Are you new to camping and looking for a way to ease into the hobby? Then check out these 10 tips for newbie campers looking for comfort, dryness and a good time!
By: Kirsten | Where She Goes
Some people have been introduced to camping at an early age. They have been camping their whole life. But what if this isn’t the case? What if you’ve never been on a camping trip before? What if you’re a beginner and you would like to make your first camping trip a comfortable one? How do you prevent your first camping trip from being ruined?
My name is Kirsten and I am a photographer and the person behind the Dutch travel blog Where She Goes. Where She Goes is a travel blog for everyone who loves the outdoors, camping trips and unique places to sleep in nature. I am often on the road exploring and photographing all kinds of dream spots and unique (sustainable) accommodations, such as forest cabins and treehouses. From an early age my parents took me and my sisters tent camping. And I still love it. But my biggest dream is to travel around and work remote from a self-converted (preferably electric) camper van. However, we’re not there yet. Until then, you can expect articles from me, as a Campspace columnist, with handy camping tips and articles about the coolest camping and glamping spots.
Since Corona took over the world, many people have adjusted their holiday plans several time. Even though it’s possible to book a flight, many people choose to spend their holidays in their own country or in one of the neighbouring countries. Camping has never been this popular. Maybe this year you’ve chosen to go on a camping trip for the very first time? In a tent, a caravan, a trailer tent or perhaps even with a camper or camper van.
In this article I have listed 10 practical tips for beginners (and of course advanced campers) to make your (first) camping trip more comfortable and carefree.
It might be a no-brainer. But how many times have I heard people say that they will NEVER EVER go camping again. Just because they once camped in a tiny tent or in a folding tent that took hours and hours to set up. Have you never camped before? Then ask yourself what you think you’re going to want and need while camping. For example, do you deeply value to a comfortable bed? Or would you like to have some space and maybe a small kitchen? Do you prefer a cozy camper van that makes it extremely easy to travel around or do you prefer a tent that can be set up within ten minutes? It’s good to base your choice on your travel behaviour. Are you planning to stay in one place for a longer period of time or do you want to pack your things after one or a few nights? Comfortable camping, the back-to-basic experience or the proverbial golden mean, it’s all possible while camping. We, my husband Stefan and I, have an inflatable tent that the two of us together can set up within ten minutes. We love this, because this way we can easily go camping for a weekend, but we can also travel around for a few weeks without having to worry about setting up for hours every time we visit a new campsite.
This means for example a comfortable airbed or sleeping mat. After years of camping with airbeds (which regularly had leaks), a few years ago we purchased two self-inflating sleeping mats (7cm thick. You open the valve and the mat inflates itself. Perfect! I’m having very good nights on the sleeping mat, but there are thicker mats available than ours, if you prefer to have even more comfort.
Do not underestimate the importance of a good sleeping bag. There is nothing more annoying than having sleepless nights because you’re cold. Every season has different circumstances and that’s why it’s important to look into this. For example, you can choose between a mummy or a blanket, you can choose between several materials, and between the comfort, limit and extreme temperature of the sleeping bag. We always like to zip two three-season sleeping bags together and use a sleeping bag liner (or just a reversed duvet cover) in it. A sleeping bag liner can also come in handy during warm nights. If you don’t have the luxury of a darkened sleeping area, an eye mask can’t hurt to bring with you. And don’t forget the earplugs!
I also like to bring comfortable camping chairs and a table when I go camping. Picknicks in the grass are awesome, but when camping for more than one night I really like a good camping chair.
No matter how warm it is during the day, in the evenings it might cool down quickly (depending on when and where you camp of course). And believe me, you’ll be happy to have those thick socks, your long pants and your warmest sweater with you.
When you go camping for the very first time, it’s smart to borrow your cooking utensils from other happy campers or just bring some utensils from your own kitchen. But if you’re going camping more often, it’s very useful to have some cooking utensils, for example in a folding crate, ready to take with you on your camping trip. We have two crates in the attic that contains all kind of things that we like to use while camping. Plates, bowls, cutlery, (wine) glasses, a wine and beer opener (very important!), a cutting board, pans, soap, washing up liquid, a washing up brush and bowl, towels, but also salt, pepper and oil. This way we can leave in no-time for a spontaneously camping trip.
Of course, there’s the possibly to go out for dinner or to do some take away during your camping trip, but you will see that cooking and washing your dishes together is the best.
If you’d like to use electricity during your camping trip, you need a pitch with electricity of course. But you will also need a blue CEE plug with a CEE extension cable. This CEE plug is waterproof and secured. You connect the ‘male’ (the side with the pins) to the power pole and the ‘female’ (the side with the holes) in your tent, caravan or campervan. In certain countries you will need an adapter plug. A power strip might also be handy to bring with you, in this way you can use and/or charge multiple devices at the same time.
Do we always use electricity while camping? No, not for a night or a weekend away, but when we go camping for a longer period or time during warm weather, it’s really nice to be able to connect a cool box or mini fridge and to charge your phone and camera. The most beautiful and natural pitches are often only available for tent campers who do not need electricity though.
Visiting a campsite without pre booking is great for an adventure, especially in the low season. But this is not always possible. And since there is so much difference between campsites, I would advise you to have a good look before you go. If you like peace and quiet, nature and beautiful pitches, a Campspace or a small campsite in the heart of nature is definitely something for you. If you’re looking for a campsite with entertainment, a swimming pool and a bar, it’s better to look for more luxurious and bigger campsites with more facilities. I personally really like those cozy Campspaces (preferably with cute animals hopping around) and small campsites in the heart of nature where it’s allowed to light a fire in the fall or winter. In the forest, by the sea or in the mountains.
Once you have arrived at the campsite, you can often choose a pitch yourself (in the low season that is). If you do, pay close attention to the sunrise and the sunset, the amount of shade and the trees above your head. I can tell you from my own experience that trees with berries and lots of birds aren’t the best combination with your tent. Once you have found the perfect pitch, make sure you set up your tent on a flat surface. This will prevent you from sliding down in your sleeping bag in the middle of the night.
If you’re camping with a tent, it’s wise to first remove sharp objects from the ground, such as pinecones and little stones. It can damage the base of your tent. A (breathable) ground sheet protects the base of your tent and prevents your tent from getting really dirty when you break-up the tent. On some campsites, a waterproof groundsheet is not allowed, because the grass won’t get any oxygen and might die. Fortunately, durable and breathable groundsheets are available nowadays.
You’re on vacation and you don’t have to do anything at all. Go offline, enjoy quality time with your fellow campers or some me-time and don’t worry too much.
And last, but not least.. And this is especially important when camping with a tent: when it’s time to break-up the tent and store it, it’s important that the tent is completely dry. If not, the tent will mold. If you don’t have the possibility to pack up your tent dry, hang it out or set it up once you come home. Our tents have spent quite some nights in the garden.
Even thought we’ve been on the road several times with a camper van, we usually camp with our own tent. What I find important when buying a tent? First of all: a fixed ground sheet. This prevents your tent from being flooded during bad weather. I also find it important to be able to ventilate the tent and I always have a good look at the insect screens. Because in certain countries, such as Scotland, there are incredibly tiny mosquitos (midges).
I like it when a tent can be set up fast, without having to use too many pegs. Even though I prefer to camp with good weather, the tent must be able to withstand a lot of rain and strong winds. And last, but not least: I like space in the tent, so that I can also camp comfortably in bad weather. So not only beginners but also advanced campers can enjoy comfortable camping. I wish you lots of good and memorable camping trips!
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