Camping is a lot of fun, though a lot of first-time campers will make these common mistakes.
Do you remember you first time? Camping if you aren't familiar with the outdoors can be challenging. Here's how you can tell a virgin camper.
1. You bring everything but the kitchen sink.
When my husband and I went on our first backpacking/camping trip, we packed so much stuff in our backpacks, that within a quarter of a mile into our hike to the campsite, our knees were weak; but we still had an entire mile to go! It was miserable.
Many first-time campers want to feel comforted by bringing their stuff from home to wherever they are. They don't want to feel like they're going to be without anything. However, you quickly realize that you really didn't need three lanterns or 20 gallons of water. To avoid this, make a list and revise it at least a couple times and really ask yourself, "Do I NEED this?"
Remember that you're only camping for a couple days, not moving.
2. You aren't familiar with your gear.
Did you just buy a new tent but didn't set it up before heading out? You need to familiarize yourself with your gear so that you can understand how it all works and work out any kinks that you may have. You do not want to be dealing with problems when you're setting up and trying to get your fun camping weekend started. Lay out your gear and test it all a couple days before you leave. If anything isn't working out, you'll have ample time to figure out a solution.
3. Your food prep is on par with a professional chef.
You don't want to be Gordon Ramsey when you're camping but you don't need to skimp on food, either. There should be a good balance of simple food that everyone will also enjoy eating. Fresh food is fine, but remember that you need a way to store that fresh food, and to keep that fresh food either locked in your vehicle or strung up so bears and other creatures can't get to it. You won't want to spend the majority of time making each meal, so the easier the better.
4. You forget comfortable bedding.
When you're camping, you need to get a good night's rest, especially if you've just spent all day exerting a bunch of energy. The ground usually isn't the most comfortable place to sleep. You don't need to bring a full size blow up mattress, but they do sell lightweight pads which will provide some extra comfort so you can get your much needed rest. Get the sleep you need and invest in comfortable bedding.
5. You forget something important, like the first aid kit.
While you shouldn't bring too much, you also shouldn't forget important things like the first aid kit. Get a designated first aid kit that is just for camping, something more compact so it doesn't take up a lot of room or weigh too much. Remember, make a list and don't forget the first aid kit!
6. You have no backup plans.
You should have at least one backup plan for each scenario. What happens if you planned on making a fire but you get there and they say there's a burn ban or they don't allow campfires? What happens if that trail that you wanted to go on is closed? What happens if that one camping spot that you wanted is taken? Pre-planning is important, but things can change all the time. You need to have backups and be flexible. Camping is supposed to be fun so if something doesn't go according to plan, go to plan B!
7. You forget a garbage bag.
Leave No Trace is incredibly important to follow when you're enjoying the outdoors. Bring a trash bag and keep all of your trash inside that trash bag. Take that trash bag back with you to your home and dispose of it. Or dispose of it in proper trash bins at the campsite. Keep the outdoors beautiful and leave no trace.
8. You forget playing cards.
There will be downtime when you can't get out and enjoy the outdoors, like after meals or right before bed. Do you have a deck of cards or any games you can play? Make sure that you're not bringing full-on board games, but any type of card game or even a scavenger hunt is usually perfect for camping.
9. You wear boots that you haven't broken in yet.
If it's your first time camping, it's highly recommended to have a good pair of boots. However, you shouldn't buy the boots and then wear them for the first time on your camping trip. You need adequate time to break in those boots so that you're not getting any blisters or experience any discomfort while you're trying to have a good time.
10. You forget about your limitations.
Do you have asthma? Do you have severe allergies? You shouldn't let your limitations prevent you from having a great time camping, but if you do have some sort of limitation, don't let it get the best of you! Take the appropriate medication or take the proper precautions when necessary. Remember, camping is supposed to be about fun! Don't push yourself to do something that you'll regret later.
If it is your first time in the woods, don't be embarrassed. If you follow these tips then you will be a man or person of the trail in no time!