7 things you should never do while camping
Camping is fun, isn't it?
Well, it is supposed to be. However, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Some of them are not avoidable, but you do have some control over your comfort, safety, and camping enjoyment.
Campers are easy to identify. When you see that overloaded car filled with sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, tents, fishing gear, coolers, grills, curling irons, electric razors, and, of course, a string of battery-powered Christmas lights, driving on the highway, yeah! You’ve found the campers.
Solo camping is understandably scary, especially if it's your first time. You will have to take extra precaution with your surroundings and the people you encounter because there's no one to rely on but yourself out in the wilderness.
Like with any trip outdoors, there are do's and don'ts that you should consider for your comfort, safety and to achieve an overall enjoyable experience as a first time solo camper.
If you are wondering how to have the best possible experience, here are some things you should always avoid when you go camping. For your next trip, do not
- Go in the dark
Setting up camp in the dark is difficult, and it can also be dangerous. Even in the best-maintained campsites, there are often sticks, stones, holes, or bits of earth, which can become trip hazards when you hit them hard while carrying a tent pole. Sure, you have headlights and flashlights which can help, but nothing beats arriving early in the day so you can assess your surroundings. Plus, getting to the light means you can find things like the toilet very important.
If something does happen that you can't avoid a nighttime arrival, do your best to get as much light as possible in the area. Park in front of your campsite and turn on your headlights. Attach flashlights to trees. Install a lantern in the middle of your living room. Then, before setting up your tent, take your time to clean the area of debris and spot anything that could hurt you.
- Take a walk alone in the forest
Most of the camping is done in an area where you are unfamiliar with the scenery, or at least less familiar than at home. Camping can also come with dangers that you are not comfortable dealing with on your own and may not be able to anticipate. For this reason, it's always a good idea to take someone with you when camping and not to go out on your own.
If you want to camp on your own or just need some downtime with your camping partners, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If your friend knows you're doing a five mile hike, he won't panic when you're not back in an hour, but he'll know he needs to sound the alarm when three or four miles have passed.
- Leave your food aside
Critters love human food and they will fit in anything you leave out. Even small animals, like chipmunks and squirrels, can do a lot of damage, and the food isn't very good for them either. In some areas, you may run into something less desirable, such as a bear or a skunk. And don't store food in your tent either, because you definitely don't want any animals inside!
Usually it is good to put some dry food in your car and to close and lock your cooler. In some areas where bears are known to roam, you will need to make your food even safer. Find out ahead of time what is needed and make sure you have the supplies and know-how to do it.
- Forget about warm clothes
When it comes to the weather, something unexpected is almost inevitable while you're camping, and it's best to be prepared with the right clothes. Since most campsites are held during the warmer months, people tend to forget about warm clothes. It's easy to overlook the fact that nights are almost always cooler than days, and rainstorms or chilly winds can occur without warning. And, sometimes you'll want long pants and long sleeves for different reasons, like to keep bugs from biting you or to protect you from the sun.
If you are heading to a mountainous or desert area, it is even more important to bring warm clothes. Nighttime temperatures in both of these climates are significantly colder than daytime ones, and you might find yourself miserable and sick without the right clothes.
- Annoy your neighbors
When you are camping, the folks at the site next door can become your helpers, your new best friends… or the people who wouldn't help you for anything because you bored them so much. If you don't want to end up in deep water with the neighbors, follow your common sense. Don't get drunk, don't make a lot of noise in the middle of the night, play some loud music, drive too fast in the camp, or leave your fire on when you're not around.
If you did something boring, you better apologize. And if you apologize with freshly baked camp cookies, even better. When you recognize that you did something boring, people are likely to forgive… as long as it doesn't happen again.
- Bring equipment that you do not know how to use
I don't care about your experience. Each tent sets up a little differently, and it helps to know exactly how the one you brought works. The same goes for any other gear: your stove, your hydration pack, your nifty new camping kitchen appliance. Take it out of the box and find out before you go. Otherwise, you're wasting precious time camping and trying your own patience, not to mention that of the people camping with you.
