has any visible bug nests.
  4. If it is windy, set up your camp among trees so that they act as windshields. Be sure to not camp under a tree that has dead branches.
  5. Set up your sitting area and kitchen items. Designate a nearby open area where kids can play.
  6. If campfires are permitted in your area, get your tinder, kindling and firewood and set up a campfire.
  7. If there is a designated fire ring in the area, use it. If not, choose a spot that is at least 5 meters away from flammable objects like trees, tents and bushes.
  8. Clear the area from flammable stuff like dead leaves and dig a pit couple inches deep.
  9. Place the tinder, kindling and firewood respectively. Light the tinder and wait for the fire to grow.
  10. When you are done with the fire, put it out %100. Check the embers to see if there are any smoldering ashes that are giving out heat. Make sure all the ashes are cold.
  11. Throw away the ashes in a trash bag using a shovel.
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