Camping (Image Credit: Robert S. Donovan)

Your First Time… Going Camping

Camping (Image Credit: Robert S. Donovan)

Camping (Image Credit: Robert S. Donovan)

After weeks-long camping trips when I was younger (including one that was literally one month long), I think I’ve earned the right to consider myself a camping expert. So if you want to know what you should do on your first time camping, you’ve come to the right place.

Each campground and camp experience is as unique as the person experiencing it, so it’s hard to say what will 100 percent work for you. However, there are a few basic tidbits I can share to prepare you for your first camping trip. When you go back for more, you can perfect the trip to your liking.

You should know right away that camping is completely different from staying in a hotel – luckily, usually cheaper too – but it can also be a whole lot more fun. And I don’t just say that because my mom is probably reading this article. There are things you have to think about when camping that you don’t usually have to deal with at a hotel. The major things are as follows:

People

There’s not much privacy in a hotel room unless you have a suite with multiple rooms, right? There’s even less privacy in a campsite. Whether you’re tent camping, in an RV, or in a cabin, campsites don’t offer an abundance of space.

In a hotel room, this could be corrected by just sleeping in the room and hanging out somewhere nearby, but campsites don’t usually have a lot of places nearby. As such, I recommend making sure you take people camping with you that you can stand to be around for days at a time.

Food

I don’t know about you, but when I stay in a hotel, I end up eating out at a nearby restaurant (or ordering room service.) And sure, you can do that when you go camping. But the costs for food add up, and unless you want to eat out for all three meals, you should think about bringing along some food.

But keep in mind where you’re staying. Depending on what kind of camping you’re doing, you might have a stove or you could grill, but if you’re planning on making a fire to cook your food on (or for any other reason), check to make sure that’s allowed for the location and time of year.

Also, remember that unlike in a hotel room, you probably won’t even have a mini fridge.

Activities

Guess what you typically don’t have when you’re camping? Electricity. And even if you have that, cable and Wi-Fi, though they are becoming more available, are hard to find. So, you won’t have a TV or a computer, and you might want to use your phone sparingly.

This may be the reason you wanted to go camping in the first place, or it may strike fear in your heart. But don’t worry! There’s an easy fix: make sure you bring along activities to pass the time. I’m talking card and board games, books and like I mentioned above, those people that you like being around.

A lot of campgrounds also have pools, walking trails or various other activities available, so be sure to take advantage of those. If you go camping near a holiday, the campground might even have special events like hot dog nights, karaoke or Bingo.

Bathrooms

At most campsites – and in most camping situations – you don’t have a bathroom attached to your site. Yes, you need to use the “dreaded” public bathrooms. Really, the quality of the bathrooms vary wildly from campground to campground, so I recommend googling your campground in advance if dirty bathrooms – in the sense of dirt, insects, etc. – bother you.

Many campgrounds have nice bathrooms, but not all of them do. If you find one with bathrooms that are too messy for you, don’t let that one detail ruin your camping experience. Next time, pick a different campground with hopefully nicer bathrooms.

So there you have the big items that you have to think about when camping. For your first trip, I recommend finding some kind of checklist to make sure you have everything you need, gather some friends together and make a reservation for the weekend (particularly if it’s near the holidays).

The last thing you need to do? Enjoy! And once you’ve been on your first camping trip, you’ll see that camping is great – hi, Mom – and I’m sure you’ll want to do it many more times in the future. But maybe not quite as many times as me.


Image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan
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