Camping is a national pastime in many countries. It typically was the cheapest way for a family to go on vacation, plus it wasn’t too fussy if the kids acted up. You could travel to as many places as you wanted to see, as long as it didn’t bother you to set up in new locations. It used to be that true camping was a tent or even tent trailer. Many parks, however, had areas reserved for bigger house trailers and RVs. Nowadays, people think cabins in the woods and cottages are camping. They aren’t really, and in this article, we are referring to the real deal, although some of these pointers could double for other types of vacations.
Follow these camping tips, whether you are a first-timer or seasoned camper, and we’re sure you’ll have a great time, every time!
#1 Safety First
It really goes without saying that when traveling and living temporarily in a strange environment, that you do need to be aware of the things around you. Camping as a family is a lot of fun, but there are perils to avoid. Examples are water, whether it be swimming pools, beaches, or fishing holes. Most children are drawn to water and if they can’t swim, the situation can become life threatening very quickly.
Campfires are another item that we derive much pleasure from, but the other side is again, they are quite dangerous. Children like to mimic things they see their parents do, yet putting a log on the fire is not one of those things you want them doing alone. In addition to the problems with out of control fires causing devastation, all campfires need to be supervised. Campgrounds and parks usually have a pit available and that is where you should contain the fire.
Life jackets are a must for water sports. Don’t be tempted to skip the practice because they are not close by or you think that everyone will only be in the water for a minute or two.
Lastly, have a first aid kit handy and a small fire extinguisher. Lastly, have a first aid kit handy and a small fire extinguisher. Things like sunglasses, skin protection from the sun, mosquito repellent, cream for burns, and caps or hats are good, too.
#2 Picking A Site
When you register at a campground, especially the government run parks, you are usually permitted to go through and find the spot that suits your family best. Maybe you prefer the shade and want some trees, while others have very young children and want to be as far away from water as possible.
Likewise, if you don’t bring along a camping porta-potti, you might want to be closer to the facilities. Some people don’t like all the traffic of people coming and going from the restrooms and showers, so it is all up to your preference and needs.
For those of you that plan to spend all your time at the campground and not go sightseeing, then your site needs to be comfortable and feasible for your duration.
Be sure you understand the rules in terms of how many tents and vehicles allowed on one spot, as well as time restrictions for fire and noise. Many campgrounds no longer permit alcoholic beverages, but some do still, as long as the alcohol is not out in the open.
The time of year is going to influence how you pick a site, as well. For example in Canada, everything opens up May 24th weekend. That weekend is going to be very busy and parks will be full. July 1st in Canada and July 4th in the US are going to be crazy, too. You might need to reserve your spot if you know the park, but remember that some campgrounds are taking reservations up to a full year in advance.
#3 Keeping Dry
Rain is inevitable and can quickly spoil a nice vacation. But, if you are prepared, you can still have fun and stay comfortable at the same time. A little tent heater might help to keep the dampness out and also to keep the sleeping bags and blankets from feeling wet and cold. Just be sure to keep an eye on the heater and never let it operate without someone nearby.
Before you pitch your tent, put down a plastic sheet or a proper tarp. This will insulate the floor of the tent and keep things drier and warmer. Make sure that you don’t let the tarp extend past the tent floor, so it doesn’t collect water and run back on to the tent walls.
For those of you with no heater, you can quickly warm up the blankets by putting them in the car for a few minutes before going to bed. And don’t let the bedding touch the sides of the tent. For that matter, don’t touch the walls or roof at all with fingers or items. The minute you touch the tent, the waterproofing is breached and little dots of water start dripping in.
Bring along bins to store your food, both from getting wet, and to deter the animals that might enjoy your meal instead of foraging for their own. Finally, bring board games and other things that the family can do inside. It does get cramped in a tent when you are not sleeping, so maybe invest in a dining shelter with flaps. This way it can keep the bugs out and give you a place to escape the rain.
To be honest, although this has nothing to do with staying dry, unless you have to pitch your tent in the rain, practice a few times in the backyard, so that you get used to how things fit together.
#4 Keep Snacks Handy
Not sure why this is, but when you are outdoors all day, you tend to be a lot hungrier than when you are at home. Have some snacks on hand and water so that the family doesn’t get dehydrated. But also, plan to have lots of food, too. The grocery store might not be close by and the general store in the park will be very expensive.
Before you leave, try to plan out your meals, and buy things that are easy to store and prepare. Of course, anything for the barbecue will be great, canned stews do nicely, pancake mix coupled with fresh picked berries in the woods, bread, bacon, and cold cereals.
Be sure to keep the meats frozen or cold at all times, so an investment in a cooler and some ice will be perfect. Store the cooler in a shady spot to conserve the ice.
#5 Choose Appropriate Clothing
Nothing is worse than leaving home and not having a light sweater for the cooler evening. You start your journey in the morning or afternoon when it is a lot warmer and you don’t think about what is going to happen when the sun goes down. Prepare and pack in advance. And while, you don’t want to take everything, you need clothes and gear for different weather and temperatures. If you are fashion conscious, choose colors that go with a couple outfits so that you don’t need to bring as many pieces.
Lastly, make sure to take comfortable footwear. In fact, an old pair of shoes to play in will be better than good shoes.
#6 Bonus Pointer
Make sure you ask about pets in advance. Many parks do permit the dog to be on the campsite, but just as many do not allow them on the beach. And when you do take your pet along, make sure that it is well-hydrated and has a space of its own to rest.
Here are some tips to help our friends in the UK