Camping Tips

From a “macro” perspective, the general principles of camping are relatively simple. More than anything else, it’s a matter of adaptation and acclimation to living outdoors rather than within four walls. Regardless, there are a multitude of tips and tricks to help make that transition easier, and allow your time spent camping to be more relaxing and enjoyable.

General Outdoor Tips

The tent is the focal point of most camping trips. If you’re a beginning camper, there are a couple of different tent tips to remember. First and foremost, practice pitching your tent before you head to the campsite. Being able to do it quickly and effectively is extremely valuable. When looking for a place to set up, always look for a “natural bed” of soft, flat soil – but avoid the bottom of hills or valleys. Finally, always set up a tarp below your tent to avoid potential damage or water-logging.

Campers can also benefit from a few non-specific outdoor principles. Rule number one, no matter the time of year, is to dress in (or at least carry) layers. It’s the easiest and most effective way to control your body temperature. Secondly, learn how to use a GPS or map and compass. No matter how familiar you are with a certain wooded area, getting lost among acres of similar-looking trees is very easy. Finally, practice basic outdoor skills such using and sharpening a utility knife, tying various knots, and building a fire. It’s this knowledge that separates the amateurs from the seasoned campers.

What to Bring on a Camping Trip

With any luck, each camping trip proves to be a unique experience. There are many wonderful things that nature has to offer. But, no matter where you’re headed, a few things should always come with you. Below is the “short list” of camping essentials that should always be packed.

  • A Tent, Tarp, and Sleeping Bag
  • A pot, pan, dishes, utensils, and fire-starting materials (preferably waterproof matches or a butane lighter)
  • A utility knife and length of rope
  • Plenty of water (get gallon sizes for cooking and cleaning)
  • Energy rich, easily prepared foods and snacks (think items like pasta, beans, ground beef, peanut butter, chicken, trail mix, and oatmeal)
  • Plenty of clothing (a good rule of thumb in temperate areas is enough for two to three layers daily)
  • A tight-closing cooler to store your food items in
  • Hand sanitizer and soap
  • Optionally, outdoor gear like fishing poles and hiking equipment

How to Budget for a Camping Trip

Like most anything else, budgeting for a camping trip is easiest when you start big and work your way down. First, decide upon an amount you can afford, and make a resolution not to exceed it. Then, begin to factor in the larger expenses – things like food, gas, necessary equipment, and campsite fees. From there, work your way down to smaller items until you come close to the spending limit.

As that line is tested, you’ll have to make the nitpicky decisions that ultimately determine your trip’s bottom line. For instance, you could eliminate that traditional fast food stop on the way there in favor of pre-prepared sandwiches. Little decisions such as these tend to add up in the grand scheme of financial matters, especially when it comes to discretionary spending.

Now that you know the basics of camping, what to bring, and how to squeeze outdoor adventure into your budget, nothing is left to keep you from hitting the woods! If you’re interested in more detailed information, take a look at the links below for some specific advice on the more nuanced aspects of camping.

Camp life is made easier by gaining experience and learning the tricks. Here are some great camping tips and advice to help make your camping adventures more enjoyable.

Reader Tip: Keep Clean while Camping with a Pump Sprayer

Avoid the Itch

Avoiding Unwanted Animal Visits

Buying a Sleeping Bag

Buying a Tent

Camp Cooking Tips

Capture your Memories

Camping in a Hammock

Camping with your Dog

Consider Renting an RV

Camping with your Kids

Having the Proper Equipment

Home-made Firestarters

Choosing that Perfect Campsite

Exposure to Ticks

Hiking

How to Build a Campfire

How to Dress for the Outdoors

Keeping an Outdoor Adventure Photo Journal

Keeping the Bugs Away

Leave No Trace

Miscellaneous Tips and Advice

Purifying your Drinking Water

RV Tips and Resources

Rain, Rain Go Away

Taking a Campground Shower

Tree, Plant, Bird and Animal Identification

Personalized Jigsaw Puzzles

Using Portable Heaters Overnight In Tents Poses Carbon Monoxide Threat To Campers

Want to Play A Game?

Winter Camping Can be a Wonderful Experience

Winter Crafts for Kids

RV Resources

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22 Replies to “Camping Tips”

  1. My 6-year-old son and I are beginning campers. We’re looking to buy a tent for us and my wife. We’ll be car camping, driving to a site rather than backpacking, starting at Stone Mountain, Georgia, with a concrete pad site. After some research, I’m now deciding between a Suisse Sport 10 X 8 tent and a Kelty Trail Dome 4 and want to go ahead and get one. Any thoughts and any other suggestions in this price range? Thanks, Bill Hankins

  2. Nice tips given I would like to add some more thing. The point given on the third number should be highlighted as best sleeping bags are a vital thing if you are going for some sort of camping..
    thanks 🙂

  3. I like to cook before I go, like boil and rinse pasta. Make and freeze meatballs. Have salad ready washed. Not much of a tent camper…. but love our pop-up!!

  4. While reading the article and browsing through the comments, I was wondering, because of the economy, if any campers are finding that campgrounds are closed or restricted in some way?

    It might be a good idea to make sure camping parks are going to be open, when you plan to visit them.

  5. My mom was the best camper I ever met! She really hated getting the tent dirty (ironic, I know, as it is camping!) and always had the best ideas for keeping our campsite clean. One of her best ideas was to use a big mat outside the door of the tent. It was always a tidy trip with minimal dirt and mud in our tent at the end! Now I carry on the tradition…less clean up = more fun!! 🙂

  6. Love this article. I even mentioned it on my new blog about camping tips. I especially like the idea about bringing in a utility knife. It’s always a missed out item but it should be highly prioritized in anybody’s camping to go list.

  7. good tips! on your “what to bring in a camping trip list” I will add: small solar panel to charge your phone and gps is a good idea, a torch, a pepper spray… and yeap don’t forget the toilet paper 🙂 of course a waterproof light weight tent is vital, but this is already on your list!

  8. My son built a wigwam at scout camp and slept in it at night but didn’t put mosquito protection on sufficient and ended up with about 50 mosquito bites on his forehead. He ended up using a mosquito netting protection, most of the trip which helped.

  9. I love going on camp. Sometimes, I’m with my friends or family. This time, I want to do it all by myself. I just want to experience this kind of thing, and doing it alone. Thanks for the advice and tips you’ve shared.

  10. I really like your list of what to bring on a camping trip. My husband and I have been wanting to go to an atv campground for a while now. I think that these tips will really help us prepare and bring all that we need. Thanks for sharing!

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