If you don't have the opportunity to pitch your tent at least once before your departure, make sure you have enough light and time when you arrive at your destination. Send the kids out exploring and let your partner do other things while you find out. You will all be happier with each other and can better enjoy the rest of your stay.
- Forget the toilet paper
I understand. Your campsite has a bathroom - a real bathroom, with running water and paper towels and maybe even a shower. I do not care. Bring your own toilet paper.
You never know when a camping bathroom is going to run out of TP in the middle of the night, or when you'll be by the lake or on a hike and find yourself in need. In these cases, having the supplies you need is so much less inconvenient. Of course, you have to go through it first, but it will save you a headache in the end.
What to pack?
You have the freedom to take whatever you want to make your vacation as luxurious and comfortable as possible. You need a lot of water. You can't do without it, so the only variable is where you get it.
If you are going to camp near a lake or river you will get a lot, but you need to make sure it is clean! Consider the benefits of purchasing a water filter.
If you are allowed to have a fire at your site, you can boil it from a stream or lake and cool it right there. It takes time, but it pays off.
Alternatively, your campground might have a water pump for you. Call ahead to make sure it works.
If you are bringing bottled water, it is good to bring twice as much as you think you need. Don't underestimate cleaning, washing, and, if you bring your pet, keep their water bowl full!
Prepare your cooking and cooking equipment. Whether you're a happy minimalist camper with a bit of beef jerky and a bag of trail mix or the camper who packs all the kitchen and a generator to run the appliances, it's always best to plan your needs out so you know exactly what to do about it.
This ensures that you have enough food and that you won't have a lot of garbage either. Camping staples like burgers, hot dogs, and chili are easy to cook and make for dinner.
The most important kitchen items and equipment to bring include:
- Utensils - Crockery (at least one set for each camper), spatula, wooden spoon and tongs. Store it in a large plastic box to organize it and use the plastic bin as a washing station (don't forget the washing liquid and a tea towel).
- Fuel - Are you packing a barbecue? Does your campground have or allow one (check before you go)? If so, you will need lots of charcoal, gas, or both if you are using a campfire and stove. You will also need matches or a lighter, and a newspaper to use as a fire starter.
- Preparation equipment - Chef's knife, paring knife or other small knives (knife holder or wrap in a towel), cutting boards, vegetable peeler, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, paper towels, preparation bowls, plates, cups and mugs.
- Cooking Supplies - A large pot for boiling water, or a sauté pan, pots with lids, a skillet (great for breakfast foods), skewers for marshmallows and hot dogs, and a teapot for hot drinks.
- Storage - If you plan on having a lot of perishable foods, it's best to have one cooler for the meat and another for everything else. Change the ice cream every other day and wrap the meats to avoid cross-contamination. Fill the other cooler with fruits, vegetables, eggs, butter, cheese, milk, drinks, condiments, and other fresh ingredients. For dry items, like bread, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, cooking oil, salt, pepper and spices, use a sturdy box. Keep all food in your car to keep it away from animals.
General Camping Safety Tips
In addition to preparation, you must observe any guidelines or rules for the campground that you are going to. Usually you can find rules or regulations on the campground's website.
Follow the rules of the campsite. Campground staff enforces rules and regulations to ensure the safety of campers.
This includes being respectful of other campers around you. Playing loud music and screaming is disruptive and takes away the enjoyment of others.
You should also keep an eye out for any children you have with you, especially in campgrounds with swimming areas or near wilderness areas. Take care of the animals . Wild animals are another area of concern when camping.
Most camping areas with access to wildlife have special bins to deter animals from entering areas with people. If your campsite does not have bins, take your bins with you.
Avoid leaving food as this can attract animals. Keep food in a sealed container or in your vehicle. Do not feed animals as this encourages them to come into contact with people, a dangerous prospect, especially with children.
Preparation is the key to making sure you have what you need when camping. Without proper preparation, expect to spend a few long, cold and lonely days at your campsite. Make sure you have enough food, shelter, and other items you need to make sure you have a good time camping. Also, follow the rules and regulations to ensure your safety when camping and to minimize potentially dangerous encounters with wildlife.