How To Go Camping – Beginners Guide To Preparing For Your First Camping Trip

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Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

How To Go Camping - Beginners Guide To Preparing For Your First Camping Trip

What is camping?

Most people understand camping as leaving your usual surroundings and living in nature for a period of time. 

It is possible to ‘day camp’ where you just go and hang out in nature for the day and return home at night, but in most cases, camping will involve staying for at least one night in a natural location away from the modern conveniences we enjoy. 

Why go camping?

Camping is one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences that you can have. It combines things like sleeping under the stars, exploring new destinations, bonding with nature, and making lifelong friends.

Moreover, it is so much more than just roughing it in the wilderness for a week or two.

Rather than staying in hotels where every single meal was cooked by someone else, camping forces you to be more self-sufficient: cooking your food on an open flame or camping stove, packing your clothes and gear, and pitching a tent.

Different types of camping

Tent camping, backpacking or hiking, survival camping, canoe camping, and RV or caravan camping are all different types of camping. No one type of camp is better than another. It comes down to what you want to do and how you will spend your time away. 

What do you need for your first camping trip?


A tent is a portable shelter that provides sleeping and storage space for you and your group. They come in all shapes and sizes. It usually consists of a lightweight frame set up with cloth stretched over it, similar to a large tarpaulin.

Some tents have walls made from mesh or mosquito netting, which allows air to circulate inside the shelter but prevents large insects from entering. 

Many early nomadic cultures used tents as portable dwellings, and even today, many backcountry tourists use them as lightweight shelters while hiking and on extended backcountry camping trips.

How to choose a good tent?

The best way to think about a tent is as a temporary home that protects you from the elements. Tents are usually made of cloth or nylon fabric which means they’re lightweight, portable, waterproof, durable, and breathable.

Tents have one major component – the pole system. Poles are made of lightweight aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. They are often found in small pieces that need to be assembled before each camping trip. The type of tent you’re using will determine how easy it is to set up your tent.

Know the various features to look out for when buying a tent: the size of tent interior, weight capacity, the material used in making the exterior and ceiling of the tent in case it rains, waterproofing material used in making walls and floor, number of rooms/bunks available inside or outside the tent especially if you are planning on spending long periods outdoors overnight.

Types of tent

  1. Dome Tent – A dome is like a single room of a larger tent that is open on top to have airflow. Dome tents also typically have fewer tie-downs for durability and less need for guy-out points than other designs. 
  2. A-Frame Tent – As frame tents go, the A-frame style has a steeply pitched triangular roof that’s supported by three or four support poles on each side. A-frame tents usually have fewer tie-downs for durability and less need for guy-out points than other designs. 
  3. Multi-Room Tent – This is a large tent that has multiple rooms. Some multi-room tents can be connected or you can get a variety of them to make one really big tent. 
  4. Backpacking Tent – These are lightweight and portable tents that fit the description of “trail. Usually, they make great double duty as a summer cottage or bugout shelter as well. 
  5. Pop-Up Tent – Pop-up tents have a canopy with tubes (usually PVC) in them to create a tent shape. They are nice for reducing bugs and wind and staying relatively cool and dry during the night thanks to the lack of a complete floor. 
  6. Inflatable Tent – These are tents where all you do is inflate the airbag-type material found on almost every other type of tent then stake them down. They are great for car camping and backyard fun but not very durable when used in a more serious environment.
  7. Teepee – Teepee-style tents are like a dome that has no vestibule and no floor, just a few stakes or poles on the ground. They are easier to set up than other styles of tents but they typically don’t provide as much protection from the elements. 

Sleeping bag

How to choose a good sleeping bag?

The first step is to think about the size of the sleeping bag; this could be related to the type of camping area. It may also be an issue if you are sharing your sleeping bag with another person.

You don’t want to choose one that is either too big or too small. It’s also important that you consider weight as well as temperature rating. You need a good, light, and warm sleeping bag no matter where you plan on camping or how long you plan on being out there.

You should also consider the environment you will be sleeping in as well. If you know that it will be cold at night, then it is best to choose a heavier sleeping bag.

When looking for a sleeping bag, it is important to consider what type of camping trip you are going on.

Is it a quick 3-day trip or a 6-week camping tour? This does make a difference in the choice you make because if your trip is several weeks long, then obviously, you want to look for something bigger.

But if your quick weekend getaway only lasts 3 days, then you may want to keep the weight down and go with something smaller. If you are taking a go-anywhere style of trip, there is no need to go looking for the biggest sleeping bag that you can find. Just do whatever is comfortable for you.

