For many families, camping is living in a comfortable motor home at a campground with tennis courts and swimming pools, sometimes movies at night. For backpackers and hikers, it means truly roughing it out in the wilderness, away from the amenities of civilization and being in tune with nature in the raw. No matter which one suits you, here are a few tips on camping for the first (and even multiple) time:
Consider borrowing or renting equipment. If you think that camping is not for you – and you dislike roughing it out.
Try car camping rather than trekking into the wilderness. This allows you to carry more supplies and you are safer. You can go to a place within an hour of your home and plan to stay for a day, two or three days. Find out if you can make advance reservations and buy a topographical map of the area.
Watch the weather forecast for the place you are going for a least a week ahead. Plan clothing and equipment accordingly.
Check on the need for a forest permit (this is free at ranger stations); ask about fire restrictions. Fishing usually requires a license, so be sure to find out about regulations.
If you are tent camping, be sure to have proper equipment.
When you pitch a tent, find a flat, smooth place. Clear way rocks and twigs, then put down your ground cover. If you think it might rain, dig a little trench around the tent to divert the water.
Keep meals simple, but bring plenty of food. Keep food in containers so that animals can not get to it.
Do not drink water or even brush your teeth with it unless it has been purified first.
Dogs should be leashed and children should understand how to make themselves.
Be careful of fire. Build one in fire rings and make sure they are put out before you leave.
Pack out garbage or leave it in garbage cans at campsite.
Dive up chores so that no one gets stuck with all the unpleasant jobs.
Make sure you have a ground cloth, this can be cheap tarpaulin.
Use plastic, but not disposable, plates and containers for food.
When you come home, turn the tent inside out and hose it, then hang it up to dry. Store it in a dry place, but not in its bag – keep it loose.