This past year we all found ourselves yearning to get away but very limited on where we could go. One of my favorite “fruits” of quarantine is the influx of camping families. Camping was great a way to get a change of scenery but still stay relatively distanced from others. For many, this is a new experience but there are also families who already camped regularly. Either way, it’s always helpful to have awesome camping tips to prepare you for what to expect in nature.
Now, let me drop a little disclaimer here. I am new to camping as an adult. So when I say camping, I mean quote unquote “camping.” There are showers and flush toilets involved. So it’s not quite “glamping” but we’re not totally roughing it either.
Growing up camping was not something I did with my family. Most of my opportunities came from going with summer camps, church groups, or a friend’s family. This means I never had to be part of the planning process or know any camping tips. I just had to show up with a sleeping bag and change of clothes.
Now as an adult things are a little different when going camping.
These days, even if I’m not part of the planning, there’s still work to be done, especially with kids of your own. You basically have to pack up everything you need to build a little home for a few days. The best way to do that is to be as organized as possible and follow lots of “Tips and Tricks.”
These camping tips are things that have made my experience not so shocking and help me to enjoying these adventures!
#1 – Checklist
Find yourself an excellent checklist that fits your needs. We like to be comfortable so we bring a lot of stuff but we also like to keep it simple. Use this post of camping tips as a basis for your checklist, and then build it out with other things you want to bring like foods, clothes, accessories etc.
#2 – Storage Bins
I like to use at least two bins. One for kitchen stuff and one for regular camping set-up stuff. The kitchen bin has everything I need for prepping food, pots/pans, utensils (including disposable utensils), seasonings, condiments, etc. My setup bin is everything I need to set up camp, lights, batteries, water dispenser, tablecloths, citronella candle, lighters, matches, etc.
Side note: We don’t keep tools or any set-up hardware in here; my husband has a large 10-gallon bucket for that stuff.
#3 – A pad or mat for under your air mattress.
That is if you’re using an air mattress. I told you, we like to be comfortable. This is a new discovery for me after two very cold camping trips. The first trip is when we bought our tent heater. The second trip, I couldn’t figure out why we were so cold with the heater.
Apparently, when you use an air mattress, the spaces that hold the air get cold from the ground and the best way to prevent that is to use a mat. A tarp under your tent is not sufficient.
#4 – Heater
After an extremely cold first night of camping last year, we went ahead and did a pick up order of an awesome heater that can be used inside your tent. Yes, inside.
It runs off propane so make sure you get enough to last. We probably went through 4 small cans a night on full blast but this was before I knew about the pad under the air mattress.
#5 – Propane Canisters
We bring several small cans of propane. It’s better to go home with some than to run out. Alternately you could bring larger cans.
#6 – Propane Stove
I know people like to cook over a campfire, but for us it’s not always reasonable. You can control the temp and it turns everything black. So this is one of those camping tips that may be for some people but not everyone.
#7 – Water Dispenser
Most of the campgrounds we look for have a water spigot near our tent site. However, it’s usually non-potable. We bring a 5-gallon bottle with a rechargeable electric water spout. Water dispenses at the touch of a button, making washing your hands, brushing your teeth and filling your water bottle easy.
#8 – Shower Caddy and Robe
Using a public shower is tricky for me so here’s what I do: I bring a shower caddy with my toiletries minus toothpaste and toothbrush. That’s the last place I want to bring my toothbrush.
I also bring a cleaning spray to spray down the shower before I use it. Even wearing shower shoes, you never know. I bring the robe so I can just get dressed in my tent.
You also want to find out ahead of time if you need quarters or tokens for the shower.
#9 – Portable toilet
So, last summer we brought my son’s little potty for multiple reasons, the two main ones being bathrooms being closed for COVID and last minute potty needs. But now he has physically outgrown his potty seat. Couple that with a scary experience I had walking to the bathroom alone in the middle of the night, and we had a need to upgrade to an adult size portable potty.
Ours folds up and you just drop a special bag that comes with some gel or powder inside. We set ours up inside the tent on top of a tarp but they make little privacy pop-ups you can get if that’s too weird for you.
I just refuse to exit the tent at night and my son can easily use the toilet without waking us up if he needs to.
#10 – Hammock
No special reason. It’s just really nice to have one and the rope doubles as a clothesline.
#11 – Tent
Get a much larger tent than you think you will need. We use a 12-person tent for our family of 3. Tents are measured by the number of people that fill it laying down, wall-to-wall. We use a king-size air mattress, my son has a twin air mattress, and we have a corner designated to the potty.
#12 – Firewood
Check the price of wood on-site vs off-site. The price difference may be big considering you may go through a lot. You may find firewood at a better price off-site.
It’s also important to be aware that you if you are camping out of town, don’t bring wood from your home area.
#13 – Mosquito Bracelets
I prefer these because we can wear them in the shower and still be protected from those little twerps.
These camping tips were compiled from the two camping trips I’ve taken in my adult life. I am by no means and expert camper nor do I have the desire to do camping that involves words like “hike-in site” or “primitive site.”
But I hope you find this advice helpful, regardless of whether you’re an experienced or amateur camper. And if you’re an expert camper, I’d love to hear your genius camping tips so please comment with them below!