Cooking essentials for camping

A few of the most important cooking essentials for camping are going to make preparing meals and cooking food a lot easier. If it’s your first time or you just like to be prepared, then here is everything you’ll need for cooking on the go. 

Cooking utensils

Having cooking utensils will help you in preparing and consuming your meals. At a minimum, you’ll want knives, forks, and spoons for food consumption.

If you are tight on space, you can also use them to prepare your food, but if you have space, you could also include basic spatula and tongs to help with the majority of food preparation tasks. A Can opener is also a great idea for when you need a quick and easy meal with very little preparation. 


There is so much you can do while camping when you have the right cookware. When you have a pan or pot, you can use it to boil water in the pot for cereal, pasta, or just hot tea to warm up within in cold winter weather.

Fry your fish or sausages on a frying pan or make eggs. Make hot chocolate, a cup of tea, or coffee. Having cookware on your camping trip will help you enjoy the adventure!

A simple non-stick fry pan can be used for a huge variety of meals, so that should be a ‘must have’ as well as a billy or some kind of pot/saucepan to boil water in and mix other food.

Easy foods for camping

If you plan your camping trip carefully, it can be a healthy, fun experience. But it’s not always easy, though, to come up with the best camping meals without having much time to prepare in advance.

Breakfast for camping

The first meal of the day is very important. You want something quick and easy to prepare as well as something that will give your body energy to get through the morning.

Popular camping breakfasts, because of their simplicity and nutritional value, are cereals (muesli, porridge, etc.), and if you have the time, some coked eggs and toast are also a good start to the day. 

Lunch For Camping

You can have lunch in the middle of your afternoon hiking, or you can eat it before you go hiking and save your appetite for a nice dinner with friends. You can have a prepared salad with fresh greens, fruits and vegetables or beans.

You can also add nuts, seeds, or walnuts to make it more nutritious. You can add low-fat salad dressings to the greens in the bag so that they don’t spoil easily.

Fruit smoothies are a great option for lunch if you want something refreshing and healthy. You can have this healthy, yummy, and filling fruit-based snack packed in a ziplock bag.

Snacks for camping 

You can bring your favorite snacks and eat them – you can also have salad, chips, cookies, and more. 

Dinner for camping

The last meal of the day is very important. Your cooking gear will determine what dinner options you have available, and the season will also impact this as it will determine whether you can have a fire or not.

If you have a campfire, you can set up a hot plate over the coals and cook all sorts of meats and vegetables on the hot plate – you could do the same thing in a saucepan over a camping stove. 

Personal items

There are a lot of things to bring when going camping. It is best to prepare for all possible situations. For example, you may want to bring spare clothes and shoes for each person in the family, a small shovel, and jumper cables. It is always important to pack light but bring what you’ll need if anything happens. 

You can bring insect repellent, Sunscreen, a map of the area, or a GPS unit. Bring pet food if you are camping where pets are allowed.

Do not forget child-friendly sunscreen and bug repellent, toys, and books. Bring cash, extra keys, and personal belongings that you may use every day.

Camping chairs and tables

Camping chairs and tables are a very important part of every camping kit because you must have something to sit on when you are relaxing at your campsite. You cannot relax properly without a chair or table, and thus they should be part of any good camping gear list.

You cannot relax properly unless you have comfortable chairs and tables, which will make it easier for you to enjoy your surroundings. Some people even find that reading a book or playing cards at night while sitting or eating can help them relax.

First aid and hygiene kit

You will need a first aid kit, extra prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, as well as any medical devices that require electricity or batteries. You can also bring deodorant/antiperspirant, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, jackknife, or multi-tool for emergency repairs.

Camping clothes

What are the right clothes for camping?

Always plan to wear a lot of layers during a camping trip. A lot of people don’t think about this and end up catching a cold or worse, becoming ill from the humidity in the air while wearing heavy clothes that they didn’t need. A good idea is to bring clothes designed specifically for camping. 

Select bright colors when packing for one’s trip so that it doesn’t get lost amid all the trees and leaves around you. Bring more than enough clothes, and be sure to pack extra socks. When packing your clothes for a camping trip, it’s important to think about the weather.

Don’t wear too many layers at once while camping so that you don’t get too hot. The temperature drops at night, so make sure you have something on underneath your outerwear sweater or jacket to stay warm enough throughout the evening hours and while sleeping in your tent or another shelter.

