10 Camping Tips
Doesn't matter if you are preparing for your first outdoor adventure or if you are willing to improve your experience, this guide will help you to get the best of your camping trip. Check out our tips and checklist for your best experience! And get involved, let us know your own tips and advice and collaborate with other campers. Let us know if you need help to choose your tent, mattress, backpack and all camping gear you will need, we will love to help.
1. Research Where You Are Going
Read up on where you are going, conditions, weather and facilities (water, toilets, campsites, etc)
Spontaneity is all well and good when camping, but a lot of effort can go into getting you from A to B, so take the time to ensure that you give yourselves the best chance of having a good time.This becomes more important if your time is limited for the camping trip.
A little bit of homework, in the beginning, is an important part of your camping trip. It doesn't have to take hours, but a quick look at some websites, a phone call or email, might just help your camping adventure start off more smoothly.
Suggested sites to investigate about your desired camping location include the relevant National Park authority for your state. This is a worthwhile starting point because they can give you information on booking your site (if applicable), road closures in the park, and campground closures. Some parks are closed due to seasonal weather activity.
If you are seeking a caravan park camping location, then ring in advance and find out costs and availability. Some locations at peak times will be booked up months ahead, and if you haven't planned on this, you could find yourself wandering around for another campsite, eating up your valuable holiday time.
2. Test Your Equipment Before Leaving Home
Put your tent up at least once in your backyard and try new lights and other electronic equipment.
Work out how the stove operates.
Nothing worse than getting to a campsite, and finding out that whilst it looked to be a basic piece of equipment, you actually don't know how to even unfold it. Or worse, it doesn’t work at all, and that piece of equipment was crucial to your cooking!
It's OK to be a novice at camping - everyone was once - but reading instructions at the campsite on how to work something for the first time is not the ideal start to your trip. You don't want to be relying on instructions that could fly away or get lost just when you need them.
Trying your equipment out in advance, in the comfort of your home is really important. Apart from knowing how it all works, it stops you looking like a total beginner camper.
3. Don't rely on a campfire
Campfires can take a while to build up sufficiently for cooking.To put a Camp Oven in the coals, those coals need to be very hot and that takes time. Great when you can do it, but if you are pressed for time and don’t have the commitment to getting that fire set well in advance of dinner, consider having a backup plan.
Also, the time of the year can dictate if a campfire is allowed. Not sure? Then check in advance of the trip. Your local fire authority website will have information on the fire bans.
A good back up to a campfire is a barbeque (if you have room) as you can use gas BBQs when campfires are not allowed - in most cases, depending on the rules of the campground.
And if you do get that campfire going, make sure you know how to put out a campfire safely.
A back-up to a campfire is highly recommended if you have decided that a campfire is a MUST!
4. Be prepared for cold weather
You are going to have to think carefully about the weather conditions you will be sleeping in, your own body temperature (eg. are you a cold sleeper or warm sleeper) and then buy appropriately.
Do read up on choosing the right gear for you. Don't rush in and buy something without a little bit of thought and knowledge, or you may end up with gear that won't suit you and your camping style.
And remember, that in some stores, the sales staff will try to sell you camping gear that they have in stock, which may not necessarily be the right choice or gear for you, so going to a store with a bit of knowledge will help you not be swayed into buying something you don't need.
5. Arriving early at the campsite
Turning up late at a campground, looking for an unoccupied space and then when and if you do find a place, having to set up and feed everyone. It is stressful for all. The children may be hungry or they just run off into the dark unknown, thrilled to be released from the confines of the car. Or you have no idea where the toilets are (if they even have any – once more, hope you have done your research as listed in Point 1).
I don’t recommend late arrival at campgrounds as a harmonious start to the trip.
There is nothing worse than a long trip and then driving around and around a campground looking for a spare spot as the light fades (or its pitch black) to appear miraculously in a peak time. In some campgrounds, you can only camp at designated spots; if they are full, you will have to leave that campground, and head off somewhere else. In the dark, this is something that no camper wants to have to face.
Arrive early and have a back up plan if the campground of your choice is full.
Peak times (long weekends, Easter) many campsites will be full prior to the holiday even beginning. Campers who have arrived at campsites early in the day, will not take kindly to you, in desperation, trying to fit into their campsite at night time.
Arriving late at a campsite is one big mistake at any time of the year.
6. Understand the importance of lighting
You will never have too much lighting. Headlamps are a must regardless of what sort of lighting you use elsewhere in camp.
Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to see around camp easily. Tripping over ropes, branches and rocks is not fun and you don't want an injury at the start of your trip.
7. Don't leave food and garbage accessible
Come nightfall, and a quiet campsite, and you will get nocturnal visitors that you had not thought about in your camping adventures (and didn’t read about in the brochures).
Foxes and possums and kangaroos are all ones we have encountered attacking garbage. We have woken to find the contents of the day’s garbage, strewn across the site.
If they don’t get to the garbage, they will try for your other food, so put it ALL away, and in lock up plastic tubs. In the USA we knew that bears would come looking for food, but we forgot about our own Australian animals and their love of food!
Naturally, when you leave the campsite, you will take all the garbage with you. Leave no trace. Yes, it can be a pain to put a smelly full garbage bag back in the vehicle with you, but please do so. Dispose in a bin outside the park.
Final point and the most important point about camping – it’s meant to be fun for all.
Know that it won’t be like home (that is the reason you are doing it surely?), and that some creature comforts may not be available, the kids are going to get dirty in the first 10 minutes of arrival, and sleeping in close quarters with family members may be challenging(!!).
But apart from those trivialities, remember that you are there to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, spend time with your family and experience life away from suburbia.
So laugh at the mistakes (and learn from them), and don’t get disillusioned if your early camping experience is not perfection.
You will learn a lot from your first camping trip (plus all the subsequent ones as well). In fact, we give you a sneak peek into what you could learn on your camping trip....... you ready?