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Camping 101: Tips to Get Started

Everyone needs to unplug on occasion and connect with the great outdoors. Camping can be a great way to this, with the added benefit of enjoying nature. But if you're new to camping, it can be difficult to know where to start. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started camping. We'll cover everything from choosing the right gear to planning your trip. So whether you're an experienced camper or a total beginner, this guide will help you have a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

  1. What to bring camping
  2. How to set up your campsite
  3. What to do when you're camping
  4. Food and drink while camping
  5. Tips for first-time campers
  6. Camping safety tips

One of the great things about camping is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. If you have an RV, chances are you are already passionate about camping. However, if you haven't camped since you were a kid or are just getting started, here are a few basics that will help you get the most out of your experience.

First, start easy and close to home. Local, state and national parks are generally well run, safe , ll around great places to commune with nature without falling off the grid. Consider private campgrounds such as KOAs too--they often have a wide range of fun activities, perfect if you are taking kids.

Next, always check the weather forecast before you go so you can be prepared for a range of conditions. Even die-hard camping folk can get caught in unexpected weather. Incredibly hot days can see temperatures plummet at night. Few things can ruin a camping trip faster than not having the right clothing or gear for the weather. Next, make sure you have the bare essentials:

  • Shelter, sleeping, cookware, clothing, first aid, and gear: Create a list. Check it twice. Shelter: Tent, canopy, fly cover, tarp, tent pegs, rubber mallet or hammer. An inexpensive 4x6 rug is alway good to have on hand.
  • Sleeping: Cot or air mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, blankets. If you are using an air mattress, invest in a good pump. Thick foam pads always come in handy.
  • Cookware: Keep in mind that some campgrounds (particularly those in high fire danger locations) prohibit campfires and open flames; always check the campground website and plan accordingly. Propane stove, propane, 1 or 2 cast iron pans, a medium size pan, hot water kettle, oven mitts, plastic bowls. Don't forget clean-up: scrub pad, dishtowels, dish detergent. Follow manufacturer instructions on care of cast iron.
  • Clothing and toiletries: Err on the side of over-packing and focus on layers. Yet the weather, both day and night temperatures, dictate what you'll need. Extra socks, footwear, hats and sleepwear. Consider packing your toiletries in an organizer with a hook for hanging.
  • First Aid: Several affordable options are readily available, or you can make your own. Basics include lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, band aids, sterile wipes, tweezers, sterile saline, gauze pads, aloe gel, antihistamine, pain reliever. Anti-diarrheal and stomach medications are always a good idea. Also, don't forget prescription meds.
  • Gear: The options are endless. Forego trendy and focus on what you need to make your camping trip enjoyable.
    • Lighting: Propane lanterns, flashlights with at least 2 sets of extra batteries and a battery-powered hanging light will get you started.
    • Chairs: There are countless options, but err on the side of well-made and collapsible. One per person, including guests (or remind them to bring their own).
    • Miscellaneous: Citronella candles, clothesline/cord/rope, firestarter, water filtration, multi-tool, mallet or hammer, coolers and firewood (check the campground website for restrictions).

Camping is one of the best ways to unplug and connect with nature. It’s easy to get started, just make sure you do a little research. Always check the campground website for essential information, including fire and firewood restrictions. Stop at the ranger station or office to pick-up maps, including hiking trails. Pack your camping gear, food and drinks (and don't forget the coffee!) and hit the open road for some fresh air and relaxation!