Now I know what you are saying to yourself … I would really like to camp, it seems fun but I have no idea how to camp, what to bring or what to expect. There are a few things you really have to figure out before you can figure out what to do to prepare for your camping trip. Answering the following basic questions will guide you to find your balance.
1. What type of camping have you decided to do? Did you want to camp in RVs? Caravan / trailer camp? Tent camp? Hiking backpack / camp? Canoe / kayak camp?
Determining the type of camping you want to do can help you with what type of equipment and experience is needed. For example, you would need a very different type of equipment for RV camping or hiking camping.
RV Camping (or RV camping) is more like living at home because you bring a furnished vehicle in which you basically live with you. You can make your RV as comfortable as you want. Most likely, you will bring everything you need from home in your RV. All you really need to think about is what food and personal items you would like to store. This type of camping is generally for people who don’t like to “have a hard time” but would also like to be social, as RVs are often parked fairly close to each other or in similar sections. Although there are some normal maintenance items with RVs, you basically park them and live in them.
Camping with caravans or trailers is only one step harder than camping in RVs. Campers or trailers often don’t have showers or toilets, unlike most RVs. Depending on the caravan or trailer, a refrigerator may not be included either. In general, camping in motorhomes or trailers is more for people who don’t like to sleep on the ground or worry about severe weather, but still want to get out.
Tents are generally more for people who would like to “have a hard time.” Camping in tents requires you to think about all your basic needs in advance (food, hygiene, bathroom requirements, shelter, seeing at night, heat). Actually, there are also different levels of tents. Some people like to pack a tent and shop for all their needs, while others like to camp in more remote areas away from people. Packing for a camping trip in a tent can be time consuming because you have to think of everything you might need.
Backpacking or hiking is a bit more for experienced campers. Think about it … whatever you think you will need should be able to be strapped to your back and carried a fair distance. You have to be able to pack well and pack light!
Camping by canoe / kayak is a lot like hiking camping when it comes to packing, but there is another element to add. You have to make sure everything is waterproof. The canoe / kayak camp would be for the more experienced campers and of course people who know how to canoe and / or kayak.
Recommendations for camping situations:
Caravan camping – Compare prices and do your research before deciding on a caravan to buy. Talk to the people who already own them and ask them what they like and don’t like about their particular model. Go to RV dealerships and tour some of them. Maybe you’ll go as far as renting an RV on a small trip to see what you like or don’t like about RV camping.
RV / Trailer Camping – Because there may be no conveniences like a refrigerator, more setup and foresight is required. You will most likely have to buy a fridge or two to keep food and drinks cold. Also, you may need to think about generators if you want to run electrical items. Although you may have beds in the caravan, you may need to lay out the bedding.
Tent – Think about the type of tent you would like to make. Does my tent have to be light? Raincoat? Strong wind? What size tent do I need (family size or just for me)? On what terrain will I camp? A good tent can make a difference on your trip.
Backpacking / Hiking Camping – Look for light supplies as you need to carry them all. Researching equipment into sturdy, lighter-weight hiking backpacks is a good idea. Always check in advance if the area where you want to hike and camp allows people to do so. Pay attention to the “no trespassing” signs and pay attention to them. Check your weather! You need to know what gear to pack for the weather. It is also recommended that you camp with a partner. In case something happens, there should be someone who can go for help.
Canoe / Kayak Camp – It may be wise to take a few canoe or kayak lessons (and swimming lessons) before attempting a camping trip this way. You may want to rent a canoe or kayak to make sure you enjoy the activity before diving in.
2. Where have you decided to go camping? Are you camping in the desert? Beach? Forest / forest?
This is a very important question to answer in order to determine your main needs. You would prepare very differently for desert camping than for forest camping.
In the desert, camping temperatures can range from the heat of the day to the cold of the night. The biggest threats (most of the year) in the desert are the sun and dehydration. It is very important to protect yourself with sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Due to the dry air, you don’t realize how much you are sweating because it evaporates very quickly from your skin.
