Camping is all fun and games until you run out of food, your torch runs out of batteries and your tent has a hole in it.
These are the most common mistakes for first time campers and how to avoid making the same mistakes.
Research your camp site
Are you staying at a campsite with amenities? Or are you going to the middle of the woods? How long will you be staying? Are there washing facilities? Is there electricity on site? How far away is the campsite? Is there a nearby shop? Will there be anywhere to stop for fuel? All of these questions are vital in ensuring you have a holiday you will never forget for the right reasons.
Prepare for every weather (within reason)
The one thing that puts a downer on camping holidays is dealing with the weather. The UK is notorious for having weather that can’t make up it’s mind so having to prepare yourself for every weather is key to staying warm and dry but also protected in the sun. Winter sun can be just as harsh so don’t forget sun cream!
Check the forecast before you go but always be prepared for it to be wrong. Always make sure you pack a few tarps and some paracord – this will enable you to set up dry areas for you to take shelter, put up your tent and have a cooking area that wont be soaked before you even use it.
Waterproof clothes are one of the most vital pieces of clothing you should take – they keep you dry and also keep you warm without being heavy and taking up too much room.
If you’re already soaked through then hang a tarp and a clothes line near your camp fire, this should help the clothes dry overnight and they should be ready to wear.
Building a fire in the rain can be difficult but it isn’t impossible. Taking a reliable ignition source like a lighter with plenty of gas or waterproof matches will help you massively. Kindling is a small amount of fuel that will burn quickly, efficiently and hot. This is then used to start a full fire but if the camp ground is wet it may be hard to find. Try using a knife and scraping the bark from twigs to get to the dry wood inside – it’s a good idea to start piling up kindling to use in a dry place just in case the fire goes out. Many foods can be used as kindling – Tortillas are an excellent snack as well as great fire kindling (if you’re willing to part with them).
Tarps are also great for shade from the sun, in hot weather it’s crucial that you stay cool, sometimes the nearest hospital is hours away so you don’t want to risk sun stroke! Drink plenty of water and stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
Do not forget a torch! It may seem the most basic of equipment but many times inexperienced campers have forgotten the correct lighting and have struggled on in the dark. It’s not always time to say good night as soon as it gets a bit dark, it isn’t practical. Be sure to take plenty of lanterns and make sure every person that is going along has a torch and spare batteries. If you’re camping in the middle of the woods you need to be able to see where you’re walking or you could potentially trip over something that you can’t see. Headlights are good for little ones and adults and they will help you find your way but after a while, it’s going to get annoying, especially if you’re camping for a week. You can hang candle lanterns from trees, candles are safer to pack than batteries and can last just as long.
Portable tables are essential and most people don’t even realise that they need them. If you’re going to a campsite they may provide benches but you still need somewhere to cook. It’s not great preparing a meal for 4 on the ground, especially if it’s been raining. If you’re taking a car and not hiking to your campsite and you’re staying longer than one night you may as well take them, you will always use them!
Test before you go
The last thing anyone wants is to turn up at their campsite after driving hours to get there just to find out your tent has a hole in it, your new walking boots have already given you a blister and your sleeping bag isn’t big enough. Take a day before you go to just assemble your tent, that way you’re not being laughed at while you struggle tremendously trying to put together a 4 Person tent in front of the whole family and a campsite full of experienced campers. Pour a bucket of water over your fully assembled tent and check for leaks, if there are none, you’re ready to go.
Make sure you wear all footwear beforehand, break them in a little. You should wear sensible and comfortable footwear because you will be wearing your shoes for 12+ hours a day. No one likes a blister.
Your sleeping bag can also cause problems if you don’t test it before hand. Make sure it’s long enough, you don’t want to get there being 6ft 2″ and your sleeping bag is only 2ft 6″.
Test everything beforehand and that way you shouldn’t encounter any problems with your equipment.
Have a good nights sleep
Having a good nights sleep is the best feeling in the world. So why would you want to jeopardise a good nights sleep? Camping can be cold and uncomfortable but with the right equipment you can stay warm and comfortable for as long as you’re there.
Make sure you have a thick layer of something soft between you and the tent floor, this provides extra insulation which is a must because most of the cold comes from the ground. And let’s face it, sleeping on the cold, hard ground is enough to put anyone in a bad mood for the entire day.
Get a high quality sleeping bag! Sleeping bags are designed to keep you warm but some are better than others. All sleeping bags are designed differently, some are for extremely cold temperatures and others are just basic summer sleeping bags. It’s worth the investment – trust me!
If you’re staying at a campsite and you are not really a fan of early mornings then buy yourself some ear plugs and a sleeping mask – the campsite will probably start to wake around 6am, if you don’t want to be disturbed by people making their breakfast or going for a wash then these are vital. You can see our range of sleeping aids here.
If your pet peeve is putting on cold clothes on a cold morning then as you’re getting comfortable in your sleeping pop your clothes in a stuff sack and pop it at the bottom of your sleeping bag over night. This way you can wake up and put on your clothes without freezing!
No, that does’t mean you have to take your entire kitchen. Food can be cooked over a campfire but when there are 8 hungry campers all waiting for their sausages they are probably going to be waiting a while. A camping stove is always a good idea, it just helps you deal with meal times more efficiently.
One of the most common forgotten pieces of equipment is cooking utensils. How are you going to eat your sausage and beans if you can’t open the tin?
Think of basic things you use every single day and take them! Never be ashamed of taking too many forks or cups – they’re needed! It’s not just cutlery that people forget. Aluminium foil, cling film, paper towels and dishwashing liquid are also commonly forgotten. Potatoes wrapped in aluminium foil and thrown in the campfire for an hour or two are delicious. You don’t want your left-overs attracting bugs, so wrap them in cling film. As an alternative to dish soaps there are many “All Purpose” soaps that work just as well, then you only have to remember one type of soap – genius!!
Going to the toilet outside is difficult for everyone. Do you dig a hole? Are there toilets on site?
If there are toilets on your campsite, you’re lucky! (But still take your own toilet paper, just in case)
If you’re not so lucky then you’re going to need to be prepared. A Shewee is an incredible invention and with a little practice, anyone can use it correctly. You will never have to squat again!
Number 2’s aren’t so easy but there are products to help. Portable toilets are a thing and we just so happen to sell them. Take a look at our range of things to help you do your business outside.
FIRST AID KIT! You do NOT want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no medical supplies whatsoever. First Aid kits can be the difference between a little cut that’s patched up to it getting infected and having no choice but to pack up and go and seek medical help.
First Aid Kits and everything inside them can be extremely confusing. So luckily for you, we at Purple Turtle HQ have created a handy First Aid Comparison Table for you to know exactly which one you need. Follow the link and on the left hand side you will see a list of useful links. You’re welcome in advance.
If you’re cautious whilst camping you probably wont experience anything other than a few cuts and grazes, but you have to be sensible.
Most Important – Remember to have fun
Boredom can creep in at any time, especially if you get caught in the rain so for that a few games suitable for the entire family should get you through, see our full range of travel games here.
Camping trips can be a struggle because you have to do everything yourself, you have to think of every possible outcome, you have to pack enough for everyone and for every type of weather.
Don’t get caught up in the small things. If you do forget anything, other campers will probably be more than willing to help you out so just have fun. Forget about your worries and make memories that will last a life time.