Wear clothes that are loose-fitting and lightweight for a camping trip. Cotton clothing will absorb more than its fair share of water when worn in the woods. If you must wear cotton, wear it over something light like nylon.

Other important things

Camping is different from everything else you do. When you’re out there in the wilderness, it can be light years away from civilization, and it can feel like a long way to get back. But for some people, that’s the whole point of camping: being in an environment where you’re not allowed to have all your modern luxuries. 

There are some basic things you should bring with you when going camping: lights, tools, a shovel and more. Tiny LED lanterns are great so long as they are powered by AAA batteries. 

If you’re going to be using a lantern at all times, consider getting one that has a long lifetime on the batteries. A decent tool kit is your friend, and the basic tools you’ll need to get started camping will help you. You can bring a small toolbox with hammers, pliers, and basic tools.

How to make camping fun?

Camping is supposed to be a fun trip, with no worries or stress in mind. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of camping activities and games that will make your next trip to the woods one you won’t forget. Have a family-minded camping getaway, or go solo and explore your favorite place while practicing for any future backpacking trips.


Many people spend their weekends going camping, and while this is a great way to get away from the busy world, many people quickly tire of the outdoors. One option for people who are camping would be swimming in the natural lakes or rivers that are available on many campsites.

You can also go swimming with friends and family who enjoy doing this as well. While swimming in a lake or river isn’t your typical pool experience, it is the best way to cool off during a hot and humid day. 

You should also think about taking advantage of any pool toys that happen to be available at any given time. This could include water noodles, floaties, and inner tubes.  Camping can be an adventure when you know how to make camping fun by swimming.

Fun games and activities

Make up a different song with lyrics based on something that is happening during your camping trip. Make sure to have fun and make the music the center of attention. A simple game to play when going camping is Giant Jenga.

This game is very similar to regular Jenga, except for the tower that you are trying to knock down requires you to have at least 5 people in it because it is so big. It’s fun but hard as well because it can’t be done by one person alone!

Cooking Competition

Have a cooking competition with your friends to see who the better cook is. Be sure to be generous and do an outdoors type of cooking, for example, grilling fish or beef on sticks. Some also enjoy using binoculars and trying to spot animals in the far distance. You can also play puzzles, card games, and more.


Camping is a great way to get away from your ordinary routine. But during the trip, you may find yourself lacking in activities.

So for an easy way to have fun while camping, go fishing! Sure, it may be a little more difficult than going to the movies or hanging out at a local restaurant, but it’s certainly worth the adventure. Fishing with your families and friends will help you enjoy and also catch a fish for dinner!


One thing that can add even more enjoyment to camping is hiking! The exercise will make it less likely that you’ll feel lethargic after sitting around doing nothing all day.

Whenever you go on a hike, make sure it’s not too dangerous or difficult. Sure, it might be really fun to hike up a waterfall or mountain and risk getting hurt in the process, but that’s not how you are going to have the best time camping!

Instead, look for hikes that are short and fun at your skill level. Spend some time learning about trail structures and terrain before you even step out on the trail. The more you know about hiking, the more prepared you’ll be when you go camping, even if it’s for just a few nights.


Camping trips can be about more than just sitting around a campfire and telling stories. There are so many fun activities that people love doing when camping.

Perhaps the most popular thing to do when camping is to sit around the campfire and tell stories. A bonfire can be an awesome place to do this: it’s a great way of sharing your life events with your friends and of just enjoying being together. 

Best camping tips with kids

Give them tasks or chores

As a family, you are heading out for a weekend outdoors, heading to camp. Along the way, there is always one thing on your mind: how can you keep your little ones entertained? The answer may come as a surprise to some parents, but giving kids chores and tasks when camping will help with just that.

From meal prep, setting up tents and sleeping bags, cleaning dishes, tending to pets, to creating campfires – these task-oriented tasks will engage kids in learning new skills while building confidence.

Give them their own backpack

Many parents think they’re preparing their kids for the outdoors by loading them up with a slew of essentials – like sleeping bags, tents, and playing cards. But in reality, they’re leaving their children woefully unprepared for what might come in the simple act of camping.

It makes sense then why you should give your kids their own backpacks when camping. Even if they’re in elementary years, most preschoolers can easily carry a torso pack on their backs (think about the size of a backpack you might use for school) and fit everything else into outer pockets like pouches. It would help them be independent and ready for any situation.