Camping on the beach is very nice, but you have to prepare for it. Due to the nature of the sand, it is difficult to load things with normal tent stakes. There are carp stakes that are much longer for this specific purpose. You also need to be prepared for the possibility of sand getting into everything. Depending on how deep in the sand you would like to go, you need to think about the vehicle you are using to get there. Again, with the nature of the sand, it can be difficult to go back into digging. You may want to bring a random shovel or piece of wood.
Forests / woods are usually ideal for protection from storms and the sun. They are also ideal for hammocks, but watch out for stinging insects and certain stinging plants. Bug spray would be a great recommendation for camping in the woods.
3. When or at what time of the year are you going to camp?
Finding out what kind of weather you’re going to have to deal with while camping is key. Personally, I think this is the most important information needed to plan a proper camping trip. Of course, if you have an RV, this information probably won’t help you because you’re not exposed to the elements.
Camping in colder climates obviously requires warmer clothing, but you may want to consider a warmer camping sleeping bag regardless of what shelter method you are using.
Camping in wetter climates means your terrain can be more difficult to manage. If you are camping in tents, it is recommended to put a tarp under your tent, find a little higher ground to pitch your tent, and always use your rain flies.
In warmer climates, always make sure to stay hydrated. If you bring your water, bring a lot. If you are hiking camping, you may want to consider a water treatment or camping water filter.
Congratulations on taking your first step into camp by answering these preliminary questions. You are now on your way to planning a camping trip that is more tailored to your specific needs and wishes.
Below is a list of general camping takeaway items. Take from it what works best for you and your situation. Note: Personal items should be included at your discretion.
Things to bring camping:
FIRST AID / SURVIVAL KIT
- Prescription drugs
- Snake Bite Kit
- Calamine lotion
- Insect repellent
- Distilled water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton balls or cotton swabs
- Moleskin (for sore feet)
- Feminine products
- Pair of scissors
- Individually wrapped gauze pads
- Scotch tape
- Clean old towel or part of the folded sheet
- Steristrips (to join the cuts)
- Motion sickness medicine
- Aromatic ammonia
- Glucose packs (for diabetics)
- Water purifying tablets or filtration kit
- Shaving blades
- Matches and waterproof container
- Solid knife
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Tent (tarp, stakes, rain fly)
- Sleeping bag (underneath sleeping mattress or air mattress)
- Small ax
- Flash lights (and good extra batteries)
- Camping lanterns (with fuel or good extra batteries)
- Disposable butane lighter
- Cooler (and ice)
- Water (and / or water filter or water purification tablets)
- Clothing (appropriate for the weather)
- Good walking shoes
- Personal toiletries
- Pocket knife
- Canteen (or hydration pack)
- Firewood (bring or buy at the campsite)
- Backpack (and / or backpack)
- Games (cards, frisbee, small portable games)
- Camera (and good batteries)
- S’mores fixings (large marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey’s® chocolate)
- Obviously food (canned and packaged usually works well)
- Stove (and fuel or charcoal) or a grill or Dutch oven
- Pot and pan (and kitchen utensils if you plan to cook)
- Cups, plates and eating utensils
- Resealable plastic bags
- Plastic containers
- Paper towel or napkins
- Note: If there are bear boxes where you camp … use them!
THINGS OFTEN FORGOTTEN
- Can opener
- Wine bottle opener
- Soap (dish soap and bar soap)
IN CASE …
- Folding shovel
- Tea bags
- Bouillon cubes
- Rope or cord (12 ‘to 24’)
- Signal mirror
- MRE (military term for “ready-to-eat meals”)
- Suture kit (for extreme cases)
- Fish kit (and 15 ’10 pound line and sinkers and 35mm film container and hooks)
- Water filter or water purification tablets
- Life jackets (camping near water)
- Baking soda (for toothpaste, bug bites, antacids, odors, etc.)