I personally really love camping. There’s something about sleeping outdoors and getting closer to nature that I really enjoy but you have to be prepared and plan well. As someone who slept either in a tent or a very cold van on and off for about a year, here are all my tips and lessons learnt. There are a few different types of camping such as camping in an actual campsite with toilets and facilities and wild camping where, yep you guessed it, you are camping in the wild with no extra facilities and is usually part of a hike. These tips are mainly aimed at those staying in campsites.
Without further ado, here are my tips for anyone going camping for the first time:
Plan for all weather conditions. The UK is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to weather so it’s best to be prepared for all weathers. Take lots of layers, waterproofs, sunscreen and a warm hat.
What should you take? Don’t worry about overpacking, especially if you have a car. If you don’t have a car only take as much as you can carry and that will fit in your tent.
- Tent – I’d recommend a double skinned tent as you’re less likely to get leaks if it rains.
- Roll mats/air bed to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Airbeds are good but are more effort as you have to pump them up.
- Sleeping bag and maybe a sleeping bag liner for extra warmth.
- Extra Blanket in case it’s cold. It’s also worth taking a hot water bottle in case it’s super cold!
- Pillow. Top tip – If you forget your pillow stuff a bag with any clothes you have taken with you and wrap it in one soft item of clothing like a hoodie. It isn’t the same as a pillow but it sure is better than nothing.
- Portable cooker and extra gas
- Utensils – plates, cutlery (the amount of times I have been camping and then realised we have no plates or cutlery is unbelievable!)
- Washing up bowl/sponge/liquid – some campsites will have a shared kitchen where you can do your washing up but some don’t so it’s worth being prepared.
- Cold box to keep fridge items cold.
- Torches and lanterns so you can see what you’re doing when it’s dark.
- First aid kit – hopefully you won’t need to use it but it’s super handy to have just in case.
- Plenty of water for drinking, washing up, cooking etc.
- A picnic blanket with a plastic bottom is really useful for when the ground is wet or for when it starts to get damp in the evening. Nobody wants a wet bum!
- Games, playing cards and a book to keep you entertained.
Plan before you go
It is always worth putting your tent up before you go to make sure you know how to do it, you have all the pieces and to ensure it’s not broken.
Test your cooker before you go to. You will not be happy if you’re hungry with a rumbling belly and you realise your cooker doesn’t work properly.
Plan your meals beforehand. Opt for quick and easy meal options such as sausage/bacon sandwiches for breakfast and instant noodles for dinner. Make sure you take plenty of filling snacks like oatbars and nuts too so you don’t go hungry.
Practical Tips for Whilst You’re Camping:
- Don’t pitch your tent under trees. It does seem like a good idea at the time but it’s actually quite dangerous as branches could potentially fall on your tent in high winds. You’re also more likely to get bird poo on your tent if you camp under trees too!
- If your camping spot is on a slope make sure you sleep with your head at the highest part of the hill. Sleeping parallel to the slope means you will roll downhill when you move in the night and sleeping with your head downhill is likely to leave you with a headache.
- Don’t leave any valuables unattended in your tent.
- It’s super dangerous to use a gas cooker or barbecue inside a tent. If it’s raining see if the campsite has a kitchen you could use or alternatively there are ventilated cooking shelters that you can buy.
- Leave no trace. Dispose of all rubbish in the campsite bins or take it home with you.My final tip is to make sure you take time to enjoy nature. When it’s dark, lay on a blanket and look at the stars – it’s amazing how many stars you can see once you’re away from cities and light pollution. Go on a walk, take in the scenery – generally just enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a breather!