How to Guide: Camping for Beginners

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Today’s post is brought to you by Angie of Lariats and Lavender

I hope you enjoy my little guide on camping for beginners.

Let be begin my telling you this: when I was growing up, I literally had no idea what camping was all about. I mean, sure, I knew there was a tent involved and a campfire. Other than that? Nada. My father was definitely the outdoorsy, sleep under the stars type but my mother? Not so much. So I grew up *never* having gone camping.

That all changed when I was 18! My wife Jen and I were working a seasonal job on the lake, with a camp site nearby. And here is where my knowledge of camping and LOVE for camping began.

Before you do ANYTHING else…

1. Be Prepared

Make a check list (yay, list making!) Invest in – or download a free – camping app if you can. YES! There is such a thing. Include even the smallest thing and store your list somewhere in plain sight – so when you suddenly remember something you’ve forgotten – you can include that item or idea on your list.

Let’s say, for example, you have a list of yummy campfire foods… But what if you get caught in an unexpected rain storm and are far away from home? You can plan ahead and bring along some foods such as jerky, trail mix, dried fruits and MREs. (Meals Ready to Eat, y’all.) ((They ARE actually good!))

Also, think of really “off the wall” stuff like a waterproof bag/backpack, etc. Once, Jen and I had a brand new tent that flooded during a rainstorm, soaking everything we brought with us.

Speaking of planning ahead…

2. Plan Ahead

No matter where you’re planning on camping – a tourist spot or truly out in the wild, do some studying of the area. If it’s a tourist spot, call early and book a spot. You’d be surprised how fast they fill up – especially if you’re going during a summer holiday like the 4th of July for us American folk.

And if it’s out in the middle of nowhere, make sure you’re following the law. Here in Utah, there are spots that are fine for camping but absolutely NO FIRE is allowed. So a campfire? Is totally out of the question and you can be fined if you’re spotted making/using one.

Also, as I said: do some studying. Research the area you’re staying in and make sure you know what kind of plants and wildlife will be around you.

3. It’s okay: laugh, enjoy and go with the flow

Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are and no matter how much you plan ahead, something will still happen. And you know what? That can be a great memory. Those unexpected moments. Jen and I have had many of them, and we love talking about them now – yes, even the tent flooding! Yes, even our first time, when the wind kicked up and BLEW OUR TENT INTO THE AIR. (It was a light little thing.)

Going with the flow, letting life happen, enjoying what you’re doing whether you’re by yourself or with someone else – making memories – that is what is important. Don’t ever worry about being “perfect.”

And finally, a few other little tidbits:

  • Know your gear Go over everything before you head out. Make sure it’s clean, there are no creepy crawlies and that it’s hole free
  • Practice setting up your tent and what have you before your trip. Or take a trip close to home. This way, you’ll know what to do (and what not to do) and you can again, make sure you have everything.
  • Remember: kids and pets can definitely come along and enjoy themselves. Jen loved camping as a child and she often brought her beloved Sheltie dog, Max, with her. We even brought our cats once, as our tent was large enough for a little litter box for them and we were just staying the night. Of course, do what is best for your family!
What advice would you give to new campers?
Angie is a gamer, geek, artist, shopaholic, outdoorsy girly-girl with a passion for making friends around the world (and Tweeting!) Because of this, she started up Lariats and Lavender and has loved being a personal blogger ever since.
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