Bring enough and appropriate clothes for them

When you pack for your next outdoor adventure, don’t forget to pack your kids’ clothes. If you don’t bring clothes for them, it’s going to be a very chilly day on the trail. The trick is to pack enough and appropriate clothing so that they are comfortable and warm.

If you camp in the summer, you might want to pack light and leave their jackets and pants at home. During the spring, summer, and fall, kids will need very light clothing so they can be active. If you’re camping in the wintertime, pack as much as possible to insulate them from cold weather and wind.

For shorter trips where your kids must be fully dressed all day (say backpacking), pack light but make sure they have enough clothing for the length of your trip. For longer trips where you’ll need some gear to cool off and change clothes, pack accordingly.

Your child’s activity level will help determine how much clothing you should pack. Keep in mind that if they are very active at camp, you may need to provide additional layers of clothing than if they’re just playing around the campsite.

Let them explore 

While on a camping trip, nothing is quite as exciting and rewarding for a kid as outdoor exploration. Whether it’s an all-day hike through the woods, an overnight in a backcountry campsite, or pitching a tent on the beach for the first time, kids love to explore.

And if you allow them freedom of movement without the worry of getting lost or hurt, they will take it as their mission to find something new. Just make sure to set call-time and give safety instructions for the kids, such as going back before it gets dark.

Bring their toys

Toys and games will keep the kids entertained. Include toys in your list of things to bring at home before you head out. This helps children express their creativity and also gives them something fun they can play with while waiting for mom and dad who are having fun in the lake or swimming.

Games can keep children entertained for hours no matter where they go. Think of small games for children like chess or blocks, painting games or arts and crafts, and even pretend play can be interesting since kids tend to be imaginative with their imagination.

Tips for camping with pets

Always Keep Them Warm Or Cool

If you are going to go camping with your pet, you must maintain contact with your pet during the trip. Keeping them warm or cool can help extend their life and make them more comfortable.

In addition, it will decrease the stress of being alone in a new environment to help keep your pet calm and less likely to get anxious.

It is important to make sure your pet is warm while you are camping. When outdoors, your pet’s body temperature can drop more quickly than yours, and this can cause your pet to become sick. Also, if the nighttime temperatures drop, it can be dangerous for your pet to be outside alone.

To ensure that your animal stays comfortable and safe from the elements, think about bringing a portable heater with you when you go camping for the night or making sure they have bedding that will keep them warm enough on their own.

Keeping cool while camping in hot weather may also require consideration of how to keep your animal at a comfortable temperature.

Give Your Pets Them A Proper Sleeping Area When Camping

It’s always a good idea to make sure your pets are comfortable and secure when you go camping while meeting your other needs too.

If you’re camping in a tent, make sure the floor is easy on/off and lofted so that there is less wear and tear on the animal’s paws.

Meanwhile, if you’re camping in a camper, make sure the dog walk is raised and has something comfortable for them to lay on. Make sure your pet’s sleeping area is protected from drafts by having some sort of barriers, like some foil or tinfoil. This will keep bugs away from the sleeping area and will allow air circulation when needed by your pet.

Give Them Toys

If you are camping with your animals, a quick trip to the nearest pet store to get some pet toys will make your camping experience much more enjoyable. Your dog or cat can run around and get exercise without injuring themselves.

Your animal will also be able to play with new toys that they may not have had the opportunity to do so in their home. Don’t worry about leaving them alone while you’re gone for hours on end. There are plenty of toys like balls and boxes that can keep your pet entertained all day long.

Bring Poo Bags

When bringing pets to your adventure, having poo bags ready will save you time and energy on cleaning your pet’s waste. Poo bags are cheap, lightweight, easy to carry, and come packed conveniently into tight holders. They are also very handy in all weather conditions.

Do’s and Don’ts For New Campers


Check the weather before going

If you are considering a camping trip, spending the night outdoors, and know ahead of time that you will be sleeping in a tent or under the stars, check the weather forecast before you head out.

If it is clear and dry outside without any precipitation for several days ahead of your planned visit, consider heading into town for an overnight stay. Spending a few extra moments looking up current conditions can help ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.

If there are any issues with safety or weather conditions prohibiting travel as well as preserving natural resources such as water supplies and plant life, consult your local public officials about how to proceed.

Bring extra clothes

Many people look forward to camping trips, but being prepared is the key to having a successful trip. One thing that too many people forget about is often valuable items like clothes. If you forget important items like extra clothes, you may not be as comfortable or have as much fun on your trip.

