Seasoned camper or novice there will come a time when an outdoor excursion will leave you feeling ill-prepared.
Camping, one of humankind's oldest and simplest of pastimes, is a time for loved ones to bond together, reconnect with nature and, if you're lucky with the weather, sleep under the stars. However, despite meticulous planning, things inevitably go awry as the vision of a peaceful retreat is shattered by people being too hot or cold, uncomfortable and hungry.
Find out the things not to do when camping so you can avoid them on your next adventure.
Choosing the Wrong Sized Tent
One-man tent, two-man tent, or three-man tent? With so many options available, which one do you pick?
When it comes to tents, it's always best to go a few sizes bigger than the actual number sleeping inside. For tents that are described as three-man tents, look at it as one-man plus their gear, or two people plus their bags and supplies (who don't mind being in close quarters).
However, if you're lucky enough to have a large porch area, most of the gear can be stored here, which will give you more room to play with. For a two-man tent look at it as one "cramped" man and his gear, whereas a one-man tent or bivi will be big enough for one person (and if you're lucky you might be able to squeeze a bag inside).
Cooking Inside Your Tent
Despite the fact that there are potential serious risks for starting a fire or cooking with gas/propane inside a tent, people still often do it, even if it's just to get some warmth.
While the risk of fire is considerably high in such a confined area, carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer that can be swift in unventilated spaces.
Lack of Sufficient Lighting
We've all forgotten to bring our head torch and some spare batteries at some point, but with the nights drawing in, a head torch should be at the top of your list when packing your camping gear.
If you happen to pitch up when there is no light pollution to guide your way, a head torch or a battery-powered lantern will come in handy. A head torch, however, will leave your hands free to do other stuff like making sure your tent has been pitched right and that you've picked a suitable camping spot.
Location, Location, Location
While it's easy to just pitch your tent in the first spot you find, it's worthwhile taking the time to scout out the ideal location.
Remove any stones you find underfoot and try to make the ground as flat as possible before pitching your tent. Not only will this stop you from having a painful night's sleep, but it will stop you ripping your tent floor on any loose, sharp stones.
Don't Pick the Lowest Spot
If it rains you'll soon know about it, as the rain water will simply pool around your tent floor and possibly inside if your tent is not as waterproof as you imagined.
When scouting out a potential location as mentioned above, make sure that you are on high ground to avoid any potential washouts if it does rain.
Arriving at the Campsite Late
Unless you're camping in the middle of nowhere, this won't be such an issue for you, but if you're camping on a shared field with other campers, you will know that turning up late can be a full on headache.
Arriving in late hours, searching for a free spot to pitch your tent and having to set up in the dark while trying to be as quiet as possible is the sort of stress you don't want to deal with at the beginning of your camping trip. Not only that, but there is the added risk of making sure you don't run over a tent by mistake while roaming the field for the perfect spot.
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Not Trying Your Kit Out Beforehand
Camping should be fun, so why make things harder for yourself and not check your gear before leaving your house? Sure, you might know your kit inside out, but you don't want to discover a major issue five hours from home without any way of dealing with the problem.
Pitch your tent before leaving and make sure the poles are working. Pour water over your tent to see if it's still waterproof. Blow up your air mattress and see if there are any leaks. Check your head torch and make sure you have spare batteries on hand.
Leaving Food Unattended
Unless you want some unwanted visitors during the night, you should make sure that you pack away any food before heading off to bed. Foxes, possums and bears are known to wander through the night if they smell something they want.
Before going to sleep, pack up your food items and place them away from where you're sleeping. You could put them on your roof rack or tie them up a tree, although the tree option is not always a deterrent for those keen on finding out what's inside.
Not Knowing Where You're Going
While camping should be as relaxed as possible, it doesn't hurt to know exactly where you're heading. Whether you're wild camping or pitching up at a campground, you should have some idea of your destination and surroundings.
By doing sufficient research beforehand, you can spend more time having fun when you get there.
Forgetting that Camping is Meant to be Fun
Remember that the reason you're camping is because you enjoy getting away from your day-to-day lifestyle. You may have to abstain from a few creature comforts, you may realize too late that you forgot to pack toilet paper, and you may have to sleep on a hard surface, but apart from these minor trivialities camping is great for the soul.
Laugh, have fun and learn from any mistakes you make to improve on for next time.