First time camping tips
Going camping for the first time is an unforgettable experience. Falling asleep under the stars for the first time, hearing the branches and leaves creak overhead and waking up with the sun are some of life’s purest joys.
But — if you’ve never been camping before, you may not know where to start when it comes to preparing for your first camping trip.
Don’t stress though, we’ve had our fair share of nights under the stars and know a thing or two about camping. We’ll give you the rundown to ensure your first camping trip goes off without a hitch.
Here are our top tips for making your first camping trip a success:
Tip 1 – make a first time camping checklist
Creating a checklist of the items you need for your first time camping is a great way to ensure you don’t forget any essential items.
One of the biggest issues for first time campers is realising they’ve forgotten an important piece of equipment only after they’ve arrived at their campsite.
This might not be an issue if it's only a camp chair or two. But if you’ve forgotten the tent poles and a sleeping bag, you might find your camping trip is over before it even got started.
So, your checklist should include:
- Tent, sleeping bags and mattress
- First aid kit
- Sunscreen and mosquito repellant
- Food and water
- Shelter from the sun, like a gazebo or tarp
- Chairs and tables
- Torches and lanterns
- Camp cooker
- Warm clothes
- Camp bin or somewhere to keep your scraps
Tip 2 – Pick somewhere local
Isolated or remote areas are probably not the best places for first time campers. If it's your first time setting up a tent, we probably don’t recommend doing it in a dark, isolated park, miles away from the closest town.
Instead, look for campgrounds or national parks that are relatively close to your home.
Knowing that you’re only a short drive away from home is a great way to put first time campers at ease.
Therefore, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you can be confident that you can get back home quickly.
Tip 3 – Choose the correct place to set up camp
Once you’ve arrived at your campsite, it’s time to find somewhere to set up camp.
Some pretty standard things to keep in mind when picking a campsite:
- Try to find as level ground as possible.
- Be aware of drainage; if it rains and the surrounding area slopes towards your campsite, you’ll get wet.
- Make sure there are no sharp objects on the ground (rocks, glass etc.)
- Watch for any dead branches falling from overhead.
Tip 4 - Check fire dangers
Fire is a danger in any camping situation, especially in the hotter, dryer months.
This is a real issue because sitting around the fire is one of the most fun elements of camping — whether it’s swapping stories over a few cold drinks, roasting marshmallows with a stick or cooking over the hot coals.
It is important, however, that you never lose sight of how dangerous fires can be.
Before you go camping, always check the fire danger rating, as provided by your local government. Depending on where you are, there may be a partial or complete ban on open fires.
If you do have a fire, make sure someone is attending to it at all times. It only takes one loose ember to start a devastating fire.
If you’re sitting around the campfire at night, ensure the last person awake extinguishes it properly.
Tip 5 - Check for permits
Depending on where you are, you may need some sort of permit to camp. You may also be required to get a permit for certain activities, like fishing or driving in particular areas.
Always ensure you do some research in the days leading up to your departure. This way, you give yourself enough time to organise any paperwork.
Forgetting or ignoring your permits could land you with a nasty fine.
Tip 6 - Bring someone experienced
There’s nothing wrong with asking an experienced camper to tag along with you. This could be your friend, a parent, a cousin or a neighbour — whoever has a bit of experience camping!
Not only will they have practical knowledge and skills around camping (which they can pass onto you) but they will probably also have some pieces of equipment that you don’t.
Tip 7 – Follow camping etiquette
There are a few universal rules of camping etiquette. Following these will ensure you don’t have any run-ins with your neighbours and will help you start forming good camping habits.
Some simple things to remember when camping:
- If there are no toilets in the campground, make sure you do your business far away from other campers and BURY IT.
- Toilet paper does not break down quickly. Make sure you burn it or put it in the bin – otherwise, some poor stranger will have to pick up the presents you left for the campsite.
- Make sure you put all rubbish and scraps in the bin. When you leave, your campsite should look like you’ve never been there.
- Don’t camp too close to other people, especially if you plan on having a bit of a night around the campfire. Certain campsites may also have rules against loud music being played after a certain time.
- If dogs are permitted at your chosen camp area, and you do bring your dog, make sure they aren’t off running amok or barking all night. If they do their business somewhere, make sure you clean it up too.
Yes, we know this is a cliché but try and enjoy yourself while camping.
Camping is one of the best ways to get away from the stresses of everyday life and take some time to do nothing. There is a good reason why camping is so popular.
In fact, camping has even been linked with improving your mental health. So, not only is it fun and relaxing, but it’s good for you too!
Why are you still sitting here reading? We’ve given you the info you need, now get out there.
Sign up to our monthly newsletter in the footer below for more tips and advice, and notification of events.