If something happens, such as a damp tent or a tear in your backpack, you may want to change into some dry clothes. Another reason why many people forget to bring extra clothes is that they do not factor in the chance of getting dirty when camping.

You may want to go for a hike and get yourself dirty. By bringing extra clothes, you will be able to stay clean throughout the rest of your trip. This way, nobody else has to hear about how fun it was to hike through mud puddles with you.

Follow camping rules

Camping is a perfect opportunity to enjoy nature and get away from your day-to-day grind, but it’s important to follow the rules of camping so you can have fun and make some memories without worrying about getting in trouble.

There are a ton of campsite regulations that should be followed, like how far away from the water you are allowed to camp or not to bring your pets on site. 

Bring extra storage

One of the most time-consuming and annoying parts of going camping is deciding what to bring with you.

As you pack, you’ll have to balance bringing enough clothes, food, and other necessities for the trip while not weighing yourself down too much. But don’t forget one important thing: storage space.

No matter how big or small your storage needs are for something like dry goods for cooking or freshwater, be sure to bring an extra bag or backpack with you for easy transportation back and forth from camp.

Put your trash in your trash bags

Trash bags are always a great way to make your camping trip much more enjoyable – but if you’re like most people, you probably carry it all around with you wherever you go. In the end, this can be messy and cause a lot of trouble for anyone who comes across it. It’s not even just a big pile of trash that starts to smell in the woods!

It’s best if you use your trash bags as intended and put your trash into them before going out on the trail. This will help keep any odor from getting out and causing any problems for everyone when things start to get dirty or wet! It’ll also make cleanup easier because there will be no nasty messes all over the ground.

Make a checklist

It is always a good idea to be prepared when going camping. This includes knowing what to pack and in what order before you leave on your trip. It also includes making a checklist of the items that you feel are necessary to make your trip successful.

The main benefits of making a list include: knowing exactly what equipment you need while packing, knowing in advance which foods to bring with you, and being able to prepare for any weather conditions ahead of time so there is no chance for unpleasant surprises while out in the wilderness on your trip.

Making a checklist of the items that you feel are necessary to make your trip successful will help ensure that you don’t forget any essentials, including those things that are not typically thought about when packing for a camping trip.


Arrive At Dark

Arriving at dark should be avoided where possible as you will not have enough time to prepare and set up your camp. It would be hard to cook for dinner and to organize everything you have brought with you. You should always research your location before camping, so you know what to expect.

This includes the amount of light given from the moon, the amount of light given from stars, and if there are any animals in the area, your should be aware of their scent. 

Leave Your Bags Open

Camping is a great way to be surrounded by nature in a safe environment. But there are many things that you should do to ensure that this campsite is not going to be the place where your bags get opened, and their contents are stolen.

There is no reason why you should need to worry about these things when camping, but they can happen if you leave your bags open during the night or camp for long periods of time.

Be Loud Or Noisy

It is important to be respectful of the campsites that you are visiting. The last thing that we want to do on a camping trip makes any noise or disturbance that will disturb the other campers in the area, so it’s important to be mindful of our surroundings.

One way to avoid disturbing other campers at night time when it gets dark early. Be sure not to crank your car engine too much as well so that there’s not too much noise.

Leave A Fire Unattended

Camping is much more fun when you can roast marshmallows and have your friends and family sitting around the fire with you. Let’s first talk about why it’s important not to leave a fire unattended while camping.

Imagine that it has been raining all day and you want to go for a walk in the woods and explore where nobody has been before. If someone left an ember from the campfire to smolder, then you may end up with a forest fire on your hands. Leaving a fire unattended can burn the campsite and even start a forest fire.

Abuse The Campsite

You should not abuse the campsite when camping because it destroys the natural environment; it disrupts the wildlife in the area and makes them afraid of humans. It increases the risk of forest fires and deprives travelers of scenic views that they are free to enjoy if they camp responsibly.

It puts other travelers at risk by further disrupting wildlife and damaging plants with car tires, excessive camping fires, improperly used bear-proof boxes, human waste disposal disturbances, and littering.

It may seem like a harmless habit, but it scars the land and deprives others of the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. It can also get you in a lot of trouble.

Camping responsibly means not camping on private property without permission, not cutting down trees or using their branches for campfires, and properly disposing of human waste on wilderness lands.

You should also make sure that you have all your food safely stored away from bears, that you do not build campfires near roadways or at low-level places where they are difficult to extinguish, and that you leave no evidence of your presence when leaving a campsite.