Camping 101: The beginners guide

Great! You've decided you want to go on your first camping adventure but have no idea where to start. Here, we have put together our top 10 list of things to avoid doing as well as tips to make your experience easy and stress free.

1. Forgetting to book the campsite in advance

If you think you’re going to turn up at a campground and just slide right into a camping site, you’re in for a rude awakening. Of course, it all depends on the area you’ll be exploring, but if you’re still new at the whole camping thing, booking a spot ahead of time is imperative. It will save you a lot of time, headaches, and probably tears. To find out more about campsites across Australia and to book, go to – Find a Camp

Tip: Be 100% certain of what’s available or provided at your campground. Some campgrounds have grills, fire pits, picnic tables, and restrooms. (Extra toilet paper is always a must.) Some, however, have little or no amenities.

2. Relying on technology to get you from                             A to B

Turns out, maps aren’t a thing of the past or just for Indiana Jones, at least not for the savvy camper. When you head out on a camping trip, you’re (hopefully) leaving behind the need to stay connected (I call this a technology detox). However, most of us do rely heavily on our trusty smart phones for getting us to where we need to go. But seeing as how you’re venturing into the relatively unknown, it’s important to keep in mind your phone might not do you much good.

The last thing you want is for your first ever camping trip to end before it even started, all because you didn’t have phone service or a map. Finding the best map to fit your needs is easy. For starters, you can take a look online (Google is your best friend) otherwise we recommend for you to check out Travel Outback Australia for free maps and guides.

3. Not checking the weather and fire bans

Not checking the weather before your trip could wind up being a huge, costly mistake. And you’re probably better off not relying solely on your phone’s weather app. We recommend using BOM to do your weather research. Ideally, you will at least have an idea of how cold it will get at night, so you should have packed the appropriate clothing and gear. Ensuring you have a warm or cool enough sleeping bag, for instance, will make all the difference in the world.

Also, ensure to look at fire bans/danger periods for the regions you are travelling to and always pay attention to the warnings that have been issued. Never attempt to travel to or through a fire affected area. Your safety comes first.

4. Storing food incorrectly

Food storage is so important, yet it can easily become a downfall for your trip. Invest in a cooler you can rely on! The guys at Outback Travel Australia did a great review of a number of coolers, click here to read more and choose one which is right for you. But even beyond making the purchase, there are certain tips and tricks you’ll learn and develop yourself with each new camping experience you have. For instance, if you end up going on a long river trip, or even a several-day camping trip, organising food by day is super helpful.

Put the last day’s food at the bottom of the cooler, pour water over it, and freeze it before you go. That way, it will stay cold or frozen until you’re ready to eat it. Wraps for burritos or lunches make great insulators, so lay those at the top of the cooler, above the rest of the food. Also, be sure to pack onions and anything else that could become potent in separate zip-top bags. You’ll get the hang of it in no time because, in this case, practice makes perfect!

5. Forgetting the first aid kit and bug spray

Although you certainly hope nothing will go wrong, lots can happen in the bush, which is why you need to be prepared. Having Band-Aids on hand isn’t enough. You’ll need supplies in case of an emergency or if and when someone really gets hurt. Luckily, you can purchase a first aid kit with everything you need, so you don’t have to worry about whether you’ve packed the essentials. There are loads of options out there, and can be easily purchased online from St John or from local stores like Anaconda or Aussie Disposals.

Tip: No matter what the season, always include insect repellent, coils and candles – the mozzies will get you.

6. Not having enough water

Don’t assume every campsite has water because that’s not always the case. Some do have water taps available, so you can fill up your water bottles there. But some don’t, which means you’re responsible for packing enough water for your entire stay. And don’t forget to factor in water for cooking and coffee, too. Everyone needs to stay hydrated, so packing more water than you anticipate using is always a good idea.

7. Remember to take good lighting

While it may sound romantic to get about by the moon or fire light, the reality is you don’t want to be cooking, trying to find the toilet or hearing strange noises in pitch black. The right camp lighting equipment makes a big difference. You can hang a headlamp or torch from your tent ceiling to illuminate the whole tent (also keep one near the entrance so it’s easy to find at night), just remember to turn it off otherwise those around you may get a shadow puppet show.

8. Use a checklist

I don’t know about you but personally I am a list person. There is nothing worse than setting off on your first big adventure only to find that you have forgotten something. Travel/camping checklists can easily be found, and these are the ones I found to be most helpful.

Lost and Loving it – Ultimate checklist

Stay at home mum – Camping checklist

Tip: The adult version of ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ is ‘wallet, glasses, keys and phone’.

9. Leave it as you found it

With things like global warming, the plastic crisis and needing humans to minimise their carbon footprint, be conscious of the environment and take your rubbish with you! It’s a good idea to have multiple garbage bags (don’t just bring one, I guarantee you will need more) and only leave them at designated waste stations or take them home with you.

10. Remember to enjoy the experience!

In the end, the point of camping is to escape from the city life, relax and have fun with your friends or family while enjoying the outdoors. Depending on your location, try your hand at hiking, bird watching, geocaching, kayaking or snorkeling. After the sun goes down, enjoy the lack of city lights and take in some serious star gazing.

What is Geocaching – click here

SkyView – Simply point your phone/tablet at the sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more! (Only available on app store for iPhone)

It’s a given that you’re probably going to forget something. But that’s ok! Camping is like being on island time, so go easy on yourself and remember it’s your first time and you’re allowed to make mistakes. That is unless you’ve forgotten the tent, then you’re an idiot and your mates should have free range to tell you so.

Have more questions for us? No problem, you can contact us at support@camptoo.com.au or call us on 03 9988 6111 for more information and assistance.

Happy trails

Camptoo Support Team

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