Tips for First-Time Campers

This post comes from Lilly Keyes at our partner site Zing!

Since June is National Camping Month, I’m sure you’re desperate to get out there and start roasting marshmallows. If you’ve never been camping before, there are some things you should think about before you start rubbing sticks together. I mean, have you ever seen anyone on a sitcom try to put up a tent? It hardly ever goes well the first time. But don’t fret! There are some simple things you can do before you leave to ensure your camping trip’s a breeze.

Scour the Internet

What activities do you want to do while camping? Is it important to be near a beach? How about hiking? Make sure to take the possible activities you want to do into account when choosing a campsite. Once you decide, look up campsites in that area. Ask yourself how close you want to be to town and how rustic you’re willing to be. Is a nearby convenience store or shower important to you? If they are, make sure the campground you choose has these. Also, look at a map to see where your individual campsite will be. If you’re dying to hike, try and get a site near the trails. And, like everything else, read the reviews before you choose!

Look Out for Deals

Some states offer programs for first-time campers, and, speaking from experience, they’re awesome. Park rangers help you set up your tent, provide you with necessities like camping stoves and s’mores roasters and check in to make sure everything’s going smoothly. And you get a discount on your campsite. What’s not to like?

Pop Some Tags

When you’re making your initial list of things you need for your first camping trip, buying everything at a big box store could get pricey. If you make second-hand stores your first stop, you could save a lot of money. If you don’t have the major camping essentials like a tent or sleeping bag, borrow them from your friends and family before you make any big purchases. If you decide you want to make camping a major hobby, then head to the camping store with your credit card in hand. Your bank account will thank you.

Better Safe than Sorry

Always take extra precautions when camping, especially for the first time. Store your food high and out of reach for the wildlife in your area. Despite how cute it might be, the last thing you want is to come home and see a bear eating your dinner for you. Also, pack clothes for a wide variety of weather scenarios. I don’t care how many times you checked the weather on your iPhone before you left; you’ll be happy you have your rain jacket if an impromptu thunder storm hits.

Sleep Tight

It’s hard to enjoy your camping extravaganza if you’re cranky from sleep deprivation. The ground is a lot harder than you think, so an air mattress or soft pad to go under your sleeping bag is crucial. You can even use those foam floor tile puzzle pieces that are popular in kindergarten classrooms and playroom floors. Anything helps. Whatever you do, don’t leave your tent open, no matter how warm it gets during the day. The bugs will find you.

Check Your Pantry

There’s all sorts of camping hacks you probably already have and just don’t know it! Did you know dryer sheets make great (and delicious smelling) fire starters? And that an old prescription bottle makes a great mini first aid kit? Or that, when added to a campfire, sage makes a great mosquito repellent? There’s all sorts of household camping hacks that you can check out at sites like Buzzfeed or Pinterest.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s the perfect time for you to grab your tent and get out there! Even if it’s your first time camping, as long as you do your research and come prepared, you’ll have a great time. Happy camping!

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