Camping is indeed a very enjoyable activity, but even experienced campers would say that it’s a challenging one. No matter how long you’ve been camping, mistakes are inevitable – you forgot something important at home, you failed to pack enough food, it slipped your mind to check the weather forecast and so on.
Mistakes are part of the adventure, but it’s better if they’re avoided (because they can definitely ruin your trip).
So whether you’re a first time camper or an experienced one, here are some of the most common camping mistakes and how you can avoid them:
1. Not doing research
If you’re planning a camping trip, research is vital, especially if it’s your first time at a campsite. Each camping ground has their own set of rules and regulations, and they offer different amenities. You don’t want to be bringing your furry friends to camp only to find out that the campsite has a strict no-pet policy. Or arriving there discovering that there are no bathrooms or running water.
It’s ideal to call the campsite ahead for any questions, concerns or directions, or read reviews by previous campers on the site’s website or on forums. Make sure you find out where the nearest hospital and convenience store are in case of emergencies.
Tip: Ask for a list of poisonous plants that inhabit the park or campground so you know what to avoid and what to prepare for.
2. Not creating a checklist
When you’re packing for a camping trip, you’re basically bringing the “whole house” with you – the challenge is choosing the MOST ESSENTIAL things you’ll need because space is a very big commodity in camping.
A lot of preparation is required, and the most effective way to make sure that nothing important is forgotten is by making a checklist. Divide your checklist in different categories like clothing, sleeping gear, personal items (toiletries, medicine, IDs, money), kitchen items, kits (first-aid, tent repair, emergency) etc.
Tick each item as you pack them in your bag, then do a double check before leaving.
Tip: If you plan on building a campfire, bring your own firewood (you can buy some in stores). Don’t assume that there will be some at your campsite. Even if there was, it’s not okay to collect firewood from there because it’s not good for the forest if every camper did that.
3. Failing to test equipment
Not testing out new camping gear is one of the most common mistakes that new campers make. As a result, they end up discovering during the trip that they don’t know how to put up their newly-bought tent, that their inflatable pillow has a hole in it or their sleeping bag is extremely uncomfortable to sleep in.
Always test out new gear – make sure all parts are complete, nothing is damaged and that you know how to work it. Do a test run in your backyard at least a week before your trip. Test out your camping gear and practice setting up and tearing down your tent.
4. Arriving too late at your campsite
Experts recommend that you arrive at your campsite early in the morning, especially if you only have a few days or the weekend for your trip. If you can’t travel early, arrive to have at least 3 hours of daylight before your first night’s sleep.
This will give you plenty of time to set up camp and prepare your meal for the night. You can do so in the dark, but even with lighting, it will be more complicated and will be harder for you to relax.
5. Expecting to cook only over a campfire
Having a bonfire is one of the best parts of camping. You can roast marshmallows, drink beer and tell stories around it and even cook some of your meals. But relying on cooking your every meal over an open fire all the time is a mistake.
If it rains, you’ll be in trouble. It’s also not exactly convenient to cook over a campfire, as it takes a lot of work and takes too long (you don’t want to waste precious time just preparing your meals). While you can cook soups over an open fire easily, bring a portable stove to prepare your other meals.
6. Cooking Elaborate Meals
When you’re outdoors, it’s best to cook simple meals to save time and effort. As mentioned, you don’t want to be stuck cooking a “fancy meal” when you could be enjoying activities you came there to do.
Plan out your daily meals and prepare the ingredients beforehand (make sure to pack them safely in your cooler). Go for non-perishable foods as much as you can. The same goes for your snacks – bring simple snacks that pack a lot of energy like trail mix, energy bars and peanut butter.
If you want to learn how to pack a cooler the right way, read our blog post about it here.
7. Being Noisy Campers
There’s nothing wrong with partying with your friends around the campfire at night, as long as you’re being considerate to other campers. Many people go on outdoor trips to relax, unwind and just enjoy nature – and that should always be respected.
Many campsites have imposed “quiet hours” to let campers get a good night’s sleep, so be sure to observe it. Keep the noise and music at a low and always be aware of your neighbors.
8. Leaving the campsite dirty
A camper who has utmost respect for nature (and fellow campers) would never leave a campsite dirty. If you arrived at a dirty campsite, you too would feel frustrated.
Dispose of your garbage properly and always try to keep the grounds neat and clean the moment you arrive. Follow the Leave No Trace principle.
Keeping a clean campsite will help keep bears and other wildlife away from it, too!
It’s okay to make mistakes, because camping is a continuous learning process. What matters is that you learn from them.
Avoiding the above mentioned common camping mistakes will ensure a safer, more enjoyable trip outdoors!
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