Summer is officially here, and for many of us, that means heading off into the wilderness for a camping trip. If you didn’t grow up camping or it’s just been a while, it’s easy to forget some of the tips and tricks that make the experience the most fun it can be. Here are the best camping tips:
Practice setting up your tent
If your tent is new or you haven’t set it up in a while, do a test-run at home. You won’t be pressed for time and you can easily look up instructions or video walkthroughs if you need to. Use a living room, if it’s large enough, or head out to your yard. Once you’ve mastered the set up, the process will be quick and smooth at your campsite, without lots of frustration.
Know how to safely start a fire
A campfire is a big part of the camping experience, so you should know to start one, and do it safely. For an easy fire starter, pack cotton balls with a little petroleum jelly or balls of dryer lint dipped in wax. For something a little less DIY, you can buy fire starter sticks. When building your fire, be sure to exercise proper safety, like only building fires in designated areas. If you have kids, walk them through the process, but emphasize how hot the fire is, and that they shouldn’t play with the fire. Let them add sticks, but never leave them unsupervised with a burning fire.
Make your meals before heading out
Speaking of fire, there’s nothing quite as great as food cooked over one. You might be cool with hot dogs or sausages for your first dinner, but if there will be multiple meals, you and your family might want something else. Prep some meals beforehand by seasoning and arranging meat-and-veggie skewers, mixing pancake mix, cooking noodles, and so on . Pack the meals in plastic bags or mason jars for the cooler, along with a few other essential ingredients you might need like milk, eggs, and tomato sauce. When it’s meal time, just pull out the bags and cook! You can also buy backpacking meals (ready-to-eat packaged chili, mac and cheese, etc) that just need hot water, if you want something really easy. Mountain House is a popular brand.
Waterproof your tent, pack, and sleeping bag
One of the best camping tips we’ve come across is to waterproof your tent. Even if it doesn’t rain while you’re camping, morning dew can soak through a sleeping bag and dry clothes. On the KOA site, they recommend spraying your tent with silicone sealant, so even rainfall won’t drench the inside. On that same note, waterproof your packs by lining them with heavy-duty garbage bags. For your sleeping bag, pack the bottom of your sleeping bag with dry clothes. This will keep your feet dry and warm.
Have a light source
If you haven’t been camping in a while, you’ll be surprised at how dark it can get at night. Unless you plan on going to sleep as soon as the sun sets, you’ll need a light source. Painting the inside of a mason jar with glow-in-the-dark paint is a really fun project for kids, while you can make a brighter lantern by simply strapping a headlamp to clear gallon jug. With this light, you can read, play games, and more in your tent.
For a truly unique camping experience, would you stay in a treehouse or a “hammpground?” Check out these and other cool AirBnB spots.